Study recommends closing three coal units owned by city utility in Springfield, Illinois

first_imgStudy recommends closing three coal units owned by city utility in Springfield, Illinois FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The State Journal-Register:In a much-anticipated report, an energy consulting firm is recommending that City Water, Light and Power retire three of its four coal-fired power generators “as soon as feasible” while offering the utility a roadmap to a less coal-dependent future.The Energy Authority (TEA), which was retained by the city last year to map out a plan for the utility’s power generation for the next 20 years, released the 84-page “integrated resource plan” on Monday and gave a presentation to members of the Springfield City Council. The firm recommended that CWLP retire Dallman units 1, 2 and 3 by as early as 2020 after finding that “no scenario economically retained these units.”The results are not much of a surprise given the age of the units and the current state of the energy market, which has been upended by the rise of natural gas and the increasing affordability of renewable energy. For coal-dependent utilities like CWLP, it has not been easy to keep up.“One of the things that we’ve been saying for quite some time is that coal-fired units basically can’t compete very well in the market, they’re not competitive in the current market,” said CWLP chief utility engineer Doug Brown. “So this report basically confirms all of that.”Dallman 1 and 2, which have been in service since 1968 and 1972 respectively, only combine to generate about 19 percent of the CWLP’s total power and “are not needed for capacity,” the report states. And while Dallman 3, in service since 1978, provides needed capacity, TEA concluded replacing it is much more economical than the $210 million that would have to be spent over the next 20 years to maintain it.The report recommends issuing requests for proposals to meet the energy needs that arise from retiring coal-based power units. While the firm said CWLP could look at non-renewable power purchasing agreements, the majority of lower-cost PPAs are backed by renewable energy. If CWLP follows TEA’s recommendations, renewables would account for 53 percent of the power generated in 2031.More: Report recommends CWLP retire its three oldest power units, move away from coallast_img read more

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U.S. offshore wind industry could become $70 billion business by 2030—AWEA

first_imgU.S. offshore wind industry could become $70 billion business by 2030—AWEA FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CNBC:Just three years ago, five giant wind turbines in the waters off Block Island, Rhode Island, started spinning 30 MW of electricity to that tiny community of about a thousand residents. While it remains the only offshore wind farm in the U.S., that’s about to dramatically change.According to the Department of Energy, offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 2,000 GW of capacity per year, nearly double the nation’s current electricity use. Even if only 1% of that potential is captured, nearly 6.5 million homes could be powered by offshore wind energy within the next decade.Today states along the Eastern Seaboard, from Maine to Virginia, are poised to join a renewable-energy revolution that will not only provide clean, green electricity but also create tens of thousands of jobs, revitalize distressed port cities and spur economic growth in dozens of coastal communities.“We are in an incredible growth period,” said Laura Morton, a senior director at the American Wind Energy Association in Washington, D.C. She cited a recent white paper from the Special Initiative for Offshore Wind that projects a $70 billion business pipeline in the U.S. by 2030.A study co-authored by New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the Clean Energy States Alliance found that developing 8,000 MW of offshore wind from Maryland to Maine by 2030 could create up to 36,000 full-time U.S. jobs. What’s more, said Morton, “to build and operate an offshore wind farm requires a diverse workforce of 74 different occupations,” from engineers to pipefitters.Following the scalability path blazed by offshore wind projects in Northern Europe — which now has a total installed capacity of 18,499 MW across 11 countries — the stars are aligned for the U.S. industry. Costs have come down, technology has gone up, states have mandated ambitious renewable-energy goals, and the federal government has leased 15 commercial ocean sites for $472 million. Public sentiment also is high to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, especially as climate change keeps accelerating.[Bob Woods]More: U.S. has only one offshore wind energy farm, but a $70 billion market is on the waylast_img read more

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Japanese trading firm Mitsui to sell remaining coal-fired power plant assets by 2030

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co Ltd plans to sell its remaining stakes in coal-fired power stations by the end of the decade as it shifts to gas from coal to help achieve its 2050 net zero emission target, its chief executive told Reuters.“We still own stakes in coal-fired plants in Indonesia, China, Malaysia and Morocco, but our goal is to make it zero by 2030,” Mitsui CEO Tatsuo Yasunaga said in an interview on Friday.The comment – Mitsui’s first on selling out of coal-fired power generation – comes as firms worldwide move away from coal to cut harmful carbon dioxide emissions and slow climate change. Mitsui, which generates about two-thirds of profit from energy and metals, is also shifting away from oil. “With the COVID-19 crisis, we have postponed investment in a few upstream oil deals, but our liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects are on track,” he said.“Renewable energy can’t replace all other power sources in one fell swoop. Gas goes well with volatile renewable energy as gas-fired power generation is easy to switch on and off,” he said, adding Mitsui is also keen on cleaner energy such as offshore wind farms and hydrogen projects.[Yuka Obayashi and Noriyuki Hirata]More: Exclusive: Mitsui & Co to sell all stakes in coal-fired power plants by 2030 – CEO Japanese trading firm Mitsui to sell remaining coal-fired power plant assets by 2030last_img read more

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Ask the Experts: Backpacking

first_imgI’m preparing for my first weekend backpacking trip. Do I need to buy hiking boots, or will my trail runners do the job? A good pair of backpacking boots will provide the ankle support you’ll need when hiking on a technical trail with a load on your back. If you’re a beginner backpacker, you’re not used to carrying a full pack, so the risk of twisting an ankle is even greater. But if this is your first trip, don’t buy boots right away. If you keep the mileage low, the terrain easy, and your pack weight minimal, you should be able to get by with your trail runners.—Erik Plakanis, backpacking guide service ownerHow to store your tent and sleeping bag.On the TrailTents: Some people stuff, some roll, some fold. I’m a stuffer. If you fold, try not to fold the tent in the same places each morning, because creases will develop that will eventually compromise the strength of the fabric.Sleeping Bags: Stuffing is really your only option with a bag. Creases and folds will ruin the shell and down. At HomeTents: Air out your tent so mildew and funk don’t fester. Set it up outside and let the sun and wind dry the tent completely. Once it’s completely dry and clean, stuff it back into its sack and store it in a dry place.Sleeping Bags: Hang your bag out of its compression sack in order to extend the life of the down. If you store your bag inside its sack, you’re compressing the loft and decreasing the amount of warmth the bag will provide in the future.—Minya James, A.T. thru-hiker and instructor of backpacking workshopsShelter Etiquette The system of shelters interspersed along the Appalachian Trail can simplify your backpacking trip immensely. But there are some unwritten rules that govern these backcountry hotspots. David “AWOL” Miller, thru-hiker and author of The A.T. Guide, offered his top five tips for peaceful communal living.1. First come, first serve. Shelter spaces cannot be reserved for your friends who have yet to arrive. Generally, you should use little more space than the width of your sleeping bag.2. Turn off alarms and phone ringers. And don’t talk on a cell phone within earshot of the shelter.3. Do your dishwashing, tooth brushing, and urinating well away from the shelter.4. Pack it in, pack it out. Don’t leave anything in the shelter, even if you think it may be of use to other hikers. And do not attempt to burn waste.5. If you know that you have a powerful snore, consider tenting.5 Ways to Shed PoundsPro hiker Andrew Skurka completed a recent 4,700-mile expedition in Alaska with a pack weight under ten pounds. Here’s his advice:Take less. After every trip, lay out everything and divide into two piles: things you needed, and things you didn’t.Take lighter gear. Focus on replacing outdated gear, especially your heaviest items: sleeping bag, shelter, stove, and clothing.Use versatile, multiple-use items. Pitch your shelter with your trekking poles rather than dedicated tent poles. Wear your clothing at night so you can carry a lighter sleeping bag. Use your pack or collapsible water bottle as pillows.Take calorically dense foods. Fat has twice as many calories as carbs or protein. An average backpacker needs about 3,000 calories per day, or just 12.5 ounces of fat versus 30 ounces of protein and carbs.Optimize your hydration. A quart of water weighs two pounds. Know where the water sources are, and determine how much water you need between those sources to stay properly hydrated.last_img read more

