Month: December 2020

Analysis: ‘Death of global coal growth’

first_imgAnalysis: ‘Death of global coal growth’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享GreenTech Media:For years we’ve known that the coal industry was a dead man walking in the United States. So the industry has clung to future growth in other markets to justify its place at the table. But now, even those prospects are fading. Gonzalo Garcia, the co-head of natural resources for Goldman Sachs globally, said recently that he personally feels “we will not see another coal plant built in Western Europe ever again” and that it will be very challenging “in most OECD countries.” That’s a powerful statement coming from one of the largest global financial institutions on the planet. But it’s really not all that bold given what we know about global coal plant growth.Just a few short months ago, the group CoalSwarm published research projecting that the world would hit “peak coal plant” by 2022. But even more powerful is the best climate story that hasn’t been told — the 573 gigawatts of new coal plants in India, which is twice the size of the U.S. fleet, that were never built. With solar now cheaper than new coal those plants will not be resurrected because they no longer make economic sense.The death of global coal growth is largely a result of the evaporation of a staggering amount of capacity that had been planned to be built, largely in India and China, coupled with a surge in coal plant retirements, largely in the U.S. and Europe.Retirements will only grow, particularly in Europe, where the continent’s industrial powerhouse, Germany, has formed a commission to phase out the coal industry entirely. That’s on top of the 35.5 gigawatts of operating capacity, a full 22 percent of the coal fleet, currently committed to retire.It’s hard to understate just how important the evaporation of this pipeline and the broader death of growth is for the global coal industry. Once growth dies, an industry has no future to sell investors, regulators or the public, which pulls future impacts forward in time. No growth tomorrow means contraction today. It creates a reinforcing cycle of downward pressure that all but ensures the industry will feel more, not less pain in the days ahead.We’ve seen this very clearly in the U.S., but it’s spreading quickly across the world.It’s not just advocacy-oriented groups like CoalSwarm projecting this future; mainstream forecasters are seeing the same trends. The International Energy Agency has already forecast a decade of stagnation with no growth between now and 2022. Exxon, a fossil fuel bull if ever there was one, projects coal’s share of the energy mix will decline from 40 percent in 2016 to 30 percent in 2040. From governments to the private sector, the outlook for coal is grim.More: The Death of Global Coal Growthlast_img read more


December 31, 2020 0

New York’s ConEd pulling back on gas investments, saying they’re not the long-term solution

first_imgNew York’s ConEd pulling back on gas investments, saying they’re not the long-term solution FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Consolidated Edison Inc. will no longer invest in long-haul natural gas pipelines and may sell its existing portfolio, the company said just days after outlining plans for adopting alternative energy technology.“I don’t expect we’ll be making any further investments in those types of gas transmission assets,” Chairman, President and CEO John McAvoy said during an Aug. 26 investor presentation about environmental, social and governance issues.The executive made the observation after being asked about the utility’s stakes in the Stagecoach Pipeline & Storage Co. LLC joint venture with Crestwood Equity Partners LP and the Equitrans Midstream Corp.-led Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC. ConEd “certainly would” also consider monetizing those assets, McAvoy added.“We made those investments five to seven years ago, and at that time we — and frankly many others — viewed natural gas as having a fairly large role in the transition to the clean energy economy,” McAvoy said. “That view has largely changed, and natural gas, while it can provide emissions reductions, is no longer … part of the longer-term view,” particularly in the U.S. Northeast where state regulators have blocked pipeline projects.ConEd is one of several utilities looking to ramp up their renewable energy footprint as cracks appear in the role of natural gas as a bridge fuel between hydrocarbons and cleaner forms of energy. As of mid-July, 13 of the 30 largest U.S. publicly traded electric and gas utilities had set goals to achieve either zero or net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or earlier or have set a goal of 100% clean electricity. At least 10 plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, primarily methane, from their gas distribution and retail sales operations. Many of these efforts involve replacing older gas delivery pipelines.Dominion Energy Inc., which is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050, recently agreed to sell its gas transmission and storage business to Berkshire Hathaway Energy for over $9.7 billion. A driving force behind that decision was Virginia’s Clean Energy Economy Act enacted in April, according to Dennis Sperduto, principal analyst with Regulatory Research Associates, a group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.[Allison Good]More ($): ConEd may sell pipeline stakes as it reconsiders gas transmission investmentslast_img read more


December 31, 2020 0

Looking Back on 20 Years of B.R.O.

