first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:A Colorado electric cooperative filed with state regulators Thursday to ditch its coal-heavy generation supplier in pursuit of cheaper renewable energy, part of an industry-wide move toward wind and solar.The Delta Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) asked the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to adjudicate a fair exit price to end its generation contracts with the Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, a multi-state power provider that requires member utilities to purchase 95% of their power from its largely fossil fuel fleet.DMEA’s exit could prompt moves from other Tri-State members, who have pressured the utility in recent years to allow more local renewable energy investment. Two of Tri-State’s rival utilities in Colorado this week pledged to move to 100% clean energy, and a recent economic analysis of Tri-State’s fleet suggests wind and solar could undercut its existing coal plants. DMEA’s decision to leave Tri-State demonstrates how the increasing competitiveness of renewable energy is upending the economics of power production in the American West.In a statement Thursday, DMEA officials said their primary motivator for splitting from the generation supplier is to limit costs to their customers. “Tri-State’s annual reports show that average member rates have increased 56% since 2005, which is more than double the increase in the Consumer Price Index over the same time period,” the co-op said. “This stands in stark contrast to the overall energy market in which prices have decreased significantly over the same period.”More: Colorado co-op seeks exit from coal-heavy Tri-State to pursue renewables Colorado distribution co-op wants out of coal-heavy power supply contractslast_img read more

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Germany’s solar market witnessed its strongest growth in half a decade during 2018, adding almost 3 gigawatts of capacity, according to industry figures.The German solar association Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft (BSW) said the 2018 figures represented a 68 percent increase over those for the previous year. The capacity additions mean there are now 46 gigawatts of solar power installed across the country.This makes Germany the fourth-largest PV market in the world. Germany ranks behind China, which has 174 gigawatts of solar capacity, the U.S., which has 63 gigawatts, and Japan, which has 60 gigawatts, the Associated Press reported.Tom Heggarty, senior solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, said much of the growth in 2018 was from commercial and industrial energy consumers. Along with residential PV system owners, these companies benefit from feed-in tariffs for solar energy, he said.Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables expects between 3.3 gigawatts and 4.1 gigawatts of solar to be installed per year in 2021 and 2022, compared to an annual average of around 1.6 gigawatts between 2014 and 2018. The upward momentum in Germany’s solar market is being helped by significant reductions in the cost of technology. Global PV module prices fell by around 30 percent between 2017 and 2018, said Heggarty.More: Germany sees solar installations spike to nearly 3GW in 2018 German solar installations topped 3GW in 2018last_img read more

first_imgSunrun lands big contract for linked residential solar-plus-storage systems in Hawaii FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Sunrun won another big deal to deliver residential solar-battery systems at grid scale, this one fine-tuned to serve utility Hawaiian Electric’s unique island grids.Sunrun, the leading U.S. residential solar installer, announced Wednesday that it has pledged to install up to 1,000 of its Brightbox home solar-battery systems on the island of Oahu by 2024, as part of a contract with Open Access Technology International (OATI). That is the Minneapolis-based grid technology provider that’s running HECO’s new “demand response” program, which looks more like a miniature version of what a transmission grid operator like PJM or CAISO does than the traditional definition of demand response.The 1,000 Brightbox battery systems Sunrun will install over the next five years will add up to about 4.3 megawatts of capacity on Oahu, out of the 17.8 megawatts of capacity and grid services that OATI has pledged to deliver on the island, according to figures provided by Sunrun.This isn’t the first time that Sunrun has bundled solar-battery systems for grid needs. In February it won a bid to deliver 20 megawatts of capacity to ISO New England by 2022, which it intends to deliver through a network of about 5,000 homes across the grid operator’s six-state region. And in July, Sunrun landed two contracts in California — one with community choice aggregator (CCA) East Bay Community Energy to deliver 2 megawatt-hours of residential solar-plus-storage capacity, and another with municipal utility Glendale Water & Power for 12.8 megawatts of capacity.The new Hawaii deployment will expand on the scope of services Sunrun has been asked to provide from its aggregations so far, Robert Harris, Sunrun director of public policy, said in an interview. That’s largely because HECO, which faces a 100-percent-by-2045 renewable mandate, faces challenges that mainland utilities don’t in stabilizing its grid to manage this rising share of renewable energy.“This is a bit more sophisticated than what we’ve done in the past,” Harris said. While Sunrun’s New England and California contracts are focused on multi-hour capacity, HECO and OATI will need to call on its resources for so-called “fast frequency response,” or FFR, as well.More: Sunrun lands another big virtual power plant deal, this time in Hawaiilast_img read more

first_imgControversial Keystone XL pipeline project still faces serious economic questions FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Omaha World-Herald:The Keystone XL pipeline has faced bureaucratic hurdles, court challenges and the determined opposition of environmental groups. But the biggest challenge to the project at this point could come from basic economics.Weak oil demand and cheap alternative sources mean pipeline developer TC Energy should consider putting construction plans on pause — perhaps forever, said Charles Mason, chair in petroleum and natural gas economics at the University of Wyoming. “I don’t know if it’s dead,” Mason said of the pipeline. “It’s absolutely on life support.”The Keystone XL would transport up to 830,000 barrels a day from the oil sands of western Canada to a terminal in Steele City, Nebraska. It would ultimately supply oil refineries on the Gulf Coast.TC Energy has pushed back on skeptics who suggest that the pipeline is obsolete. While it has yet to make a “final investment decision,” the company says it is planning for construction to start this year.Major pipelines require a huge upfront investment that is based on a future stream of supply and the revenue that comes with it. Those contemplating new oil sands projects face similar arithmetic. Spending more than $60 to extract a barrel of oil that’s worth less than $50 is a tough way to make money, after all. The uncertain future of oil sands development was illustrated when Teck Resources recently announced that it is abandoning a major project.“The Canadian oil sands aren’t the only game in town, and I think their time has sort of come and gone,” Mason said. “It’s a remote deposit that’s hard to get to market in a world in which there are increasingly more attractive and more accessible sources of supply. The economics just don’t really stack up for the oil sands right now.”[Joseph Morton]More: Will simple economics deal fatal blow to long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline?last_img read more

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Wall Street Journal ($):Wind and solar farms are attracting interest from investors hungry for low-risk, stable-yield opportunities at a time of extraordinary market volatility.That interest is a boon for renewable projects, and could give them a financial boost in coming months and years. However, developers could face challenges in getting additional new projects financed and built amid the turmoil created by the new coronavirus.It might seem an odd time for a renewable-energy uptick, given the economic slowdown and a historic crash in oil prices that is making fossil fuels cheap. But wind and solar farms experienced a similar surge after the 2008 financial crisis, when investors seized on the projects as safe-harbor investments with yields in the mid-single-digit percentages.Wind and solar farms have contracts to sell their electrical output to utilities and companies with good credit ratings for a decade or longer, making their returns stable and relatively low risk.Corporations contracted for 46% of the 20.2 gigawatts of renewable energy added to the U.S. grid last year, according to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, a group that represents corporate purchasers. The largest buyers last year were Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc. unit Google and AT&T Inc. Corporations have been contracting for renewable energy because prices are low and because many have made pledges to lower their carbon output. “No one has yet indicated that they intend to slow their purchase,” said Miranda Ballentine, the group’s CEO.“Renewable-power generation is largely uncorrelated to oil and natural-gas markets, which further strengthen their overall appeal, and may well be one of the first assets classes to unfreeze,” said Keith Derman, co-head of Ares Infrastructure and Power at Ares Management Corp.[Russell Gold]More ($): Wind, solar farms are seen as havens in coronavirus storm Interest in low risk, stable yield renewable energy projects remains strong—market participantslast_img read more

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PVTech:Some of the world’s top green energy players have tabled ultra-low bids under the second round of Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy programme, set to contract 1.47GW all in all. The kingdom’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) recently identified the firms and consortia shortlisted to develop a slew of solar projects across the country, with some proposing tariffs below the 2-US-dollar-cent-per-kWh threshold.At 600MW in planned capacity, the Al-Faisaliah PV project is the largest of the lot and will be either contracted to a consortium led by Saudi player ACWA Power, or a rival partnership led by United Arab Emirates-headquartered firm Masdar.According to REPDO, the bids for Al-Faisaliah from either side were “extremely close”. The gap between the figures for levelized costs of electricity (LCOE) each had produced was, the government agency said, “within statistical margin of error”. REPDO’s next step for the 600MW project will be to have the two consortia compete under a ‘best and final offer’ approach. The tendering results for this particular project will be revealed at some point in April 2020, the Office added.Held under the so-called National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), Saudi Arabia’s tenders are part of a plan to drive a renewable boom in the space of a decade. Previously floated targets would have the country reach major volumes of installed solar (40GW) and wind and others (20GW) by 2030.The country – which relies on oil revenues to prop up national budgets – has recently seen sharp declines in reference barrel prices, as lockdown plans enacted due to the COVID-19 crisis forced downwards revisions of demand for the fossil fuel. Analysts believe however that solar growth will be forthcoming, amid predictions the country will be one of a few global “growth engines” – installing 1-GW of PV every year – by 2024. NREP’s round-one already delivered the 300MW Sakaka PV plant, while round-three is set to unlock a further 1.2GW.The solar bids of US$0.0162/kWh now being touted in Saudi Arabia mirror the tariffs of US$0.016953/kWh scored last October by a 900MW project in Dubai. The Middle Eastern solar milestones emerge after similar numbers were reported for PV tenders in Brazil and Portugal.[José Rojo Martín]More: Bids of US$0.0162/kWh emerge as Saudi Arabia shortlists firms for 1.47GW solar tender Saudi solar solicitation attracts ultra-low bids, with prices at $0.016/kWhlast_img read more

first_imgNew Jersey gas utility takes delayed PennEast pipeline out of financial outlook through 2024 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Natural Gas Intelligence:New Jersey Resources Corp. (NJR) has pulled the PennEast Pipeline from its financial growth projections through 2024, citing ongoing delays that have plagued the natural gas project.“PennEast is an important project for the Northeast,” said NJR CEO Stephen Westhoven during the analyst day in late November. “But uncertainty around an in-service date requires us to take this action.” He noted that the company remains committed to the pipeline, adding that the project could eventually offer upside for cash flow if it does move forward.Through subsidiary NJR Pipeline Co., the company holds a 20% stake in the project. PennEast is one of the last major Appalachian greenfield pipeline projects fighting for completion as the natural gas industry’s opponents step up their efforts to halt gas infrastructure with increasing success in the Northeast.NJR subsidiary New Jersey Natural Gas Co. is among the project’s largest customers with 180 MMcf/d of capacity secured on the line. Capital expenditures, Westhoven said, would be “prudent and minimal” as the project works toward approval and construction. While 90% of NJR’s future projected earnings are expected to be generated by utility New Jersey Natural Gas and subsidiary Clean Energy Ventures, Westhoven said the company was forced to exclude PennEast given the inability to “see exactly when construction and commercial operation would take place.”New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has resisted the project. As hurdles mounted, PennEast earlier this year laid out a plan to build the pipeline in two phases. Construction on the first 68 miles entirely within Pennsylvania is expected to start next year. The pipeline would originate at a point near shale fields in the northeastern part of the state to a terminus in Northampton County. The second phase would include the remaining route that would stretch into New Jersey.About one-third of PennEast would be built in New Jersey’s Hunterdon and Mercer counties. It’s been in the works for roughly five years and has battled New Jersey at other turns, where it has also yet to secure key regulatory approvals. The system would move more than 1 Bcf/d of Appalachian natural gas into New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania.[Jamison Cocklin]More: New Jersey Resources pulls PennEast natural gas pipe from projections as delays persistlast_img read more

first_imgEveryone knows that fishing from a boat is superior to wade fishing. You can cover more water, get out farther, land more fish, and when your spouse calls to berate you for spending all your time fishing, there is no easy exit back to the car. Unfortunately, johnboats are cumbersome, canoes tend to tip over, and drift boats are impossibly expensive and require a trailer. The good news is that there’s another option that’s underutilized, accessible, affordable, and gaining popularity around the country: fishing from a kayak.Photographer Chris Funk began kayak fishing as a means to limit the fishing costs mentioned above and is now a member of the Jackson Kayak fishing team. He spends 99 percent of his days on the Chattahoochee River, but he has fished all over the South, including the Gulf Coast and Mobile Bay Delta. For him, catching fish is just one advantage of fishing from a kayak.“The older I get, the more therapeutic it is,” Funk said. “Just the drip of the water off the paddle is soothing. I can get to places no other vessel can get to. It’s just a true joy to put that little plastic boat on the water, paddle it wherever I want to go, and have a good day to myself or with friends.”With major kayak companies like Jackson, Hobie, and Native manufacturing models specifically designed for fishing, accessibility is at an all-time high, and getting better. Funk breaks down the advantages of the fly fishing kayak into three simple categories: simplicity, shallows, and stealth.Lightweight and streamlined, the kayak can get you where you want to go without any extra bells or whistles. Funk loves being able to grab a couple rods, a box of flies, and his paddle and hit the water without having to worry about trailers or gas. Because of the light weight, it is also easy to put into a river where another type of craft would have trouble. “The places that I launch in are my favorite spots. They have no launch so the boat has to be carried,” said Funk.A kayak also rides high on the water, allowing a paddler to maneuver over rocks and access spots that others cannot. Kayaks also make minimal noise on the water and have virtually no wake, allowing you to sneak around without spooking fish.“The kayak is so stealthy that I find I can get closer to my target,” Funk explains. “You’re not going to spook as many fish. I’ve had large bass get underneath my boat almost like I was a log instead of a vessel.”If you want to break into kayak fly fishing, borrow a friend’s boat and head to a lake to get acquainted with the technique. Careful, you may get hooked.last_img read more

first_imgWith August arriving, the temperatures climbing, and the humidity choking off all motivation to hit the trail in any capacity, outdoor recreation is relegated to the river. Not that this is a bad thing, but running whitewater is not for everyone, nor is it the most economical activity to be involved in. Kayaking takes years to master, canoeing can get too dang hot, and hiring a rafting trip can put your weekend over budget in a hurry. Luckily, there is one water activity anyone can master in minutes – nay, seconds as we have practically evolved to do it – takes little to no money, and is as refreshing as it is enjoyable: tubing.Tubing a river is as American as apple pie and as Southern as fried chicken. If you look back at the annuls of Southern water sports, the pond rope swing and monthly bath are probably the only activities that date the tubing trip. There are few things that can be as exciting as they are lazy – combining running a river and maybe a Class I rapid or two, with just sitting in a rubber donut. This weekend, grab your cutoffs, sunscreen and river shoes and head for Cherokee, North Carolina to tube the Oconaluftee River outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.The Oconaluftee River begins as a mountainside spring in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but by the time it reaches the town of Cherokee, it’s a broad, pristine playground ripe with trout, swimming holes, and tubing. Check out the two-mile trip that begins at the Big Cove Bridge on the tail end of the Raven Fork River and ends just before reaching the town of Cherokee. You’ll float under the Blue Ridge Parkway, bump through small rapids, and have access to The Beach, a local hangout with a sandy river bottom and rope swing. This stretch of river is banked by Great Smoky Mountains National Park on one side and the Cherokee Reservation on the other, so development is minimal. Tubers have even been known to see elk drinking from the river. If you’re looking to test your extreme tubing skills, ask Cherokee Rapids to take you to the class II chute on the Raven Fork just above the typical put-in.Nearby: You’re in the Smokies, so hiking trails stretch in every direction. Check out the Smokemont Loop Trail for a six-mile loop hike through a historic community that thrived before the park was established.Closest Town: Cherokee, N.C.Directions: Cherokee Rapids ( is located off of Highway 441 in Saunooke Village.View Larger Maplast_img read more

first_imgJust because temps are starting to drop doesn’t mean you have to stable your trusty steed. Biking to work is the best thing we can do for our mental and physical health and for the environment. So gear up and keep on trucking with these products from Tern Bicycles, BioLogic, and Ibex  — you and your bike will be more than ready for whatever Autumn throws your way.Tern Eclipse S18tern_eclipseThis fully equipped folding bike was designed to survive a zombie apocalypse. It contains an integrated lighting system which uses a powerful 41 lux and 150 lumens front light powered by the BioLogic Joule 3 dynamo hub, among the best of its kind on the market. This is an especially great feature to have as the days begin to get darker faster – the setting sun can’t ruin your ride! It also comes with award-winning BioLogic PostPump 2.0, stealthily concealing a high-capacity floor pump in its seat post. Bigger tires mean better traction, so you’ll stay safe on those icy morning roads. Plus, the Tern Eclipse folds for an easy carry in your arms,  on the train or metro, or in the back of your car or taxi if the weather really gets too harsh! (MSRP $2100)BioLogic Bike Mount WeatherCaseThe WeatherCase fits like a glove on your handlebars with the help of the strong AnchorPoint mount, and protects your phone from rain, snow, sweat, and grime. Made from sonically-welded TPU with rain-proof zippers, nothing can get through these walls. biologic_bikemountEasy access is key – the touchscreen, front and rear cameras, and side volume/power buttons are all handy, and a flexible top opens easily to slip the phone in and out of the case. Double zippers allow access to headphones/charge port while the phone is in the case and CushionFit padding keeps phones nice and snug. You can even make calls through the WeatherCase without losing a bit of sound quality – but don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road! (MSRP $ 34.95, available for iPhone, Galaxy and XL smartphones)Ibex Men’s 4th Street Boucle Cardiganibex_cardiganThe Merino wool cardigan will take you from the streets to the office and back again. Welted hand pockets and reinforced elbow patches give this cardigan a fashionable touch while also providing a warm and durable layer on your ride. A sneaky back pocket also keeps both you and your belongings safe with a strong zipper and a reflective flag for heightened visibility. No need to change after your commute, just throw on the Ibex 4th Street Cardigan and take on your whole day. (MSRP $175, sewn in the U.S.)ibex_hatMuni Wool CapYour head’s pretty important, so keep it warm with the Muni Wool Cap. Wool twill makes this cap warm and durable, but also keeps you looking good no matter where you wear it. A flexible bill blocks the sun and glare, and an elastic headband holds the cap in place come hell or high water. Soft and strong with just a little stretch, you’ll want to wear the Muni Wool Cap wherever you go. (MSRP $40, sewn in the U.S.)Shak City Rolleribex_jacketThe signature Ibex Shak is designed specifically for urban commuters without sacrificing style. Made from New Zealand Merino wool, this layer is guaranteed to keep you cozy from start to finish. Whether you wear it as a light jacket before winter sets in or as a mid-layer on colder days, the soft knit composition will serve you well. Reflective stripes, zippered pockets, and a full zipper seal the deal to make the Shak City Roller a perfect choice both on and off the bike. (MSRP $185, sewn in the U.S.)Lastly…check out these bike commuting tips and techniques from our friends at People for Bikes!last_img read more