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Get Up, Stand Up

first_img Stand Up Photo cred: Luke Hopkins Paddleboarding Photo cred: Luke Hopkinscenter_img Sweets_FullRes Stand-up paddleboarding has been part of Hawaiian heritage for over 50 years, but it has recently jumped across the ocean to become the fastest growing paddlesport in the continental U.S. today.Paddleboards speak to the child within. A paddleboard represents a blank slate, with infinite room for creativity and expression. Using this tool, you can explore a local lake with your family, do on-water yoga or CrossFit, surf ocean swells, tackle whitewater rivers, sail downwind with a kite, fish, deepwater solo climb. SUPs are simple, functional tools to follow your passions.“When was the last time that you saw an 80 year old fall down, laughing hysterically, and then get back up and want to try it again?” says Luke Hopkins, owner of Stride, an inflatable paddleboard manufacturer in Blacksburg, Va.What sets SUP apart from some other paddle sports is the fact that the learning curve is virtually nonexistent. Almost anyone can jump on a paddleboard and feel comfortable within an hour or so.Celebrities such as Pierce Brosnan, Cameron Diaz, Lance Armstrong, and others have been seen on paddleboards, and the fitness aspect of the sport is very appealing. Like many paddlesports, the power of your stroke comes from the core, and one hour of SUP has been proven to be equivalent exercise to six hours of surfing.The paddleboarding scene in the Southeast differentiates itself from the rest of the country in a very special way: moving water. Paddleboards are increasingly popular among whitewater kayakers in the region who are looking for a new challenge.I learned about this appeal firsthand during my inaugural SUP attempt at the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C. I am a confident class V kayaker, but when I jumped on a paddleboard and took off down some class II rapids, it was like taking the training wheels off. The subtleties of the river are so much more defined when you are standing up and feeling every ripple and current through your feet. My entire body needed to work together as one interconnected unit to control the board, and those same rapids that I would have floated through casually in my kayak represented an awesome and infinitely challenging puzzle when confronted on a paddleboard. I spent about half  the time either kneeling on or chasing the board, but I was laughing my way down the rapids for hours.For beginners, a 10-foot or 11-foot board is recommended. This is a good mixture of stability, ease of transportation, and the versatility to sample a bit of everything. For those interested in entering the whitewater world, it is important to become educated on the pros and cons of using a leash, and if used, how to properly set up quick-release systems. River SUP may seem daunting and scary at first, but there are many excellent rivers in the area for first-timers to develop their skills safely, including the Lower Green, French Broad, Potomac, Susquehanna, Nantahala, Big South Fork, Hiwassee, and the Ocoee.Two Southeast paddleboard leaders are Ben Friberg and Mike Tavares of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Friberg and Tavares represent the cutting edge of the inland aspect of the sport. They paddleboard regularly on the Ocoee River, a challenging Class III-IV run, using river-specific boards by manufacturer BadFish, along with protective gear to shield them from the uncertainties of standing up on steep, rocky rivers.While inflatable boards are at the forefront of the recreational SUP movement due to their portability, weight, and soft, forgiving construction, some advanced SUP athletes like Tavares and Friberg choose rigid boards made out of fiberglass or other materials. These boards slide more smoothly over rocks and allow for more rigidity and sharper rails for surfing.“The first time that you peel out of an eddy on a SUP, and you commit to leaning over that edge as the board slices into the current, that’s it. The addiction starts,” says Friberg.This summer, Friberg will attempt to break the 24 hour SUP world distance record on the Yukon River in northern Canada. This massive river drains the northern part of British Columbia and flows through the Yukon province before traveling into Alaska. It has been the site of a number of consecutive kayak distance records. Friberg and fellow paddleboarder Dan Gavere will attempt to set themselves apart from previous records through their specially designed carbon boards, whitewater experience, and river-reading abilities.After studying river speed, wind patterns, and other knowledge gathered from locals, everything points to this attempt being a huge accomplishment for the sport. “It is going to be Mount Everest,” says Friberg. But the real spotlight, he insists, should be placed on that mighty river. “We just hope that we represent that river and river people well.”on the fringe other edgy sports going mainstreamparkourParkour is a sport whose growth has been dramatically augmented by sensational Internet videos and appearances in high-profile movies like Casino Royale.In spite of its stunt- and risk-oriented image, traceurs, or practitioners of parkour, are in fact extremely mentally and physically conditioned athletes. The sport has its roots in French military training, and essentially involves moving as efficiently as possible over obstacles in urban environments. Many refer to it as the “art of movement.”The goal is to gain as much ground as possible at all times, and it has almost primal roots in the act of attacking or fleeing. Absorption and redistribution of energy is a primary focus, and the obstacles are used as analogies to help traceurs effectively overcome fears and pain in everyday life.This sport carries many similarities to international athletic movements such as CrossFit, which focuses on functional fitness and holistic athletic development for a lifetime. Cityscaping, a form of urban climbing, and MovNat also have similar credos and followings.Parkour lessons are offered across the Southeast, including Asheville Gymnastics, Virginia Tech Parkour, and Primal Fitness in D.C.surf kayakingOnce a peripheral way for whitewater paddlers to get some laughs while on a beach vacation, surf kayaking has evolved into a vibrant and competitive sport with followers on both coasts of the U.S and worldwide.The progression of the sport has come a long way from its roots as a part of the now defunct National Organization of Whitewater Rodeos. From these whitewater beginnings, surf kayaking has evolved into what it is today: a devout community using cutting edge designs to ride waves and compete like board surfers.The introduction of composite technology is one factor that has certainly played a large role in the sport’s development. The boats are ultra-light, low rocker, and feature short sterns and fins to optimize carving power and speed down the face.Ultimately, the draw is the same as that of board surfing: interacting with a powerful force of nature in a dynamic and beautiful way. Surf kayakers, however, have the added advantage of being able to generate more speed on the takeoff than their board surfing counterparts, as well as the ability to stay drier in cold weather, and paddle back out after a ride faster.The Outer Banks of North Carolina generated some buzz in the international surf kayaking scene when it hosted the World Championships last October. Athletes who had previously been skeptical of conditions on the East Coast were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful waves and seamless organization throughout the event.Spencer Cooke, long-time surf and whitewater kayaker, offers that the best way to give the sport a shot is to attend one of the competitions in the prime East season of September-October. “The community is extremely excited about seeing new faces, and is very generous as far as sharing boats and information.” Cooke follows with a word of encouragement to first-timers: “The only way to truly appreciate the sport is to try it. Words, videos, or photos can only begin to express how amazing it is.”For more information, visit the Eastern Surf Kayaking Association at eskasurf.com.downhill bikingThere aren’t many things in life that can compare to the thrill of flying down a steep mountain trail, dodging rocks and roots, and then feeling the weightless bliss of disconnecting from reality on a jump.Downhill biking is a sport with a very solid foundation in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Through the years, a number of bike parks have shuttled riders on their chairlifts for summertime descents of the steep grades. The most well-known of these is certainly Snowshoe Mountain, which features a wide network of trails on both sides of the mountain, and everything from beginner to pro-level terrain.Snowshoe is also a part of the Southeast’s yearly race series, hosting four races each summer. Other epicenters include Paris Mountain and Clemson in South Carolina, Diablo Freeride Park in New Jersey, and the resorts surrounding Boone, N.C. Beech Mountain (http://basecamp.blueridgeoutdoors.com/?p=2578) is enjoying its second year as the host of the US National Championships in 2012, and will continue to challenge the best riders from across the country.The Southeast’s rise as a downhill destination is supported by a strong foundation of youth development programs. Local pro rider Chris Herndon is the head coach for the GROM (Gravity Racers On a Mission) team. This group of youngsters is coached on the intricacies of winning bike races, and is already taking the circuit by storm with wins in Junior and Category 1 (Expert Men) classes.Collegiate racing is also on the rise, with active programs at schools including Brevard, Virginia Tech, WVU, Warren Wilson, UNCA, Lees McRae, and Clemson. For some of these schools, such as Warren Wilson, the mountain biking team represents the pride and focus of their athletic program.Downhill racing in the U.S. received a surge of energy in 2011, when Aaron Gwin became the first American ever to win the coveted World Cup overall title. The momentum from this and other American contributions to the sport will surely continue to drive the growing scene in the Southeast.For more information, visit pinkbike.com or gromracing.com, or check out the Southeast forum at ridemonkey.com.Many of these sports will be showcased at the Olympics by athletes from the Southeast, find out who in our Hometown Heroes Article!last_img read more

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UFOs, Bigfoot, and the Brown Mountain Lights

first_imgThe paranormal is more than a Halloween prank to Josh Warren. It’s the final frontier of exploration.“A lot of people get touched in this building. There’s lots of hair pulling,” Josh Warren says, addressing a group of 30 or so people, most of whom are probably hoping they get their hair pulled at some point tonight. We’re gathered in the bar/lobby of a mega-dance club on the edge of downtown Asheville looking for ghosts. Actually, it’s three different clubs in one massive building, originally built in 1924 as a YWCA. For a decade, the building was a school. Now, people dance here and occasionally see ghosts. We’re going to follow Warren through the building’s tunnels, basement, and closets with an arsenal of ghost-hunting meters in hopes of making contact with the spirits that supposedly still walk the dark halls. If you believe Warren’s over-arching theory about paranormal activity, we might be getting a peek into another dimension. Welcome to the new frontier of exploration. Asheville native Joshua Warren will be your guide.Warren is decked out in black suit pants, dark purple shirt, and black vest. He has a gold Masonic ring on one hand and a deep voice made for radio. He just turned 36, but has been working in the paranormal field for 20 years, publishing his first book of scary stories at 14 and writing his first articles for the Asheville Citizen-Times at the age of 16. Later in the evening, a man old enough to be Warren’s father will approach him tentatively and gush about how Warren’s work has inspired him to become a ghost hunter himself. Warren is one of the leading paranormal investigators in the country. He has a radio show, a new mystery museum, more ghost tours than he can count, has authored 12 books, and is a regular talking head on news and cable programs concerned with things that go bump in the night. Now, Warren is getting his turn on the national stage as a key investigator on the Paranormal Papparazzi, a new Travel Channel show that sends Warren and his cohorts to all corners of the country to investigate paranormal claims. Warren looks for UFO’s in Texas, the Lizard Man in South Carolina, and digs into potential military conspiracies in North Carolina. Whether you believe in Bigfoot or not, you can’t deny the entertainment quality of the show, which is modeled after the fast-paced celebrity news show TMZ.Tonight, a group of fans and amateur ghost hunters is following Warren through the ‘20s era building, crawling through tunnels, peeking into closets, and exploring a swanky penthouse apartment. Guests of the club have reported encounters with ghosts, from hair pulling to full-on apparitions. Legends of deaths surround the building and the original club owner’s ashes are on display in the penthouse apartment on the top floor. Creepy? How about this: there’s an empty indoor pool…in the basement. Tell me, how do you not see a ghost when you’re standing in the deep end of an indoor pool in the dark holding an EMF meter?“I love haunted, creepy mansions. This place continues to amaze me,” Warren tells us while giving us a tour of the building, which feels a bit like a maze with small hallways and steep stairwells. We’re participating in one of the first paranormal investigations of this building. It’s the beginning of a year-long study Warren is hoping to undergo. His team has already gotten impressive results (a partial apparition, physical contact, meters showing strong electromagnetic fluctuations) in a short time. The group is excited as we crawl into an earthen tunnel near the building’s boiler room where one of Warren’s team experienced physical contact with a ghost on a previous night. But Warren didn’t make his name with just ghosts. If anything, the man is best known for his extensive study of the Brown Mountain Lights, a paranormal phenomenon that has baffled scientists in all fields for decades.On the edge of Pisgah National Forest, at the base of North Carolina’s High Country, people have reported seeing bright, floating balls of light rising from the low-lying ridge of Brown Mountain. The Cherokee saw the lights well before Europeans showed up. Since settlement, thousands have witnessed the lights, which have been newspaper fodder since the early 1900s. The U.S. government has investigated the phenomenon at least three times since the 1920s. The Smithsonian Institute has even poked into the mystery behind the glowing orbs, but no institution has released a definitive explanation of the lights.“Brown Mountain is the closest thing the Southern Appalachians has to the Bermuda Triangle,” Warren says. “Basically, all you have is a mountain in Pisgah where people see weird lights sometimes. But it has become a blank slate where every person can project his or her beliefs onto it. Ghosts, Native American legends, UFOs, conspiracy theories…whatever you’re into, you can find a theory for the Brown Mountain Lights. Even with scientists. Chemists think it’s gases, astronomers think it’s an optical illusion, physicists think it’s plasma. It’s a multi-faceted phantasmagoria of odd beliefs.”Brown MountainJosh Warren (right) scans the Brown Mountain overlook for clues to the mysterious lights.Some witnesses say the lights are prophetic and appear before significant events. Others insist the lights are conscious beings that can communicate. People have “lost time” while witnessing the lights. Warren spent 15 years studying the phenomenon, digging through the various legends, collecting first person accounts, and working with a variety of scientists in hopes of solving the mystery behind these floating balls of light. According to Warren, the mystery behind the Brown Mountain Lights isn’t paranormal at all. It’s natural.“I think most of the lights are the product of a natural phenomenon similar to ball lightning being produced by geological conditions,” Warren says. “There’s a reason why it’s been a mystery for so long. These lights are the product of obscure variables that are tough to recreate and test scientifically.”Brown Mountain is full of tunnels with rushing water. It’s also made of layers of quartz and magnetite and iron, which are known electrical conductors. According to Warren, if the weather patterns align (heavy rain, cold air) with the KP Index (a measurement of how disturbed the earth’s magnetic field is), and the amount of carbon in the air, the mountain becomes a big electrical capacitor as rushing water charges layers of the rock with electricity, releasing plasma balls similar to ball lightning. Warren was able to recreate the phenomenon in a lab, creating similar plasma balls by recreating the variables at Brown Mountain on a tiny scale. The experiment and his findings landed Warren on the cover of the science journal, Electric Space Craft Journal.“I take a skeptical approach to my paranormal investigations, because if I don’t look over every detail before I present it to the public, I’ll look like an idiot. I’m always looking for holes and weaknesses. The paranormal is the last option I look at,” Warren says. “But, the scientific explanation of Brown Mountain’s lights doesn’t account for the strange stories surrounding those lights. We have to accept that we’ve only uncovered some of the beta. We don’t know the whole story of Brown Mountain. It begins with a natural phenomenon, but the effect begins to spin off in other directions. If you have that much energy concentrated in one place, maybe that allows people to see other dimensions?”Which brings us to Bigfoot.Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, has been spotted by hikers, bikers, truck drivers, farmers, and accountants all across the country, from the suburbs of Florida to the dank forests of Washington State. Every year, people spend thousands of dollars on equipment and countless hours in the field doing what they consider legitimate research in hopes of uncovering the physical evidence to support what they whole-heartedly believe–that there is a species of man-like apes lurking somewhere deep in the Great American Forest. Warren has a unique theory about the mythical man/beast.“Here’s the Bigfoot conundrum,” Warren says. “Thousands of people have claimed they’ve seen Bigfoot, but there’s no physical evidence to prove an 800-pound ape is running around every state in the country. So everybody who says they’ve seen Bigfoot is either wrong, or lying. But they can’t all be full of it. I’ve talked with enough level-headed witnesses to know that many of these people believe they saw Bigfoot. They believe it and I believe them. I view Bigfoot not as a physical thing, but as an apparition, or an inter-dimensional experience.”In other words, people are getting a glimpse at another world, parallel to our world.  It sounds like the stuff of Alice in Wonderland and, more recently, TV shows like Fringe. For some, the idea of a multi-dimensional universe, where other planes exist around us beyond our perception, can be tougher to swallow than the notion of a massive ape surviving for centuries in their backyard. But Warren’s notion of multiple dimensions is actually based on a popular theory in physics called string theory, which proposes our universe has 11 different dimensions, only four of which we can currently perceive–three spatial dimensions (like longitude, latitude, and elevation), and time.According to Warren, a place like Brown Mountain, because of the tunnels of rushing water and quartzite, might act as a sort of paranormal portal enabling us to tap into these other dimensions.“If a place is supercharged with electromagnetic energy, we may be able to glimpse these things that are outside of our own dimension. You get a glimpse of the other side, then it disappears. It’s frustrating for scientists because you can’t recreate the scenario. Science needs repeatability.”Though Warren can’t test his notion of multiple dimensions (in his defense, string theory can’t yet be tested either), the investigator believes it might be the glue that holds all of the paranormal phenomena people experience in this world together. Ghosts, UFOs, cryptids like Bigfoot and Chupacabra…all glimpses at another dimension. It’s a unifying theory detailed in his latest book, The Secret Wisdom of Kukulkan.There’s no mention of multiple dimensions as we explore a former dressing room on the third floor of the ancient YWCA. This is where the hair-pulling ghost supposedly hangs out. We set up laser-pointing light grids, and crank up EMF meters and EVP recorders. Some people have downloaded ghost-hunting apps for their iPhone. Strange things happen. Women in our group get groped inexplicably. Intense headaches come and go. But no one sees a ghost. Still, Warren is excited about the night, and the prospect of exploring the building further.“The world is much more complex than we can grasp. How do you begin to address the most puzzling questions facing mankind?” Warren asks as we finish the YWCA investigation. “There are easier ways to make a living, but this is what excites me. It makes me feel alive to be on the edge of what we know and what we don’t know. It’s the explorer’s instinct. A lot of exploration has already been done. Not only have we been to the moon, I can look at your house from space while sitting at my computer. But this—ghosts and cryptids—this is the last great adventure.”Four Paranormal Sites Worth Checking Out1. Brown Mountain Lights Stories of the lights extend back to the Native Americans. They rise against the ridge and disappear into the night sky. You can see them today, particularly after a rain on a cold evening, from the Brown Mountain Overlook on NC Highway 181 outside of Morganton.2. Judacalla Rock The largest petroglyph in North Carolina, Judacalla is a 16-foot by 11-foot soapstone boulder with markings unlike any other petroglyphs. The unique nature of the markings has baffled archeologists for decades. Archeologists estimate the petroglyphs predate the Cherokee Indians. Cherokee legend states the rock was created by a mythical giant that controlled the weather and jumped from mountain to mountain.3. MOTHMANSightings of a large bird-like man were reported over the course of a year in the mid-60s in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The Mothman reportedly had 10-foot-long wings and glowing red eyes. The sightings stopped abruptly after the collapse of the Silver Bridge, which killed 46 people. However, several sightings have been reported in recent years. There’s also a statue in Point Pleasant.4. Ringing Rocks ParkThis is a boulder field high on a hill in Pennsylvania that contains thousands of large rocks that sound like bells when they’re struck. Scientists know the rocks are volcanic, but no one can explain why they ring like bells. Interestingly, Pennsylvania is one of the top 10 states for UFO sightings, according to the National UFO Reporting Center.last_img read more