first_img center_img 1995The inaugural issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors, a quarterly insert in C-ville Weekly. BRO’s first editor John Blackburn uses the term “ecosports” in his letter from the editorNearly 100 mostly costumed runners toe the line for the first annual Blue Ridge Burn 10K in Charlottesville’s Walnut Creek ParkThe first Lord of the Fork Race is held on the class V Russell ForkFall_95_FIX1996BRO’s first motto makes its appearance on the cover: Spend your money on sports—we’re freeThe first 7,600 acres of DuPont State Recreational Forest are purchased by the state of North CarolinaIMG_2995_Dupont_FIX1997Canaan Valley’s White Grass Ski Touring Center is featured for the first time in the pages of BRO1998BRO becomes a monthlyBRO publishes its first swimming hole issue1999The region’s first 100-mile bike race launches: the Shenandoah Mountain 100Professional mountain biker Sue Haywood becomes the first female mountain biker to be sponsored by West VirginiaJun_982000The region’s first 24 hour mountain bike races launches: 24 Hours of SnowshoeThe Priest and Three Ridges are designated as wildernessThe Barefoot Sisters, Susan and Lucy Letcher, hike the A.T. barefoot; the next year, they turn around and thru-hike the A.T. southboundNorth Carolina unanimously votes to invoke eminent domain to acquire Triple Falls,  thereby securing the final part of DuPont State Recreation Area2001Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine opens its southern edition office in Asheville, N.C.The hemlock woolly adelgid is first observed in the Smokies after already decimating hemlock populations in Shenandoah. The adelgid will go on to wipe out nearly all hemlocks in AppalachiaBridge Day is cancelled for the first time due to post-9/11 security concernsBig Sandy River in W.Va. is named one of the country’s most endangered rivers Report after a 250-million gallon chemical spill, 20 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill2002Kristen Eddy becomes first woman to win an Iron-distance event overall, besting men and women at Odyssey Off-Road Iron TriathlonBRO highlights naked adventures, including nude 5Ks and naked paddling events2003Blue Ridge Outdoors names its first Southeastern Athletes of the Year. Among them are road cyclist George Hincapie, mountain biker Sue Haywood, paddler Chris Hipgrave, triathlete Allison Hardy, runner Keith Dowling, and ultrarunner Anne Riddle Lundblad.BRO publishes its first Best of the Blue Ridge AwardsWill Harlan completes a 72-mile run of Appalachian Trail through the Smokies to raise awareness for air pollution. It plays an important role in North Carolina’s lawsuit against TVA coal-fired power plants, forcing 14 power plants to install pollution-control devices. Will Harlan later sets the unsupported record running the A.T. across the SmokiesCave Dog sets the South Beyond 6,000 speed recordEric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber, is found hiding out in Nantahala National ForestCongaree National Park becomes South Carolina’s first national parkEarthquakes rock the Blue Ridge near RichmondBlack Mountain Marathon and Mt. Mitchell Challenge2004Lee Barry, 81, becomes the oldest person to thru-hike the A.T.Blue Ridge Outdoors publishes its first (and only) April Fool’s editionBon Jovi sponsors elite West Virginia mountain biking teamBRO publishes “Old School,” one of its most popular stories, about grown-up Jay Hardwig returning to fifth grade P.E. class for the Presidential Fitness TestTour de Georgia attracts the world’s top cyclists to Brasstown Bald, including Lance ArmstrongTennessee’s Buffalo Mountain becomes the South’s first major wind farmBlake DeMaso becomes the new owner of BRORick and Liz Weber purchase their first parcel of land in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky and begin developing Muir Valley, a climbing area that is now home to over 400 different climbs2004The 500th mountain is flattened, razed, and destroyed by mountaintop removal mining in AppalachiaLeanna Joyner hikes the A.T. in a red skirt; later, she becomes voice for the trail by working for Appalachian Trail Conservancy2006BRO adopts “Go Outside and Play” mottoU.S. National Whitewater Center opens in Charlotte, N.C., one of only two artificial whitewater courses on the East Coast2007BRO gives away a brand new Nissan vehicle loaded down with gear to a lucky reader2008BRO publishes “In Search of Bigfoot,” which becomes our most popular story of the yearNational Park Service makes it legal to carry weapons on trailsDouble amputee Scott Rigsby completes Kona Ironman2009BRO profiles The Last American Man—primitive living legend Eustace Conway, who is now featured in the History Channel’s Mountain Men seriesAsheville’s Andrew Holcombe paddles the infamous class V stretch of the Green River Narrows in 4 minutes and 18 seconds, a Green Race recordPisgah hosts the East’s first mountain bike stage raceRapid Transit paddling videography crew releases The Eddy FeelingBRO highlights the natural fitness movement, introduced by Erwan LeCorre, the world’s fittest manMatt Kirk sets the unsupported speed records on both the Benton Mackaye Trail and the Bartram TrailBRO owner Blake DeMaso launches a sister publication in Colorado called Elevation OutdoorsBRO partners up to host the first Festy Experience on Devils Backbone Brewing Company property in Roseland, Va.2010BRO features stand-up paddleboarding on the cover for the first time.Pat Keller notches the first descent of Linville FallsToby MacDermott, Will Lyons, Pat Keller, Dustin Marquart, Nate Elliott, Andrew Holcombe, and John Grace make a first descent of Upper Creek2011The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially declares the eastern mountain lion extinctJennifer Pharr Davis sets the fastest speed record for a supported thru-hike of the A.T. in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutesRoadside Crag closes in the Red River Gorge due to climber misuse2012The Appalachian Trail celebrates its 75th anniversaryBRO contributing editor and gonzo paddler Chris Gragtmans notches first descents of 75-foot Desoto Falls and 90-foot Noccalula Falls. His exclusive feature for Blue Ridge Outdoors becomes the year’s second most popular storyThe year’s most popular story is “The Greenest Man in the Mountains,” a tribute to an old-time Appalachian mountain man who lives more organically and close to the land than even the most dedicated eco-village hippiesThe Red River Gorge Climbing Coalition successfully purchases the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational PreserveYAMA Mountain Gear owner Gen Shimizu unicycles the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, covering 2,754 miles in 89 days with only one wheel2013Jess Daddio’s “Mountain Lion Mystery” becomes one of BRO’s most popular stories of all-timeColumbus Georgia opens its Columbus Whitewater Park on the Chattahoochee RiverThe Southeast experiences the wettest summer season to date with some states receiving over 45 inches of rainfall. Kayakers are stokedMatt Kirk sets record for unsupported thru-hike of the A.T. in 58 days, 9 hours, and 38 minutesChris Gragtmans’s and Ashley Woodring’s story “How to Date a Kayaker” becomes our most shared story everJoanna Swanson and Bart Houck become the first thru-hikers of the Great Eastern Trail2,600 acres burn in the Linville GorgeRichmond-based runner Zoë Romano becomes the first person to run the entire Tour de France route2014Travel editor Jess Daddio launches her Live Outside and Play adventureOver 130 acres burn at the Endless Wall climbing area in the New River GorgeCanaan Valley resident John Logar wins the revered Iditarod Trail Invitational in AlaskaBill Irwin, the first blind man to solo hike the A.T. (with his guide dog, Orient) in 1990, dies at age 73Editor in chief Will Harlan publishes Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America, which highlights Southeastern conservation hero Carol Ruckdeschel and her fight to save Cumberland IslandWilderness celebrates its 50th anniversary. Jess Daddio highlights wilderness in the September feature story, and BRO launches its Wilderness Hike Challenge, which has already attracted over 300 participants.Asheville’s Natalie DeRatt earns a spot on the 2014-2015 USA Bobsled and Skeleton TeamKentucky hosts its first ever 100 mile race, the Cloudsplitter Ultra, on the Pine Mountain TrailThe Holtwood Play Park opens in Pennsylvania, a win for Mid-Atlantic playboaters2015BRO launches a college ambassador program and an athlete team last_img read more