first_imgNewIssue_PrintDig_BRO_1214In our December issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors, which is hitting outdoor shops, coffee shops, grocery stores, gyms, libraries and other door steps this very minute, you’ll meet Virginia’s comeback kid: two torn ACLs haven’t stopped Olympic freestyle skier Ashley Caldwell from soaring to new heights.You’ll also be introduced to four awe-inspiring adventure families from the Blue Ridge who push their limits together.We highlight other inspiring outdoor people this month as well: A handicapped hiker crawls through bear country to discover something that not even a disability can take away. After running from the law —and himself—an angler finds healing in the wild waters of Appalachia. And our travel editor shares ten hard-earned lessons from living out of a vehicle for six months.We also take readers into the fields and kitchens behind Barbara Kingsolver’s farm-to-table restaurant; and we tackle big questions about the future of Appalachia: should cougars and wolves be reintroduced to the Blue Ridge? And can Tennessee’s Upper Bald River Gorge Wilderness finally be protected?featuresLAST CHANCECan the Upper Bald River Gorge finally be protected? A longstanding wilderness bill hangs in the balance.COMEBACK KIDTwo torn ACLs haven’t stopped Olympic freestyle skier Ashley Caldwell from soaring to new heights.NATURE AND NURTUREMeet four awe-inspiring adventure families from the Blue Ridge who push their limits together.ROAD LIFE 101Jess Daddio shares ten hard-earned lessons from living out of a vehicle for six months.ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, RESTAURANTWander the fields and kitchens behind Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp’s farm-to-table experiment in Abingdon.STUCK IN THE MUDA handicapped hiker crawls through bear country to discover something that not even a disability can take away.LONG WAY BACKAfter running from the law—and himself—Jackson Buchman finds healing in the wild waters of Appalachia. departmentsEDITOR’S NOTESpeak for the trails: 70 percent of NC’s national forests may open to logging.FLASHPOINTShould cougars and red wolves be reintroduced to Appalachia?THE GOODSPeek inside the backcountry pack of snowsports guru Randy Johnson.THE DIRTSinglespeeder rides the Divide / Surprise anchor to Blue Ridge RelayTRAIL MIXThe Mantras’endless jam quest + New Year’s Eve Shows in the Southlast_img read more

first_imgWe are excited to announce the date for Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine’s 20th anniversary birthday bash! Come and dance the night away with our staff on Saturday, May 23, 2015, at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville, Va. Old Crow Medicine Show will be headlining the event with an opening act to be announced in the coming days.“At Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, roots music is a big part of our coverage of mountain culture,” says Blake DeMaso, President at B.R.O. “To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we wanted to present a show for our readers with a musical act that embodies the best of the Blue Ridge. We can’t think of a better band than Old Crow Medicine Show, a group with roots in the region, a band that once impressed Doc Watson while busking on a street corner and that is now headlining large venues across the country.”OCMSGroupStudioBW-1317To give our readers a jumpstart on the festivities, there will be a PRESALE PERIOD FROM WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2015, AT 10 AM UNTIL THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 2015, AT 10PM.Buy your tickets early here before it sells out! Use the presale code MYBLUERIDGE  to access your early ticket purchase. Regular ticket buying for the general public will open up again on Friday, April 10, 2015, at 10 a.m. in case you miss the presale, but don’t get caught in the rush — mark your calendars, set your Google reminders, wear a rubber band around your wrist, write a reminder on your mirror in lipstick, do whatever it takes to get your ticket early and ensure your place among the crowd at what is sure to be one of the rowdiest outdoor events of the season.Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details surrounding our 20th anniversary celebration. We’re in the final stages of the planning process, but we can assure you there will be good music, craft beer, fine people, a raging after-party, and plenty of opportunities to go outside and play with the B.R.O. staff.Happy adventures,– The B.R.O. Teamlast_img read more

first_imgIn its new state park, Tennessee plans to build a large road on a steep mountainside, which would damage stream water quality and threaten wildlife.Rocky Fork Creek/photo by Joye Ardyn DurhamThe cleanest water, the rarest species, the most secluded hiking and biking trails in the region, and a new state park. You can find all this and more at Rocky Fork in the northeast corner of Tennessee. Now is the time to visit this remote and virtually undiscovered wilderness—and to help protect it.Go to Mount Mitchell, highest peak in the east, in the late afternoon and look directly west: the mountains you see in the sunset comprise the Rocky Fork watershed. Or pick up the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies and hike northeast along the spine of the mountains that divide Tennessee and North Carolina for about four days, and you’ll come to Rocky Fork, a Smokies-like swath of forest that offers an ideal getaway for hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, trout fishers, horseback riders, birders, and anyone simply seeking solitude in a pristine mountain setting.Until you actually go “up in Rocky Fork,” it’s hard to understand just what a magical place it is. From the moment you enter the narrow passage that leads into a mossy-green-and-grey labyrinth of rock-strewn waterways, you are enchanted—even haunted—by an ancient energy force that is mysterious yet welcoming. It’s palpable and undeniable: this place has been special to people for centuries.Rocky Fork is Appalachia at its very best. Part of Cherokee National Forest, the 10,000-acre Rocky Fork watershed is about the size of DuPont State Forest in Henderson and Transylvania counties of North Carolina. It adjoins the Bald Mountain Roadless Area, the largest area of its kind between Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks. Its former owner was a timber company whose logging tracks crisscross the property in a network of unimproved, overgrown forest roads, ideal for hiking and exploring the remote backcountry. Many of these trails are suitable for mountain biking and horseback riding; some are only fit for foot traffic to protect the many fragile streams and springs.“Surrounded by wilderness, national forest, and the A.T., the Rocky Fork tract has the potential to become a mecca for trail users with almost limitless options,” says John Beaudet, an A.T. thru-hiker, trail maintainer, and sawyer who moved to Flag Pond a decade ago to live near Rocky Fork. “A number of trails originate in the park and continue into the Cherokee National Forest. Some loop back to the park, and others traverse the remote backcountry connecting to the A.T. as well as to trails in the Sampson Mountain Wilderness. This allows for a wide range of choices—from short day hikes to longer loops that stretch day hikers’ limits to overnight backpacking trips with camping on Forest Service land.”Who lives in Rocky Fork?Unlike many people in other parts of the world, we in Southern Appalachia are fortunate that, in some places, we can actually find naturally occurring, clean water. Rocky Fork Creek has the cleanest water of any tributary in the Nolichucky River Watershed, which feeds into the French Broad and in turn feeds the Tennessee River, flowing all the way across the state and into the Mississippi.Clean water contributes to healthy biodiversity—and it’s an important reason Rocky Fork has been inventoried and studied by scientists as a biodiversity hotspot. Its cove forest interlaced with pristine mountain streams is a bear sanctuary, home of the Southern brook trout, and a haven for salamanders including the Yonahlossee, hellbender and red-spotted newt. There are charismatic fireflies, a variety of frogs, bats, and delicate pink and yellow lady slipper orchids, among many other species.Blue Ghost and Synchronous fireflies are found in Rocky Fork. photo by Radim Schreiber, FireflyExperience.orgPerhaps the most iconic species to make its home in Rocky Fork is the peregrine falcon, a raptor with a fabulous conservation success story. Brought back from the brink of extinction due to DDT poisoning in the 1950s and ’60s, literally hand-raised one at a time until viable populations were reached, this indomitable bird is now once again flying over much of its former range. A species that traditionally has not tolerated human disturbance, it seeks out remote, wild, unpopulated areas like Rocky Fork and can be seen near the watershed’s jagged cliffs.New owner, new threatThose who know Rocky Fork have likely read about how this “hidden jewel of the Blue Ridge wild” was saved a decade ago from developers who would have carved up the tract into lots for trophy homes. But the story doesn’t end there. This special place is under threat again, and this time the would-be developer is the state of Tennessee, which already owns a fifth of the tract, and created Rocky Fork State Park—renamed Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park in January of this year.While the 2,076-acre park is only a chunk of the 10,000-acre watershed, it provides the best point of entry for everyone who enjoys the entire tract, the rest of which was added to Cherokee National Forest. The small Rocky Fork State Park (RFSP) currently has no facilities and only limited parking. It is accessed via a narrow one-lane paved road, tightly wedged between the gorgeous Rocky Fork Creek on one side and steep-sloping embankments on the other.The park’s iconic entrance is comprised of a field and wetland on the right, the spectacular creek in the center, and the steep slope of Flint Mountain arcing up from the creek on the left. Last November, after a three-year silence, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced plans to replace the natural entrance of the park with a modern visitor center and parking lot on the right, a new auto bridge over the creek, and a massive road cut into the steep slope of Flint Mountain for a two-lane, 24-foot-wide access road leading three quarters of a mile ostensibly to an overlook and primitive campground. What would this cost taxpayers? About $15,000,000.“Before and after its establishment, Rocky Fork State Park was envisioned as a ‘primitive state park,’ one in which preserving the abundant natural and wild characteristics of the site would be paramount. It was to be a park that emphasized low-impact recreational use that included hiking, nature study, mountain biking, and hike-in camping,” says Dr. Foster Levy, an East Tennessee State University biologist who attended early stakeholder meetings about the park’s development, along with mountain bikers, equestrians, and representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), Unicoi County Commission, and TDEC. “Without exception, all supported the concept of a primitive, low-development park. None were in favor of road development within the park.”Levy says the newly proposed visitor center would impinge on one of the few natural wetlands in the Rocky Fork tract. “This wetland supports the star-nosed mole as well as several noteworthy plant species. Runoff from the parking lot and other paved or graveled areas would flow directly into Rocky Fork Creek, increasing pollution and sediment.”The site is also the breeding and hatching ground of blue ghost and synchronous fireflies. Lynn Faust of Knoxville has spent nearly three decades doing firefly research in the Appalachians, authored Fireflies, Glow-worms and Lightning Bugs, and created the system that scientifically predicts the peak of firefly activity in the Smokies each spring. While she says that “both Photinus carolinus and Phausis reticulata exist in other parts of the watershed, the proposed visitor center site is the most user-friendly spot for viewing since currently it is a sort of natural amphitheater where people do not have to tread on the actual areas the beetles emerge from in order to witness and enjoy them. Once earth moving and habitat destruction occur—followed by pavement, buildings, parking, heavy foot traffic, and lighting—the populations in this, the most ideal place to showcase the species’ displays to the public, would never recover.”Red-spotted Newt / photo by Sharon MammoserSmall park, big roadThe biggest problem would be the road up Flint Mountain, according to architect and rural resources planner Taylor Barnhill of Madison County, N.C. “Construction of the road is an engineering folly, an extreme waste of taxpayer money, and cannot avoid serious environmental damage,” he cautions. “Sediment and debris run-off into Rocky Fork Creek cannot be controlled under storm conditions. The steepness of this road—at 17 percent grade for much of the length—would be dangerous for any type of vehicle, especially RVs. Despite the statement that this road is not for an RV park ‘at this time,’ the future intent is clear to those who have followed this planning process from the beginning.”Hugh Irwin, landscape conservation planner with The Wilderness Society, points out that “direct and indirect impacts of the visitor center and the proposed road could potentially impact many species found in the park, including state-listed species. They could also impact wetlands, stream water quality, and the primitive and natural characteristic of the park environment.”Johnny Cosgrove of Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, an environmental advocacy organization based in Oak Ridge, Tenn., says the state’s current plans for Rocky Fork could cause serious damage to 15 streams, five springs, four wetlands, and three seeps within the project limits. Also in harm’s way are more than 70 plant and animal species within a four-mile radius of the project that are designated as endangered, threatened, of special concern, or in need of management—including the federally endangered Indiana bat and threatened Northern long-eared bat.“The geology underlying the path of the proposed road is fairly unstable, and it also has the potential to seriously damage the aquatic life in adjacent creeks,” says Josh Kelly, public lands biologist at Mountain True, an Asheville-based conservation group that serves the Watauga, French Broad, Nolichucky and Pigeon River watersheds.“There is a high risk of erosion, landslides, and slope failures due to the construction of the proposed road. Rocky Fork is an exceptional aquatic resource that should not be jeopardized by the development of a road meant to help people enjoy the very stream the road threatens.”Rocky Fork needs your helpOur planet is now facing the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in its history, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Roads are one of the greatest impediments to habitat connectivity, which is necessary for wildlife to thrive. Four million miles of public roads cross the U.S. alone and kill roughly a million vertebrates every single day, according to the Wildlands Network.“Rocky Fork is one of the last remaining pure wilderness areas in our region, definitely a wild place worth saving—again,” says Beaudet. “If there is any place on earth where we do not need another road, it’s here.”In 2006, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy prepared the application for a $6 million grant from the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund. Co-signed by the U.S. Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and The Conservation Fund, the grant secured the majority of the money used to purchase the lands now comprising Rocky Fork State Park. “As a conservation organization, we share and celebrate the vision of Tennessee State Parks, which were established to protect and preserve the natural, cultural, and historic resources of Tennessee—promoting diverse recreation while conserving the natural environment. Rocky Fork is a regional treasure and affords an opportunity to provide a unique park experience,” says Carl Silverstein, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s executive director. “Rocky Fork’s best feature is its solitude, its adjacency to other protected land, and access to a backwoods recreation experience. We believe that with careful planning and promotion, this minimally developed park can become a cultural and economic driver for Unicoi County.”Dr. Levy says those involved in the early stakeholder meetings favored private development of campgrounds, accommodations, and restaurants in the area surrounding the park to spur economic development in the county. In a 2014 steering committee meeting, Levy presented a plan for electric vehicles to transport visitors to the park features, “eliminating the need for wide, paved roads and minimizing environmental impacts while providing access to members of the public unable or disinclined to walk. These electric vehicles could be run as a privately operated concession that would draw visitors and preserve the fragile watershed at a fraction of the cost of the newly proposed 24-foot-wide road.”Barnhill believes that charging in-park fees and sending visitor dollars to Nashville would only hurt the local economy. “With half of its resources in public lands, Unicoi County should serve as a gateway community to those lands. As such it has the potential for significant economic development through private businesses that would support visitation to RFSP and the Cherokee National Forest.” He adds that the state could greatly enhance those efforts by partnering with Unicoi County to support development of private enterprise like RV campgrounds on private land.“This park does not yet have a comprehensive management plan that considers future uses and stakeholders. No road, visitor center, or campground should be built without this plan and without first considering building the infrastructure on property adjoining the current park boundaries,” says Cosgrove. “If properly managed as a rustic state park, and protected through low-impact, eco-conscious development, Rocky Fork can remain one of the last pristine wildlife refuges in Southern Appalachia.”What you can doThose who do not want to see Rocky Fork over-developed are following the next steps, which will likely include a permitting process for the road-building project, followed by a public hearing and a 30-day period for public comment. Many more voices are needed to be able to protect Rocky Fork.Learn more about Rock Fork and what you can do to help at the Rocky Fork Journal web site and the Rocky Fork Watershed Almanac  Facebook page. Frances Figart is the Interpretive Products and Services Director at Great Smoky Mountains Association. The views expressed here are her own and not those of GSMA or GSMNP.last_img read more

first_img Enjoy chef-prepared farm-to-table meals, drawing on world cuisine, and prepared with fresh produce from our organic greenhouses, botanical garden and fruit tree orchards, helping you stay nourished and balanced. With social distancing, contact-free and other protocols in place to keep you safe and healthy, Eupepsia’s boutique resort in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains provides a safe haven that allows complete privacy on the welcoming, open 256 acres grounds, with an integrated approach centered around countless outdoor wellness activities, personalized immunity boosting programs, assessments and one-on-one consultations coupled with delicious, organic plant-based cuisine savored al fresco on the property’s many outdoor dining settings. YOGA AND FITNESS Set on a nature walk, lose yourself in the sounds, colors and scents of the forest, and experience deep mindfulness and connection with nature. Or grab your bike and cycle to the top of Big Walker Mountain, where you can enjoy a breathtaking, panoramic view of five neighboring states. BOOK NOW AND ENJOY EUPEPSIA WELLNESS STAYCATIONS AT SPECIAL RATES. FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY. Find out more at Call 276-722-0584 or Email [email protected] Relax and unwind with our water leisure activities: Enjoy canoeing and pedal boating on the Eupepsia Pond. Savor breathtaking views whilst kayaking down the New River or swimming in mountain creeks and waterfalls. ASSESSMENTS, CONSULTATIONS & WORKSHOPS OUTDOOR SPA, TREATMENTS AND THERAPIES Eupepsia’s 2020 Wellness Staycations focus on nature therapy to promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Appealing to anybody keen to re-balance and boost their immunity, Eupepsia Wellness Staycations are also ideal as Wellness Sabbaticals for professionals who are working from home or want to combine work with wellness to improve their health. Book a Eupepsia Wellness Staycation today and Experience the Eupepsia difference, which has earned the boutique wellness resort the #2 Best Wellness Resort ranking nationwide from voters in USA Today’s Readers’ Choice awards.  Guests with more specific wellness needs can also book specialized assessments, such as Ayurvedic evaluations, and one-on-one consultations. Experience a meditative yoga session in Eupepsia’s open-air yoga studios on the pond or in the pergola. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy quiet contemplation in our gardens or relax by the creek to experience full tranquility and serenity. Discover the healing and detoxing power of water therapy in Eupepsia’s outdoor spa and relish the endless nature view while swimming in our hydrotherapy pool or soaking in our outdoor power jet pool. center_img Head outside for a fitness session and experience the benefits of “green exercise”: enhanced vital energy, focus, mental and physical strength as well as increased stamina, lower blood pressure, uplifted emotions, increased blood flow and improved lung capacity. Take a guided hike along the forest trails starting on the property. Breathe in some of the purest air in the nation on one of the 7 hiking trails in and around the property, connected to the Appalachian Trail and nearby Jefferson National Forest. WATER LEISURE AND ADVENTURE Eupepsia’s Wellness Staycations are part of the Virginia Wellness Lifestyle focused on the great outdoors, living with nature, for nature, by nature. Bland County specifically, the home of Eupepsia, and neighboring Giles County are known as a nature’s paradise, with endless scenic vistas, historical landmarks, outdoor activities, and abundant rivers, lakes and streams and with numerous hiking and biking trails connected to neighboring counties. To complement their activities and treatments, all guests are invited to attend a variety of transformative talks and workshops during their stay at Eupepsia. Engage in gardening therapy in our organic greenhouses. Join our horticulturist on a tour of our vegetables, herbs and Ayurvedic plants and learn about organic gardening hands-on. Pamper yourself with one of our signature massage and re-balancing treatments in our outdoor Cabanas and relax to the soft trickling sound of the nearby creek. COMFORT AND SAFETY ALFRESCO DINING With its mission to help people strengthen their health naturally to achieve inner and outer balance – and taking advantage of the glorious summer weather—the award-winning Eupepsia Wellness Resort launched Outdoor Wellness, a full-fledged offering of personalized wellness staycations, harnessing the positive impact of nature on health and wellbeing. Now at Special Rates. HIKES, BIKING AND NATURE WALKS Eupepsia is our home away from home for our guests, and keeping them safe is our highest priority. Our Contemporary Guests rooms have been designed with this in mind, opening directly onto the outdoors, offering direct access to open spaces with ample fresh air and privacy and with contactless features, allowing guests to be safely on social distance. last_img read more