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Industrial Hemp: Think Green in 2015

first_imgPhoto Courtesy of Arne HückelheimIn today’s environmental movement, money talks.  Luckily one solution is surfacing that will boost our GDP while growing sustainability efforts at an exponential rate. Industrial hemp has been black-listed for years – being closely associated with it’s cannabis-cousin, marijuana.  However these two plants are very different, and laws are changing to define them more appropriately.  Jason Amatucci, founder of the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition, is a voice for this cause right here in the Southeast and here’s what he has to say.“Hemp cannot, and does not, produce any drug whatsoever—no matter how you process it.  So why do we treat it like a dangerous drug to be strictly controlled?  We must do all we can to help vote out the politicians that are holding back the ‘no brainer’ sustainable American agriculture industry, American manufacturing, and an improved environment from advancing.”Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.28.39 AMPhoto Courtesy of UK College of AgricultureIndustrial hemp is a wonder crop that grows tall and fast.  It’s already being used to manufacture clothing, rope, biodegradable plastic, Styrofoam alternatives, building materials, and paper.  And research is being done that shows potential for hemp as an efficient bio-fuel and soil-remediator.  Meanwhile, its seed contain a balanced concentration of protein, essential fats, vitamins, and enzymes, while sugar, starches, and saturated fats are nearly non-existent—making it one of nature’s most-perfect foods.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.37.53 AMPhoto Courtesy of Real HempIn addition to its consumer uses, it is good for the soil and grows like a weed.  With little need for pesticides and resilience to adverse weather conditions, hemp could be the cash crop American farmers have been waiting for.  Most importantly, it is nitrogen-fixing and puts down deep roots to support its long straight stalk. That loosens compacted soil.  These facts coupled with its high yield per acre, and high demand make it a no-brainer for farmers and environmentalists.Fashion designers, food connoisseurs, engine nerds, and laissez-faire farmers are touting the accolades of this green gold while consumers reap the benefits. Similar in texture to linen (produced from flax, a cousin of cannabis), hemp can be used effectively in textiles as delicate as bedding, producing durable and luxurious products with a more sustainable business model.  But the U.S. still imports nearly all of this raw material.After being eradicated from American soil and banned from our shelves for the better part of a century, hemp is poised to make a major comeback.  While the federal government plays catch-up on antiquated laws, the rest of the industrialized world has seasons of yields that they’ve been learning and earning from.  Luckily, many state-level legislatures now differentiate industrial hemp from marijuana in the eyes of the law.Opportunities for exponential growth in the cultivation, production, manufacturing, and research for this useful plant has the federal government taking yet another look. Over the last decade hemp bills have been introduced by many prominent members of Congress and always snickered at, normally left to die on the floor of the House.  But this year is different.  Nearly half of the states have already reformed their laws and legislators are crossing the aisle to represent opportunities for business in their districts. From big cities to rural countryside, hemp is an important crop that can revitalize entire industries while restoring the local environment.The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 (S. 134 & H.R. 525) was reintroduced early this session and is spending time in committee —further than it’s ever gone before. In a legislative session that represents a population who is mostly pro-cannabis, this could be the year that we see the federal ban on hemp finally lifted.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.40.37 AMIn the Southeast, Kentucky has one growing season under its belt and leads the way in hemp research.  Virginia just earned a victory in Bill 1277 that has legalized industrial hemp for research purposes but Jason Amatucci says that it’s not nearly enough.“In the commonwealth of Virginia we still have a lot of political work to do. While Virginia Bill 1277 legalized tightly-controlled industrial hemp research and was a baby step in the right direction, we will not see business, manufacturing, and farmers getting fully involved until the industry is on proper legal footing. In Kentucky, the leadership in that State is 110 percent behind hemp.”Currently, Virginia lawmakers are sitting on their hands, noone wanting to make the first move.  Meanwhile other states have begun to reap the rewards.  Now, we’re all in this together and anyone making progress is progress for all.  However, farmers and entrepreneurs are anxious to get their feet wet in this burgeoning industry, and they need to be given the opportunity in as many places as possible.“[Kentucky politicians] have provided a pro hemp environment which has attracted lots of business investments to date. This year Kentucky will have 120 or so separate research projects growing hemp, some working with businesses and sales of the crop.  For Virginia to have any chance of remotely catching up to Kentucky, the government will have to get fully behind hemp and give farmers and businesses the legal protection they deserve in 2016.”  Amatucci says.So, if it’s so great, why is it illegal?There are several downsides to consider.  First and foremost, given the current trends in Cannabis reform, marijuana and hemp often go hand-in-hand.  Most of the medical or recreational marijuana states have passed hemp legislation as an obvious companion.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.46.14 AMPhoto Courtesy of Mike MozartSeveral states have now passed legislation in the reverse with hemp leading the charge, posing some concerns.  And these concerns are highly political – Virginia’s own Bob Goodlatte, representing Roanoke and Lynchburg, has come out with his own concerns regarding enforcement.Goodlatte recently said:“If you take the DEA out of the process, you’re going to have a situation where this law will be honored in name only and not used for the purpose it is intended, which is research,” Goodlatte said. “You cannot determine the THC limits of cannabis plants simply by looking at them. They need to be examined. The DEA fulfills that role.”Secondly, rural homesteaders have always had issues with marijuana crops showing up on their land and wouldn’t a field of hemp make for a great place to hide a few marijuana plants?  Well, yes and no.  Firstly the cross-pollination effects would likely favor the hemp plant because of sheer numbers and – even if marijuana is able to grow to maturity in these conditions – it would need feet of space around each plant to accommodate it’s low-growing, bushy appearance.  These are likely to stick-out obviously among fields of tall, close-growing hemp – making it easy for DEA to identify during the fly-overs they already conduct.Lastly, because it’s so tough, harvest and processing can be labor and cost-intensive.  Farmers tell horror stories of the bast fibers shredding their combines with resinous vigor while others talk of week-long machete-wielding work parties.  Even after the harvest, the work of retting (separating the fiber from the rest of the plant) and decorticating (cleaning each component of the plant) introduce additional steps outside of a farmer’s normal tasks.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.48.14 AMPhoto Courtesy of FenrisulfirThese concerns are valid and warrant careful consideration from legislators.  Looking to other countries yields no perfect answer to these questions but can the U.S. afford to allow another industry to be grown, processed, and packaged overseas when the best opportunities are available on American soil?  Jason Amatucci and the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition hope that this fate does not last much longer.  He says:“What is holding the American Hemp industry back is the complete ignorance by a minority of politicians who still cannot seem to grasp the concept that industrial hemp is not marijuana, nor does hemp provide a good environment to grow marijuana. Some politicians scapegoat is that there is no market for it. That is flat out wrong and can be directly discredited by the vast amount of data from every other industrialized nation that grows industrial hemp.  [The U.S.] is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have a hemp industry.”Protect our soil.Beyond the monetary benefits, take a moment to consider soil sustainability.  Maybe a term you haven’t heard of but probably should have.  History has shown us the detriment of over-farming.  For example, the Dust Bowl offered valuable lessons about the importance of topsoil – lessons we haven’t quite learned from.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.49.46 AMPublic DomainToday, many of the farms that feed us do so by producing large amounts of one crop at a time, rotating between corn and soybeans, for example, in a yearly cycle.  Hemp provides a near-perfect addition to this system.  Nitrogen fixing and deep-rooted, never before has a high-yielding cash-crop that remediates the soil taken so long to be sown.Amatucci went on to say:“The potential of hemp to benefit our economy and environment is enormous. Any politician standing in the way of fast tracking industrial hemp for our state and our nation is acting extremely irresponsibly. It is a shame that in 2015 we still have some with a ‘reefer madness’ mentality, holding back change and progress for our citizens – and a cleaner, healthier, sustainable environment.”Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.54.28 AMPhoto Courtesy of AvrietteThe Cannabis plant is a catalyst for a sustainable future and the more time we put off its cultivation, the bigger industrial mess our future generations will be cleaning up.  Although once demonized as an addictive substance that causes paranoia, cannabis is now legal in almost half of the United States.  It is essential to the revitalization of our economy.  Consuming non-renewable resources has driven our culture into an unsustainable direction that consumes without giving back.  Hemp will reverse those affects by repairing the soil it’s grown in and building a more sustainable future with each harvest.To get involved, contact your elected officials – give them your knowledgable stance on this important issue and help influence the future of local and federal legislation.  Then, join the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition and other local organizations to celebrate Hemp History Week 2015 in Richmond on June 7th at the Byrd Theatre.  This event will be screening the documentary “Bringing it Home” at 1:35 pm with a Q and A panel after the film along with raffles for hemp products.  More details can be found here.Check out these links for more information.http://votehemp.com/take_action.htmlvahemp.orghttps://www.facebook.com/vahemp.orghttps://twitter.com/VirginiaHemphttps://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Carolina-Industrial-Hemp-Alliance/184445231595295https://www.facebook.com/KentuckyHIAlast_img read more