December 30, 2020 0

The Dirty Dozen: The Region’s Top 12 Races and Events

first_imgLooking for a good excuse to ramp up the training this season? Check out 12 of the toughest, oddest, oldest, weirdest, and wildest events throughout the region.Best First Mountain Bike RaceBig Bear UltraBig Bear Lake Trail Center, West VirginiaAugust 5, 2017Situated near the Allegheny Highlands in the tri-state junction of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, the privately owned Big Bear Lake Trail Center is home to 50 miles of singletrack on its 5,000-acre property. The center exploded onto the mountain bike scene during the early 2000s when it served as a host for the 24-hour racing series, but its two-wheeled history dates back to the late ‘80s and the age of the Blackwater 100 motorcycle race.The 10th annual Big Bear Ultra pays homage to the center’s storied past, with 40-, 20-, and now 10-mile courses that incorporate some of the original trails with more recent singletrack additions. The trails here wind through fern-carpeted forests and pass over rock-studded tunnels choked with mountain laurel. It’s a magical place, a classic example of West Virginia mountain biking, and the event itself, says Big Bear Lake Trail Center’s Recreation Land Manager Jeff Simcoe, will appeal to riders of every ability.“Even the fastest people are still very encouraging,” says Simcoe of the race-day environment. “We’ve seen people team up and stay together to grind this long-distance race out. There are certainly competitive riders, but it’s more about personal goals and finishing.”Pennsylvania-based rider and writer Helena Kotala knows a thing or two about knocking out personal goals. Last year, Kotala signed up for the Big Bear Ultra Lite (20-mile course), unsure of what to expect—though an experienced rider, she’d never raced before and knew nobody in the West Virginia mountain biking scene. Despite rainy weather and muddy conditions, Kotala came out first in her class.“I think I was most surprised at how fun it was,” Kotala says. “I was also pleasantly surprised at how nice and supportive everyone was. It was awesome to see such good sportsmanship and graciousness.”To top it off, Simcoe and his crew do the post-race festivities right with a family-style cookout and party complete with local brews. With onsite camping available at the race start-finish line and plenty to do for the family, it’s more like a weekend getaway than a race.Most Likely to DNFBarkley MarathonsFrozen Head State Park, TennesseeApril 2017For a non-refundable $1.16 you can enter the toughest footrace in the history of footraces. You probably won’t get in the first time you apply (if you can even figure out how to do so). You likely won’t get in the second or eighth time either, but consider this—in its 31-year history, only 14 people have ever finished the 100-mile part-endurance, part-orienteering race. With over 60,000 feet of elevation gain and a 60-hour time limit, do you really want to race Barkley anyway?“If they do get entered, [the race director] Laz sends an email that says, ‘I’m sorry you’ve been accepted to the Barkley race which means you’re going to suffer unreal pain. It’s going to eat you and spit you out, it’s going to humble you, it’s going to get your goat, you’re going to cry like a baby,’ and all of those things are true,” says 2001 Barkley finisher and ultrarunning legend David Horton.Horton, who is well respected in the ultrarunning community as director of his own line of ego-breaking ultra races, tried unsuccessfully for many years to complete the Barkley, which entails five 20-mile loops with 10,000 feet of elevation and a 12-hour time limit per loop. When he finally finished in 2001, he hadn’t just seen the edge of possibility—he’d jumped way the hell off it into the abyss without a parachute.“It’s hell on earth,” Horton says. “Every time you finish a lap, it’s about choosing to go back ‘out there.’ ‘Out there’ is difficult. You can’t imagine how slow you can go. Barkley slow is the slowest slow there is. It just bugs me to death when Badwater says they’re the toughest race. It’s a walk in the woods compared to Barkley.”Which is why you won’t see Horton toeing the line at Barkley any time soon. But for Greenville, S.C.,-based machinist Carl Laniak, Barkley is his everything. Laniak has started Barkley five times, but never finished. His first attempt resulted in a “fun run,” two loops shy of the whole enchilada, but three out of the five attempts ended in RTC, or refused to continue.“You fail spectacularly,” Laniak says. “Dead reckoning will only get you so far when it’s in the middle of the night and there’s fog and you can only see 15 feet in front of you and of course you’re tired and a lot of the terrain looks similar.”Laniak’s been lost for three hours before. He’s seen other participants come in with a broken kneecap, punctured calf muscle, dislocated shoulder, to which Laz offered a roll of duct tape and a shoulder shrug. Despite failing spectacularly for five years, Laniak has every intention of being back at it again later this spring.“I would really like to not die without finishing the Barkley. There’s this part of me that wished I’d never gotten into it cause there’s always these other things I want to do, but I would love the luxury of finishing it,” he says, citing Barkley veteran Mike Dobies’ infamous quote, “Barkley is Laz’s sick joke and some of us like to take it seriously.”Most Likely to [Temporarily]Lose VisionHellgate 100KNatural Bridge, VirginiaDecember 2017With a distance of exactly 66.6 miles, you’d be right in assuming that this race is every bit as hellish as its name suggests. For 14 years, runners have lined up to start the Hellgate 100K at 12:01 a.m. Staying on course is not particularly challenging here—you need only follow the Glenwood Horse Trail from point A to point B. But the combination of a nighttime start, often brutal weather, and what Hellgate medical director Dr. George Wortley calls “Hellgate eyes” makes Hellgate no ordinary 100K.“Usually I have anywhere from three to five cases of Hellgate eyes,” says Wortley of the annual event. “You can see a very slight cloudiness on the cornea,” but the runner, he says, can hardly see a thing. Just ask Bethany Patterson of Richmond, Va. Patterson won the Hellgate women’s division back in 2015, but she says her own experience with Hellgate eyes back in 2006 put her on the sidelines for a few years before returning to the race in 2014.“If you stuck two cotton balls in the middle of your eye and tried to look through them, that’s what it was like,” Patterson says. “I literally could not see anything on the trail.”“We have found people off the trail, wandering around, their vision is so poor,” Wortley says. “Another runner will have to lead them in like a seeing eye dog.”That’s exactly what Patterson had to endure before DNFing. Fortunately, within a few hours, the cloudiness cleared up and she was able to see. But that whole not-being-able-to-see thing was unnerving. Unnatural. So what causes it?According to Wortley, it has nothing to do with cold temperatures—“It happens in years when the temperature is nowhere near freezing,” he says. The cornea isn’t frozen; rather it dries up. Remember that 12:01 a.m. start? Nighttime trail running innately lends itself to intense focus, says Wortley. In fact, runners are so absorbed in maneuvering the technical leaf-strewn trail that they don’t blink nearly as often. Add the wind factor and you have the perfect recipe for Hellgate eyes.“It’s been my impression that if someone has had vision corrective surgery, they are about twice as likely as the average person to get it,” Wortley adds. So how to avoid it? “Wear glasses or goggles and make a conscious effort to blink, blink blink.”Most Likely to Dole Out a Slice of Humble PieShenandoah Mountain 100Stokesville, VirginiaSeptember 3, 2017What started out as a fun excuse to create a 100-mile, backwoods, mostly singletrack race with 13,000 feet of climbing in event director Chris Scott’s backyard has turned into something of a bucket list, test-your-mettle, mountain bike experience. While some participants filter through, try it once, and never come back, there’s a dedicated group of SM100 vets who come back year after year, despite the likelihood of getting shut down.Just ask Sarah Temby from Ann Arbor, Mich. She’s been coming to the SM100 since 2010, when she volunteered while her then-boyfriend raced.“Seeing everyone come through the aid stations excited, exhausted, happy, upset, the full range of emotions, well, the next year I decided to sign up and race it,” Temby says. “I had only been riding my bike for a year by then.”Temby didn’t finish in 2011. Nor in 2012…or 2013. In 2014, she returned to volunteer instead and wrap her brain around what it was going to take preparation-wise to cross that finish line. She upped her training, competed in a few other 100-mile events, tackled more technical terrain. Then, in 2015, she came back ready to race. She finished in just under 13 hours.