first_imgBy Dialogo August 27, 2009 Mexico City, 24 August (EFE).- A second-ranking leader of the La Familia Michoacana cartel, one of the most active and violent groups in Mexico, was captured by soldiers and law-enforcement agents in the western state of Colima, together with five of his bodyguards, the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) announced today. The detainee is Luis Ricardo Magaña Mendoza, alias “El 19 1/2,” considered “one of the principal leaders” of La Familia Michoacana, a direct subordinate of the gang’s top bosses, Jesús Méndez, “El Chango,” and Nazario Moreno, “El Chayo,” the PGR said in a joint statement with the National Defense Ministry. He is at the same level as Servando Gómez, “La Tuta,” the criminal who became famous some weeks ago when in a telephone call to a television news program in the state of Michoacán, in the western part of the country, he called on the government to come to an agreement, a proposal that was rejected by the authorities. “El 19 1/2” and his five bodyguards were captured yesterday, Sunday, in Manzanillo (Colima). Soldiers and federal agents also seized two plastic bags containing white powder, apparently cocaine, eighteen cellular telephones, and an unspecified amount of money in cash. According to the authorities, Magaña Mendoza was responsible for controlling the traffic in synthetic drugs (“crystal meth”) to the United States on behalf of La Familia Michoacana, as well as engaging in extortion, kidnapping, and the co-opting of municipal, state, and federal authorities in several municipalities in Michoacán. He was also La Familia’s local boss for the municipality of Zamora, Michoacán. La Familia’s operations are concentrated in Michoacán, Guerrero (in the south of the country), and Mexico State (in the center of the country). It is considered the principal cartel trafficking in synthetic drugs.last_img read more

first_imgBy Dialogo April 14, 2010 Operation Angel Thunder started on April 12 in Tucson, Arizona (US). Seventeen members of Brazilian Air Force (FAB) units that perform search-and-rescue missions are participating in the exercise. During the training, they will have the opportunity to share experiences and improve procedures, via exchanges with military personnel from participating countries, in rescue operations (Combat Search and Rescue, C-SAR) and humanitarian actions. “The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) already possesses a strong doctrine on this type of mission, and this exchange will allow us to observe the tactics used by other countries and to draw from this comparison new lessons, better adjusted to our reality,” explains Major Potiguara, Commander of the 2nd/10th Aviation Group, one of the FAB’s main aviation units for search-and-rescue operations. For Lt. Colonel Lubas, Commander of Parasar, an elite rescue unit, operating alongside Special Forces from the United States, Venezuela and Chile will provide a new approach to the squadron’s work, since it will allow a new vision of the use of special operations in humanitarian actions. “The whole experience in this exercise, the largest and most complex in the world, is very valuable for our air force, since we will be able to compare what we do to the latest developments in these operations to rescue people in a hostile environment,” said the Commander of the 5th/8th Aviation Group, Lt. Colonel Marques. Operation Angel Thunder will continue until the 24th, with 1,200 participants expected, including military personnel and civilians, and the use of 60 aircraft in actual air missions.last_img read more

first_imgBy Dialogo March 02, 2011 Colombia, Mexico, and the United States are moving forward on a joint operation directed toward “cutting the lines of communication” between drug-trafficking groups and focused especially on the fugitive head of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, Joaquín Guzmán, alias El Chapo, the Colombian police revealed on 28 February. The operation has enabled the identification and inclusion on the so-called ‘Clinton List’ (the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control) of forty-five companies in Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, Spain, the United States, and Colombia. The trinational operation began the last week in February and has made it possible to issue three arrest warrants for purposes of extradition for Guzmán’s liaisons in Colombia, the commander of the Colombian police, Gen. Oscar Naranjo, announced at a press conference. According to Naranjo, the operation has enabled the detention of more than sixty individuals, including Sergio Antonio Mora, alias El Toto, a leader of the Mexican Los Zetas cartel who is allegedly responsible, he said, for the death of Jaime Zapata, a U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agent. With regard to Colombia, Naranjo indicated that through Operation Mercury, Interpol has issued an international arrest notice for the brothers Jorge Milton, Dolly de Jesús, and Hildebrando Alexander Cifuentes Villa, who are sought for extradition by the United States on drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges. The operation’s second phase is focused on seeking and locating the members of the support network of the Sinaloa cartel boss, for whom the United States is offering a thirty-million-dollar reward, the Colombian police commander indicated.last_img read more

first_imgBy Dialogo March 17, 2011 On 15 March, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that in an operation carried out the previous day in San Miguel (Putumayo) by the Armed Forces, alias ‘Oliver Solarte,’ suspected by the authorities of being the FARC’s liaison with the Mexican cartels, was killed. “He was a very important person within the FARC. He was the counterpart of ‘Negro Acacio’ [‘Black Acacio’] in the Southern Bloc. He handled all the drug trafficking and arms trafficking for the FARC’s Southern Bloc. He was between the Central Command and the Secretariat and was responsible exclusively to the Secretariat,” the head of state revealed in statements to the press from the Casa de Nariño, the presidential residence. The president also said that the slain guerrilla was the point of contact with the Mexican cartels and the Norte del Valle cartel, for drug trafficking and obtaining financing for the terrorist group. Alias ‘Oliver Solarte’ was a militia leader in the FARC’s Front 48 and had been sought by the authorities for a long time. Santos Calderón characterized the operation as “a very significant blow,” not only for the impeccable way it was carried out, but also because “it was a coordinated operation by all forces: intelligence from the police, the Navy, the Army, and the operation was also a joint operation.” President Santos warned those who persist in their allegiance to the FARC that the Armed Forces will not let down their guard and that there are more operations underway. “I want to say to them once again that if they continue as they are, they’re going to fall one after the other, because we’re not going to let down our guard here, and we have our eye on many more of them,” the president indicated. For his part, the commandant-general of the Armed Forces, Adm. Édgar Cely, explained that the operation took place on Monday, 14 March, at 11:30 in the morning, in the area of the El Azul trail, in the municipality of San Miguel (Putumayo). “At that location, in addition to the death of this drug-trafficking terrorist, some administrative and communications materials, six grenades, several chargers, and eleven cell phones were seized,” the commander affirmed. The slain guerrilla was a member of the FARC for twenty years, was the subject of an extradition request from the United States on drug-trafficking charges, and had three arrest warrants pending against him for terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, rebellion, aggravated homicide, aggravated robbery, and property damage.last_img read more

first_img In 2011, illegal armed groups made up of former paramilitaries had a presence in 406 municipalities within 31 Colombian departments, that is, 147 more than in 2008, according to a report by a non-governmental organization. According to the Institute of Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz), “The Rastrojos [Stubble], Urabeños, Paisas, Águilas Negras [Black Eagles], and Erpac are the narco-paramilitary groups that have succeeded in consolidating their position throughout Colombia’s national territory, of which the first two have the greatest impact.” In statements to AFP, Indepaz director Camilo González said that “the analysis allows us to demonstrate that these groups have continued reproducing since 2006,” when the so-called United Self-Defense Units of Colombia (extreme right-wing paramilitaries AUC) were demobilized. González even noted that “in the last four years, there’s been a permanent presence of these groups, under different names, in 271 municipalities (out of the 1,100 that exist in Colombia).” “They inherited the [drug-trafficking] business and the areas of influence and mobility of the groups demobilized in 2006. There was a mutation, and that allows us to talk about partial and even false demobilizations. There was fraud in turning over lists [of demobilized individuals] and weapons,” he explained. The Indepaz report also notes the presence of leftist guerrilla groups and indicates that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are active in 249 municipalities; the National Liberation Army (ELN) in 65; and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL) in seven. The report highlights the fact that “within the logic of the conflict, the FARC and ELN, the two most important insurgent groups in the country, have occasionally joined forces to confront the narco-paramilitary groups, reclaiming rural areas in the Colombian south and southwest.” Nevertheless, it adds that there are areas in the eastern part of the country, where “the existence of alliances with groups such as Erpac, in order to divide up the drug-trafficking business, is clear.” González specified that even if the FARC has fallen back territorially over the last eight years, toward the country’s south and east, that rebel group (with around 9,000 armed men) has intensified its presence in urban sectors between 2010 and 2011, by way of militias. By Dialogo February 24, 2012last_img read more

first_imgBy Dialogo November 08, 2012 Italy and Colombia will sign a cooperation agreement to facilitate the seizure of mafia assets, as well as profits obtained from drug trafficking by criminal organizations, Italian Chief of Police Antonio Manganelli announced on November 6. The statement was made during the annual INTERPOL General Assembly held in Rome. “We have to recover by force what was stolen from us,” said the Italian Police Chief, known for the excellent results in the fight against the Cosa Nostra Sicilian mafia. Later on, Manganelli held a bilateral meeting with the Colombian delegation headed by General José Roberto León Riaño, chief of the Colombian Police, to which the Italian official confirmed the “synergy” between both police forces. Both countries aim at signing a collaboration agreement to take advantage of the experience gained during the fight against the mafia. Every year, Italy confiscates thousands of millions of euros in assets from mafia organizations, such as mansions, luxury automobiles, yachts, art collections, businesses, warehouses, and houses. After a lengthy process, Italian Law allows the confiscated assets to be transferred to the State, which has the faculty of deciding over them, as in the case of land, which can be given away to nongovernmental and cooperative organizations for commercial use. The INTERPOL General Assembly brought together about 100 Justice, Interior, and Security ministers from all around the world to the Italian capital to discuss the criminal violence that has been manifested in all kinds of crimes, from human trafficking to terrorism. The four-day meeting (November 5 – 8) opened under the theme “Challenges for Police Facing Contemporary Criminal Violence,” and served as a discussion forum for over 1,000 delegates from about 170 countries to determine realistic strategies to effectively prevent, suppress, and confront the changing nature of violence and crime in the contemporary world. According to INTERPOL’s Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, about 500,000 people are murdered each year in violent situations.last_img read more

first_img The operation occurred “when the cell had just received a weapons and explosives cache that was to be used for designated killings, linked to vendettas among drug traffickers,” according to the same source. By Dialogo February 26, 2013 A group of Colombian professional assassins was routed in Madrid Do you believe that these offices dedicated to organized crime, are one and only in Spain, or are worldwide. The Spanish Police arrested a ring of Colombian hit men based in Madrid who were supposedly hired to kill particular drug traffickers, informed the Spanish Minister of Interior on February 22. During the operation, several arrests were carried out, the ministry added in a statement. In September 2010, the Spanish Police had already detained two Colombian hit men that also “belonged to ‘collection agencies’ paid by drug cartels, and had settled in Spain to continue with their activities.” center_img These “offices” are organizations linked to Colombian drug cartels that executed selective killings, extortions, and kidnappings, among other crimes, by the request of drug trafficking organizations, the Spanish Police explained.last_img read more

first_img PANAMA CITY, Panama – A United Nations (UN) team launched a probe on Aug. 13 to determine whether a shipment of Cuban arms found hidden aboard a North Korean freighter violated UN sanctions, officials said. The Chong Chon Gang was boarded and searched on July 10 as it passed through the Panama Canal on suspicion it was carrying narcotics. Instead, inspectors uncovered an undeclared shipment of Cuban weapons, including two MiG-21 fighters. Cuban officials later said the weapons were being shipped to North Korea to be refurbished. “The UN mission is in the country now and began work early,” Panamanian Security Minister José Raúl Mulino said. The UN experts will report on their findings to the UN Security Council, which will decide whether the shipment violates a ban on arms transfers to North Korea. The six-member team is led by Martin Uden, a former British ambassador to South Korea who is currently the coordinator of the UN experts group charged with monitoring enforcement of sanctions against North Korea. The weapons systems were found in 25 containers buried under tons of sugar. Besides the MiGs, the shipment included anti-aircraft and guidance systems, missiles, explosives and command-and-control vehicles. Thirty-five North Korean sailors have been detained on arms trafficking charges that carry maximum sentences of up to 12 years in prison. The ship is moored at the port of Colón, but Panamanian authorities have kept secret for security reasons where the arms shipment is being held. [AFP (Panama), 13/08/2013; Telemetro (Panama), 09/08/2013] By Dialogo August 14, 2013last_img read more

first_img SOUTHCOM carries out joint medical readiness training exercises (MEDRETEs) in Central America every year. The aim is to strengthen civilian-military cooperation between the seven Central American countries through humanitarian assistance operations. These exercises also test the capabilities of JTF-Bravo to quickly provide humanitarian assistance during disasters, such as earthquakes or hurricanes. Since October 2012, Honduran military doctors and dentists and physicians from JTF-Bravo have conducted five MEDRETES in the country, providing medical and dental treatment to more than 5,300 people in La Cuesta de la Virgen, El Aguacate, Barra Patuca, Usibila, El Rodeo, Raya, El Ciruelo, and Las Liconas. . The medical assistance that the Joint Task Force-Bravo provides in collaboration partner nation military and civilian authorities is part of an effort to improve ties with the people of the region, said Iñigo Guevara, a security analyst with the Collective for the Analysis of Security with Democracy (CASEDE) based in Mexico City. “Having these kinds of mechanisms like medical brigades can often mean the difference between life and death for many people” Guevara said. The collaboration between JTF-B and the Health Ministry of Honduras and Honduran military doctors and dentists is important because the effort directly benefits civilians, most of whom are in rural areas where medical care is scarce, Guevara said. MEDRETES are part of the ongoing cooperation between Honduras and the U.S. on security issues, which range from fighting organized crime to providing medical care for people in need, Guevara said. “Honduras and the United States maintain a deep relationship of cooperation in intelligence, defense, security, and humanitarian aid,” Guevara said. Interesting article. It’s good to find that that the armed forces provide this type of humanitarian relief instead of spending millions of dollars in absurd wars. Medical brigades: a collaborative effort Military doctors and dentists treat hundreds of patients Annual training A great need for medical services Medical brigades are “invaluable” because they provide the opportunity for military doctors and dentists from partner nations, such as Honduras, to work together, said U.S. Army Capt. Vicki English, a MEDEL member. English is a veteran of several medical brigades, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Honduras. “We were part of an exercise to validate JTF-B’s relief efforts; we all worked together,” English said, according to the statement. “Many of these people usually do not have health care within reach. For many of them, it is the first time they have been seen by medical staff.” center_img Hundreds of Hondurans of all ages gathered around a shabby, wooden building in the department of Gracias a Dios, where military personnel set up a makeshift medical clinic. The military doctors and dentists, along with representatives from the Honduran Health Department, worked under difficult conditions, with no air conditioning, in a hot and humid climate, according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Hu Luu, MEDEL commander for JTF-Bravo. Luu was quoted in the JTFB website. The doctors, dentists, health department workers, and volunteers “often worked all day without stopping to rest or eat,” Luu said, according to the website. Military physicians provided routine check-ups and treated patients with diarrhea, high blood pressure, respiratory conditions, skin infections, nutrition disorders, and chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Military dentists provided cleanings and treated infections. Military doctors and dentists also provided classes on hygiene, nutrition, basic gynecology. There are virtually no roads in the region. Some patients walked more than 10 kilometers for medical and dental care. Patients expressed their gratitude to the doctors, dentists, and volunteers, Luu said. “People are grateful that we care enough to come, listen, and provide consultations,” Luu told the website. The military doctors and dentists provided services which are greatly needed in Honduras. Honduras has an average of 8.7 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, which places it in last place among Central American countries, according to a report prepared in 2011 by the National Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CONADEH). Most of these doctors are concentrated in urban areas, according to the report. There are no doctors in at least 74 of the 298 Honduran municipalities, where more than 500,000 people live. . “There is so much need for medical care in these regions that often the only way that people can access health care is by swimming across rivers or walking through swamps,” said Dr. Yuki Pravia Navas, a Honduran general practioner. By Dialogo January 12, 2014 The Honduran Health Ministry and the Armed Forces of Honduras (FAH) recently collaborated with the U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Joint Task Force-Bravo’s Medical Element (MEDEL) to provide medical care to hundreds of people in two remote villages. The Honduran and U.S. soldiers delivered the care from Dec. 2-5, 2013, during a Medical Readiness Education and Training Exercise (MEDRETE). A team of Honduran and U.S. military physicians combined their skills to provide basic health care to more than 1,200 people in the communities of Auka and Tipimuna, two remote regions in the municipality of Gracias a Dios, officials said. Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-B) is based at the Soto Cano military base in Honduras. JTF-B transported medical supplies, equipment, military physicians and dentists and support personnel to the villages. last_img read more

first_img Diálogo:met with the Chief of the Colombian Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Juan Pablo Rodriguez Barragán, to talk about this and other issues. General Rodriguez: There is no question that the use of new technologies is beneficial to preventing and controlling drug trafficking in the region. Also, the effectiveness of troops deployed to conduct the mission will reinforce the results and seizures made in the fight against illicit trafficking. These systems will improve real-time information sharing between regional countries and will allow us to focus efforts and coordinate different ways to combat the threat posed by transnational crime. Diálogo: How do you expect the new Regional Domain Awareness and Cooperative Situational Information Integration systems will help/benefit your country and the region in the fight against transnational illicit trafficking? General Rodriguez: Since the current government took office and until 2013, we’ve trained more than 18,000 members of the Armed and Security Forces from 63 countries. In other words, we trained about 6,000 Americans, 9,000 Central Americans, over 500 people from the Caribbean, 2,800 South Americans and over 300 people from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania. In 2013, specifically, we trained more than 8,000 people from 48 nations, while the Colombian Police and Military have cooperated with members of the Mexican, Costa Rican, Peruvian, Salvadoran, Honduran, Guatemalan and Panamanian Armed Forces, among others, with a greater focus on those areas related to citizen security, prevention and crime control, reinforcement of military and police specialties, and the fight against international drug trafficking. In early April, military leaders from 12 nations gathered in Guatemala City to attend the 9th Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC), where they discussed the potential issues and strategies of Operation Martillo, as well as the transformation that the armed forces must undergo to confront the new threats, involving Cyber Warfare and Energy Security. Diálogo: What are the contributions currently made by the Colombian Armed Forces to Operation Martillo, and what are the long term plans? General Rodriguez: First of all, I intend to continue with a task already underway, which is a priority not only for the Ministry of National Defense, but also for the Armed Forces’ leadership, which aims at the wellbeing and legal security of all men and women in the institution. Secondly, I intend to continue to strengthen intelligence as the main way to protect military forces, especially from current threats such as cyber warfare and cyber terrorism. Also, as my predecessors have done, I would like to continue strengthening inter-agency and joint operations, which have allowed the current government to conduct the peace process. General Rodriguez: To continue the military disruption against terrorism, so that we can continue to obtain strategic results to allow the national government to continue its positive dialogue for the benefit of the Colombian State, with an absolute respect for human rights and International Humanitarian Law. Diálogo: What is the main current challenge of the Colombian Armed Forces? Diálogo: What are your immediate goals as commander of the Colombian Armed Forces? Diálogo: What does it take to defeat this and other threats? General Rodriguez: Colombia is the main contributor in the fight against drug trafficking. We have disrupted powerful cartels that used to smuggle huge amounts of drugs into the United States and Europe. With other countries, we are helping to close routes and control the air space, hence preventing the transit of drugs from our country towards consumer nations. Presently, we are a leader in training countries to counter drug trafficking. Diálogo: What collaboration programs do the Armed Forces of Colombia have with those of other countries in the region? Diálogo: What is the impact of illicit trafficking in military and security environments? Diálogo: What are the benefits of working with other nations, such as the United States, to confront illicit trafficking and other regional threats? General Rodriguez: In the military arena, the threat [terrorism] uses drug trafficking as its main source of funding due to the profit obtained with that activity; in the field of security, they use logistic resources to attack the civil population and the economy of the country. General Juan Pablo Rodriguez Barragán: The Colombian Military Forces have an illicit crop eradication strategy, known as “Plan Resplandor,” (Radiance), based on spraying, using mobile eradication groups as well as soldiers and police officers to do it manually. We are also reinforcing the Counter Drug Special Brigade (BRACNA), which will have a fourth battalion with the aim of strengthening spraying efforts for this year. It is important to point out that the BRACNA is confronting the drug trafficking chain in a comprehensive way. Likewise, we are reinforcing the blockade and interdiction efforts made by the National Navy, with sea patrol boats built with nationally developed technology; and by the Air Force, by using their radars in strategic areas. Diálogo: What is the participation of the Colombian Armed Forces in the fight against drug trafficking? General Rodriguez: Undoubtedly, for a country like Colombia, technology transfers are essential, as well as knowing which transnational organizations are directly involved with drug trafficking. General Rodriguez: States should conduct a higher joint effort to educate new generations, in view of the risks involved in drug trafficking in all its stages, and the impact of which has an enormously high cost for the development of societies in the world. By Dialogo May 07, 2014last_img read more