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Pirate Mama: National Geographic Endorsed Research

first_imgI have a confession to make here.First, though, let me share some good news. It’s official – we’ll be contributing to National Geographic endorsed organization Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.  We’ll collect water samples this winter while we sail around the Virgin Islands. Invisible to the naked eye, microscopic pieces of plastic pose a devastating threat to our waterways. We’ll send samples back to the lab where they will be studied for the microscopic plastic content and will become part of a comprehensive dataset used to effect change.Now for the confession – I struggled with how to best tell this news. Nobody wants to be a holier-than-thou-pollution-truth-teller wagging her finger at everyone’s plastic habits. Besides, that would make me the biggest hypocrite in the Southeast. I’m guilty of using plastic disposable diapers when my son, Tobin, was a baby and buying liter after liter of water when I couldn’t find the lid to my Nalgene bottle.I can imagine with perfect clarity how one of Tobin’s diapers, soaked with rain and bloated to fifty times it’s original size, would disintegrate into little plastic beads and seep into the groundwater, flowing through storm drains all the way to creeks and rivers. Even back then, when Tobin was an infant, I imagined the environmental danger of all those plastic diapers (sometimes more than six a day!) I used to keep him dry and clean.ky1I told myself I was doing the best I could, as a sleep-deprived single mama juggling a full-time office gig with caring for an infant. I excused myself from the ordeal of cloth diapers. In my mind, they were for someone else with more energy and resources, perhaps a partner or close family nearby. I was doing the best I could just to get by.I’m not in that place anymore. Now I can do better, and so I must. As I learn about these microscopic bits of plastic, I realize that if I’m brushing my teeth and spitting glistening magical cleaning bubbles over the port side of the boat and then taking water samples on the starboard side, I’m part of the problem. If I’m bemoaning the fact that I can’t eat fresh-caught local fish because they contain bits of plastic as I rub sunscreen containing microscopic pieces of plastic into my skin and then go for a swim, I’m partially to blame.ky3It’s tempting to point the finger at big business or locals who litter, but the more I learn about microplastics I realize that most plastics in the ocean got there because of a consumer. Sure, plastics such as water bottles, bags, six-pack rings, and packing material put marine life at risk, but the microscopic particles could be truly insidious. We are all part of the problem. By taking small changes that we incorporate into our lives daily, we can make a difference.We’ve added a video about the Microplastics project to our Kickstarter page along with opportunities for businesses to sponsor the water sample process.Follow along as I reveal how I’m cutting back on my plastic consumption and fessing up when I fall short. Join us in being a bigger part of a solution than the problem by contributing to our Kickstarter campaign.last_img read more

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Fly Guide Giveaway

first_imgWarmer temps, lengthening daylight, and returning shades of green on the land signal that spring is in the air here in the Blue Ridge. With these seasonal changes, many excitedly turn their sights to our region’s creeks, rivers, and lakes as they research new areas to fish and the pros who can guide them. To assist with those angling adventures in 2016 we’re giving away a pair of Reflekt Unsinkable Circuit Polarized Sunglasses ($99 Value), and Orvis Recon 9′ 5Wt. Rod with Hydros SL III Reel ($649 value) and an Elie Coast 120 XE Kayak ($599 value)! Enter now!This contest is over.Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 Midnight EST on March 31, 2016. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and their promotional partners reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before March 31, 6:00 PM EST 2016. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.last_img read more

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Op-Ed: Grazing on Wildlife—USDA Killing Millions of Wild Animals each year to protect livestock

first_imgThe Blue Ridge Mountains are home to awe-inspiring wild animals. Our childlike excitement when we encounter one of these beings in their natural habitat is a testament to their mystery and majesty. Many of us care deeply about preserving America’s unique wildlife, yet the majority of us do not know that our tax dollars are funding a mass slaughter of these beautiful creatures.It is not okay that our hard-earned money is funding an essentially unregulated government agency that continues to kill millions upon millions of wild animals.In the nine years from 2004 to 2013, the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services operatives killed 34 million animals (the latest numbers from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Source). This includes eagles, bears, wolves, deer, beavers and the list goes on and on. Although Wildlife Services has gone through many name changes over the years, its top priority has remained the same since its inception: to serve the livestock industry.According to the agency’s own website, the Bureau of Land Management oversees about 245 million acres of land and allows livestock grazing on more than half of that. These lands, which are public lands owned by you and me, are leased to ranchers at a fraction of the price of what private land would cost them. This subsidy allows livestock owners to occupy such massive expanses of land that they can no longer afford to adequately protect their animals.Enter Wildlife Services. Since ranchers now manage such enormous swaths of cheap, public land, it is impossible for them to control the inevitable predation that occurs. They simply cannot protect all of their livestock from wolves, coyotes, cougars and other predators who are going to eat docile, domesticated animals when they’re put right in front of them.Once ranchers have had their livestock killed by predators, they call their state’s branch of the USDA and request assistance in eradicating them. Without requiring any proof, Wildlife Services sends in its agents on foot and in the air, and they kill any predators they can find in the area. They have no way of knowing if any of the animals they’ve killed actually harmed any livestock. They do this over and over again, indiscriminately, to innocent wolves, bears, bobcats and more.Another way they “protect” livestock is by setting poisonous traps in high predator areas. Some of these traps are very difficult to identify and have often killed non-target animals such as dogs and cats. Victims of these traps suffer convulsions and ultimately die from cardiac failure or respiratory arrest. It can take five to fourteen hours for them to die a torturous death. Wildlife Services is supposed to put signage in these areas, warning recreationalists that the poisons are there, but often they do not do this for fear of scrutiny from environmental and wildlife protectors.All of this and more is thoroughly documented in reporter Christopher Ketcham’s 2016, “The Rogue Agency: A USDA program that tortures dogs and kills endangered species” (Harper’s Magazine). In his piece, Ketcham uncovers Wildlife Services’ use of neck snares, leghold traps (illegal in 80 countries), aerial gunning and other cruel devices and methods. His sources, previous employees of Wildlife Services, report that they witnessed or took part in these operations, which they say continue to this day.A few concerned members of Congress have tried for decades to reform Wildlife Services by demanding accountability, calling for a reduction of the agency’s budget, and requesting an overhaul of its decision-making process. Their efforts have, for the most part, been unsuccessful. The livestock industry has such powerful lobbyists that Wildlife Services remains the unregulated, “rogue” agency that it has been for decades.Unfortunately, we citizens are not innocent bystanders in these atrocities. Our increasing demand for animal products is directly related to this mass killing of wildlife. In addition to propping up heinous programs like Wildlife Services, our taste for beef, dairy and other livestock products also contributes to huge swaths of natural habitat being destroyed for grazing and feedstock croplands, which displace and result in the death of even more wild animals. The evidence is clear and there is no denying that our current consumption standards are wreaking havoc on wildlife.As we shift away from diets, clothing, furniture and other items dependent on animal products—as we move toward vegan living—we save far more creatures than we previously imagined. Not only do we save the animals on our plates, but the wild ones we hold in such high regard.Our public lands and animals in the wild deserve better. Our tax dollars should not be funding the mass slaughter of eagles, bears, bobcats, coyotes, cougars, wild horses and wolves, not to mention dogs and house cats. Our lifestyle choices need not be so destructive.We need to speak out against Wildlife Services. We need to tell our friends and neighbors about the terrible harm being done. We need to contact our congresspersons and demand that they pass legislation to reform this out-of-control agency. And we need to choose diets and products that do not contribute to the needless suffering of so many animals.A more peaceful and sustainable world is possible, but we must not be spectators. We must act.last_img read more

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How To Be A Badass: The Women Warriors of Asheville

first_imgOne afternoon at DuPont State Recreational Area, Shanna Powell was on a ride with some other women—when a group of guys from Florida showed up, ready to descend the same trail.“Any of you ladies like to go fast?” one guy asked with a laugh before heading down the trail.“Yeah, I like to go fast,” Powell said, and quickly dropped in front of him. He didn’t like that and began to chase, only to wreck hard behind her.“There is always that guy at the top of the mountain who assumes they are faster,” says Powell. “I will ride his ass all the way down the mountain until he lets me pass.”Powell, a local biking legend who owns Endless Bike Company, teaches mountain bike skills to classes of men, doesn’t let a concussion stop her from hitting big jump lines, andencourages women to go big when their boyfriends aren’t looking. And she will correct you if you use the term “pussy” in a derogatory way.“I never understood why people refer to balls as tough or strong,” adds Allison Hardy, a renowned long distance runner and enduro rider. “I mean, they are fragile. They hide when things get cold and scary.”Becky Bashton, another badass biker, says it’s not so much about getting good at one thing as it is just creating a lifestyle of fun and creating a culture. Bikes just happen to be at the center of hers. Bashton rode just about every kind of bike and became a nationally renowned biker, but then she suffered a serious shoulder injury involving a collar bone sticking through her trapezius.During her painful months of recovery, her husband Si Ezolt helped her with physical therapy, showering, and even combed and braided her hair for work.Once she was riding again, Bashton and her husband celebrated her 40th birthday by shredding a downhill race and a 26-mile cross-country race in California. After the cross country race, she rode another six miles back to the festival, her bikini and flip flops in her Camelbak, and eyeballed the crooked ramp and pile of BMX bikes for the next competition. She couldn’t resist entering. Her husband was worried, especially since the last time she hurt herself was because she was tired and wanted to do “just one more line.”“There were two entries left and they were all kids and young guys,” Bashton recalls. “There was no practice. They just told me to hold on with all my f**king might”.Among all of the guys doing spins, she hit a backflip into the lake. The crowd went wild. It was the best trick of the day, and onlookers were high-fiving each other. But then the announcer made a menopause joke. Why?Fortunately, most men in Asheville aren’t like the announcer. Not only is there an amazing tribe of badass women in Asheville, but there is also a large group of men who treat women as equals on the trail. They are not surprised when a woman outrides them. They are just as likely to call one of their women riding buddies as they are their dudes.If you’re a male who rides, and you wish your girlfriend was a rider, then you’re going to have to create a safe space for her to succeed. Taking her into the woods so that you can drop her on a big climb or fast descent is not going to impress her, and it’s not going to make her stoked about the next time. Another common mistake is to take a beginner on a really technical trail and then act nonchalant about it.“That’s why she’ll never ride bikes again,” explains Powell.Despite growing up in an environment that stereotyped women as the weaker sex, Clint Spiegel, owner of Industry Nine, says he learned women were stronger at his first adventure race with Erinna Hegarty Wever. “We raced for 30 hours straight, and not only was she faster on every climb and faster on every descent, but what really struck me was her positive attitude. She never stopped smiling. Men on other teams—you could see the cracking in their eyes. Their panic. Their disbelief. I started believing that women were a little tougher.”Spiegel, who regularly shreds downhill gnar with a “party atmosphere climb” in a group of close friends, says that the quality of women in Asheville dispels stereotypes into a better culture because the women raise each other to higher heights as they watch each other succeed. His wife, Michelle Rogers Spiegel, had lived in Alaska and was very comfortable in the outdoors world. She had a lot to teach him and he was a willing learner. As a result, they are able to grow together in their adventuresome lifestyle, teaching each other.“If people are more capable than me, I’m going to follow their lead,” Spiegel says. “There’s no reason to have a bias.”For that reason, Spiegel laughs at the thought of saying things like, “You’re fast FOR A GIRL!”Spiegel’s theory on why the women of Asheville are such warriors is that they are leading that path for other women. “Just think how many women have the natural born talent to be great business leaders, but their culture encouraged them to do something else instead,” he says. “I think that is happening in our outdoor community. I wouldn’t be surprised to see way more women kicking male ass each year as we move forward.”last_img read more