“I think my heart exploded when I crossed the finish line,” she says. “ I had been waiting for that moment for years and it felt amazing.”“People underestimate what it’s like to sit in the saddle for 12 hours,” says SM100 director Chris Scott. “It’s not just your legs pushing on the pedals. It’s your hands, your neck, your back, your butt, the balls of your feet on the pedals, all of your contact points. You get ridiculously sore when you’re in contact with the same thing for that long.”Paul Buschi of Charlottesville, Va., knows this firsthand. He’s been racing the SM100 almost as long as the event has existed—11 starts in the race’s 19-year history. Initially, Buschi was in it to win it. He was always at the head of the pack and has podiumed and placed in the top 10 a number of times. But he’s also DNFed, too. Like in 2003 when he broke his frame around mile 50.“The frame just collapsed in on itself and I flew into the woods,” Buschi remembers. “I had to figure out how to put the bike back together. Finally I realized it was pretty impossible. I walked the rest of the way to the aid station. If I was ever to win that race it might have been that day, too.”Still, Buschi says, it’s all par for the course. Now, his focus at the SM100 is on having fun, eating pizza at the aid stations, and spending all day riding bikes in the woods with his friends.Longest-Running Foot Race (1st place)JFK 50 MileBoonsboro, MarylandNovember 18, 2017The JFK 50 Mile, which was first held the year after Kennedy’s asssassination, challenges runners to finish 50 miles in 13 hours or less. The race honors the challenge of another legendary president, Teddy Roosevelt, who urged U.S. Marine officers to be physically fit enough to complete 50 miles of running in under 20 hours. Little did he know that he would spawn generations of runners to push those limits even further.Scene from the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic Stage Race in State College, Central PA. Photo by: A.E.Landes Photography. www.aelandesphotography.comThe JFK is now in its 55th year. “How many races survive a half a century?” says race director Mike Spinnler. “Most races disappear after a decade. Human beings only live so long—most races die with their race directors.”But Buzz Sawyer, the original JFK 50 Mile race director, foresaw that very truth. That’s why he plucked Spinnler, a longtime race participant and winner (’82 and ’83) to take charge on the event’s 30th anniversary.“No matter how you look at it, the marathon distance is a daunting task,” Spinnler says. “You double that, and throw into it the challenge of the 13-mile section of the Appalachian Trail, and you get this 50-mile race. It’s achievable, but still, for the average person, the thought of finishing a 50-mile foot race is almost unfathomable.”That doesn’t deter the 1,200 runners who make the journey to Maryland to compete in this historic race. In fact, for local Kimball Byron, running the JFK 50 Mile is an annual tradition, one he’s upheld since 1968 when he was just 12 years old. Inspired by his father, who was one of the original JFK 50 Mile organizers, Byron has only missed the JFK 50 Mile once in 1985 when he was serving as a jet pilot in the Air Force. Last November, Byron finished his 48th JFK 50 Mile at age 61.“It’s about struggling,” Byron says of the race. “No matter what you get in life, the good things come with the struggle, they come with the challenge.”Of course, Byron’s come a long way since that very first JFK 50 Mile at age 12 when he fell asleep under a lamp post in a woman’s front yard just three miles from the end. The lady graciously offered Byron a ride to the finish. When he told her what he was doing, she gave him a kerosene lamp instead. Still, his commitment to the event is a testament to the unity and longstanding camaraderie the race has provided its participants all these years.“I did it myself when I was 12,” says Spinnler. “It wasn’t unusual, but here he is a half a century later still doing it. It’s just remarkable.”Longest-Running Foot Race (2nd place)Peachtree Road RaceAtlanta, GeorgiaJuly 4, 2017In a close second for longest-running footrace, Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race will be going into its 48th year, held annually on the Fourth of July. Race director Rich Kenah says the event has become more than just a footrace—it’s what people in Atlanta do for the Fourth.“There are families who have participated in the Peachtree for decades and it’s just a part of their holiday routine,” Kenah says. “That’s something we’re very proud of.”The 10K race attracts 60,000 runners every year to downtown Atlanta. In addition to the sweltering heat of Georgia-in-July, runners will have to contend with a pretty hilly course.“I’d be lying if I said the course was flat,” says Kenah. “The first two to three miles really are almost all downhill, and then you start climbing. Cardiac Hill is certainly not the steepest, but it’s pretty long and that’s what people have to prepare for.”Only finishers of the Peachtree will receive the race t-shirt, the design of which is not revealed until racers begin crossing the finish line. Organized by the Atlanta Track Club, the event also affords the non-profit a fundraising opportunity for its Kilometer Kids program, a free, running-based initiative aimed at getting kids in the community active.Most Likely to Carn OutGreen River GamesWilderness Cove Campground, North CarolinaMay 20-21, 2017Dabblers unite in this one-of-a-kind multisport adventure race. Now in its fifth year, the Green River Games is one of the stoutest, most technical multisport events in the country, linking together an eight-mile paddle down the Green River (including the notorious class V Narrows section), an eight-mile mountain bike course, and an eight-mile trail run over the Green River Game Lands’ rough and rugged terrain. If the all-day-suffer-fest doesn’t get you, the elements will.“There are a lot of snakes,” says Green River Games director John Grace, “and more stinging insects than you can count. The trails are raw, steep, and rocky, just like the river. The place as a whole is harsh,” which is why even the most well-rounded adventuresport dabblers will incur some level of carn, be it a less-than-stellar line at Gorilla, or, as second-place women’s finisher Rebecca Cramer can attest, a broken collarbone.“Every part of this race is technically challenging and it requires a different type of focus,” Cramer says. “Your focus on the river is different than your focus on a bike which is different than your focus when you’re running. In any other race, you might lose focus and it might not matter so much, but in this race, if you lose focus, you have the potential to crash.”Back in 2015, just three miles into the mountain bike portion of the race, Cramer did just that. The drop was hardly noticeable, that is, until the front wheel of Cramer’s bike crunched down and bucked her over the handlebars.“I think they call that an ‘endo,’” Cramer says, laughing now. “I landed on my back and the force of the land broke my collarbone. For a minute I thought I could keep going, and then I was like no dude. It’s over.”Cramer hiked out the remaining five miles with another racer and healed up in time to compete in the 2016 Games, at which she placed second in the women’s class and sixth overall.Most Like a Summer Camp for AdultsTrans-Sylvania EpicSeven Mountains Scout Camp, PennsylvaniaMay 25-29, 2017Want a good reason to play hooky for a week and ride your bike in the woods? The Trans-Sylvania Epic in central Pennsylvania is your answer. Based just outside State College, Penn., this five-day stage race is unlike any other in that most of the stages start and finish right on site at Seven Mountains Scout Camp.“It’s a really unique experience in the mountain bike stage racing realm,” says event director Mike Kuhn. “When you get to stay in one place every night, it lends itself to a very relaxed five days because you don’t have to move camp between stages. You don’t have to live out of a bag.”Elite riders have come to the stage race from as far away as Australia, France, and South Africa, and the event also garners a lot of local riders, like Vicki Barclay, the U.S. National Singlespeed Champion in 2014. In 2015, she won the Trans-Sylvania Epic. Clearly, she’s not your average weekend warrior, but the atmosphere at the stage race, she says, is welcoming and supportive no matter the rider.