first_imgThe FARC’s ‘illusions of power’ On July 21, Colombian National Police agent captured Martín Leonel Pérez, a suspected FARC operative who is also known as “Richard.” He allegedly managed about 60 percent of the FARC’s drug trafficking enterprises, according to La Prensa. Before he was captured, Richard allegedly transported large amounts of cocaine and marijuana to Central America, Mexico, and the United States. He also smuggled weapons to the FARC. The curtailment of FARC capabilities can be credited in part to the captures in recent months of important FARC leaders: For instance, even as they fight FARC terrorists, the government is providing social, educational, and economic assistance to the civilian population in vulnerable regions. In the last four years, as part of the implementation of the Sword of Honor program, the Defense Sector has provided nearly $15 billion (USD) to invest in some of the country’s most remote areas. They’re working in coordination with the head of the Military Engineers, who build high schools, highways, bridges, and houses throughout the country. FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN) do not have the capability to carry out large-scale military actions in the regions where Sword of Honor troops are providing security, according to the report “Six theses on the recent evolution of the armed conflict in Colombia,” which was released on September 23 by the Ideas for Peace Foundation. In addition to neutralizing so many FARC operatives, Sword of Honor troops have improved public safety by maintaining a presence in 1,103 municipalities in the departments of Putumayo, Arauca, and Catabumbo. They protect both the civilian population and the local oil-production infrastructure – a frequent target by the FARC, which tries to extort money from petroleum companies and disrupt the economy. They’ve also made a dent in regional drug trafficking by seizing 235 tons of cocaine. In those regions – La Guajira, Tolima, Meta, Catatumbo, Tumaco, Bajo Cauca antioqueño, Nudo de Paramillo, the southern and northern regions of the Cauca Valle, Arauca, Caquetá, and Putumayo – FARC operatives are instead focusing on small-scale criminal enterprises, such as extortion and theft, according to Ideas for Peace. For instance, even as they fight FARC terrorists, the government is providing social, educational, and economic assistance to the civilian population in vulnerable regions. In the last four years, as part of the implementation of the Sword of Honor program, the Defense Sector has provided nearly $15 billion (USD) to invest in some of the country’s most remote areas. They’re working in coordination with the head of the Military Engineers, who build high schools, highways, bridges, and houses throughout the country. I like that the government is constricting the FARC’s lust for power. They should fight them….because what Colombian is going to want a president who comes from the FARC with all the police they have assassinated and so many civilians as well as the people who have had limbs amputated by the land mines that these miserable guerrilla fighters have buried all over the country. “Put an end to them now”. I think the news is very interesting because that’s how we know what’s going on all around our planet Of course, Moñito!!!! For more than 50 years we’ve read and heard the same story and the FARC are still there like nothing. Those who tell the story today do it to make people who don’t know the history of the war believe that the peace process has no reason to exist and that the guerrilla forces should be eliminated by blood and fire because they are on their knees. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can’t just read the official story, you also have to get information from other sources, different from the press releases read line-by-line that come out of the brigades. The fight for peace is a necessity and glory for Colombia. It’s good peace is sought through social investment, far away from weapons They’re like the Islamic group that now, like the Islamic State, has horsewhipped the countries of Syria, Iraq and part of Turkey. The difference is that that Islamic group assassinates human beings individually and systematically by public beheadings, whereas the FARC commit mass assassinations, most of whom are innocent and defenseless victims, by launching cylinder bombs and putting bombs under motorized police and National Army patrols. In the end, worse crimes than those in the Islamic State. the people that cannot be said they do and stop doing it when they decide it Insofar as the national government continues to give space to these cynical, unabashed thieving criminals, they’re going to take advantage of it. That is why we all of the civilian population have to unite and present a strong front to this whole plague that only causes the country pain with so much murder, drug trafficking and terrorism THIS IS THE RESULT OF A CONSTANT STRUGGLE WITHOUT REST UNTIL PEACE IS ACHIEVED To Santos’ ear: Malala, the Pakistani girl did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize for trying to silence the guns of Al Qaeda, rather for asking for the right to study for Muslim women. So, in the end, President Santos, gives up on the dream for peace and gets to work governing. We have serious and urgent difficulties, such as overcrowding in the prisons, a strike in the judicial system, a strike in INPEC. “If it’s not Capas” QUIT. I don’t understand how the FARC, the most powerful assassins in this country, can dare to aspire to become part of the government. Of course, with the kind of president we have it’s not at all strange. As far as I know the history of my country, I have never seen such a liar and a hypocrite as Santos. He needs to stop the circus he’s got going on in Havana. Timochenco is an assassin with several warrants to arrest him out he lets him leave the country he has no shame and he didn’t say anything about it. Look at how he deceives the people, how painful to our homeland Over the years of history of this country, I have never met a person who was a greater liar and hypocrite than Santos. The guerrilla force attacking the villages, killing civilians in seconds and they need years to make a decision. Stop the circus going on in Havana, taking money from the people to support these assassins. The way he had the issue of Timochenco put away, he didn’t tell the country about the travels this assassin made to Cuba and as if this were not enough, two more are traveling now. Definitely, in this country the criminals have it better than the good people who are starving to death like the children in La Guajira, but he doesn’t care about this, he’s looking for a Nobel Prize. I hope to live to see if they give him one. Mr. Uribe’s biggest mistake was to leave you in charge as President of this country, what a shame. I hope they keep weakening the guerrilla structure this way…Since what we can see from the peace talks is that they’re going nowhere and the guerrilla bosses have had more than two years off now on the Cuban beaches while their soldiers continue to weaken and die for a war that they don’t understand while their bosses are enjoying themselves in good hotels and on Cuban beaches….Let’s think about it, boys. I hope what they say is true. If so, congratulations. Because the circus in Havana has been going on almost three years and they haven’t done anything but talk. I would like to know who is paying for that circus in Havanna… Thank you. This problem is really complicated because they are forces with ideologies that go against the common good of the citizens and they rely on drug trafficking and extortions and other things used to be able to finance their terrorist acts. In any case, the state does as the law says but it also in a way is turned into a great deceiver of the work of the Colombian people and both forces intend to do their own thing so that the war has turned out to be a good deal for them, for some it’s legitimate, and for others it’s not. Both forces claim they defend the interests of the citizens but it’s “freedom” because we are not freed of anything. Santos, you are a disgrace for this country. When you were Defense Minister you were able to do something because you were backed by Mr. Uribe. You lack you-know-what to govern. You let the FARC brainwash you. What hope could the people have, giving those assassins champagne at the expense of the people. Why don’t you take from your own pocket to support the circus? There’s something, Timochenko has some reason to ask SantoFARC not to include Alvaro Uribe or the Centro Democrático in the peace accord (discord) What peace? So he can intervene with the government in the talks. I don’t think Uribe and his advisors will allow him to do anything in this regard for two reasons: because you don’t give dogs wisdom and experience. And secondly: you don’t attack weak enemies, you let them die all on their own without attacking them. So let’s let Santos, who got into this by himself, save himself on his own, and the Centro Democrático watch over as it is supposed to and enforce the Constitutional mandate. Congratulations to the Military Forces of Colombia. These are positive reports which bring us peace to our daily lives. I think that Mrs. Gabriela Osorio and many everyday Colombians are unaware of the history of violence in our country, from the wars for independence (in which very young men fought) followed by the two-party wars of the 19th century, in which the leaders also murdered farmers and illiterate fighters, in which among the troops minors fought, recruited in the Plaza de Bolívar, followed by a very cruel war at the time, which was the two-thousand day war whose guerrilla fighters (who used other names, and who killed each other in great numbers without knowing why). These wars and all others in Colombia are the result of frustrated revolutions in the struggle for power by a dominant class since the time of the conquest, to the Republic, to today. How many victims did these conflict have? Thousands in the history of our country. Too bad President Santos gave them a second chance and didn’t opt for putting an end to those assassin narcoterrorists once and for all. It’s completely the opposite. Now they’re working under impunity for the bosses. The article is good on how the FARC are seen currently. But the army doesn’t do it all. If you didn’t know, the national police also has anti-guerrilla groups better known as the EMCAR, which are also in conflict areas and very dangerous areas. The EMCARs are in dangerous areas more than the army itself. I invite you to research a bit more on who are the anti-guerrilla police groups. AN IRON FIST AGAINST ALL THE TERRORISTS…!!! The State deserves to be recognized for this work. The military forces have earned our respect and affection; the civilian population now enjoys more peace, opportunities to study, means of communication and other services that it did not have before. Thank you for all of that. During the Uribe administration, all the municipalities in Colombia were free of this plague. What is the honor of the current administration in militarizing certain villages ?- I don’t believe any of the crap in this article. The s.o.b. government under Santos the scourge, wretched traitor he’s creating a farce to turn power over to these double s.o.b. guerrilla fighters, bastardly murderers, mangy dogs s.o.b.s God bless them for the sake of our children and grandchildren. But I would like it if the big international and national tribunals would judge and condemn that cowardly fighter Henry Castellanos who thought one day he’d take Bogotá and sent children to the flanks of attack and rearguard so they could be canon fodder confronting the Colombian Army!WORLD NGO FOR THE DEFENSE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN IN COLOMBIA AND IN THE WHOLE WORLD !. ORG …. director ….jose andariego…the poet True, they should be harsh with criminals in general, in addition to social service and community service and good works, too. WE HAVE TO KEEP BEING HARSH WITH THEM. IN ONE HAND A CARROT, AND IN THE OTHER, A STICK. The bad ones need to be taken away and put somewhere else and cut off their communication. Keep thinking that the police is in the most dangerous places compared to the glorious army, which goes around obsolete The truth is the guerrilla has never been honest or honored almost no one believes them, but we have to give peace a chance. If they don’t know how to take advantage of it, the armed forces will come down very heavily on them and the Colombian people will hate them. It will then be their loss, but if they become socialized and live in peace creating benefits for humanity. There will be a lot of favorable things for those armed groups, opportunities that not even men and women who have served the homeland wholeheartedly have had. Sadly, in Colombia every day we see how that narcoterrorist band gets stronger and kidnaps more children to increase their troops and with the indirect support they receive from the government. Today they’re at the summit, paid for with the taxes good people all their leaders in Cuba and they get stronger and stronger politically. Uribe is the only president who knew how to get results, all the rest in the past 50 years look like fools. It’s sad that RCN would publish an article with so many lies and statistical errors. For example, he speaks of 1103 municipalities in just three regions. He speaks of a support of 15 billion dollars, an exorbitant amount which the U.S. has never supplied to Latin America as a whole. Otherwise, the writing is incoherent There needs to be more strategy Some say Uribe’s comments are very to the point, I wonder: Why did he enter into agreements with the paramilitary forces? Were they the best assassins? How is it that Mancuso assassinates 900 people and states his connections to the military and serves 8 years in prison? Right now, in the U.S. they’re serving time for drug trafficking and from there they organize assassinations in Colombia, the organize the gangs, then what can Uribe say? This peace process is the biggest farce. The Colombians sleep while the clown we have for a president does whatever he wants with his dog paddling, giving the country away to those criminals. Why didn’t he take the true victims of the conflict to Cuba???? What a ruinous and contemptible stage play. Let’s wait for the surprise those criminals have for us, to get what they want and leave our country at their mercy. WHEN THE GUERRILLA FIGHTERS HAVE SPOKEN OF PEACE WITH THE THEY HAVE EVIL IN THEIR HEARTS THEY DON’T THINK ABOUT PEACE, JUST IN THE CHILDREN THEY RECRUIT TO ENGAGE IN ASSASSINATIONS….. All this is a farce, perpetrated by the poorly called President of Colombia, who, along with the Minister of Defense and all his committee, come up with these lies so the people can be deceived again with the story about peace. Meanwhile, the FARC spend their budget on bodyguards, armored cars, good hotels, the freedom to come and go from the country whenever they want. The people continue to suffer hunger, more violence, no hope. They go on kidnapping, killing, extorting and bleeding the country drier. And this poorly called President talking about false but yearned-for PEACE. Santos does not deserve to be the president of this country. It is shameful. In my view, the government should help to create jobs. Not just for youth but also for people of different ages and sectors. This is a way to give money to the population and employ it, keeping more people away from causing crime and adding new members to the revolutionary forces. If I live well and have what I need, why would I cause damage? There must be many who think the same way and just a few who do not. Really great As long as we don’t change the way we think (being negative, being pessimistic, being intolerant, being prideful, etc.), there is no reason to think about a change in our country… If we all were to opt to do the opposite, if we all pull in the same direction, if we all think the opposite, we’re positive… Be assured that change will be seen or will be noticed to be a certain percentage higher, and this change wouldn’t be for just a few, but for all, because it is in the interest of all of us, and the country would live in harmony, and with a deep peace, which is what we all desire. It doesn’t matter who is in charge now or who was in charge before or who will be in charge later; here what is important is that we all unite and each one of us contribute his or her little grain of sand and let us get out of this misnamed war crisis which in the end are criminal groups that hurt us every day… Please, Colombia, don’t blame anyone for the situation we’re in, let’s us speak nicely about our country no matter where we are, let’s not be prideful and you will see how well it will go for us… “We are all brothers, sons of our beautiful Colombia”. that is the best thing that could happen to Colombia, that they continue to attack those terrorists Peace doesn’t come from signatures and agreements with the terrorists. It will be achieved when in the country corruption, smuggling, drug trafficking, trafficking of minors is determined, when there is justice, education, employment, health for all, and not the band-aids the government gives us from those rights. We don’t want to see the President in the newspapers and newscasts giving out free houses, there are hardly enough. The photos of the thousands who have no houses. When there are no claims on these points in Colombia: WE WILL SIGN THE PEACE AGREEMENT. In 8 years Uribe brought the country back from the hands of the guerilla forces and in 5 years Juanpao gave it back. Too bad. I agree IF WE’RE WEAKENING THE FARC, ACCORDING TO YOUR NEWS, WHY ARE WE GOING TO TURN THE COUNTRY OVER TO THEM. YIELD ON EVERYTHING TO THE ASSASSINS WITH WHOM SANTOS’ CASTRO-CHAVEZ GOVERNMENT IS VACATIONING AND TALKING TO IN HAVANA. Very good article. I agree that the FARC and ELN have been decimated. The Military Forces should increase their actions against these groups without neglecting the Criminal Groups. Don’t forget that these subversive groups are nourished financially through drug trafficking. The government should have more of a presence, promoting social, economic, cultural development and equality in all the regions affected by the armed conflict. This article is not only disrespectful, it’s also contradictory. Can’t you see reality? Every day they blow up oil pipelines, they kill and kidnap military and civilians… they want more?That so-and-so character that you elected as President doesn’t fit the country very well. And as if that wasn’t enough, he put together a circus in Cuba which some idiots call a peace process… And still, those who oppose Santos don’t believe in the reduction in force the Colombian army has wrought on the FARC and they attribute the outcome to Uribe. Say anything you want about former president Uribe, but thanks to him you can go out wherever you want, to rivers and ravines, on the highways, since we were all kidnapped inside the cities,. Why don’t you acknowledge it, “ignoramuses”. You’ll realize the situation this country is in when this administration leaves, which is kneeling before its friends the FARC. We’ll pay the victims’ reparations with our own money while the FARC enjoy their wealth, out on vacation and drinking whiskey with the Congress’s and the President’s blessing. For God’s sake, wake up, open your eyes, long live our forefather. Enormous congratulations to all the members of the “SWORD OF HONOR” for all their achievements. GOD PROTECT YOU. What game are the FARC playing? Killing and kidnapping Alberto Puello, you sure are naive, don’t you watch the news?Attacks, kidnappings, assassinations, blowing up oil pipelines, etc. Get informed and wake up! Many, if not all, the members of the military forces have very low morale, because for Santos, the supporter of Castro and Chavez, an s.o.b. guerilla fighter is more important than a soldier for the homeland. Excellent way for me to keep up to date because sometimes I don’t have time to sit down and watch the news. Fot Juan Diego Oviedo, he must be related to Uribe, according to the comments against Santicos I think the FARC are mocking Santicos and sticking fingers in him let’s see if he has teeth. He should ignore them. And ask for advice from Mr. Petro, let’s see if he knows how it’s being played, because they don’t know the meaning of the word Peace. IGNORE THEM, don’t be so naive. The language used in this comment is highly offensive to the Colombian society: Here excuses are made for narco terrorism and a genocidal criminal group like the FARC is exalted, calling it so-called “revolutionary armed forces…”!!!! What in the world is that????? But, in addition, it would seem to be expressing a “message of great concern,” by pointing out the “financial weakening” of that horde of genocidal murderers!!!!!!!… Anyone would say they’re reading the “news correspondent of that criminal group!!!!!” It is high time now to let the country go forward. Let’s do ourselves a favor so all can reintegrate into society and we forge ahead with a better future for our children. PUT DOWN THE WEAPONS OF WAR. The only thing it creates is poverty and there are lots of mirrors to look into. You will see the change. My grand Landazabal sustained: the bandits sit down to talk only when we’re beating them militarily and politically. What’s going on in Cuba will not result in anything The thing about investments is just a pantomime. In the areas where the guerrilla fighters are, the army stigmatizes the rural people with the law force The mind and the heart of man without Christ is like an animal and is diabolic, because it doesn’t have the most beautiful thing God gave man: loveJustice, truth to achieve true peace. It is offensive to the nation to call them Revolutionary Armed Forces, when they’re a bunch of terrorist drug traffickers with a very high negative percentage among the Population. That’s great news;.”But”, what’s going on with everyday crime why hasn’t the government built new jails, so there’s no over capacity or over crowding. The money seized from drug trafficking should be used to get these jails built. I feel embarrased by Santos. How can we possibly believe in those peace talks? What’s going on in Havana is a circus. How does the FARC explain to us that they continue to kidnap and kill law officers and our soldiers. Please, Colombia, let’s wake up. What kind of country are we going to leave our grandchildren? President SANTOS is a clown. One of the agreements should be for them to say which people, institutions and others have been backing them, sponsoring them, publicly, since we are all victims. I am glad the Colombian army is decimating the FARC forces that way they’ll be reduced and brought down to little. Of course it’s just a saying, because the malice of A.K.A. Timonchecko has no limit, can’t you see how he gets all puffed up and prickly and towering, to talk the sh.. he speaks. And [cre]pontificate, like Osama Bin Laden The guerrilla-assassins of indigenous people of soldiers and police and kidnappers of unarmed civilians, speak a diabolic tongue and appear legitimate in their actions when in truth everyone watches in horror as they carry out their crimes. They call extortion a contribution to the economy and kidnappings a retention. When society reacts, they call it a temper tantrum in order to wave away wilful misconduct. These talks will have no result. It’s not pessimism, it’s that they themselves know that they won’t pay for their crimes in Colombia. Another authority will require it from them, like the Nazis and the Narcos, and they won’t do it. It’s been two years and this government will go and they’ll delay as long as needed. Non one believes them, not even themselves. In addition to this work being done by the army and the national police, which we acknowledge has great value, because that is what it is all about, to continually undermine their financial power so they are constantly forced to yield on their absurd expectations at the negotiating table in Havana. Meanwhile, I wonder: why is the Attorney General worried about giving them complete impunity, when he should be investigating their properties, among which are millions of hectares of lands acquired illegally with the proceeds of drug trafficking or forced displacement of thousands of unarmed rural people whose lands they took away, the long-time kidnappers who give no information on their victims, the massacres, including the one in Tacueyó which happened 29 years ago without any punishment of the responsible parties, the assassination in cold blood of the Valle representatives, the bank accounts this illegal group has abroad that the state should take over, etc. While it may be true that their political participation should come as a result of the negotiations, it makes no sense that people accused of committing crimes against humanity should expect to occupy elected positions and in addition and what is immensely painful, is the shameful disqualification and lack of recognition of innumerable victims they have left all over the country. Definitely, the enemies of the peace process are not the DEMONIC CENTER nor the extreme right forces, but the FARC itself. THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN THE PEOPLE’S ARMY, THEY WILL PERMANENTLY MASSACRE THE PEOPLE I hope all this marvelousness is truly for the good of the country I wish all this cruelty would end, in this country and Santos doesn’t have the guts to have war end in this country, so much violence. Keep voting for that idiot The truth is that we residents of Colombia do not see this security reflected anywhere. On the contrary, we feel more insecure each day even in our own homes, because we don’t know when a bomb is going to explode on us or these terrorists are going to kidnap us, since they even kidnap Generals of the Republic. In case they know where they are they don’t go after them Congratulations to our armed forces who give us security. But as long as the laws aren’t changed, and they change out those who are more corrupt than the judges or magistrates because all they’re after are benefits. Look at everything they’ve taken from the narcos which ends up in the hands of relatives or friends. The other thing with jails is that they should be like in other countries he who enters without anything like in the story without any clothes and no conjugal visits and I hope they don’t bump into him, visit him and you’ll feel it to commit The guerrilla force can be a terrible evil, but it is not the only one. The worst evil can be in a lack of education and an excess of time. We have to dedicate to matters that aren’t very important. In other words, there is no mass media that delves deeply, the truth is not told and this, we can do nothing to change it. AND IN SPITE OF ALL THAT BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, THE FARC STILL HASN’T BEEN EXTERMINATED AND THEY CONTINUE TO HOLD SWAY. ALL THIS IS NOTHING BUT OFFICIAL PROPAGANDA. IF THE PROPAGANDA WAS TRUE, THEN WHY DO WE HAVE A CONTINUOUS DEPLOYMENT OF A GREAT NUMBER OF COMBAT UNITS AND THE FARC SIDE DOES NOT CEASE WITH ITS ARMED ATTACKS. I believe that if the government would put an end to terrorism, it would be a resounding success, since it has enough strength. But the problem lies in the interests the high ranking politicians, capitalists, media and members of law enforcement itself have, who for half a century have taken the conflict as a way of life. These subjects are not interested in peace in Colombia. Why is it that while they speak of peace, on the other hand they take the lives of police and soldiers? What is President Santos thinking? You can’t hold a dialogue like this. How many families of police officers and soldiers from the north of Santander have lost their sons in this war which is a business and don’t even count. How many men have died up to now in the country. There is no number that would allow us to verify the truth Well, it offers a deeper look at what truly is happening in our country In brief, all the FARC want is a new role in the world. Wake up, Colombia. The more peace offerings made by the FARC and the ELN groups, the higher the demand for war, not just in Colombia, but all over the world Too bad the head of the executive branch has brought the country to its knees before the subversives with the acquiescence of the judiciary. I can absolutely relate to José Joaquín’s view True peace does not originate there, but it does in educating our children for tomorrow and creating employment sources for young people to work and support themselves and their families, and the big government leaders just try to fix the problem with warm towels, no, the problem has to be attacked at its roots (sources of employment, easy access to education in all three stages, continuous campaigns against drug addiction and above all guarantee a basic, comprehensive life system for each individual.) That is true peace. THAT IS PURE PROPAGANDA BLAH BLAH BLAH, MORE FALSE POSITIVES. JUST LOOK AT THE CASE OF GENERAL PAPAYA PRETENDING TO DO SOCIAL WORK WHEN WE REALLY KNOW THAT THE MILITARY ARE NOT WELCOME IN MOST RURAL POPULATIONS WHO ARE TERRIFIED OF A FALSE POSITIVE (AND SANTOS, ONE OF ITS INTELLECTUAL AUTHORS, UP THERE) Sooner than later, if it’s not human justice, it will be divine justice that will take care of them. They will have to pay for everything at once with their accomplices the current jelly government. Está usted en necesidad de un préstamo urgente? Si es así, el contacto ([email protected]) para obtener más información The operation, launched in 2012, was created to combat violence by the FARC and the ELN, and to attack their financial structures. Since then, the Colombian Army has neutralized more than 11,000 FARC operatives – among them 57 commanders of different ranks. The neutralized FARC members includes operatives who were captured, who demobilized by surrendering, and who were killed by military and police forces. FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN) do not have the capability to carry out large-scale military actions in the regions where Sword of Honor troops are providing security, according to the report “Six theses on the recent evolution of the armed conflict in Colombia,” which was released on September 23 by the Ideas for Peace Foundation. The “Sword of Honor” offensive by the Colombian National Army against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been an enormous success, cutting into the terrorist group’s capabilities by 26 percent. The operation, launched in 2012, was created to combat violence by the FARC and the ELN, and to attack their financial structures. Since then, the Colombian Army has neutralized more than 11,000 FARC operatives – among them 57 commanders of different ranks. The neutralized FARC members includes operatives who were captured, who demobilized by surrendering, and who were killed by military and police forces. By Dialogo October 14, 2014 On August 12, Army troops captured William Torres, the leader of the FARC’s 15th Front. He’s suspected in the June 2 killing of Army Capt. Gustavo Enrique Ortíz Lozada, who was assassinated while performing social activities in support of the civilian population, reported Info7. On July 21, Colombian National Police agent captured Martín Leonel Pérez, a suspected FARC operative who is also known as “Richard.” He allegedly managed about 60 percent of the FARC’s drug trafficking enterprises, according to La Prensa. Before he was captured, Richard allegedly transported large amounts of cocaine and marijuana to Central America, Mexico, and the United States. He also smuggled weapons to the FARC. The FARC’s ‘illusions of power’ Sword of Honor impacting terrorists In addition to neutralizing so many FARC operatives, Sword of Honor troops have improved public safety by maintaining a presence in 1,103 municipalities in the departments of Putumayo, Arauca, and Catabumbo. They protect both the civilian population and the local oil-production infrastructure – a frequent target by the FARC, which tries to extort money from petroleum companies and disrupt the economy. They’ve also made a dent in regional drug trafficking by seizing 235 tons of cocaine. Sword of Honor impacting terrorists “Although the FARC seeks to construct illusions of power, force, and territorial control, the state has greater military capacity and better tools at its disposal,” said Néstor Alfonso Rosanía, director of the Center for Security Studies, Defense, and International Affairs in Colombia. On August 12, Army troops captured William Torres, the leader of the FARC’s 15th Front. He’s suspected in the June 2 killing of Army Capt. Gustavo Enrique Ortíz Lozada, who was assassinated while performing social activities in support of the civilian population, reported Info7. The curtailment of FARC capabilities can be credited in part to the captures in recent months of important FARC leaders: The “Sword of Honor” offensive by the Colombian National Army against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been an enormous success, cutting into the terrorist group’s capabilities by 26 percent. In those regions – La Guajira, Tolima, Meta, Catatumbo, Tumaco, Bajo Cauca antioqueño, Nudo de Paramillo, the southern and northern regions of the Cauca Valle, Arauca, Caquetá, and Putumayo – FARC operatives are instead focusing on small-scale criminal enterprises, such as extortion and theft, according to Ideas for Peace. “Although the FARC seeks to construct illusions of power, force, and territorial control, the state has greater military capacity and better tools at its disposal,” said Néstor Alfonso Rosanía, director of the Center for Security Studies, Defense, and International Affairs in Colombia. last_img read more