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Outdoor Updates: A bill to fix our national parks has bipartisan support and may pass

first_imgMembers of Congress have been touring parks to raise awareness of the issue. Since mid-February when a bi-partisan group of representatives and senators introduced bills H.R. 1225 and S. 500, one out of three senators and half of House members have signed on as co-sponsors. The Trump administration has also indicated they are supportive of the legislation. A bill to fix our national parks has bipartisan support and may pass Woman riding horseback along the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline route Chances are there’s a new state park coming to North Carolina. A plot of land owned by U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn Jr., the 1,600-acre Pisgah View Ranch in Candler, may soon become a North Carolina State Park. Cogburn’s family has owned the land since the late 1700’s, but if the House approves the bill and Governor Cooper signs it, Pisgah View Ranch will transfer into the hands of North Carolina and become the state’s newest state park.  A Virginia woman is riding her horse 600 miles along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to protest and bring attention to it. Sarah Murphy, 34, lives just eight miles from the pipeline in Afton, Virginia. She began her journey last year with her horse, Rob Roy, at the start of the pipeline in West Virginia. They traveled for three months before taking a winter break. Murphy is now just a few counties away from where the pipeline, and her journey, will end. There are hundreds of national park sites with outstanding repair needs that are putting a strain on park resources and impacting the experience of visitors. But bipartisan support is building in Congress for legislation that would provide funding for deferred maintenance projects across the park system, estimated to total nearly $12 billion.  Voters are, without a doubt, supportive of fixing the national parks. A Pew Charitable Trusts Foundation poll found that over 75 percent of voters indicated they are willing to provide up to $6.5 billion over five years. The unique piece of property sits in the shadows of Mount Pisgah and has more than two miles of ridgeline, a headwaters and its own watershed. It also serves as a wildlife corridor for animals like bear and deer. North Carolina currently has 39 state parks, but Buncombe County does not yet have one.  Pisgah View Ranch likely to become a new NC state park Though Murphy is riding to protest the pipeline, she has met and stayed with folks on both sides of the fence, from pipeline employees to families who have been negatively impacted by the pipeline. Murphy says that she has learned a lot and has been saddened to see some of the destruction to the land that she grew up on and loves. She has been keeping a blog about her journey: https://acponhorseback.tumblr.com/. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is slated to run 600 miles between West Virginia and eastern North Carolina. Construction began in May 2018.last_img read more

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Rise of an Industry

first_imgFor the future of mountain biking, George said she sees great hope in organizations like NICA and the availability of clinics to support the next generation of riders. “You’re developing this entire new crop of people that are finding camaraderie and friendship through the experience of mountain biking at a young age,” she said. “Not all of them will stick with it indefinitely, but I feel like we have this opportunity to create more people that love riding for the rest of their life. We need fresh blood in the sport. I’m excited to see where those kids take the sport.” A.T. Thru Hiker Warren Doyle (center) As for where trail running is headed in the next few years, Affuso said a lot will depend on how the pandemic unfolds in the coming months. “I think some people are more leery to engage in large group activities,” she said. “Many of the trail runs that we customarily do have been canceled. We’re still in that wait and see pattern. Hopefully this pandemic will pass us by next year and 2021 will be the big year of trail running. I think even more people will come out, especially after the popularity of the virtual races.”  Although it is a beloved trail for a reason, East Coast hiking is more than the A.T. Long-distance trails like the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and Pinhoti Trail have been built up and seen an influx of visitors. Rail trails have exploded in popularity, from the C&O Canal and Virginia Creeper Trail to local multi-use greenways accessible for the whole family. There’s been a renewed interest in trails connecting communities, from 20-mile trails between towns to the East Coast Greenway connecting Florida to Maine.   In addition to a growing number of trails, Affuso said social media has helped pave the way for more people to call themselves trail runners. “I think social media has given women and girls more opportunities to have their voices heard and their stories told,” she said. “I see it as shifting the social norms of what women, girls, and people of color are actually doing in the real world versus what may be represented in other types of media.” As mountain biking has emerged from a fringe sport, organizations across the region have worked to open up access to mountain bikers. “I think people overall, including government and landowners, have realized the value of having trails near where people live so they can get outside,” George said. “You see a lot of people now will look to purchase a house near public land that offers access. That’s a selling point now.” In tandem, we’ve seen the rise of professional trail builders who are making the trails more sustainable and better for riding. Kayaker Emily Jackson in a Jackson Kayak, a company started by her father, Eric. Photo by Nick Troutman Growth of Trails: The A.T. and Beyond Olivia Affuso competes in the Yeti 100 in Virginia. Photo by Halley Burleson The way that mountain bikers race has also evolved as bikes are built to handle different terrain. “Over time, we’ve seen styles of racing come and go,” George said. “For a period of time, 24-hour races were the thing to do. Everybody did at least one or two a year. There are not many 24-hour races left. More recently, Enduro racing has become more popular. It seems like every so many years, we get a new discipline, it becomes popular, people love it, and then it wanes. I think throughout that whole period you still have people that just go out and ride their bike in the woods. You don’t have to race to be a mountain biker.”  Part of that interest can be attributed to the 2020 Olympics, now rescheduled for 2021, as the first year climbing would be included as a sport. “That alone started an international increase in demand for climbing facilities,” Wu said. “Gym competitions specifically are going to be an even bigger part of the funding as far as the amount of money a country puts in their athletic system.”  As with other outdoor recreation activities, the internet has changed how paddlers are able to get information and get out on the water. “There are databases now just filled with all that information, particularly American Whitewater,” Jackson said. “They have the put-ins and take-outs and rapid descriptions for just about every run in the U.S. and everyone can access it. So, you don’t have to buy a guidebook per region that was written in whatever year that changes constantly.”  As more state and local leaders see the value in building trails close to home, Affuso said communities need to think of access beyond the open space available and number of trails built. “I don’t think there’s been as much attention paid to people’s perception of safety in those spaces,” she said. “Safety isn’t always about crime. Safety is, am I going to be okay if I go into this space by myself. That might mean one thing for a woman but something different for a person of color. Do I belong in this space and will people perceive that I belong in this space, or will they come after me because I represent a certain stereotype in their mind?”  With trails seeing an increase in visitors during this time, local trails will be key in keeping people engaged with the outdoors and accessible for all.   Cover Photo: Ben Wu climbs Indecent Exposure on Table Rock in Linville Gorge, N.C. Photo by Natalie Sheffield When Starr Nolan first got into fly fishing, it wasn’t unusual for her to be the only woman at her local Trout Unlimited meetings. “It was kind of what I was used to,” she said. Now there are a few more women in the room, and gear companies are slowly introducing clothing for women. “When I first started, you had to make do with men’s sizes,” Nolan said. “Now almost every company has a line of woman’s gear. It’s not nearly as extensive as the men’s gear. Strangely enough, it’s in these weird colors. As if women don’t seriously go fly fishing, the women’s gear has bright pink or blue on it and the men’s gear is all camo. There are these strange little suggestions within the fashion world.” Still, gear companies are getting there. In addition to more specialized equipment, including PFDs and helmets, the comfort of the boats has changed dramatically due to new designs. As a kid, Jackson remembers paddlers putting beer koozies on their feet because they couldn’t fit into their kayak with shoes on. “A lot of respect for the paddlers of the 90s that dealt with a lot of things that we simply don’t have to deal with anymore,” Jackson said. “Being uncomfortable was a big part of it. Some people quit kayaking just due to having back pain and trouble with their feet or their legs. And that isn’t a factor anymore.”  Nolan sees the future of fly fishing as a much more diverse and welcoming activity. “Fly fishing has historically been a white, male sport,” she said. “I would like the fly fishing world to be open to diversity, whatever that might have to look like. As with being the single female in the room full of men, it’s been one person of color or no people of color for an equally long time. I would really like for the fly fishing world to take a look at that. How can we make this wonderful opportunity and sport available, open, and welcoming to everybody?”  A Specialized Sport  Coming from a paddling family, whitewater kayaker Emily Jackson got her start at a young age. The two-time World Freestyle Champion and member of the U.S. Freestyle Team said paddlers today really associate with what they are doing more than ever before. “Even just saying ‘I’m a whitewater kayaker,’ when you ask most people, it’s kind of blanketing a few different things,” Jackson said. “What do you like to do in your kayak, oh freestyle kayak, oh I’m a creeker, oh I’m a river runner. With that, the people marketing and building the gear have recognized that people really like to associate themselves with a certain niche of paddlers.” As the owner of Brookside Guides and executive director of Casting Carolinas, Nolan specializes in teaching new anglers the ways of the water. “To really be adequate at fly fishing means you’re a learner,” she said. “You want to learn a little bit more about the stream insects, how you pick a different fly, the water, the currents, and how to think like a trout. For people who are really into that learning process and knowing that every single time that you step in that water, it’s going to be different.”  Blue Ridge Athletes and Experts Discuss the Evolution of Outdoor Recreation  Cast Away With the growth in local trails that you no longer need to drive hours to reach came an increased interest in trail running. Ultrarunner and running coach Olivia Affuso experienced that infrastructure development in her local trail running community as Birmingham, Ala., built up trails close to the city. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in the trail running community in the past 10 years,” she said. “Just so many more people coming into it and the variety of races. There are lots of race series that start with a three-mile run. That opens up more opportunities for people who are maybe a little less crazy than the ultra-endurance athletes.”  Looking to the future, Jackson said she wants to see the paddling community focus more on the mental and physical benefits that come from being on the water rather than just the extreme side of the sport. Sue George goes for a ride in the mountains. Photo by Tomi McMillar. Building Better Bikes  In the last five years alone, Ben Wu, a guide for Fox Mountain Guides, said climbing has gone almost mainstream. “I’ve noticed a tremendous increase in the crowds at the crag and in the number of gyms nationwide, worldwide,” he said. “People are flooding the climbing industry.” Sue George has been involved with just about every aspect of mountain biking since the early 80s. She competed nationally and internationally as a member of the U.S. National Cycling Team, wrote articles as an editor at CyclingNews.com, and now serves as vice president at BikeFlights.com. “If you ride a bike from 25 years ago and try to take it out on the trail now, you’re like, how did I do this?” George said. “It’s such a different experience. The suspension has changed, the shocks have changed, the geometry has changed, wheel size has changed. You can confidently go down something and know your brakes are going to work well and stop you. It’s really changed what you can ride and what you can enjoy riding over time. Things that you would have previously had to walk or hike a bike become rideable and become fun challenges.” Since Doyle’s first thru-hike, lightweight has been the name of the game as gear companies compete to produce the lightest gear for outdoor enthusiasts to help keep their pack weight down. But despite the push to have the latest and greatest, Doyle, founder of the Appalachian Trail Institute, says your gear won’t ultimately get you to the end of the 2,190-mile trail. “Your mental fortitude is the thing that’s going to get you to Katahdin, not your things,” he said. “The trail has not changed. It may be a hundred miles longer than it used to be, but it hasn’t changed. What you need to go from Georgia to Maine, if that’s what you do and that’s what you want, it becomes a task. And there are universal truths to accomplishing that task. And it’s not tied into equipment.”  Warren Doyle thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail for the first time in 1969. Since then, he has hiked the entirety of the famous trail 18 times while watching the rise of the outdoor adventure industry. “There used to not be much commerciality out there,” Doyle said. “It wasn’t much of an industry, and there weren’t that many jobs in the outdoors. There weren’t any hostels or shuttles. It was all about the mountain you slept on top of.”  While it might be easier to get out on the water with all of the information online, Jackson said the damming of rivers has changed many wild whitewater runs. “Some of my favorite runs are nonexistent now,” she said. “Whole entire sections of rivers are just disappearing. I’ve noticed that more so now in the last few years than before. It could have been happening before just as much and I wasn’t aware. I would say that that has been the biggest eye opener for me as far as access to waterways. They’re all underwater.” Organizations like the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition, and Carolina Climber’s Coalition are working to expand access to rock climbing and bouldering spots in the region by purchasing land or facilitating climbing agreements with other land managers to keep crags open as more climbers are wanting to get outside. Wu said the transition from gym to crag does call for some training to minimize risk. “We’ve already seen more accidents because of newcomers trying to get outside too early without the proper guidance,” he said. See You at the Crag  The future of rock climbing and bouldering will depend on climbers maintaining access to climbing areas. Wu said he is watching areas where climbers might be shut out, especially the U.S. Forest Service’s plan for Pisgah and Nantahala national forests. In the years since she started her business, Nolan said the guiding side of the industry has taken off. “For a good number of years, there were maybe a handful of us that were in the mix,” she said. “More people got interested in fly fishing, more people decided to try to make a living guiding, and that part really blossomed. The competition is now pretty steep out there.” “We don’t promote the bunny slope,” she said. “So, when people think about whitewater kayaking, they’re often thinking about what they saw on the Today Show of someone running a 200-foot waterfall, versus just people getting outside and having a really good time on the water.”  “I’m hoping that this boom in the climbing industry is also going to transfer to a more widespread acceptance of guiding culture. In the U.S., there’s this mentality that as an individual you can figure all of this stuff out on your own. That mentality leads to a lot of accidents.” From coastal marshes to serene mountain lakes, paddling the Blue Ridge doesn’t have to be all about Class V whitewater.   Today, outdoor recreation is a multi-billion-dollar industry, accounting for 2.2 percent of the U.S. GDP, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Races have come and gone. New fastest known time records have been set. Important wilderness areas have been protected while others have been lost to development. Virginia and North Carolina created offices of outdoor recreation. And, no matter where you look in the outdoor industry, it is undeniable the impact technology and social media have had on recreation. We caught up with athletes and adventurers to find out how outdoor recreation has evolved over the last 25 years.  “Ecosports are here to stay,” then editor John Blackburn declared in the inaugural issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors. When the magazine first went to press 25 years ago, a year before I was born, the publication was focused on outdoor recreation spots around Charlottesville, Va. Since then, we’ve seen Blackburn’s statement ring true as the magazine expanded to cover the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. last_img read more