“The start line is always very fun and chatty,” Barclay says. “The thing I like about the Trans-Sylvania Epic is that it recognizes all racers. It’s very laidback, and I feel like they really cater to everyone. People who enter stage races are going to be competitive in some way, even if it’s with their friends or if not that than with themselves.”The stages alone will be enough to test riders on their personal goals. Pennsylvania’s trails are well known to be extraordinarily rocky and technical. But if the experience is what you’re after, you’ll find a group of equally psyched racers ready to share in the adventure.More-Than-Just-a-Climbing EventThe RumbleLake Lure, North CarolinaJanuary 15, 2017In the dead of winter, most climbers hang up their racks. Not in North Carolina. For the past three years, The Rumble has taken place at Rumbling Bald in Chimney Rock State Park to celebrate the state’s year-round climbing resources and raise funds for both Friends of Chimney Rock State Park and the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC).Though the first two years of the event were largely centered around the bouldering competition, this year, the climbers turned to stewardship of the area they cherish so dearly. Last fall, Chimney Rock sustained wildfires that damaged over 3,000 acres of forest. Stewardship, says CCC Treasurer Will Goodson, was always a component of The Rumble, but with the recent wildfires, giving back to the land became the utmost priority.“It’s gone from a climbing competition to an appreciation and recovery event that benefits the park,” Goodson says. “Rumbling Bald is a crown jewel of the Southeast. This is bigger than all of us.”This year’s trail maintenance day brought out dozens of people to clean up debris and clear trails from downed trees. Goodson hopes that the event will set a strong precedent for the CCC’s future interactions with Chimney Rock State Park, which at one time was entirely closed off to climbers. Climbers are now one the park’s main user groups, and Goodson wants the Lake Lure community to see that climbers care about topics that transcend climbing, such as economic development and environmental restoration.Most Likely to HallucinateTrans North Georgia AdventureSouth Carolina border —Alabama borderAugust 19, 2017Trans North Georgia Adventure (TNGA) founder David Muse would never think to consider himself the sole creator of this 350-mile long route. Maybe he doesn’t want the suffering of hundreds of riders on his conscience. While the present-day TNGA is certainly the result of many hard-working volunteers and a niche community of cyclists, Muse spent the better part of three years researching, driving, riding, and hiking through north Georgia, relying on his career experience as a freelance software developer to link together this intricate network of trails long before a map existed.“Of course, not even two or three months after I finished the route, the Forest Service published a very thorough map that, if I’d had three years earlier, I wouldn’t have had to do 80 percent of the research I did,” says Muse, laughing.With the route connected, Muse had serious doubts about the ability to actually ride it all in one go. His first attempt ended just two days after it had began, but on his second attempt in 2010, he crossed the Alabama state line. The ride is certainly far from easy—there’s well over 56,000 feet of climbing along the 350-mile, mostly singletrack route. And with riders vying for the record Roswell, Ga., rider Eddie O’Dea set in 2013 at 39 hours and three minutes, the potential to lose a little bit of sanity during this sleep-deprived race is higher than ever.“They’re literally another version of themselves,” says Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway co-owner Kate Gates of the TNGA riders. Mulberry Gap is one of the final resupply points along the TNGA, located around mile 210. “We can be a saving grace depending on your mental state, or it can be dangerous because you can get comfortable here and get a shower and take a nice nap and be fed real food. The riders are mentally zonked and not thinking clearly. They just can’t function. It’s kinda scary.”Eddie O’Dea has arguably experienced the worst of what the TNGA has to offer. In 2011, O’Dea was the sole finisher of the TNGA thanks to Tropical Storm Lee blowing through. “My entire body was like a body that had been floating in the river for too long,” O’Dea remembers.He’s dealt with a seat post breaking just 100 miles in, bonking in the middle of the night in coyote territory, and riding for 10 hours without water during a dry year. At the worst of it, over 24 hours into the ride, he’s even had mild hallucinations.“I would start to see things, like a leaf on the ground, and think it was a crab,” he says. “Almost immediately the logical side of your brain is like, ‘that doesn’t make any sense there are no crabs in this part of Georgia,’ but that kinda stuff happened quite a bit.”“It’s not a race, it’s an adventure,” says Muse. “Things are going to go wrong. If you finish it, it doesn’t just speak to your ability to ride a bike but to manage adversity.”Most Fun You Can Have on a BikeCanaan Mountain Bike FestivalCanaan Valley, West VirginiaJune 15-18, 2017Picture a bunch of adults who refused to grow up, riding around on bikes for four days straight. In a nutshell, that’s what you’ll get at this one-of-a-kind bike festival.“It’s more organic. We don’t have any sponsors and demo trucks,” says festival founder Sue Haywood. “It gives the locals a chance to showcase their town and their trails and that can have a really positive, stimulating effect on any work that we do here for the trails or the biking community.”The 9th annual Canaan Mountain Bike Festival kicks off Thursday evening with the weekly Ride at 5 (ish) with an optional timed Super D. Friday celebrates the lady riders, with an all-day women’s clinic headed by Haywood. In the evening, festival-goers can “Run What Ya Brung” in the light-spirited, non-competitive trials. Saturday is filled with group rides ranging in length and difficulty and a party that raises funds for the Blackwater Bicycle Association. Sunday is the don’t-miss bike hash, a two-wheeled rendition of the game Hare and the Hounds.“The hash is a bike game like no other,” says Terri Souza.Souza is one of the many attendees who makes the annual pilgrimage to Canaan Valley for the festival, and has done so for the past five years, despite hailing from Cape Cod, Mass.“It is a festival that you truly don’t want to end and can’t wait until next year’s event,” Souza adds.For Canaan Valley mountain bike racing veteran Roger Bird, those words ring particularly true. Bird now lives in Wisconsin, but a large majority of his nine-year professional cycling career was spent here in the valley.“I’ve ridden all over the world. I’ve done races in France, Switzerland, British Columbia, and almost every state in the U.S. I always come back to Davis. I always come back to Canaan,” Bird says.Best Excuse to Run Naked Through the WoodsFig Leaf 5KDawsonville, GeorgiaApril 2017If you’re prone to wild experiences and bucket list adventures, running naked through the woods during an organized event should be at the top of your list. Held on the grounds of Paradise Valley Resort and Club, a clothing optional resort in Georgia, this 5K has been going on for 19 years with astounding success. Our very own editor-in-chief Will Harlan bared all at the 5K a few years back.“It’s amazing how much adrenaline you get from being naked,” he remembers. “Fear was just coursing through my veins. I probably ran my fastest 5K cause I was so jacked up and naked and nervous and embarrassed.”What’s more, the race is held in early spring, which means chilly morning temps can certainly add to that embarrassment factor. In years past, race organizers have offered a modest fig leaf as a racing bib of sorts, but Harlan didn’t get that treatment. Like a racehorse, his number was written right on his butt cheek.“The flop factor is a serious concern for men and women,” Harlan says. “But post-race, it was completely normal. All of these people I’d seen at races for years were just buck naked in front of me talking to each other about their upcoming race plans. It was hard with eye contact, because you wanted to stay focused on the person’s face,” but really, how often do you get the locker room experience in broad daylight?Most Likely to Score a Six-PackDevils Backbone Mountain CrossBeech Grove, Va.April 29—30, 2017For 15 years, this gravel group ride (that’s right, it’s a ride, not a race) has been attracting over 200 riders to the mountains of central Virginia to partake not only in the stellar cycling but also its beer.Longtime area cyclists Richard Pence and Anthony Bilotta, now in their 60s, know what a good course looks like—Pence organized the Virginia Cyclocross Series for 20 years while Bilotta started the Wintergreen Ascent and himself won the Virginia State Cyclocross Championships six times. The pair had been riding versions of this course with friends for 15 years before anyone thought to make an event out of it.“We used to call it the Bourbon Ride cause we drank a lot of bourbon when we did it,” Bilotta says.Now, riders indulge in locally crafted beer from Devils Backbone (the start and finish) instead of bourbon, but the spirit of the ride is still much intact. Participants can opt for the 63- or 35-mile option, over half of which are gravel roads totaling over 10,000 feet of elevation change. To kick things off, riders tackle a 22 percent grade climb up Cub Creek Road just two miles into the ride.But the free beer, community camaraderie, and suffer-for-a-cause mentality keeps riders coming back. Proceeds from the event benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.last_img read more