first_img The Argentine National Gendarmerie (GNA) has arrested an alleged high-level leader of the powerful Italian ‘Ndrangheta mafia, which has extensive connections in Latin America. Pantaleone Mancuso, 52 – known as “The Engineer” – was arrested August 29 in the Argentine border city of Puerto Iguazu as he attempted to cross into the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguacu aboard a tourist bus. At the crossing, officers of the Argentine National Directorate of Migration (DNM) noted irregularities in Mancuso’s papers, which identified him as an Argentine named Luca Bortola. Upon searching him, GNA officers found (US) $130,000 in cash. A fingerprint check confirmed his true identity as Pantaleone Mancuso, who was the target of an international arrest warrant. An Argentine judge ordered Mancuso held until Italian officials commence extradition proceedings. He had been on the run for more than a year after Italian prosecutors charged him with organized crime activities, as well as the 2008 attempted murders of his aunt and cousin in a bloody family dispute. It’s unclear how long Mancuso had been in Argentina, or whether he was simply hiding out in that country or trying to establish new organized crime connections. Mancuso is allegedly a top capo in the powerful Mancuso clan of the ‘Ndrangheta, which is based in the Calabria region of southern Italy. The ‘Ndrangheta is considered one of the world’s most powerful criminal organizations, controlling an estimated 80 percent of all the cocaine entering Europe, according to a 2013 report by Fox News Latino. Its revenues from drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion and other crimes are estimated at up to $50 billion per year. And it has reportedly established ties with the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, as well as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary group and other Colombian drug trafficking cartels. The arrest highlights the continued presence in Latin America of the ‘Ndrangheta – and it’s only the latest in a number of recent captures of the organization’s capos in Latin America. In June, 2014 Colombian security forces detained Domenico Trimboli, who is also known as “Pasquale,” on drug trafficking charges. Police said Trimboli is a high-level member of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia who maintained ties with both Colombian and Spanish drug traffickers and organized the trafficking of drugs to Italy and other parts of Western Europe. That same month, police in Lima, Perú arrested Pasquale Bifulco, also known as “Spaghetti,” an Italian national accused of being a major cocaine trafficker for the ‘Ndrangheta. He allegedly conspired to move large amounts of cocaine from Perú and Brazil to Europe via cargo ships. And in April, 2014 police in the Dominican Republic arrested Nicola Pignatelli, head of the Mazzaferro Ursino Aquino branch of the ‘Ndrangheta, in the resort town of Juan Dolio, about 30 kilometers east of capital Santo Domingo. Dominican officials said Pignatelli, a fugitive who had been sentenced in Italy in 2011 to 13 years in prison for drug trafficking, was in the Dominican Republic to open a new route for trafficking of cocaine from Central and South America to Europe. By Dialogo October 07, 2014last_img read more

first_img The training exercises were designed to help the men and women of the nine naval forces improve cooperation and operational efficiency as they carry out joint missions at sea in support of ground initiatives. For example, in one exercise, amphibious and air transport teams worked together to provide humanitarian assistance to the civilian population – including medical care, food and water. During the simulation, a group of Chilean military staff and four U.S. Marines generated different scenarios to test the skills and responses of the naval forces. They arrived on the beach at Pichidangui on an LCU, known as the “Canave,” and LCMS which are known as “Reyes” and “Fuentes,” respectively. As the exercise continued, service members were transported aboard a LSDH-91 Sargento Aldea, an amphibious assault vessel, a barge, a Chilean Navy multipurpose frigate, a Mexican Navy ship, a Mexican Navy helicopter, two AS-332L Super Puma helicopters belonging to the Chilean Navy, and four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters from the U.S. Navy, according to Infodefensa. Training at the Partnership of the Americas 2014 wasn’t limited to drills. “Before the practical part, the exercise included lectures by experts in different areas. That is the challenge when operating with other navies,” said Rear Admiral Arturo Undurraga, Commander of the Amphibious Taskforce. The navies of nine countries from the Americas – including seven from Latin American nations –gathered in Chile August for “Partnership of the Americas 2014,” a series of joint training exercises featuring drills on providing humanitarian assistance to civilians during natural disasters. About 1,500 participants from Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Perú, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Canada and the United States measured their ability to respond during a simulated 8.8 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Natural disasters cause countless deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean. “It is critical to strengthen regional partnerships and improve the capabilities of these security missions,” said Brigadier General David Coffman, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces South. Coffman made his remarks during the closing ceremonies of the program, which was held August 12-22 in the coastal towns of Valparaíso and Pichidangui. By Dialogo October 01, 2014 Improving cooperation and efficiencycenter_img A history of cooperation Partnership of the Americas 2014 was coordinated by the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which works with Latin American and Caribbean security forces to help civilian populations during natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes. For example, the navies of Latin America coordinated relief efforts to help Haiti after that country was struck by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in January 2010. The earthquake killed about 316,000 people in Haiti and destroyed or severely damaged 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings. At its peak, SOUTHCOM’s response to relief efforts included 22,000 soldiers. Many of the Armed Forces of countries in the Americas and in the Caribbean also cooperate in the fight against transnational criminal organizations, such as Los Rastrojos, the Clan de Usúga, and Mexican transnational criminal organizations like the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas. Partnership of the Americas is not the only cooperative training exercise for Latin American navies. The multinational training exercise known as UNITAS is also coordinated by SOUTHCOM. Such training exercises help navies throughout the region establish trust and improve their coordination, which means they can respond more quickly to a regional or global crisis. “These exercises are necessary for all agreements in order for interoperability and joint efforts,” said Raúl Benítez Manaut, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “It involves a division of labor where each naval force makes their greatest contribution. Latin American armed forces have to train and be prepared to respond to a country when necessary.”last_img read more

first_imgThe government’s initiatives to improve the training and equipment of police forces are improving public safety, according to César Ortiz Anderson, president of the Association for Public Safety of Peru (APROSEC). Peruvian police “have (registered) significant successes in the fight against criminal organizations,” Ortiz said. The creation of the Genesis Group is part of the Peruvian government’s five-year National Citizen Security Plan 2013-2018, which calls for restructuring the PNP. Police agents noticed that the occupants of a black Chevrolet vehicle, license plate number C9C-560, were behaving in a suspicious manner. Police intervened and captured them before they could commit the robbery. Peruvian police captured the three suspects on September 26 as they allegedly attempted to rob a gas station in San Martin de Porres district of Lima, according to an Interior Ministry press release. Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this article. The police operation demonstrates the increasing professionalism and effectiveness of the country’s security forces, according Peruvian Interior Minister Daniel Urresti. Alianza, Saltarín, and Junior were part of a robbery gang known as the Gunman of Callao, a group of about ten armed and dangerous individuals based in the port city of El Callao, which is part of the Lima metropolitan area. At a press conference announcing the arrests, Urresti praised the 22 members of the Genesis Group, the Criminal Investigation Division (DIVINCRI) and the National Police of Peru (PNP) who participated in the capture of the three alleged robbers. Police officials created the Genesis Group in 2013, as an intelligence unit under the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (Dirincri) of the PNP. The Genesis Group is comprised of highly experienced investigators who police commanders chose from the 140,000 officers and employees of the PNP. The Genesis Group is mandated with identifying, tracking, locating, and capturing suspected killers, gang members, kidnappers, and robbers. Police officials created the Genesis Group in 2013, as an intelligence unit under the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (Dirincri) of the PNP. The Genesis Group is comprised of highly experienced investigators who police commanders chose from the 140,000 officers and employees of the PNP. The Genesis Group is mandated with identifying, tracking, locating, and capturing suspected killers, gang members, kidnappers, and robbers. Agents with the National Police of Peru (PNP), including investigators with the elite Genesis Group recently acted quickly to capture three members of an armed robbery gang known as The Gunmen of Callao. Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this article. In addition to relying on experienced personnel, the Genesis Group also makes extensive use of the PNP’s Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) and Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). In his Independence Day message to the nation in July 2014, Peru President Ollanta Humala hailed the efforts of Peruvian security forces. Peruvian police captured the three suspects on September 26 as they allegedly attempted to rob a gas station in San Martin de Porres district of Lima, according to an Interior Ministry press release. The government is continuing to do all it can to improve public safety, the president said. The government plans on adding 30,000 more officers to the PNP in the next few years and providing them 10,000 new vehicles. The government will also remodel more than 300 police stations and provide new communications and video security systems to the PNP. The government is continuing to do all it can to improve public safety, the president said. The government plans on adding 30,000 more officers to the PNP in the next few years and providing them 10,000 new vehicles. The government will also remodel more than 300 police stations and provide new communications and video security systems to the PNP. Peruvian police formed the Genesis Group to fight organized crime. Many officers in the unit have experience gathering intelligence. The Genesis Group is designed to fight organized crime with the same methods and techniques that are used by the PNP’s national intelligence unit (GEIN), which focuses on battling terrorism. Peruvian police formed the Genesis Group to fight organized crime. Many officers in the unit have experience gathering intelligence. The Genesis Group is designed to fight organized crime with the same methods and techniques that are used by the PNP’s national intelligence unit (GEIN), which focuses on battling terrorism. “Have confidence that we will continue fighting this scourge which is a threat to the state,” the president said in August, after Peruvian security forces dismantled an international drug trafficking ring. “It was a very professional job, very fine, (an operation) of much patience which was achieved in a short time,” Urresti said, according to the Andina news agency. center_img Police said the three men are also suspects in September 16 robbery of more than (USD) $2,000 from a pharmacy in the San Martin de Porres district and the assault and robbery of a Banco de Crédito del Perú employee in the Cercado de Lima district. The Interior Minister identified the suspects as Carlos Alva Mayekawa, 33, who is also known as “Alianza,” Ricardo Carrasco Sánchez, 47, who is also known as “Saltarín,” and Walter Torres Santiago, 30, who also goes by the name “Junior.” All three had extensive criminal backgrounds, according to the Interior Ministry press release. Police seized firearms, ammunition, surgical gloves and several packages of drugs during the arrest. In his Independence Day message to the nation in July 2014, Peru President Ollanta Humala hailed the efforts of Peruvian security forces. An ongoing battle against crime The police operation demonstrates the increasing professionalism and effectiveness of the country’s security forces, according Peruvian Interior Minister Daniel Urresti. Police said the three men are also suspects in September 16 robbery of more than (USD) $2,000 from a pharmacy in the San Martin de Porres district and the assault and robbery of a Banco de Crédito del Perú employee in the Cercado de Lima district. The Interior Minister identified the suspects as Carlos Alva Mayekawa, 33, who is also known as “Alianza,” Ricardo Carrasco Sánchez, 47, who is also known as “Saltarín,” and Walter Torres Santiago, 30, who also goes by the name “Junior.” All three had extensive criminal backgrounds, according to the Interior Ministry press release. Police seized firearms, ammunition, surgical gloves and several packages of drugs during the arrest. Alianza, Saltarín, and Junior were part of a robbery gang known as the Gunman of Callao, a group of about ten armed and dangerous individuals based in the port city of El Callao, which is part of the Lima metropolitan area. From July 2013 to July 2014, Peruvian police had arrested 160,000 people for various crimes, dismantled 4,767 organized criminal bands and seized smuggled and pirated goods worth more than $200 million (USD), the president said. The PNP had also broken up 153 gangs that engaged in assault and robbery on the national road network. “It was a very professional job, very fine, (an operation) of much patience which was achieved in a short time,” Urresti said, according to the Andina news agency. At a press conference announcing the arrests, Urresti praised the 22 members of the Genesis Group, the Criminal Investigation Division (DIVINCRI) and the National Police of Peru (PNP) who participated in the capture of the three alleged robbers. “Have confidence that we will continue fighting this scourge which is a threat to the state,” the president said in August, after Peruvian security forces dismantled an international drug trafficking ring. The creation of the Genesis Group is part of the Peruvian government’s five-year National Citizen Security Plan 2013-2018, which calls for restructuring the PNP. Agents with the National Police of Peru (PNP), including investigators with the elite Genesis Group recently acted quickly to capture three members of an armed robbery gang known as The Gunmen of Callao. By Dialogo October 23, 2014 Peruvian police “have (registered) significant successes in the fight against criminal organizations,” Ortiz said. Police agents noticed that the occupants of a black Chevrolet vehicle, license plate number C9C-560, were behaving in a suspicious manner. Police intervened and captured them before they could commit the robbery. From July 2013 to July 2014, Peruvian police had arrested 160,000 people for various crimes, dismantled 4,767 organized criminal bands and seized smuggled and pirated goods worth more than $200 million (USD), the president said. The PNP had also broken up 153 gangs that engaged in assault and robbery on the national road network. The government’s initiatives to improve the training and equipment of police forces are improving public safety, according to César Ortiz Anderson, president of the Association for Public Safety of Peru (APROSEC). In addition to relying on experienced personnel, the Genesis Group also makes extensive use of the PNP’s Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) and Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). An ongoing battle against crime Everything destined to repress crime is positive. it is very good We can appreciate the effort to improve by the police and an increase in captures. But, what about the Judicial Power??? We see that the same criminals who should be in jail are free and committing crimes because they were freed out of corruption. The Judicial power needs reform and to start with cleaning it out.last_img read more