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Rebel Leader Captured in Venezuela: Colombian President

first_imgBy Dialogo December 29, 2010 A top Colombian rebel has been captured in Venezuela, President Juan Manuel Santos said on 27 December in praising the role played by Caracas in assisting with the arrest. Santos said the captured rebel, Nilson Alvin Teran Ferreira, was a senior leader of the ELN rebel group who goes by the alias “Tulio.” “I want to thank President Hugo Chavez and officials in Venezuela for the increasing cooperation that we are having on all fronts, including as is evident here in the area of security,” Santos said. The Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (National Liberation Army) is Colombia’s second largest rebel group after the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.) Between 2,500 and 4,000 armed fighters are estimated to be waging a decades-old battle against the Colombian government on behalf of the ELN.last_img read more

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Experts Analyze the Fight Against Organized Crime in Central America

first_img At a three-day forum in Guatemala that began on May 15, delegates from the Armed Forces and the police of 14 countries are analyzing human-rights policy in the strategy to fight organized crime in Central America. “The primary objective (of the meeting) is to strengthen the practice of human rights simultaneously with efforts to combat organized crime,” Guatemalan Army spokesperson Colonel Rony Urízar, who is participating in the meeting, told reporters. Urízar commented that at the forum, Military personnel will evaluate collaboration with civilian authorities in the “restoration of citizen security,” as well as the policies of respect for human rights that should accompany actions against crime. “Even if we’re engaged in a frontal assault against organized crime and common crime, it’s indispensable to maintain respect for human rights, both those of the population and those of the alleged criminals,” he said. The conference was inaugurated by U.S. Ambassador Arnold Chacón and Guatemalan Deputy Defense Minister General Edwin Nájera. The meeting was organized by the Guatemalan Defense Ministry and the Human Rights Division of the U.S. Southern Command. “The aim of this conference is to generate a space for learning and exchange, in order to improve public safety and measures to counter organized crime and provide tools for improving respect for human rights in the region,” the embassy said in a press release. According to the press release, more than 90 Army and police officers from the seven countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic are attending the event. In addition, civilian officials and members of civil-society organizations from the region are participating, as well as experts from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the United States. By Dialogo May 17, 2012last_img read more

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Olympics: Usain Bolt’s sprinting toward greatness

first_imgBy Dialogo July 19, 2012 In the 100-meter dash, Bolt is the current world (9.58 seconds) and Olympic (9.69 seconds) record holder and also owns both marks in the 200-meter dash (19.30). Overall, he has three gold medals and five championship titles. And while the native of Trelawny had just four weeks to fine-tune his slow starts, one aspect of his game he didn’t need to work on was his confidence. Still regarded by many as the fastest man alive, Bolt is known for his colorful showmanship, such as using a fire extinguisher on his feet after crossing the finish line, implying he was running so fast they were ablaze. “At the end of London 2012, I want to go into the press conference and say before anyone asks me a question that ‘You are now looking at a living legend,’” he told reporters. “That’s what I want to say before that last press conference after my 200-meter final.” Bolt also is active in social media, touting nearly 556,000 followers on Twitter. He tweets everything from pictures of his meals, images of him relaxing before a race to shots of him playing video games with fans. That’s why Bolt will have much more at stake at next month’s games than just a spot on the medal podium – he will have his global image on the line. Forbes magazine reported Bolt earned around US$20.3 million the past 12 months as he commands tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals with companies like Puma and Nissan. But Bolt doesn’t just let that money sit in the bank or spend it frivolously. The star runner has established the Usain Bolt Foundation, which helps poor and underprivileged children. Last month, Bolt and the organization visited the Dare to Care hospice in Spanish Town. There, he interacted with 68 children who are HIV-positive. He donated US$100,000 and signed autographs and handed out PUMA tops, caps and shoes to the children. “Giving back is just as good as getting,” Bolt told reporters. Blake is the best. He is number one, the top of the top. dude, you’re great, just by creating the Usain Bolt Foundation for underprivileged children. Hats off to you, you’re awesome. You contribute this way by helping all these people who need assistance, may GOD always enlighten your way. Excellent with a huge heart. Hopefully there is one Ecuadorian who can win a medal. He is now showing his full potential and he is already a speed legend. It is good that he doesn’t get blinded by the money, being from a poor family and much better if he is altruistic… I wish him the best. Really BOLT is a motivation and an excellent person and congratulations for the Foundation Bolt is a very good person and very good-hearted person. I had no idea that he had a foundation for poor children, that´s fantastic. That is why God helps him and always accompanies him. May God accompany him always, he deserves it. In addition to having a good heart he is a good athlete. Good luck forever. What a wonderful way of being this great athlete. To think of helping people or children with health problems is something that deserves praise. I would like other athletes and many personalities to follow this example. I am moved by the phrase “hands that give receive.” The color doesn’t matter, but the kindness that this athlete shows by taking care of those children in need. May God bless you for these gestures toward humanity. I admire you so much because you are not only a great athlete but you also have a big heart. I CONGRATULATE you for both reasons. Few people have those two virtues. Bolt is a man of values, he helps those who need it and transmits life in each of his movements. He is worthy to be a role model to those who have resources but that do not share them with others. Good luck BOLT. You are the best of all times CARLOS ALVARADO ECUADOR you’re the planet’s fastest man, Boltttt. Good for Jamaica, that is a small island but with a huge sports heart. It is an example of courage and commitment for powers like the United States. CONGRATULATIONS. A great example is this athlete and he teaches us that what if one sets a goal, one can accomplish it with much discipline and determination. And I like that he helps children and young people through an organization. God bless you. With the humility that the Jamaican has and the faith that he has in God, he achieves the best. He only needs to make the effort. A great example is this athlete and he teaches us that what if one sets a goal, one can accomplish it with much discipline and determination. And I like that he helps children and young people through an organization. God bless him. In my country we have a good runner, Mr. Nery Brenes, which won a first place in a World Championships in athletics. But now in the London Olympics unfortunately he did not get good results in these games, but I have faith in him. How elegant it is to be in the Olympics Olympic, how good jxjxjxjxjx¿¿¿ Félix Sánchez, we feel proud that he is from D.R. Truly, Usain Bolt is the fastest man on Earth and he proved this in London 2012. He left behind all his rivals and I’m happy for the Jamaicans. Congratulations. USAIN BOLT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Uhm, I run slower Congratulations USAIN BOLT. The truth is I do not like sports so much, but I like how he celebrates when he wins. I love people that set goals and make all the efforts to reach them!!! Nice information. Everything I needed for homework. Thanks to those who wrote. USAIN BOLT you’re my idol since I started to see your races I do not do other thing than enjoying your speed and the good guy that you are. You make me think that if I had been famous like you I would do the same to help poor kids in rural schools in the interior of my country ARGENTINA. ONE MORE THING: THE DAY THAT I HAVE A MALE CHILD I WILL CALL HIM USAIN. THANK YOU IDOL. I AM CRISTAN ARCE and I would love to meet you in your land personally, to talk to you and see if you are really human, ha ha. IDOL… WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Usain Bolt will try to earn the title of “Fastest Man on Earth” by winning the 100-meter dash at the London Games, just as he did four years ago at the Beijing Games. But first, he must prove he is the fastest man in his own country. The sprinter and three-time gold medalist suffered two defeats in three days at the Jamaican National Championships and Olympic Trials at National Stadium in Kingston. Bolt, who finished second in the 100- and 200- meter dashes to training partner Yohan Blake, was plagued by slow starts in both races. Blake is now the top-ranked sprinter in the world in both events. And it’s Bolt’s job to catch him. “[Blake] proved himself as one of the greatest and for me, it’s just going back to the drawing board,” Bolt, 25, told reporters. “It’s not like I was blown away or anything so I know what I need to get it right. I was very sad, it was awful. I have been working more on my 100-meter dash. But I can’t blame it on that. I just have to get my things together and just get it done.” Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, also doesn’t see a reason for concern. “[Bolt] might be a little off at the moment,” Mills told reporters. “But I’m sure when the time of delivery comes around, he’ll be on top of his game.” last_img read more

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Operation Martillo Deemed a ‘Complete Success’ in Guatemala, Honduras

first_img Operation Martillo includes all 7 nations of Central America Challenge ahead is a ‘monumental task’ By Dialogo July 26, 2012 GUATEMALA CITY — The first 90 days of the multinational anti-drug initiative known as Operation Martillo were a “complete success,” Guatemalan Government Minister Héctor Mauricio López Bonilla said in the nation’s capital on July 12. From April 14 through July 12, the Guatemalan, Honduran and U.S. anti-narcotics mission confiscated more than 2,340 kilograms of drugs and incinerated an additional 3,000 kilos along the Caribbean coastlines of Guatemala and Honduras. That’s the word from Ulises Noe Anzueto Giron, Guatemala’s defense minister, speaking at a luncheon here highlighting the mission’s accomplishments. “I am convinced that with each day of this mission, regional security is improving,” said José Miguel Cabrie, the Honduran ambassador to Guatemala. “Drug trafficking is gravely affecting our countries, but the people involved in this mission are taking the steps to improve regional peace, justice, and above all, to reduce the fear of crime in our nations.” In recent years, the jungle and mountainous regions of Central America’s eastern coast have become primary transport locations for drugs traveling north from South America. About 79 percent of cocaine flights that take off from South American airstrips land in Honduras, according to a U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs report published in March. The pilots that took part in Operation Martillo’s first 90-day installment were relaxed on the afternoon of July 12. Dressed in fatigues, they laughed among themselves and enjoyed a traditional Guatemalan lunch of chicken, rice, beans and plantains as officers praised them. “While we celebrate here today that we lost no personnel or aircraft during the mission, we know that we must continue our pursuit to improve the lives of the citizens of this region,” López Bonilla said. “Central America is a drug corridor and routes are always changing.” All seven Central American nations were included on the U.S. State Department’s 2012 Major Illicit Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing list. The report estimated that 90 percent of the 700 metric tons of cocaine shipped annually from Colombia and other producing nations pass through Central America. While the Caribbean coasts of Honduras and Guatemala remain primary drug transit locations, Anzueto said that Operation Martillo’s next initiative will likely incorporate amplified surveillance and patrol over Pacific waters. With most drug shipments destined for Mexico, Anzueto said deployment of forces to the Pacific are necessary to limit northbound passageways. “Drug trafficking networks are mobile, powerful, transnational organizations,” he said. “If it is known that the Caribbean coastline is being heavily monitored, the operation could shift to the Pacific.” center_img Sinaloa cartel links revealed Operation Martillo uncovered links between Mexico’s Sinoloa cartel and drug routes in the Gulf of Honduras, he said. Given the breadth of that cartel’s regional operations, it is thought that the organization has already infiltrated Guatemala’s Pacific waters and are employing fishermen to transport drugs from sea to land. “Unfortunately we are seeing more and more evidence that local fishermen are being incorporated in the international drug trade,” Lopez Bonilla said. “Legal, licensed fishermen are being employed by drug organizations to pick up shipments that planes drop in the water.” Guatemalan fishermen often collect the floating drugs at specified drop points during the night and transfer the packages inland, he added, noting that “we have several reports of this activity in Pacific waters and a likely next step in our operations will be to uncover the roots of these transport networks.” Operation Martillo “has no firm end-date,” according to RADM Michel. Members of the Guatemalan and Honduran armed forces echo that idea. While the mission’s first stage merited large drug seizures, arrests and a reduction in clandestine flights through remote regions, they assert that the multinational collaborative effort must continue in order to improve security in Central America’s northern triangle, where murder rates are among the world’s highest. “It’s only been three months,” Anzueto said. “We are definitely pleased and encouraged by the results, though this is a small piece of a bigger operation. Martillo will require collaboration of all the countries of the isthmus and we must assure that we are organized, trained and prepared to continue to reduce drug operations in Central America.” “The fight to restore security to this region is a monumental task,” said Anzueto. “We are very pleased with the results of this first step in the operation and consider it a first victory, though we know the threat of drug-traffic is great. The fight is only just beginning.” In January, Southcom paired with more than 15 countries, including all seven Central American nations, to target the illicit trafficking of drugs throughout the isthmus. The effort is being assisted by Colombia, Mexico, Canada and several European nations. In the first four months of the initiative, Operacion Martillo (Operation Hammer in English) has resulted in the confiscation of more than 32 metric tons of cocaine, and has slashed air trafficking of drugs by 60 to 70 percent, said Rear Admiral Chuck Michel, Director of the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S). “The results of Operation Martillo are immediately evident,” said López Bonilla. “Within weeks it was clear that drug traffic was diverting away from patrolled areas. We were able to close drug entry points and will continue to do so in other parts of the country and region.” last_img read more