December 30, 2020 0

Bolivia Expels Iranian Minister Following Argentine Complaint

first_img On May 31, a surprise visit to Bolivia by Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi sparked diplomatic friction between Buenos Aires and La Paz and disputes within Evo Morales’s administration, which ended up expelling the official, who is accused of links to an attack in Argentina. The abrupt end to Vahidi’s visit to the eastern Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, where he attended a military event presided over by Morales, was communicated in a letter by Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca to his Argentine counterpart Héctor Timerman, when the Bolivian media had only just confirmed the Iranian’s presence. “I should make you aware that the Bolivian government has taken the appropriate steps to see to it that Mr. Ahmad Vahidi immediately leaves Bolivian territory, and in this way to clearly show that Bolivia does not desire to interfere in any proceedings that may exist with regard to said individual’s legal situation,” the missive said. General Vahidi, who is the target of an international arrest warrant, left Bolivia at nightfall, when the letter from the Foreign Ministry was released in Buenos Aires, a Bolivian government source told Reuters. The Iranian minister is charged with involvement in planning the 1994 attack on the headquarters of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA), which left eighty-five dead. Choquehuanca expressed “heartfelt apologies” to Argentina for the “unfortunate incident” and revealed discrepancies within the Bolivian administration upon explaining that the Iranian minister had been invited by the Defense Ministry, “which unfortunately was not familiar with (Vahidi’s) background.” A spokesperson for the Bolivian Foreign Ministry considered the incident between the South American neighbors closed. “It was a private communication between the foreign ministers, through which the issue was resolved,” she affirmed to Reuters. By Dialogo June 02, 2011last_img read more


December 20, 2020 0

Sophisticated Surveillance System Helps Medellín Fight Violent Crime

first_imgBy Dialogo November 26, 2012 MEDELLÍN, Colombia — Officer Gamaliel Jimenez shuffled through videos of the latest crimes: a corner drug deal, a woman absconding with a wallet, a man beating a woman with the butt end of a hunting knife, and two men raining blows down on each other with slabs of wood. Such events are not unusual for this Colombian metropolis of 3.5 million once synonymous with cocaine cartels and violence. What’s different is that none went unpunished, thanks to Medellín’s many surveillance cameras. These cameras are a crucial part of the city’s newly integrated security system, which just completed its first year of operation. “More than 100 people have been arrested from the cameras alone,” said Juan David Betancur, project engineer for the system. Medellín faces a diversity of threats and emergencies: narcotraffickers, armed gangs, petty criminals and reckless speeding motorcyclists, to name just a few. This wide range of contingencies is one reason Medellín saw the need for a vastly more integrated dispatch system, one in which police officers, soldiers, emergency personnel and even environmental experts sit in the same command room before a wide bank of screens showing different urban hotspots. High above the city, they field and dispatch the tens of thousands of emergency calls that come in each day. At the heart of this integrated system is technology — Medellín boasts nearly 1,000 surveillance cameras — and coordination between departments. SIES-M catches regional attention Called the Sistema Integrado de Emergencias y Seguridad Metropalitano (SIES-M), the the system cost $15 million and opened in October 2011 to much fanfare. It is the only such system in Latin America outside São Paulo, Brazil, analysts say. Visitors from Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, and Ecuador have been arriving all year to get a tour of it. When creating the system, officials and engineers looked at models in New York, Chicago, Barcelona and Madrid. But Ricardo Salgado Pinzón, director of Empresa de Seguridad Urbana (ESU) — which constructed and now oversees the SIES-M — said the system had to be tailored to the needs of Medellín, whose hillside neighborhoods require military in addition to police presence. During joint operations, the SIES-M allows police and soldiers to communicate and find one another easily. “We also have the Air Force integrated into the system,” said Salgado. “This allows for coordination and integration between all of them.” A recent joint operation captured several members of a criminal gang which had been extorting residents, Salgado said. And when protests in the center of Medellín devolved into minor riots this past summer, several people were arrested after being caught by the cameras smashing store windows and painting graffiti. In the past year, the city’s homicide rate has dropped nearly 30 percent. And in Medellín’s hardscrabble downtown—which has 97 cameras, the most of any district in the city — killings have decreased by 12 percent, Salgado said. “The cameras are not the only factor,” he said, “but they’re one of the factors.” Spaceship-like command center towers above Medellín Salgado said his firm is also researching technology to add to the SIES-M, including software that could enhance face recognition or weapons detection. Police also announced that police would fly small, spider-like helicopter drones over the city, capturing surveillance video. Earlier this month, Controp, an Israeli company, showed off its latest long-range cameras at a gathering within the command center. One of the cameras used in aerial drones by Israel’s armed forces had a reach of about 16 miles and used infrared to capture images day or night. Police and officials from surrounding towns tested the camera, toggling the controls and focusing on faraway buildings, people, cows — even roosting birds as evening fell. The command center, on the 16th floor of a downtown building, is reminiscent of a spaceship with its sweeping, curving white walls and an enormous video wall displaying 16 flat screens, each with a different view of the city’s busiest intersections. On a recent weeknight, a downpour had cleared the hive of pedestrians who normally dart among the streets trying to avoid the rushing traffic. The city seemed almost tranquil, seen from above and devoid of its sounds. Before the video wall sat more than a dozen officers constantly monitoring the 858 cameras, 329 of which are owned by the city and 529 are from private institutions but have been incorporated into the system. “We have a total vision of the city,” said Sgt. David Perez Omar, head of the video surveillance team. Cameras help police ‘combat and neutralize’ criminals The cameras are concentrated in crime hotspots. About 25 cameras monitor Comuna 13 (San Javier), a hillside neighborhood once dominated by gangs, while another 30 keep tabs on Comuna 5 (Castilla), where armed groups are constantly extorting bus drivers and store owners, Perez said. The officers, who can scan more than a dozen cameras at a time, constantly look for hints: people gathering on motorcycles or someone walking alone in a dangerous area. The cameras often catch people concealing weapons from police, or attempting in vain to hide themselves, Perez said. “This permits us to use technology to combat and neutralize subjects,” he said. “The advantage we have is the camera.” The omnipresent hush in the surveillance section was in stark contrast to the reception room, where 21 officers fielded all the city’s emergency calls. Sgt. Hernan Dario Durango Jiménez, head of the reception room, said that a single officer fields 600 to 800 calls on a single shift, reaching about 1,000 when it’s busy. Keyboards clattered and chatter echoed throughout the room. Next to the receptionists, separated by a glass wall, sat the dispatchers wearing headsets. Subintendant Milciades Gilberto Rodríguez Jaraba, who has worked as a dispatcher for seven years, demonstrated how he organized the 15 patrols within his sector, Comuna 16 (Belén), using the computer and radio systems. “I know my patrols through the timbre of their voices,” he said. Dispatchers have their hands full The right side of his computer screen showed open cases; about a dozen were visible. On weekends, the cases can pile up, he said. He recalled a night last December, the month when Colombians enjoy Christmas parties with dancing and drinking in the streets, when he handled more than 1,500. “I didn’t even have time to drink a small cup of coffee,” he said. “This screen was filled and new cases kept arriving. One can feel impotent at times because you don’t have more resources to send.” The hardest situation for a dispatcher is when one of his officers is on scene but can’t provide help, Rodríguez said, recalling a case where a girl was badly injured in an accident but all the ambulances were busy. Rodríguez patched in a firefighter who offered first aid advice to the patrolman. Technology notwithstanding, “we are very few [people] for the many cases that this city has,” he said. Adjacent to the dispatchers at the long banks of white tables — headphones tucked around their heads — are environmental consultants and social workers, including psychologists. Just that night Rodríguez had helped a social worker and psychologist calm down a woman who claimed she had been hit by a car, but actually suffered from mental health problems. Salgado, the director of ESU, said that in December, specialists in women’s issues, such as family and sexual violence, would be added to the staff. “Before, we were missing many people here. Many people that should have been in this place,” Rodríguez said, pointing to a monitor where codes, highlighted in red, represented calls from different people about the same incident. Within minutes, several officers had arrived and confirmed what the callers had been saying: someone died. I hope this system is implemented in all capitals… congratulations. and just think, Medellin isn’t the capital, but the biz and innovative hub for all Colombia!last_img read more