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo November 14, 2017 On October 15th, 2017, the USNS Spearhead completed its training and humanitarian aid mission to Guatemala through the Southern Partnership Station 2017 (SPS 17). The mission: help the local population and promote enduring relations through exchange of ideas and experiences with the Central American nation. SPS 17—an annual series of U.S. Navy missions and deployments—is a U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)-directed operation planned by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO). Their efforts focus on exchanges with military members and security services of partner nations. This year, SPS 17 visited Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, and Colombia. “All courses taught—particularly Combat Medic courses—are valuable for the personnel who carry out tactical missions where stepping up intensity is necessary,” Guatemalan Navy Captain Mario Artemio Veliz López, commander of the Caribbean Naval Command (CNC), told Diálogo. “These courses can save lives when conducting operations against transnational crime.” For the mission, the USNS Spearhead landed a detachment of 80 service members, their equipment, and machinery at Puerto Barrios in the department of Izabal. According to a press release from the Guatemalan Army, U.S. marines, in coordination with the Guatemalan Army, worked on various issues—rescue, hygiene and health, medical emergencies, well drilling—and subject matter expert exchanges with medical personnel and civilians. For more than six weeks, U.S. service members taught various courses, such as the Newborn Infant Care Course to help babies breathe, the Emergency Cardiac Treatment Course, the First Aid Course, and the Rescue Course. Guatemalan service members and civilians attended the knowledge and experience exchange. U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Joshua Perry, commander of the ground mission, appreciated the opportunity to strengthen regional partnerships and recognized local representatives from the Ministry of Public Health and Welfare, first responders, and interpreters. “We set out on SPS 17 to work with our Central and South American military and civilian partners, to exchange knowledge, and increase our countries’ interoperability,” said Lt. Cmdr. Perry. “The continued cooperation makes Central America a stronger, safer, and more prosperous region, and it was a success.” Through the Guatemalan Navy, the Ministry of National Defense provided the necessary support to hold coordination, reconnaissance, and preparation meetings to guarantee the success of the operations. Planning for the ship’s visit began in June 2017. “The most important part was working with the U.S. Navy to bring aid to communities in need,” Vice Admiral Juan Randalfo Pardo Aguilar, commander of the Guatemalan Navy, told Diálogo. “We exchanged experiences on naval topics and trained together to face current transnational threats, making use of the same knowledge at the regional level.” For the first time, U.S. service members and members of the Guatemalan Army Corps of Engineers drilled a well to provide potable water to local populations. They participated in a joint initiative to rebuild housing. A preventive medicine team from the Navy Entomology Center of Excellence (NECE), of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, also instructed local residents and service members on preventing insect-borne diseases and pest control management. “Southern Partnership Station is an annual humanitarian, training, and interoperability mission conducted in Guatemala and other partner nations” said U.S. Navy Captain Steven Stacey, SPS 17 mission commander. “The Southern Partnership Station concept is based on the premise that strong, open, multilateral partnerships enhance regional stability and security, in support of the U.S. maritime strategy. In Guatemala we engaged with local health units in municipalities around Izabal. We engaged in Subject Matter Expert Exchanges on mosquito control, environmental health, basic life support, and perinatal protocols for neonatal respiratory care and prevention of postpartum bleeding.” Various Guatemalan government agencies joined the mission, including the Ministry of Public Health and Social Services of Izabal, the Elisa Martínez Children’s Hospital, and the Japan-Guatemala National Friendship Hospital. The CNC provided the use of its facilities for the U.S. delegation to set up camp. A Guatemalan Marine Corps brigade provided ongoing security for U.S. military personnel on their way to different assignments. Social outreach “The United States works closely with Guatemala to meet the daily needs of our citizens,” Vice Adm. Pardo said. “Through USNAVSO, the United States has conducted humanitarian aid and engineering work at educational centers through medical assistance and surgery campaigns in Puerto Barrios since 2014.” The USNS Spearhead visited Guatemala twice in 2017—first in February, as part of the Continuing Promise mission, then with SPS 17. SOUTHCOM sponsors both missions annually to provide medical treatment, humanitarian aid, and civic support to communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. The USNS Spearhead is a 103-meter-long catamaran with a 600-ton container capacity. The vessel participates in Operation Martillo, a SOUTHCOM-led initiative to counter drug trafficking in the Pacific and Caribbean waters. The ship also assists with humanitarian aid and natural disaster operations throughout the region. “More than 11,000 people have benefitted from Continuing Promise and Southern Partnership Station 2017,” Vice Adm. Pardo said. “This demonstrates the United States’ strong commitment to Guatemala—a commitment that promotes interoperability and security in the region.” “These missions strengthen the bonds of cooperation and friendship between both nations through their naval forces, which provide social outreach for the people of the department of Izabal, especially in the municipality of Puerto Barrios,” Capt. Veliz added. “It gives us the opportunity to interact and have new experiences that will serve us well in the future.” “On behalf of the entire SPS 17 team, I am grateful for the support we received during our time here in Puerto Barrios,” said Lt. Cmdr. Perry. “I want to congratulate the naval forces of Guatemala and the United States on a job well done.” Successful Mission According to Vice Adm. Pardo and Capt. Veliz, SPS 17 was a success. The objectives set out were amply met, both in matters of community cooperation and the knowledge the U.S. personnel shared with their Guatemalan counterparts. “The personnel’s goodwill was seen at all times in this mission through the support provided in various situations raised, which highlights coordination and teamwork,” Capt. Veliz concluded. “We must consider other integration activities with U.S. personnel to strengthen our bonds of friendship.”last_img read more

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 37-year-old Brentwood man was allegedly drunk when he crashed his car in Dix Hills Sunday seriously injuring his passenger, Suffolk County police said.Raphael Guerrero, who was charged with driving while intoxicated after the crash, was driving a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe south on Deer Park Avenue when he lost control of the car at 4:50 a.m., police said. Guerrero hit a curb, went up on a grass embankment and hit a large stone and telephone poll before the car overturned, police said.He was transported to Huntington Hospital for treatment with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. His 24-year-old passenger, Cesar Montano, was taken to the same hospital with serious injuries, police said.The Tahoe was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is continuing, police said. Anyone with information regarding the crash is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls are anonymous.last_img read more

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Long Island can expect up to another 5 inches of snow Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 during the morning commute. (Timothy Bolger/Long Island Press)In what is becoming an all-too-real re-run of the plot to 1993’s Groundhog Day (and more than enough reason to seriously question the psychic abilities of our furry, somewhat cute meteorologists Malverne Mel and Holtsville Hal), Long Islanders can again expect…wait for it…more snow.And this new snow will fall…wait for it…wait for it…just in time for tomorrow’s morning commute.The National Weather Service has issued yet another Winter Weather Advisory and Hazardous Weather Outlook for parts of Long Island and the region, in effect for Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 4 a.m. till 4 p.m., forecasting snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches with as much as 3 to 5 inches possible.The snow will develop prior to daybreak Tuesday, it warns, and will fall moderately to locally heavy during the morning commute. The snow will gradually mix with and changeover to rain as the day progresses, it continues, before tapering off sometime in the afternoon.“Snowfall will make travel treacherous,” it states, “especially during the morning commute. In addition, heavy wet snow may cause some weak flat roof structures to collapse. Tree branches will also be susceptible to falling.”“A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties,” it explains. “Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving.”The new storm rolls into the region on the heels of the last, which dumped up to 8 inches of the white slippery stuff on parts of the Island Saturday. Temperatures in the upper 40s and reaching even the low 50s are expected later in the week.How did that movie end, again? Guess it’s worth watching at least one more time.last_img read more

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A drug addict believed to be responsible for a spate of 18 knife-point robberies on Long Island over the past three months was arrested immediately after robbing another store in Huntington Station on Monday night, police said.Shane Cashmore, 30, who is homeless but has connections to Lake Ronkonkoma, will be arraigned in both Nassau and Suffolk counties on 18 counts of first-degree robbery, officials said. While being escorted out of the 2nd Precinct in Huntington Tuesday morning, Cashmore told reporters that he suffered from heroin addiction.“We have no doubt that Mr. Cashmore is responsible for these 18 robberies and we are glad to bring this spree to an end,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini during a joint press conference with acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.Two other suspects were also arrested Monday night—Juliana Panteleone, 31, and Paul Drab, 26, both of Levittown—but authorities did not elaborate on their roles in the robberies. They were charged only for the Monday night robbery in Huntington Station in which they were described as getaway drivers.At the time of their arrest, Panteleone was preparing to inject herself with heroin, authorities said. Sini noted that there was evidence that suspects were suffering from substance abuse and “likely committing robberies to fuel their addiction.” The investigation is continuing.Cashmore is accused of robbing 18 businesses across the Island from Feb. 13 through May 1. Stores he allegedly hit included Carvel, Subway, Baskin Robin, TCBY, Dunkin’ Donuts, and The Barn, among others, police said.“Over these several months and weeks, small business owners and workers at these small businesses have been on edge, but today they can rest a little more peacefully,” said Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.The big break in the case came in mid-April when investigators learned that Cashmore had been driving a rare Hyundai model called the Tiburon, which was only in production between 1999 and 2008.Police began looking into each of the 200 Tiburon’s registered in New York City and Long Island and were briefing individual officer’s when one came forward with information about an arrest he made in March that fit the description of the car, a 2006 version, in which Drab was driving. Drab was charged with possession of a controlled substance for that incident.The car, which was registered by Panteleone, was placed under around-the-clock surveillance, and authorities followed the car’s every movement: when the suspects took cans to scrap, to New York City, and to Panteleone’s place of work.Investigators followed that car Monday night to Oyster Bay, but the suspects became spooked by officers in the vicinity and instead drove to Huntington Station. After Cashmore allegedly committed his 18th robbery, he was immediately placed under arrest, police said.Krumpter said they were unable to prevent Sunday’s robbery in Lake Ronkonkoma because the car wasn’t used.Sini and Krumpter said their respective department’s willingness to work in tandem created an environment that contributed to Monday night’s arrests.The collaborative efforts of Nassau’s Robbery Squad and Suffolk’s Pattern Crime Unit is a “model” of how such investigations should work.In the first two cases attributed to the suspect, he allegedly robbed a Carvel in South Farmingdale 20 minutes after trying to rob a Dunkin’ Donuts five miles away in Seaford, police have said.last_img read more

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York More than 250 healthcare technology industry leaders will meet July 12 to discuss exciting and challenging new trends in their field, such as the digitalization and personalization of modern healthcare.The Health Tech 2.0 Summit brings together chief technology officers and other senior executives from prominent hospitals, health networks, and technology corporations, including leaders from private and public sectors. Dr. Purna Prasad, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President for Information Technology at Northwell Health — Long Island’s largest employer — is the featured keynote speaker, who will discussthe future of healthcare technology and its role in patient participation.“Patients traveling to a clinic to get their physiological [vitals] monitored is a thing of the past,” Dr. Prasad said. “Digital technology revolution commoditized medical equipment and made it affordable for the community to monitor themselves at home with acceptable clinical accuracy.”The panel agenda will cover healthcare innovation in the realms of tele-health systems, wellness apps, and cybersecurity. Speakers aim to navigate issues of commoditization in a more digital healthcare system, as well as the upcoming healthcare revolution as a result of emerging technologies.“The glut of monitoring, diagnostic and therapeutic gadgets in the hands of the consumer is confusing and overwhelming,” says Dr. Prasad. “A panel of experts will help unclog the complexity of these technologies and help consumers maintain a good quality of health.”The event is sponsored by SVAM International, the Long Island Software and Technology Network (LISTnet), the Long Island Press and its parent company, Schneps Communications. It will begin with a breakfast and networking session from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., with the panel scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.The Health Tech 2.0 Summit will be held 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, July 12 at Simplay, which is located at 180 Commerce Dr. in Hauppauge. Parking is free. For more information on packages, sponsorships and tickets, contact Joanna Austin at 516-284-3331 x237 or [email protected]last_img read more

first_img 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Rebecca Secor Rebecca Secor came to Member Loyalty Group from Educators Credit Union after developing their Net Promoter Program. During her time at Educators, she was a Marketing Specialist, Member Experience Auditor … Web: Details How Customer Effort Scores Can Complement Your Member Feedback ProgramA number of credit unions have asked recently whether they should be measuring Customer Effort Score (CES) in their surveys. CES was introduced by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) in 2010 in a Harvard Business Review article. The methodology was revised by the CEB in 2013 after further research showed the need for adjustments to the question wording and scale.The essential idea behind CES is that reducing the effort required for your members to do business with you will result in fewer detractors and a better member experience, thus improving loyalty. How do you determine where you need to reduce effort? By asking members that recently interacted with you if you made it easy for them to handle your issue.The scores, especially when segmented by the types of interaction (question, problem, technical support, etc.) or channel (phone, web, mobile), can highlight the areas of your business where members have to put forth high effort to get what they need done. Think of those times when you’ve had to call a service provider back multiple times to get an issue resolved, or you try to find a solution on a website…but you’re forced to call in and try to use the touch tone phone tree. High effort erodes loyalty.Some may ask, is CES better than Net Promoter Score (NPS)? We think both metrics (and also Customer Satisfaction or CSAT) have merit when building a member feedback program. NPS is, by nature, a relationship-oriented metric. When members consider how likely they are to recommend the credit union, all of their past experiences are rolled into the rating they choose. As credit unions analyze NPS and the comments that go along with the scores members provide, they are often able to uncover the root cause of service issues and make adjustments.However, CES (or CSAT) can also be beneficial when used to measure member experience within a specific channel or touchpoint. Consider this, a member may have had a multitude of great experiences with the credit union and be highly likely to recommend. However, their recent experience with your online banking was very difficult and took way longer than they anticipated. This very loyal member, may indicate that they needed to put forth a lot of effort to use online banking. Imagine if this member continuously had issues with the online banking channel…one would guess that this would impact their overall loyalty at some point. CES (or CSAT) can be used as a spotlight to highlight current high effort experiences in your member journey. When used over time, it can provide an early warning signal to loyalty eroding, high effort interactions.The reality is… a metric alone cannot improve a credit union. It’s how you use the feedback and take action that creates the impressive results that NPS, CES or any other metric promises.last_img read more

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr In one of her first public appearances since taking office February 18, Oregon Governor Kate Brown visited with advocates at Oregon Credit Union Day at the Capitol.“Congratulations,” said Governor Brown. “I understand we have 1.63 million members.”Credit union advocates are very familiar to Gov. Brown, who has served in state government roles since 1991. Prior to becoming Governor she served as Secretary of State, and as Majority Leader of the Oregon State Senate.When asked if she thought the state budget could be balanced without a tax increase, Governor Brown was quick to share her thoughts.“I think the short answer is no but I think they’re looking at some targeted price increases… We need additional resources for career and technical education,” she said, “so I think you may see some fee increases. I think you won’t see an entire overhaul of the Oregon tax system.” continue reading »last_img read more