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U.S. Grants Helicopters to El Salvador

first_imgBy Dialogo October 18, 2012 The United States granted three helicopters to the Salvadoran Air Force on October 16 to strengthen authorities capabilities in combating organized crime and to support the population in the event of natural disasters, informed the Ministry of Defense. During a ceremony at the Ilopango Air Base in San Salvador, U.S. Ambassador, Mari Carmen Aponte, granted the MD-500E aircrafts to the Salvadoran Minister of Defense General Atilio Benítez. “The donation is valued at $9 million, including the parts and maintenance for these aircrafts,” explained the Minister of Defense in a statement. The MD-500E aircrafts – high capacity helicopters – can reach speed of 158 miles per hour; they are capable of carrying 696 kg and have four seats aboard. According to the Ministry of Defense, the aircrafts will be used for Air Force personnel training missions and for “supporting the population in natural disaster missions, and in the fight against crime and organized crime.”last_img read more

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Honduras Suspends 1,400 Police Officers for Suspected Corruption

first_img According to the United Nations, Honduras is the most violent country in the world without war, with a murder rate of 85.5 per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2011, President Porfirio Lobo started an operation to remove some agents involved in drug trafficking and organized crime from the 14,500-agent police force. Official figures show that least 20 people die violently every day within the national territory. The Honduran government indefinitely suspended 1,400 police agents from the Office of Criminal Investigation on June 5, in order to conduct trust tests as part of a purification process on police forces that started two years ago, an official source reported. The office is investigating all homicides in Honduras, including visual inspections, car thefts, body removal, ballistics, criminal records and weapons registry. Furthermore, it administers the database of police investigations in national territory. Fernando Jaar, president of the Chamber of Commerce, told the station Radio América, “Security Minister Arturo Corrales, told me that the decision was enforced because some investigators leaked information about their activities to organized crime.” By Dialogo June 07, 2013 “The measure seeks to certify and improve the National Police,” the Secretary of Security said in a statement to the press. He also said that the personnel were “temporarily discharged from their regular responsibilities” and that they will undergo psychosomatic exams, toxicology screens and polygraph tests. last_img read more

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UNITAS Amphibious is Critical for Brazil to Achieve its Military Objectives

first_imgBy Dialogo November 23, 2015 I am proud of our service members. I consider them as the backbone of this country because of the good moral development that distinguishes them as well as the determination to defend the country internally and at our borders. As I see it, they are the greatest and truest patriots of all. I wonder how active the Navy of Brazil is in the disaster in Mariana, Minas Gerais as far as mitigating the problems on the riverbanks and involvement in the affected sea areas. Lt. Gen. Fernando Antonio: Our presence in this strategic environment is through what today is called “soft power;” it occurs off the coast of Africa, in Namibia, assisting their Navy in building their Marine Corps. It also occurs in São Tomé and Príncipe in the development of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe Armed Forces Coast Guard Marines; in short, we actually already have this presence in the Atlantic Ocean. With regard to the Blue Amazon, we have an obligation to ensure the safety of our resources, including with regard to asymmetric threats. We see acts of piracy, which, of course, require that we have qualified people to act upon the so-called Asymmetric Reaction Groups. Therefore, the example I give is our Maritime Task Force Flagship that is in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has a Marine detachment on board, and part of that on-board group is actually an Asymmetric Threat Reaction Group. Lt. Gen. Fernando Antonio: We have benefited from hosting major events in Brazil, such as the 2011 Military World Games, the 2013 Confederations Cup, and the 2014 World Cup. Therefore, we have had the opportunity to receive allocations of financial resources from the Navy, as well as resources from the Ministry of Defense and also from other ministries, for example, the Ministry of Sports. And this has enabled us to maintain the Corps in a situation that I would consider very good concerning equipment. When I say equipment, I speak of our light, heavy, and armor vehicles, but not only communications equipment, but all the chemical, biological, and radiological and nuclear defense equipment; stadium sweeps, decontamination in case of an incident, and also very specific special operations materials, particularly against terrorism. Diálogo: What is the effective participation of CFN in protecting the Blue Amazon? Diálogo: How is the financial crisis in Brazil affecting the Marine Corps? Lt. Gen. Fernando Antonio: The National Defense Strategy determines our operational boundaries: the Naval Forces, the Amazon fleet, the North patrol force ships, in short, the presence of the Marines is to ensure control of these waterways. The activities in the inner area of the Amazon are attributed to the Land Force, to the Brazilian Army. We have to be ready and capable of controlling the banks and margins that enable control of the waterways. It is a clearly defined division of tasks that exists between the Marine Corps Operating Force and the Brazilian Army’s Jungle Infantry Battalion. Diálogo: And what about the Gren Amazon? Lieutenant General Fernando Antonio: Brazil is positioned within a guideline provided for in the National Defense Strategy, concerned with its strategic environment, namely the Atlantic Coast of Africa, i.e. Portuguese-speaking countries on the seaboard, and including Mozambique, Timor, and Portugal and obviously all of South America and parts of the Caribbean. This strategic environment is an integral part of our international relations goals as a country. And an exercise such as UNITAS Amphibious is perfect for us to exercise our contribution in achieving this goal; which is to have this relationship with the countries of our strategic environment. I believe this is the greatest importance. Lieutanant General Alexandre: Resource management is becoming more accurate and more refined with modern management practices that are being employed more frequently, and this also helps during this time of crisis, so it does not have such a great impact on the Force. Lt. Gen. Fernando Antonio: For me it is very rewarding to work with the Marines. Personally, since I was a second lieutenant, I had contact with the U.S. Marines, when enrolled in the Command and General Staff Officers Course. Imagine, a second lieutenant taking a specific amphibious operations logistics Command and General Staff Course! Today, our doctrine is its own doctrine, but we were heavily influenced by the Marine Corps and this was something that occurred naturally after the great amphibious campaigns in World War II. This influence was something natural and my generation is a post-World War II generation, which already had this influence through manuals, courses in the United States, and so on when it began to occupy the first positions professionally. I was an exchange officer in the Second Marine Division, which is the main operating unit of the U.S. Marine Corps. As General Commandant of the Marine Corps and previously as Commander of the Marine Force Fleet commanding one of the forces of the Marine Force Fleet, to see this participation today, this integration with the U.S. Marine Corps is very rewarding. It is also very gratifying to hear them truthfully say that we are on the right track, that we are such a high level of training, operating preparedness, and readiness at the strategic requirement of our country. They have great consideration for the Brazilian Marine Corps. So much so, they bring the U.S. service members here for training with us, regardless of UNITAS. We have had their participation in normal day-to-day training with our staff here. The presence of a United States Marine officer in the General Staff of the Marine Force Fleet Division is proof of that. The Marines have participated with us in the annual exercises in Formosa (Brasília) for a few years. So, I believe that this integration has been going well for some years. Brazil is the host country for UNITAS Amphibious (2015), which is a joint military training exercise between Marines from various countries of the Americas. The event, led by the Brazilian Navy (MB), through the Marine Corps (FN) command, is being held November 15-24 in Rio de Janeiro. Diálogo spoke with Marine Corps Lieutenant General Fernando Antonio Siqueira Ribeiro, Commandant-General of the Brazilian Marine Corps (CFN) to learn more about this, which is the oldest multinational naval exercise of the Americas and other current issues affecting the CFN . Lt. Gen. Fernando Antonio: The Brazilian Navy is in the process of procuring the multipurpose ship Doca, which will be received by us within a few months and will be christened with the name Bahia. This will, without doubt, confer the Marines with the capability to project power. To extend this capability to the MB is important because it is a resource with a number of possibilities that can be used to support the civil defense agencies in any natural disaster, or something of that nature; for example, a natural disaster at one of the oil fields. It is a resource that can operate in support of the society facilitating any problem that may have occurred, but also in amphibious operations. In short, we are capable of carrying out our amphibious operations within our capabilities. Currently, I do not see a sector within the Corps that may become a concern; a drop in its quality and readiness. center_img Diálogo: Can you give an example of equipment acquisition in the short term? Lt. Gen. Fernando Antonio: I expect that Belém, depending on the documentation and other necessary procedures, will happen in 2017. And Ladário will be in a not-so-close future. I would consider Belém in the short term, Ladário in the medium term and another force, you did not mention, Tabatinga, in the long term, as we do not have a Marine presence there, except for the Manaus Riverside Operations Battalion, which is stationed there. We would have to build facilities, etc. This is the structure we have in the Green Amazon region. Lt. Gen. Fernando Antonio: The Marine Corps’ main focus is their amphibious component. We are an integral part, absolutely intrinsic, of the Brazilian Navy. We are the Brazilian Navy. We participate in everything concerning the Blue Amazon and more, all our strategic environment comprises the South Atlantic and the coast of South America, in addition to the coast of Africa. Control of this Atlantic region may have to be carried out by controlling certain bases, certain islands, and certain strategic locations on the coast and this is exactly what is provided for in the National Defense Strategy. Operations on ocean islands are attributed to the Marine Corps, and this is clearly determined. The National Defense Strategy also determines that the Navy must have a Marine Corps operating in a permanent state of readiness to act near the projection of power. And this projection of power will occur under this circumstance on the coast that will or will not be hostile, with or without consent, of the sitting government to execute one of those traditional types of amphibious operations and this is the Marine’s natural calling. Diálogo: The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will be terminated in 2016. What were the main legacies for the Brazilian Military, especially the Marines, participating in this important UN peacekeeping mission from its inception in 2004? Diálogo: What is the importance for Brazil to be the host country of UNITAS Amphibious? Diálogo: How does this presence occur? Diálogo: And when do you estimate to transform the FN Forces in Belém (PA) and Ladário (MS) into Riverine Operations Battalions, therefore, emphasizing the military presence in the border region? Lt. Gen. Fernando Antonio: “Lessons learned” was the most important. I think that as we study the procedures we adopted in the various MINUSTAH stages; initially, the clashes with the gangs that were established in Haiti and later, the effective role to legitimize an electoral process that was held there after many years. Later, the stabilization, area control, etc. took place when we began planning the reduction of military forces in Haiti, but then came the January 2010 earthquake. From that point forward there was a radical change in procedures and once again lessons learned. Lessons learned that unfortunately we had to use here in Brazil. We’ve had to apply the lessons learned in Haiti to address post-earthquake humanitarian operations in Chile and we have applied [them] in many, not only our Marine Corps, but also the Brazilian Army that is now aiding at the dam failure in Mariana (MG). And later, during this period: once again the pursuit of stability and preparing the necessary infrastructure in the country so it can continue. The idea of the United Nations Mission is to ensure the stability of the country so that it can continue by its own means. Therefore, a UN mandate approved by the Security Council on October 15, determining the role of MINUSTAH until October 15, 2016, clearly states that the military troop’s portion will be terminated. Furthermore, it intends to establish another peace mission. As a result, our service members stationed there will return. Specifically, for the Marine Corps, I believe the takeaway is this great legacy of lessons learned. But we also ended up benefiting with a lot of material resources. We had to apply resources very quickly in so-called individual ballistic protection equipment. We already had our bulletproof vests, but the modernity of equipment that were emerging, the weapons, demanded that we also evolved in replacing our helmets, in replacing our ballistic plate carrier vests to protect vital areas. Various items from our individual equipment were used: knee pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, in short, there was a concern with all this basic individual combat equipment to provide better ballistic protection to the combatant Marine. With regard to materiel, I believe the great legacy was the entry or the return of Marine Corps-employed wheeled armored transport vehicles. We also had legacies in doctrine, the preparation of our service members, the attitude of certain procedures, use of simulators for actions. We trained with the use of a laser infantry tactical simulator, for example. I believe the whole of our participation in the peace mission in Haiti will support everything we do for many years to come. That was very important. Diálogo: What is the importance of conducting joint and other exercises between the CFN and the United States, generally speaking, and the Southern Command (MARFORSOUTH) in a more specific way? Marine Lieutenant General Alexandre José Barreto de Mattos, Commander of the Marine Force Squadron, present at the interview, made an aside. last_img read more