December 20, 2020 0

FARC Guerrillas Captured While Attempting to Steal a Helicopter

first_imgBy Dialogo April 30, 2013 A group of 17 guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was captured on April 26, while trying to steal a helicopter in a rural area of southwestern Colombia, authorities told the press. The insurgents were detained in Santander de Quilichao, a village in the Valle del Cauca department. “This is a very, very important blow. I would like to congratulate the police,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said, minutes before departing to Haiti in order to attend the summit of the Association of Caribbean States, on April 26. center_img During the incident, the police seized war material and the 17 guerrilla were transferred to Cali, where they would face charges. “The country is well aware that we are holding talks in Havana, and I hope they are successful. But until we reach a definitive agreement, we will not lower our guard for one second,” President Santos added.last_img read more


December 20, 2020 0

U.S. Coast Guard: 1,200 kilograms of cocaine seized

first_imgBy Dialogo November 18, 2013 MIAMI, U.S.A. – The U.S. Coast Guard seized a total of 1,200 kilograms of cocaine valued at US$40 million as part of Operation Martillo during two operations in the Caribbean Sea. The raids, which occurred on Nov. 2 and Nov. 6 and weren’t made public until the cocaine was unloaded at Port Everglades, which is north of Miami, were carried out by a U.S. Coast Guard squad aboard the Royal Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Amsterdam. The cocaine was seized from go-fast boats. Three suspects were taken into custody during the operations, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Operation Martillo, which is led by the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South and includes Canada, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, and the United Kingdom, strives to disrupt transnational criminal organizations by limiting their ability to use Central America as a transit zone. From Jan. 15, 2012 to July 17, 2013, Operation Martillo, which was launched in January 2012, resulted in the seizure of 207,740 kilograms of cocaine and 37,397 kilograms of marijuana, 472 arrests and the confiscation of 152 assets. [EFE (United States), 15/11/2013; El Nuevo Herald (USA), 16/11/2013; Diario Libre (Dominican Republic), 15/11/2013]last_img read more