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The new year marks an important turning point in the Fiserv history of delivering excellence to clients in the wealth management industry. As 2016 unfolds, look for additional timely information on The Point, including resources that drive results and improve relationships with your investment clients.To better serve you, our Investment Services division began a business transformation in 2015, revisiting everything we do and exploring how we can be more responsive to better serve and provide greater value for our clients. Revamping a business is complex; however, our mission is simple: leverage our leadership position in fintech innovation to deliver unequivocal first-in-class wealth management solutions.We are determined to bring our clients the best that technology can offer and recognize that innovations change at the speed of life. Consistently ranked among top technology partners to the financial services industry, the scale and leadership of Fiserv allows us to make unparalleled investments in our division from product research and development to client outreach and long-term strategy. continue reading »last_img read more

first_img 40SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr I’ll admit that there is no such thing as a perfect financial plan. While it may be difficult to achieve perfection in our planning, there are things we can do to avoid making the big mistakes. Here are three examples of financial mistakes that people often spend decades trying to recover from: Thinking that you don’t need a budget (or it’s impossible to follow one for your situation)“I know that budgeting is important, it just hasn’t worked for me.”“It’s too hard to follow a budget.”“I have a general idea of where my money is going but not a written plan.”Similar statements are shared in financial planning meetings and during meaningful discussions between friends and family on a regular basis. We all have life goals and a vision for how we think our money should be aligned with those things that matter the most to us. The problem is that the lack of a budget is a major obstacle standing right there in the middle of our path. continue reading »last_img read more

first_img 52SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Elry Armaza Elry Armaza is passionate about finding proactive solutions in a financial industry riddled with disruption. As Impact Director, he brings the best of Filene’s research and innovation into action. … Web: Details Have you noticed how much power the rating of an app has? Think about it, the last time you were looking for a GPS, exercise tracking, or mobile game. You likely based your decision to download the app (even at a cost) on its rating.We have grown comfortable relying on others’ opinions and we assume that these anonymous raters offer unbiased insights. After all, this is what we do with other experiences, from what restaurant to choose for dinner tonight to the hotel selection for your next family vacation.What about a mobile banking app?I have been investing much time lately (between November 2015 and February 2016 I studied 75 mobile banking apps) helping credit unions through the work we do at Filene with our Digital Strategies program. In that effort, I have uncovered a trend among app ratings in Apple’s App Store. The rating of the app had more to do with the users’ expectation rather than the app’s functionality.I found financial institutions with a robust app platform, built from scratch, offering good user experience, and with innovative features, with low ratings. In fact, the top 10 largest national banks averaged 3.1 stars out of 5. And the top 10 largest credit unions averaged 2.8 stars. If Angry Birds had this type of ratings, the world wouldn’t have experienced the eighteen versions that they since launched.At the other side of the spectrum, some medium size and small credit unions’ mobile banking apps with the highest ratings (4.5 stars and up) shared the same interface developer. The ratings are the complete opposite. The features perform well, but are rather basic, there are no bells and whistles here, and yet these apps enjoy high ratings.Why are mobile banking app ratings not directly tied to the innovative features or strongest and most robust experiences?My hypothesis based on the verbatim comments in the ratings is that we have one set of people rating the apps of the large and innovative financial institutions as if they were rating features in a luxury SUV, while a distinct group of people is rating the apps of the medium size credit unions as if they were rating features available in a small economy vehicle.Some of the harshest reviews given to the top 10 banks and credit unions are comparisons to other financials within this same group. They are based on advanced features like the ability for the mobile app to offer money management tools, predict future balances in real time, and activate and deactivate a card from the app. Members’ reviews given to the medium size or small credit unions for their app interface used phrases as “being easy to use,” “reliable,” and “meeting the expectations for everyday banking.”This ratings story emphasizes the importance of building for your members and solving their biggest problems and challenges. Also, who are building for? Is it the member of today or the member you want to attract for tomorrow? In either case, don’t let a positive rating “fool you” into believing that the mobile experience is exceptional. If your credit union is working on redesigning your mobile banking app and your goal is to offer innovative digital solutions to your members, let’s say closer to a “crossover vehicle” experience, pay close attention to members’ feedback. If you see a decline on your app’s rating with members pointing to new functionality that the app is missing, you might indeed be attracting a new segment of members. And that lower rating might be a positive indicator that your program is going in the right direction.last_img read more

first_imgA primary concern of credit unions and their 103 million members is ensuring that the nation’s retailers have the data and cyber security standards necessary to protect consumers’ information, wrote NAFCU’s Brad Thaler to House Small Business Committee leaders ahead of today’s hearing on cyber threats.Thaler, NAFCU’s vice president of legislative affairs, said NAFCU supports many of the efforts to strengthen existing cyber mechanisms, such as the work of the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council and the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, both of which NAFCU is a member. However, Thaler said more needs to be done on the data security front.“Data security is an important part of the cyber security discussion,” Thaler wrote in his letter to committee Chairman Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, and Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y. “Every time a consumer uses a plastic card for payment at a register or makes online payments from their accounts, they unwittingly put themselves at risk.” continue reading » 29SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

first_img 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr An agreement between the Brookfield, Wis.-based core processor Fiserv and the San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco will enable integrated communications capabilities for financial institutions, allowing them to execute future branch strategies including virtual interaction and a universal banker model, the companies said.Fiserv said it plans to offer these hosted communications and infrastructure solutions through its portfolio of managed services, Sentry Performance Solutions. The portfolio includes network services, hosting services, network security services, hardware and software life cycle management, and unified communications services. continue reading »last_img read more

first_imgOne of my pet peeves is when people arrive late – whether to a meeting or even a dinner reservation. I’m not sure if the same rings true for you, but I think most would agree that being late stalls productivity and can be just plain annoying.The Express Tribune’s Umnia Shahid recently published an article listing five habits of people who are never late. Habits include:1. They don’t blame their situations. “Being late is 100% your fault,” Shahid writes. “It’s always possible to be on time when it matters.”2. They value other people’s time. Being late is rude.3. They’re pessimistic about the clock. “Chronic latecomers abide by what are called time unicorns: unusual situations in which they made it somewhere or did something in record speed,” Shahid writes. “The solution: For various situations, set a timer from the moment you begin until the minute you finish.” continue reading » 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

first_img 18SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr A home is always a good investment. Several experts pointed to the notion that buying is better than renting as a bit of money wisdom everyone should ignore. “People think ‘if I rent, I’m a loser,’” says David Schneider, a certified financial planner at Schneider Wealth Strategies in New York City. On the contrary, renting can save money in the long run, says Pete Lang, an investment advisor and founder of Lang Capital in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Homes come with steep transaction costs and maintenance expenses. Plus, there is no guarantee they will appreciate in value. continue reading » You should always go for the highest return. Of course you want to make the most money possible off your investments, but going for the highest return isn’t always a smart strategy. “It may not necessarily suit your goals,” says Michelle Hutchison, money expert for personal finance site The risk on these investments may be too high, or they could come with significant fees.center_img Not all money advice is helpful. Some so-called tips could even set you up for financial failure. U.S. News spoke to five finance experts and asked them which money tips they think people are better off ignoring. Here’s what they said.last_img read more

first_img 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Happy Friday everyone! The Legislative Affairs team is taking over the Compliance Blog this morning to bring you updates on the Financial CHOICE Act – a piece of legislation that has gotten quite a bit of news recently. At nearly 600 pages, the Act contains dozens of detailed provisions – some NAFCU is in favor of, and some not. To save you the trouble of reading through the entire bill and enduring the portions that aren’t relevant to credit unions, I thought I’d write this blog to give you a brief summary of the salient parts, what to expect in the coming weeks, and what NAFCU is doing to make sure the bill helps your credit union.But before we get started, I want to provide a bit of context. First introduced and passed in the House Financial Services Committee last year, the CHOICE Act is designed to replace large portions of the Dodd-Frank Act. Although the bill passed Committee last year, it never made it to a full House vote. Fulfilling his promise in this new Congress, Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) reintroduced the CHOICE Act on Wednesday as H.R. 10. This version contains several changes to last year’s version – hence the informal moniker, CHOICE 2.0.NAFCU is supportive of the Financial CHOICE Act as it contains a number of regulatory relief provisions for credit unions.   Issues we are pleased to see covered in CHOICE 2.0 include: continue reading »last_img read more

first_img continue reading » 26SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr CUNA Credit Union Magazine announced today that James Schenck, President and CEO of PenFed Credit Union, will be honored as the 2017 Credit Union Hero of the Year. Schenck believes wholeheartedly in the cooperative spirit of the credit union movement.“It is an honor to receive this recognition on behalf of the 2,500 employees at PenFed,” said Schenck. “PenFed employees are the true heroes who are making a positive difference in the financial lives of our members every day—and who selflessly volunteer their time and resources to lead in their respective communities throughout the year. At PenFed, we are proud and honored to support the brave men and women who volunteer to fight and win our nation’s wars, our local communities, and the credit union community at large. There is no industry more noble or that does more good than America’s credit unions, and there is absolutely nothing more rewarding than joining together and helping others Do Better.”Since becoming CEO in April of 2014, Schenck has led PenFed’s asset growth from $17.6 billion to over $22.5 billion. A true believer in leading by example, he has expanded the reach and impact of the PenFed Foundation to address unmet needs facing our nation’s Veterans, active military and their families. One of its hallmark programs was raising funds to help the PenFed Foundation build the Defenders Lodge in Palo Alto, Calif., for former military personnel going to the Veterans Affairs Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. Since it opened three years ago, the lodge has provided more than 75,000 bed nights at no cost to Veterans of all wars.last_img read more

first_img continue reading » 30SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr New research shows the majority of small businesses are planning for growth, which they anticipate funding through lines of credit and business loans. According to the Raddon Research Insights: Winning Small Business Customers study, 79 percent of small businesses plan to grow over the long term, which could create lending opportunities for financial institutions.“When looking for a loan small businesses tend to look to their primary financial institution, so attracting small business deposit accounts can serve as the entry point for future loan business,” says Bill Handel, VP/research at Raddon, Lombard, Ill., a Fiserv, company. “Financial institutions can win small business customers by demonstrating that they understand business owners’ challenges, have the expertise these customers need, and can deliver the technology and service to help small businesses grow.”Small Business Growth Creates Lending OpportunitiesOf the 79 percent of small businesses planning for growth, about a third (38 percent) said they plan to use a business line of credit for funding, whereas 22 percent said they plan to use a business loan. These percentages rise to 50 percent for a business line of credit and 26 percent for a business loan among larger small businesses with $2 million to $10 million in annual sales.last_img read more

first_imgColumbus Day. I can say with certainty it’s kind of a joke holiday. I lease my land from the Cochiti Tribe. My title report had a copy of Abraham Lincoln’s signature on the land deed that gave the Cochiti BACK their land. Oops, my bad, you were here first. But it has become a popular day for credit unions to take advantage of the fact that no one “celebrates” this day, it’s not patriotic, religious or really significant so while the branch is closed (because the Fed is) let’s turn this into a day of learning, celebration, recreation and of course food.I have spoken every year for at least the last ten years and this year is no exception. I was asked to kick-off the event for Central Willamette CU in Albany, Oregon. The CEO is fairly new, and they will be going through the first core conversion in over 20 years – lots of change. These days don’t just “happen” they take a lot of coordination and imagination to have a good celebration! This is one of the best All Staff Days I’ve had the privilege to be a part of. My observation of the formula that works:Food. They had breakfast ready when employees arrived and a DJ in the lunch room to “pump things up” because it’s a Monday after all. They also have BOWLS of snacks in the conference room. Sugary, salty, nutty…..chocolate. All the food groups. Lunch was catered by a local favorite. 90 minute lunch with activities. This credit union had the most amazing diversity of activities during lunch:A representative from Costco (with cookies) so employees could sign up to become members…did I mention they brought cookies?The YMCA – again to sign up memberships. Encouraging wellnessFlu shots! Their insurance covers it so why not? Investment in attendanceSilent auction. Departments pooled together their money to create theme baskets to auction off with proceeds going to their foundation that supports charities like Credit Unions for Kids. 90% off the baskets contained liquor…..very popular. They raised $1,195.00! KITTENS!!! A local animal shelter brought a litter of kittens and a rescue pup for people to cuddle, play with and yes, two were adopted. The puppy was a bonus. So raise a glass to Christopher Columbus and even though we know you did not DISCOVER America, we are happy for the day off so we can keep America’s credit unions growing and staff motivated to continue to serve our members. Balance. Their agenda was a good balance between honoring their history (they showed a Legacy member video that brought me to tears), rewarding employees, and looking to the future (that conversion….) They are converting to Corelation’s Keystone product so after the presentation of timeline for training to conversion they played Bingo for Beer – The Bingo cards had key phrases used during conversion and the winner got a case of Keystone beer. center_img 37SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Denise Wymore Denise started her credit union career over 30 years ago as a Teller for Pacific NW Federal Credit Union in Portland, Oregon. She moved up and around the org. chart … Web: Detailslast_img read more

first_imgWomen’s Equality Day is celebrated on Aug. 26 each year. It commemorates the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote and has been celebrated in the U.S. since 1973. While much progress has been made in the area of gender equality since that time, digging a bit beneath the surface unearths some telling trends.The bad newsHere are some global stats, based on research conducted by Filene, to consider as it relates to gender parity:Women generate 65 percent of consumer discretionary spending, but their presence in the economy and representation in leadership roles remains unbalancedWomen are 20 percent less likely than men to have a formal bank account and often lack access to savings, credit and other financial servicesThe World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap will not close entirely until 2186When it comes to the credit union industry, some progress has been made, but not enough. Women are still very under represented in senior leadership positions within the industry, and the disparity becomes especially apparent when you look at credit union asset size. In the U.S., women make up 70 percent of credit union employees, yet only 53 percent of all federally insured credit unions have female CEOs and 20 percent have female board presidents. continue reading » 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

first_img“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are”- Max DepreeAre You the CEO of an Organization Seeking Transformation?  If yes, you must encourage data-driven dialogues and nurture dialogue-driven leaders on your teams.Organizations looking to transform themselves to address data-driven and technology-driven change need, more than ever, CEOs who are willing and able to adopt new ways of planning, acting, communicating and learning, with the goal of becoming both servant leaders and chief learning officers.CEOs Must “Learn and Serve” if They Wish to LeadCEOs must work to make their organizations’ strategic processes participatory, inviting employees’ input into the planning process to surface ideas and concerns, and to spot emerging threats and opportunities.  CEO’s must lead the building of teams composed of both learners and leaders who can adapt to externalities and adopt internal processes that promote agility.In the late 1980s Max DePree, Chairman and CEO of Herman Miller, wrote about the art of leadership and of the leader’s role as servant to those one wished to lead.  Today, more than ever, Max DePree’s ideas hold sway because information and change come at us faster than ever and no one person can effectively cope. Thus, CEOs must adopt a new role as Chief Learning Officer and chief mentor if they are to succeed at understanding the relevance and value of the changes happening around them.  And from this position, they must encourage the same behavior in their teams.  They have to show everyone the path to learning and adapting – the agile path. Only then can they serve, lead and succeed.Traditional Approaches to Planning Won’t WorkTraditional strategic and competitive planning (the purview of the CEO) focused on and put effort toward the puzzle pieces of organizations – company strengths, weaknesses and culture; customers; competitors; collaborators; and the context in which they all interacted.  Various consultants and management educators often advocated for one “C” category over another to differentiate their thinking or offering, or to show agility in the face of changing times. That agility has never been more necessary than it is today because data- and technology-driven disruption has created an evolving environment that demands agile, vigilant responses.Organizations faced with industry disruption must address first and foremost the wants and needs of their customers and, more than ever, their employees. They must address each of the above “C” categories, but with an emphasis on solving for the needs of their customers. And CEOs must add to their processes efforts to engage fully the people within their organizations.  To do this, CEOs must transform how they lead their organizations to think and act.In the face of digital and data disruption, CEOs can no longer focus solely on internal efficiencies and cost savings to promote profitability. Nor can they focus chiefly on branding or pricing to overcome their acknowledged competitors.  Instead, today’s organizations must compete within themselves to meet the needs of current and targeted customers; and they must work to “do it right” and not simply to “do it better.”  This means internal teams, departments and other groups must compete with each other and cooperate with each other to transform the customers’ experiences by empowering employees to think and act in ways that, ultimately, transform the organization itself.  And to do this, those teams need leadership from the top that promotes thinking critically, communicating transparently, and acting with agility.CEOs Need to Reinvent Planning and Decision-MakingThe changing role of the CEO includes promoting change to the organization’s planning processes.  Gone are annual planning cycles and 3-5 year roadmaps.  Organizations focused on traditional thinking and acting will not spot the opportunities available to them, nor the threats confronting them.  Today’s CEO must insist on continual strategy review, and put in place mechanisms, and digital tools, to gather “outside-in, real-time” intelligence from customers, competitors and employees.  CEOs must insist of themselves and others, that experience, not received opinion, will inform decision-making.CEOs Need to Communicate Strategies Holistically to Transform BusinessFor today’s CEOs, the challenge isn’t just to learn about digital disruption and technological change. The challenge is to act upon it without isolating it, without making it a “parallel path for planning and investing.”  They can’t think of digital strategy as something separate from the rest of their strategies and tactics, even if they give it more import.  Rather, they must find a way not to mention “digital.” Instead, they must lead their organizations to think and act holistically when describing market forces, evaluating capabilities and seeking new ways of working. When confronting digital disruption, CEOs must not focus their organizations on a narrow response to digital technology and disruption.  They must, instead, incorporate new ideas and technologies into their efforts to transform organizational structure, business practices, culture and leadership, with the goal of creating an adaptive, learning organization.CEOs Must Harness People if They Wish to Harness Digital TechnologiesTo help their organizations adapt, today’s CEOs must challenge their employees and themselves to understand customers’ needs and the power of technology to amplify customers’ influence on each other.  Technology provides valuable communication channels for both customers and employees, and CEOs must learn to use these channels to gain insights on what works, and what doesn’t.CEOs, as chief learners, need to work to fill their organization with leaders of teams that learn to problem solve based on information and interaction gained collectively.  It requires rewarding thoughtfulness and creativity; but it starts with hiring people different from those you sought before.  Look for creative types, and for people with experiences different from those already represented in your organization.  If you hire the right people, they will seek ownership of problems and solutions.  Let them have that ownership and let them create the teams needed to enact those solutions, learn from them, and grow with them.  As Max DePree said long ago “we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” 73SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Greg Crandell Greg Crandell provides strategy, market planning, business development, and management consulting to financial technology firms and their clients – Credit Unions and Banks. For more years than he wishes to admit, … Web: Detailslast_img read more