December 20, 2020 0

Dominican Air Force Leads Reforestation Efforts

first_imgAnd last year, the National Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARENA) declared October National Reforestation Month. SEMARENA proposed intensive tree planting throughout the month, particularly on ranches that had suffered deforestation and along rivers in those areas. A platoon of the Dominican Republic’s Air Force (FARD) is executing an important mission not in the air, but on the ground – by working with the Ministry of the Environment and volunteer organizations on a reforestation project along a major highway. The Dominican federal government sponsors and encourages other reforestation projects carried out by the Armed Forces and other agencies. “Historically, in the Dominican Republic, the Armed Forces, above all the National Army, has been closely tied to preserving the forests and the country’s natural resources,” said Daniel Pou, an associate researcher at the country’s Latin American College of Social Sciences (FLASCO). This sensitive task has helped preserve the tributaries of the Biodiversity Park, where there are three important waterways whose beds are protected by a healthy population of trees: the Yabacao, Cachón and Salto de Socoa Rivers. For example, in 2011 the Military helped plant more than two million trees under the Green Quisqueya plan, which also included the efforts of 15,000 volunteers from different civil society organizations, including private businesses, students and teachers from schools and universities, business associations, government and non-government organizations, and banks. “Historically, in the Dominican Republic, the Armed Forces, above all the National Army, has been closely tied to preserving the forests and the country’s natural resources,” said Daniel Pou, an associate researcher at the country’s Latin American College of Social Sciences (FLASCO). Troops protect the environment by deploying to remote areas of the different mountainous and forested areas of the country, he said. But this practice isn’t recent. The Armed Forces have conducted preservation efforts periodically over the past 15 years. They have taken an active role in preserving tropical trees by maintaining healthy forest areas to help preserve river beds. Air Force members, Ministry of the Environment workers and civilian volunteers have planted more than one million trees during the current reforestation effort, for which the Ministry of the Environment provides the seeds and saplings. The Dominican Republic currently celebrates National Reforestation Day on the last Saturday of each month, during which people plant thousands of trees throughout the country. THE NICARAGUAN EARTHQUAKE The Dominican federal government sponsors and encourages other reforestation projects carried out by the Armed Forces and other agencies. The current reforestation effort is led by Colonel Francisco Gómez Gómez, an Air Force parachutist. The goal of the initiative is to plant enough trees to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and to improve the quality of life for people who travel along Las Américas Highway, the colonel explained, according to a FARD press release. Preserving and protecting the environment has long been part of the mission of the Dominican Republic’s Armed Forces. The Military’s history of protecting the environment Since December 14, members of the Air Force have performed reforestation work alongside the Nordeste Highway, from the Las Américas Highway to the province of Samaná and near the San Isidro Air Base. The project stretches over some 100 kilometers of highway, where travelers along that important road can see the saplings of calla lilies, cedar, mahogany, oak, acacia, azteca, fiddlewood, olive, rain, beech, ceiba, and other trees that Air Force personnel and other volunteers have planted along both sides of the road. Since December 14, members of the Air Force have performed reforestation work alongside the Nordeste Highway, from the Las Américas Highway to the province of Samaná and near the San Isidro Air Base. A platoon of the Dominican Republic’s Air Force (FARD) is executing an important mission not in the air, but on the ground – by working with the Ministry of the Environment and volunteer organizations on a reforestation project along a major highway. The project stretches over some 100 kilometers of highway, where travelers along that important road can see the saplings of calla lilies, cedar, mahogany, oak, acacia, azteca, fiddlewood, olive, rain, beech, ceiba, and other trees that Air Force personnel and other volunteers have planted along both sides of the road. “This has its origin, before the Ministry of the Environment existed, with the Reforestation Department, an agency under the Armed Forces Ministry. This has led to the National Army having a great deal of experience with reforestation.” Troops protect the environment by deploying to remote areas of the different mountainous and forested areas of the country, he said. But this practice isn’t recent. The Armed Forces have conducted preservation efforts periodically over the past 15 years. They have taken an active role in preserving tropical trees by maintaining healthy forest areas to help preserve river beds. For example, in 2011 the Military helped plant more than two million trees under the Green Quisqueya plan, which also included the efforts of 15,000 volunteers from different civil society organizations, including private businesses, students and teachers from schools and universities, business associations, government and non-government organizations, and banks. Air Force members, Ministry of the Environment workers and civilian volunteers have planted more than one million trees during the current reforestation effort, for which the Ministry of the Environment provides the seeds and saplings. Reforestation plans throughout the country And last year, the National Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARENA) declared October National Reforestation Month. SEMARENA proposed intensive tree planting throughout the month, particularly on ranches that had suffered deforestation and along rivers in those areas. The Military’s history of protecting the environment This sensitive task has helped preserve the tributaries of the Biodiversity Park, where there are three important waterways whose beds are protected by a healthy population of trees: the Yabacao, Cachón and Salto de Socoa Rivers. Reforestation plans throughout the country The Dominican Republic currently celebrates National Reforestation Day on the last Saturday of each month, during which people plant thousands of trees throughout the country. By Dialogo January 28, 2015 “This has its origin, before the Ministry of the Environment existed, with the Reforestation Department, an agency under the Armed Forces Ministry. This has led to the National Army having a great deal of experience with reforestation.” The current reforestation effort is led by Colonel Francisco Gómez Gómez, an Air Force parachutist. The goal of the initiative is to plant enough trees to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and to improve the quality of life for people who travel along Las Américas Highway, the colonel explained, according to a FARD press release. Preserving and protecting the environment has long been part of the mission of the Dominican Republic’s Armed Forces. last_img read more


December 20, 2020 0

Peace Takes Root Along Panama’s Borders

first_imgBy Roberto López Dubois/Diálogo June 27, 2017 Excelente labor de parte de estos policias panameños Articulo muy acertado y deja en evidencia que el Senafront al igual que otras instituciones policiales no están para reprimir al pueblo, sino para brindar la seguridad y colaborarles a tráves del gobierno en materia de ayuda social y humanitaria. Since January 2017, peace reigns in many towns along the border between Panama and Colombia. That’s when groups of Panamanian border agents arrived in those locations to provide humanitarian aid. The bustle these past few months was due to a new program of the National Border Service (SENAFRONT, per its Spanish acronym), one of the four components of the Panamanian Public Forces, which aims to bring humanitarian aid to people in areas far from urban centers of the isthmus. To date, the institution has completed eight of 17 similar operations planned for 2017. A total of 1,300 people out of 3,500 has received benefits so far. Areas of influence Paya, Púcuru, and other jungle areas along the Pacific coast of Darién Province are among the remote areas included in the assistance plan. The Guna Yala area, which borders Colombia along the Atlantic coast, is also included. On the other side of the country, along the Costa Rican border, the plan included banana farms in Chiriquí, where the townspeople have been experiencing a major economic crisis since the company purchasing its agricultural products ceased operations. Seven hundred Panamanian troops have participated in humanitarian aid operations in 2017. In 2008, SENAFRONT established a strategy called “Total Mobility,” which focuses the institution’s efforts on removing members of groups engaged in transnational crime, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling, among others, from border areas. According to the agency’s website, the initial goal was to ensure security along Panama’s land borders. Later, military members planned and began implementing the strategy to consolidate territory. Specifically, the institution plans to have military members working on security as well as spending time supporting the residents in a more comprehensive manner. They now deliver humanitarian aid and, in addition to their daily activities, engage in activities like construction, cleaning, and painting community buildings, among other work. More security “We conduct a census prior to our arrival to get the number of residents in places where we will be working. With this information, we are able to figure out the medical portion, whether for children or adults, in places where we’ll intervene, to determine what medications will be necessary. Also, we listen to the citizens because they may need another type of assistance [legal or mental health]. Likewise, we determine whether there is some construction project we can support in the community,” Commissioner Guillermo Valdés, SENAFRONT operations chief, told Diálogo. This coordination seeks to ensure that Panamanians feel safe as a result of the comprehensive joint operation provided by the government through SENAFRONT. But they are not alone. They are working in coordination with other government institutions and other sectors of society such as universities, both public and private, and Panamanian non-profit organizations. “Once we arrive in town, we try to live with them, see what their situation is, and later bring bags of food door-to-door. We also have many other activities to support the citizens, including painting schools, cleaning up around town, haircuts, among other things,” Commissioner Valdés added. Humanitarian aid “Because these are remote places, the humanitarian aid serves as our launchpad. We rely on humanitarian aid to reach the community because they have many needs. They see the immediate results of the community action, and they see how their community is changed for the better. We try to activate the driving forces in the community and we see how their community moves forward in a positive way,” said Commissioner José Samaniego, the current telematics director at SENAFRONT, who was in charge of the Caribbean region, which includes the Guna Yala archipelago. “This helps us make sure that they are involved in the security part, and they even see us as a link to different government activities. Everything is connected. Security is everyone’s business. This helps us maintain a pleasant channel of communication, which gives us more access because they trust us more. Of course, always respecting the traditional authorities,” he added. SENAFRONT authorities planned the initiatives to strengthen their troops’ leadership in the different communities that are in their area of influence. They also hope to build more trust with the regional authorities, and in the case of indigenous communities, with their traditional leaders. By doing so, they hope to develop the citizens’ trust in the units working in those communities, and in their commanding officer. Thus, when an incident occurs, the entire community will have enough trust to seek out the SENAFRONT units to allow them to serve as a channel for a quick solution to their problems without having to look for answers among groups acting outside the law.last_img read more


December 20, 2020 0