first_imgIt’s a truism that consumers tend to make health and physical fitness resolutions at the beginning of the year. But did you know that many of them also make financial resolutions? After more than a month of holiday spending, consumers are eager for ways to save and are open to new resources to learn how to. In fact, the first quarter of the year typically sees peak consumer interest around savings and retirement planning. For credit unions hoping to attract new account-holders and engage existing members in 2018, the timing of these New Year’s resolutions makes January the perfect month for engaging in a content marketing campaign around savings and retirement planning. And when it comes to content marketing for credit unions, there’s nothing more effective than financial education. Why? Let’s take a look. Consumers Struggle to Save—and Financial Institutions Can HelpCurrently, more than 50 percent of Americans have less than $1000 in their savings accounts. And nearly half of all Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, carrying credit card debt, car loans, and student loans that leave them tapped out at the end of the month. Consumers know they should be setting aside money for the unexpected, but they don’t know where to start. A National Foundation for Credit Counseling 2017 survey showed that 80 percent of Americans feel they would benefit from professional advice about basic financial issues. Consumers are displaying a strong need for financial education—and credit unions are in the perfect position to provide it. Empowered with quality financial education, consumers can take control of their finances, make more informed decisions, and, eventually, realize their financial potential. Consumers Aren’t Financially Prepared for RetirementLonger lifespans and increasing choice and control over financial services are also making retirement planning more complicated than ever before. In today’s workplace, many employees are offered the ability to participate in a 401k savings plan, in which they need to be able to contribute to the plan and make their own investment decisions over time. But many workers don’t understand what 401k plans are, or how and where to begin.A lack of knowledge about retirement planning and programs has led to a generation of retirees that just does not have enough saved. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average annual spending by retirement-age adults is roughly $47,000, but less than half of adults 55 and older surveyed have more than $50,000 saved.Adding to this problem is that fact that younger people are often unaware of the need to save for retirement, let alone how much to save or various strategies for doing so. Without financial education, this gap in consumer knowledge can be expected to worsen over time. A Complex Consumer Financial LandscapeCompounding the issues of savings and retirement planning, consumers today also face a bewildering array of financial options. Countless financial products vie for consumers’ assets and attention: banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, insurance firms, credit card companies, mortgage companies, online payment apps, financial planners, and more. In this complex landscape, consumers feel overwhelmed, lacking both the knowledge and time to research and select the best options. Financial Education as a Content Marketing ToolWhile today’s financial landscape is a fraught one for consumers, the good news is that with a foundation of even basic financial literacy, consumers are suddenly empowered to make much more informed choices about saving, retirement planning, investing, borrowing, and more. And as trusted institutions with track records in their communities, credit unions are in the perfect position to provide this much-needed financial education for consumers. To do so, institutions should leverage the best practices of content marketing and integrate financial education into their marketing strategy.At its most essential, content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing valuable content for the purpose of both educating and helping your target consumers. Because content marketing is so helpful and valuable to consumers, it works to establish trust and credibility in your brand over time—and this is especially true of content marketing programs that are educational. In fact, one study found that consumers who engage in online learning programs are 29 times more likely to buy a product from the program sponsor, while 94 percent said they now have a more positive impression of the sponsor’s brand.When creating content for your blogs, videos, articles, and emails, then, education should be a top priority. Where are the knowledge gaps in your own consumer base? What topics are your consumers desperate to learn about? From a series of blog posts on retirement savings to a “Mortgage 101” video, content marketing that offers concrete educational value will satisfy your consumers while increasing their likelihood of coming to you for answers—and products.  For credit unions, financial education represents a golden opportunity. By moving away from “salesy” marketing and product pushes and toward helping consumers develop financial skills, teaching them how to execute savings strategies, and inspiring them to make financial security a priority, financial institutions are not only helping create a stronger and healthier consumer population—they’re also building their own brands and attracting new, and more educated, account-holders. The final result is a powerful win that can’t be ignored. To learn more about how to create a strategic annual marketing plan that’s built around financial education, download The Ultimate Guide to Financial Marketing Success in 2018 here. 83SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Mike Lovell Mike Lovell is the Vice President of Digital Marketing at EVERFI. In his role, he works directly with d credit unions to build and improve upon financial education and digital … Web: Detailslast_img read more

first_img continue reading » It is normal and perfectly acceptable that credit unions should evolve, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle wrote to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Nussle responded to a letter Hatch sent NCUA Chair J. Mark McWatters last week with questions about the state of the credit union movement.“It is perfectly acceptable for credit unions to evolve – the whole financial services industry looks different than it did in 1934,” Nussle wrote. “Credit unions need to remain relevant to consumers in order to fulfill their mission, and they’re working to remain relevant within a charter that is overly restrictive and burdensome.”Nussle detailed the background behind credit unions’ tax status, and how that mission has not changed. He noted that credit unions’ expanding their product offerings reflects ongoing change in technology and the financial services marketplace.In the letter, Nussle also noted: 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

first_imgHolding oneself accountable is more than a slogan or bumper sticker. A fundamental tenet extraordinary leaders embrace is that the degree to which they hold themselves accountable dictates the extent of their empowerment and ability to effect positive change. When this perspective is primary, it forwards actions and builds trust. When it’s absent, it not only feeds a blame game but narrows executives’ perspectives about how to make an impact.This principle reverberates through many aspects of strategic execution. “So-and-so department is in charge of that project and we’re just waiting for them (to get their act together)” is a perspective that dictates a lack of empowerment. Contrast that with, “Yep, they’re assigned this project and yet I know they need help, so we will step in.”As a common yet largely underappreciated example, we hold that you are accountable for managing your mood. Period. It’s easy to rationalize a bad mood by pointing to a stressful work assignment, a pushy colleague or a harried commute. But that looming deadline and the driver who cut you off on the highway don’t have the authority to determine your emotional outlook and attitude for the rest of the day. 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

first_imgCUNA staff will host a post-election webinar Thursday, where CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle, Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan, Chief Political Officer Richard Gose and Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer for Political Action Trey Hawkins will give a comprehensive breakdown on how the election results will shape CUNA advocacy efforts going forward.Registration is now open for the webinar, which is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (ET) Nov. 8, and is free for CUNA members.Items covered will include:CUNA’s political and grassroots efforts to secure a credit union-friendly majority in both chambers for the 116th Congress;How the results will impact credit union advocacy priorities, including potential leadership changes and new committee members. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Patronage dividends are a direct reflection of a credit union’s cooperative structure. Nowhere is that reflection brighter than at $6 billion asset CEFCU in Peoria, Ill., which lives by the words, “Not a Bank. Better.”The credit union distributed a record $50 million “Extraordinary Dividend” to members Nov. 30. The amount each member received was determined by dividends earned and interest paid during the first 11 months of the year.Among credit unions offering patronage dividends, the median amount is $316,000, according to June 2018 data reported by CUNA’s Member Benefits report. At that time, these payouts ranged from $1,200 to $40 million.Over the last 19 years, CEFCU has returned $280 million to members through Extraordinary Dividends.last_img read more

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Working from home has its perks—no commute, more family time and (possibly) fewer distractions. But it can also be difficult to lead a team that you don’t see in the office every day. Several leaders have expressed frustration that some of their team members aren’t as responsive or lack follow through since they have been working from home during the pandemic. The lack of personal interaction can make it more challenging to check in with team members who don’t seem to be pulling their weight.So how do you instill a sense of ownership and accountability in a virtual environment?Establish goals and outcomes. Although there may be fewer distractions—chatty coworkers, ad hoc meetings, etc.—when employees are working from home, it also can be challenging to focus. As a leader, it is important to set clear goals, outcomes and deadlines for projects and tasks so that each of your team members know exactly what your expectations are. Focusing on outcomes allows an employee to take ownership of a task or project and relieves you from having to micromanage the process. When setting a desired outcome, think about what the end result should look like and communicate that to the employee. At the beginning of the week, communicate exactly what you are expecting each team member to complete, the due date and how they should submit their work.last_img read more

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York It will be theater in the ‘rough’ in more ways than one when Bonney/King Productions brings Lyle Kessler’s dark drama, “Orphans,” to Conklin Barn in Huntington for a two-week run opening Thursday.Hosting the show is the circa 1830 Conklin Barn, one of the few surviving hand-built shelters from the early days of the Long Island settlers, which was moved from Laurel Hollow to its present location in 1990. The rugged structure provides an intimate venue suited to theater in the round and for this drama, which explores the vagaries of the human soul and longings of individuals who are rough around the edges.“It is a diamond in the rough,” said Sean King of Smithtown, who co-produced and stars in the show as Harold, a complex father figure.The story line follows two brothers, Treat and Philip, orphaned at an early age, who are living in an unconventional world of their own creation in a dilapidated North Philly row house. Treat supports the pair through petty thievery while Philip, instilled by his brother with fear of the outside world, is a virtual shut-in. The dynamics shift when Treat brings home Harold, an inebriated businessman who has reasons of his own for assuming the uneasy role of surrogate father to the two dysfunctional young men.Treat, the volcanic brother, played by Aaron Dalla Villa, and the child-like, sensitive Philip, played by Jay William Thomas, were cast after 600 actors saw the ad in Backstage magazine, and turned out to audition in a Manhattan studio.“Orphans” is the second summer theater production that King and Jim Bonney of Huntington have staged at the Conklin Barn. Bonney is at the helm again as director.King and Bonney’s first production, “Prisoners and Criminals,” played to a sold-out house last summer. Based on an original script by Canadian playwright Jared Wright, “Prisoners and Criminals” garnered 2014 awards for Long Island’s Best Play, Actor and Director from Broadway World for Bonney and King.Following this triumph, Bonney—electrified after he saw the Broadway revival of “Orphans” with Alec Baldwin and Ben Foster—was determined to bring it to Huntington audiences.King, who has made a career of playing tormented souls, is equally excited about producing this show with Bonney.“’Orphans’ premiered on stage in Los Angeles in 1983 with Joe Pantoliano of Sopranos’ fame and the late Lane Smith, who starred as Richard Nixon in ‘The Final Days,’” King said. “‘Orphans’ went on to be produced all over the world, including a very successful London run. It was nominated for a Tony for Best Revival of a Play.”The story of lost boys who live on the outskirts of society, yet crave a normalcy, still resonates today, Bonney said of the drama with comic overtones.The basis for the 1987 film starring Albert Finney and Matthew Modine, King said that this hard-hitting drama established Kessler as a playwright and showcases some of his finest writing. The playwright will be in attendance at the Sept. 4 performance, which will be followed by a question and answer period.It is all part of King and Bonney’s vision to bring theater that takes audiences out of their comfort zones to Huntington.“Audiences need to be exposed to all kinds of theater,” Bonney said. “We want to create a theater collective, a space where new playwrights can see their work come to life.”The Conklin Barn is located at 2 High St. off New York Ave. in downtown Huntington. The show opens on Aug. 20 for a 12-performance run through Sept. 5. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at read more

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York After hours of contentious debate, Suffolk County Legislators approved a resolution Tuesday that encourages government entities to work together on large projects.The aim of the resolution, which was approved 10-7, is to speed up the process for Projects of Regional Significance, such as the Ronkonkoma Hub, because they affect more than one town and require cooperation among multiple government agencies to be successful.Opponents called it a power grab that would take zoning power away from local authorities and put it in the county’s hands.“No one is in favor of this,” exclaimed Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue). “It’s another layer of government imposed on planning and zoning initiatives. It’s red tape. It’s unnecessary.”The resolution encourages, but won’t require, town leaders to communicate and work together on Projects of Regional Significance. It requires membership in the Alliance in order to secure county funding for projects.Several lawmakers wondered if it’s necessary to pass a law that suggests officials talk to one another, and if they even had the authority to do so.Krupski also said the town supervisors that he spoke to about the proposal don’t support it. Legis. Lou D’Amaro (D-Huntington Station) shot back that if there are town supervisors against the resolution, it’s because they don’t understand it, they’re either misinformed, or uninformed.The resolution’s perceived vagueness was debated at length. Lawmakers called on Counsel to the Legislature, George M. Nolan, repeatedly to help them interpret certain sections’ meaning.Legis. William J. Lindsay, III (D-Holbrook) introduced the resolution in July to assist with the Suffolk County Master Plan. The Plan was adopted as a guide for future development and recognized that Projects of Regional Significance involve several levels of government entities.Proponents urged the Legislature to pass the bill as soon as possible to accelerate a billion dollars’ worth of projects already approved but awaiting funds to start work. Proponents contended that investors would rather spend their money in communities that can get projects done quickly, and that’s why Long Island’s willing investors are decreasing.The resolution’s other provision creates a list of prequalified consultants to perform work on the projects. This will eliminate the need for formal Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for such consultants.The bill now goes to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.last_img read more

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By John DundonThe Barclays has come and gone at Bethpage State Park. The Black’s reputation of being a tough play even for the world’s best golfers held true this past week. Perhaps the most talked about aspect of the tournament, aside from anything golf related, was the raucous crowd that flooded the out-of-bounds areas Thursday through Sunday for the PGA tournament.“[The crowd] was loud, it was a lot of fun. It felt like you were almost playing football, it just kind of sets the tone,” said tournament winner Patrick Reed after he completed his final round on Sunday. Golf traditionally hasn’t been known to be a sport where crowd noise is a factor. Exactly the opposite, actually. Fans are expected to respect the rules of the course—no talking, yelling or chanting while a player is over the ball. Comparing spectators at a golf tournament and fans at an NFL football game isn’t something that happens every day on the PGA tour. Reed wasn’t the only golfer who was outspoken on the topic last weekend. Needing a birdie to clinch a spot on the US Ryder Cup team, Rickie Fowler stepped up to the tee box on the 18th hole. “It was a little loud up there on 18,” Fowler said semi-seriously. The resulting drive ended up way right in the high fescue. It pretty much eliminated any hope of him birdieing the hole, and Fowlers shot at being a Ryder Cup lock slipped away. And don’t even get started on the hundreds of mustache jokes directed at Fowler Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Some golfers, like Phil Mickelson, relish the chance to play at the Black exactly for what makes it unique—the highly inebriated and very loud crowds. It’s become the identity of Long Island golf’s crown jewel. As one usher put it, “were you here for the US Open? Combine a New York crowd and beer, this is what you get. It isn’t like this in most places.”You’d be hard-pressed to find a golf course that plays host to rowdier fans in golf than Bethpage Black. And, yes, maybe it is a little annoying for those participating in the events. It’s also something the players, if they haven’t already, will need to learn to deal with. The majority of poorly timed, out of place shrieks and chants were committed by one particular demographic: young people. This is important to note because, whether golf wants to recognize it or not, the sport desperately needs to attract the interest of millennials to keep the industry alive.Before the Tiger Woods days that propelled golf into the most popular and profitable place it had ever been in, it was a boring game that was played almost exclusively by well-off white men. Since then though, the sport’s horizons have expanded exponentially. The industry is carried now not by old white dudes, but by a group of 20-something year-olds. In other words, the world’s best golfers right now are the same age as guys who are likely to get drunk, loud, and create lively atmospheres. In fact, many of the tour’s best and most popular golfers like Jordan Spieth, 23, Rory McIlroy, 27, and Jason Day, 28 are all under 30. It could be that golf needs more of this, not less. The loud crowds and football-like atmosphere make the game more exciting, and certainly more attractive to perspective beginners. Kids don’t want to sit still and quiet. They want to make noise and chant for their favorite golfer.We should welcome, not shun, the boisterous fans who line the fairways and greens. After all, it’s all about having fun. In the words of Jack Nicklaus: “This is a game, that’s all it is.” (Featured photo credit: John Dundon)last_img read more

first_imgThings are heating up at the American Legion Post 80 in Binghamton where the 30th year of the dinner will take place. “Over the course of those five days, we roast about 150 turkeys. Give or take, because it’s by pound. It’s about 3,000 pounds,” said Bandera. “Setting the stage so that volunteers have a clean place and a fun-filled place to help us do turkeys,” said Bandera. While the work leading up to Christmas can be a lot, it’s all worth it in the end. “People by hand are chopping 300 pounds of celery, 300 pounds of onions and that’s a whole day or day and a half process. And that gets sauteed and cooked so everything like that is a step. One step at a time and then we put it all together,” said Bandera. He says he wants everything to be perfect for when the day of the dinner comes. Each year, the Bandera Christmas Dinner also provides meals for delivery. “There’s something about this year being 30 that really speaks to my heart,” said organizer Bill Bandera. “Sometimes you get the feeling like, oh man two weeks of work and 20 minutes of eating and it’s over. But that 20 minutes lasts a lifetime for a lot of people and I say this all the time, it’s not just about the people we serve it’s about the people serving them. And it’s a win-win for everybody,” said Bandera.center_img Throughout the first five days, the focus is the main meal. “It’s a staple in this community now and I would feel like I’m letting them down if I wasn’t able to continue at the same level that we’ve done for the past 30 years,” said Bandera. Preps start so far out because everything is homemade. BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — It’s that time of year again, with Christmas two weeks away, preparations are underway for the annual Bandera Family Christmas Dinner. Preparations take 10 to 12 days and it starts with cleaning up the locations where dinner is being served. This year dinner is being served at three locations including the American Legion Post 80 in Binghamton, the American Legion Post 189 in Norwich, and at the St. Ambrose Church in Endicott. For more information, or if you would like to volunteer, click here.last_img read more

first_imgNow General Manager Ryan Rennells is making a promise to the community Home Central has served for more than a decade. He says it’s too early for a timeline as to when the Vestal store will be rebuilt and back up and running, but they are currently working on picking up the pieces and sorting through what’s next. “We keep a warm room area for products that can’t freeze out in our warehouse, and we think it started there but we don’t know yet,” said Rennells. He says the people are a huge reason to stay positive. The blaze destroyed the store’s warehouse and took hours to put out. “We kind of pride ourselves to be that local hometown hardware store and so it’s important to us,” he said. “We wouldn’t be in business without the support of our community and we try a lot to give that support back out to them, so it means the world.” The cause of the fire is still under investigation. VESTAL (WBNG) — Late last week, flames ripped through the Vestal Home Central location on Stage Street. “It was really important that we had to go forward solution for them, so we brought all of the employees over here to Owego or our Candor location,” said Rennells. Now, Rennells and Home Central are vowing to give back. “They’ve got families to feed and we feel like we do good in the community.” The fire broke out Thursday afternoon. “It was a gut punch. It hurt. It didn’t seem real. I was actually out of town at the time at a buying show and you feel helpless, you’re so far away from home. We got back as quick as we could and started to take care of all of the pieces that we needed to to rebuild,” said Rennells. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. In the meantime, Rennells encourages people to come out to both the Owego and Candor locations. “We’re going to rebuild. We’ll be back. As quick as they let us,” said Rennells. While employees made it out safely, they were hit with the uncertainty of having a job.last_img read more

first_imgIf you don’t have many marketable skills, or would like to gain new ones for better jobs, the office can help you with that too. The Broome County Office of Employment and Training is still helping residents find employment by connecting them with local businesses and offering them training to get the job of their dream. As of Thursday afternoon, there are 430 openings in the Binghamton area in both the private and public sectors, all of which are looking to hire people right now for jobs like nurses, truck drivers, or cooks. The office, specifically the Broome-Tioga Workforce, works hand-in-hand with the state department of labor to find resources available and help the unemployed. “How to interact with, you know, prospective employers, but also providing services through let’s say BOCES training, training with SUNY Broome, and the Metrics, which is an online course we have now opened up to everyone in Broome County,” said Robert Murphy, the Executive Director of Broome-Tioga Workforce. For information on how to get started with the office and for more workforce resources, please call 607-778-2136, or visit their website. (WBNG) — Despite the large scale unemployment happening during the coronavirus crisis, there are resources available locally to help people find jobs.last_img read more

first_img“I kind of flipped and started making hand sanitizer for the local community,” said LizAnn Mcewen. BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — When the coronavirus pandemic began, local vendor LizAnn Mcewen began to make sanitizer from her house. “In Waverly, we have an older folks home so that and the church I would donate as much as possible,” she explained. The owner of ‘Body Delights by LizAnn’ saw the need and wanted to make a difference, so she used ingredients in her house to make the product. Mcewen has been selling her product at the Broome County Farmer’s Market as well as donating it to people and places in need. center_img “When everything happened and everyone was buying up all the alcohol, there was nothing in the store, but I had a stock pile and I used it for the local community.” She has also kept the hand sanitizer off her website to be able to keep it in the community. Mcewen said it was a natural fit for her to be able to use her product to help the community she calls home.last_img read more