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Honduras Holds Seventh Central American and Caribbean War Games

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo September 07, 2017 ¿QUÉ PIENSA HACER FRENTE LA AMENAZA ESTADOUNIDENSE Y DE LA OTAN DE ACABAR CON EL PROCESO CONSTITUYENTE VENEZOLANO DE 1810 A 2017?-GUERRA ACTUAL POR CONTROL DE ENERGÍA PETROLERA EN MODERNIDAD- NO SOMOS DECIMOS SER COMO PERSONAS SEGÚN LO PENSADO EN NUESTRA CONSCIENCIA SON LOS ACTOS DE NUESTRA PRAXIS QUIENES DEFINEN NUESTRA REALIDAD CIUDADANA DEMOCRÁTICA ÉTICA O SER CORUPTO DICTADOR POSARCAICO.El petróleo en nuestra madre tierra de las últimas décadas del siglo XIX es la energía primaria más importante; constituida por aceite mineral inflamable, recurso natural abundante no renovable, por su masiva extracción actual de sus yacimientos las reservas petroleras se están agotando. Venezuela es el país con mayores reservas probadas de petróleo por eso PDVSA es la empresa más afortunada del planeta tierra. Sin petróleo se inmovilizarían empresas, fabricas, barcos, industrias, gandolas, camiones, automóviles, producción de alimentos, entre otros. Es un mineral con costos de extracción bajos, fácil y económico de transportar. El precio del petróleo es un referente del sistema energético y forma parte del sistema financiero mundial, sus variaciones afectan el resto de estos sectores. La organización de países exportadores de petróleo más importante del mundo es la OPEP y el país con mayores reservas de petróleo es Venezuela, cuando se descubre que su faja bituminosa es de petróleo. Por el control estratégico del petróleo los sectores dominantes del planeta tierra entran en conflictos y hacen la guerra en función de apropiarse por la fuerza o comprarlo en el mercado mundial, de acuerdo a la correlación de fuerza de los centros de poderes mundiales. Por esto Venezuela ante tantos estados potencias hegemónicos, imperialistas, permite la participación equilibrada estadounidense, europeos, asiáticos chinos, rusos y demás países entre las diferentes empresas petroleras de nuestro mundo, evitando intervengan destruyendo nuestro país para apoderarse de nuestros tesoros naturales y mineros. Por lo cual planteamos en este orden internacional de intereses evitar tantas injusticias, enfermedades, muertes, matanzas, mejorando nuestro modelo histórico o esquema de poder de estado y de producción o formación económica social histórica de fuerzas productivas, relaciones de producción articuladas a nuestros modos de producción articulados a nuestras formas de conciencia social, instituciones, normativas jurídicas y constitucional, es decir, articuladas a nuestro estado, hoy de modernidad en transición a post modernidad en proceso constituyente, transformando a los posarcaicos en ciudadanos pasando del estado eminentemente patriarcal a equilibrarlo al estado matriarcal, con la idea de pasar de los estados de guerreros combatientes para la dominación de la dictadura posarcaica del despojo, robo, en guerra de la muerte y opresión a ciudadano estado de derecho y punitivo contra el delito para que la corrupción no se quede impune, con diálogos y debates sin censura previa de ciudadanos dignos participativos y protagónicos de este estado de derecho de valores humanos, ciudadanos y de amor al prójimo pacíficamente del buen vivir, convivir y compartir en justicia y paz; es la opción posmoderna de luchar efectivamente contra la alienación, anomia, perturbación de la guerra y por la tranquilidad del planeta en equilibrio de la historia y de la naturaleza que resalto en mis trabajos escritos y comentarios orales. DEL 19 DE ABRIL DE 1810 AL 30 DE JULIO DE 2017 EN CONSTITUYENTE Venezolanos patria con gobierno y estado soberano de autodeterminación autónoma en la interdependencia universal entre los pueblos del mundo con el propósito por medio del cual se organiza y establece la normativa jurídica de proceso electoral para elegir a los diputados constituyentistas en asamblea constituyente, una vez se establece esta asamblea los gobernantes del gobierno y estado formado en 1810 son sustituidos por los diputados de esta asamblea constituyente que además de legisladores asumen la función de gobierno, poder ejecutivo, fundan la república en 1811 y nombran los presidentes en triunviratos hasta que después de tantos asedios es recolonizada el 25 de julio de 1825 cuando el patriota constituyentista y presidente de la república generalísimo Francisco de Miranda acuerda con el representante del imperio español capitán de fragata Domingo Monteverde el armisticio para suspender las hostilidades bélicas de mucha matanza pero con la estrategia de salvar las vidas, recuperar fuerzas y organizar el restablecimiento y refundación de la república que ha ocurrido desde esa fecha hasta el presente, en constituyente, actualmente, en función de transformar la modernidad de la colonización y guerra, homicida y genocida, robos de la dominación hegemónica, autoritaria y totalitaria, por la explotación social, apropiación indebida de riquezas, bienes y servicios, de injusticia y de abuso de sectores de poblaciones dominantes contra las dominadas, con gobiernos y estados en conflictos y confrontaciones bélicas, guerras civiles, guerras mundiales, bloqueando la posibilidad de desarrollarse la vida impidiendo la felicidad humana solidaria compartida, entre los habitantes de nuestra pacha mama, por esto luchamos contra los imperialismos del colonialismo para establecer el nuevo orden mundial transformando la modernidad en post modernidad, procurando un mundo más justo y humano combatiendo la delincuencia organizada sean de funcionarios públicos o de la sociedad civil. Modernidad es colonialismo y dominación. Posmodernidad es constituyente liberación de la alienada modernidad. NUESTRA MADRE TIERRA NO SOPORTA MÁS GUERRA IMPERIALISTA NI DOMINACIÓN ENTRE SUS HERMANOS DEL ORDEN INTERNACIONAL EN MODERNIDAD. DILE NO A LA GUERRA.https://www.elindependiente.com/politica/2017/09/08/margallo-la-vicepresidenta-dijo-que-no-habria-urnas-el-1-o-y-espero-que-haga-honor-a-su-compromiso/?utm_campaign=not&utm_source=not_web&utm_medium=navegador From July 24th to 28th, members of Colombian, Costa Rican, Dominican, Honduran, Mexican, and Panamanian naval forces participated in the Seventh Central American and Caribbean War Games, which simulated response plans for the reconstruction and stabilization of a nation after a natural disaster. The training was held at the facilities of the Honduran Navy’s Joint Staff. The Strategic Multinational Cabinet Exercise, better known as War Games, was created by the Mexican Navy in 2011. The mission is to find solutions to international crises through cooperation and interoperability between naval forces of Central America and the Caribbean, particularly during humanitarian aid efforts. “This is the first time that these war games have been held outside Mexico. It’s also the first time that this exercise has been done in two phases: one long-distance and the other in person,” Honduran Navy Captain Héctor Tercero López, the chief of staff of Naval Operations, told Diálogo. “Being the host of these games is an acknowledgment of the efforts and professionalism of the Honduran Navy (FNH, per its Spanish acronym). We’re learning from nations that have come to help us, such as Mexico.” Other Honduran institutions, such as the Army, the Air Force, the FNH’s Naval Leadership Training School, the Standing Committee for Contingencies (COPECO, per its Spanish acronym), and the International Red Cross, attended the exercise as observers. The Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC, per its Spanish acronym) also joined the group of observers. This time, the Honduran National Defense Secretariat (SEDENA, per its Spanish acronym), through FNH, simulated the arrival of a hurricane called Gert to the hypothetical Island of Atlantis. The storm reached category 5, the maximum on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. This was similar to an event that occurred in 1988 when Hurricane Mitch passed through Honduras and Central America. Atlantis, located south of Cuba, was battered by winds in excess of 250 kilometers per hour. The island faced a large-scale threat. Many died or went missing. The storm destroyed nearly all of the island’s infrastructure, as well as its flora and fauna. This weather event caused hunger, looting, violence, and the risk of epidemics. Multinational force offsets the damage In this scenario, humanitarian aid arrived at the request of the island’s authorities. The UN convened a multinational force to provide support to the island and to assist the population impacted by Hurricane Gert’s devastation. “Each naval force implemented response plans to offset the damage to the island. Similarly, they worked together to form a multinational force that provided assistance through protection, prevention, and damage reduction,” Capt. Tercero remarked. “They also created the conditions necessary for Atlantis’s rebuilding and stabilization.” FNH and the Mexican and Dominican navies promptly deployed their units, vessels, and aircraft to the north of the island. The Colombian Navy, the Costa Rican Coast Guard, and the Panamanian Air and Naval Service covered the southern part of Atlantis. Some vessels were equipped with mobile hospitals. During the virtual mission, “the multinational force transported people, supplied food, performed logistics tasks, search-and-rescue operations, maritime and port security, maritime traffic control, and the restoration of order with strict adherence to human rights,” said Honduran Navy Captain José Jorge Fortín Aguilar, FNH’s chief of Training Operations and leader of the White Team during the 2017 Central American and Caribbean War Games, now in its this seventh edition. The White Team was responsible for mobilizing vessels, aircraft, personnel, and all provisions to virtually serve the affected population. The aid effort had support from government institutions, local nongovernmental organizations, and private organizations in order to increase the capacity for an effective response in the wake of a hurricane. “To complete this mission, the Honduran Navy held a series of remote workshops (phase one) with all of the naval personnel who would be attending the in-person phase of the virtual exercise to brief them on the mission that they would be conducting,” Capt. Fortín explained. These remote workshops were held during the first week of June. Challenges and advance planning “The planning and unification of criteria to define the best course of action that would favor mission completion were the main challenges during the in-person phase. After 48 hours, the most suitable course of action was established,” Capt. Fortín stated. “The participating naval forces were able to standardize their criteria for conducting the exercise, making sure that everything turned out the best way possible.” Because of their geographical location and weather conditions, Central America and the Caribbean are prone to hurricanes. One of the last storms to impact the region was Hurricane Matthew (September-October 2016), which left more than 1,000 dead as it passed through Haiti. “Being nations that are prone to nature’s fury, these seven War Games have generated knowledge and skills that will allow the combined naval forces to respond immediately,” Capt. Fortín said. “There must always be advance planning. In emergency situations, the armed forces are the first to arrive and the last to leave.” “For the Honduran Navy, these Seventh War Games also represent an ideal opportunity for young officers from the Naval Leadership Training School, who acquired better experience on how to respond to future situations in the region,” Capt. Tercero concluded. “In 2018, the Eighth War Games will be held in Colombia.” VIVA VENEZUELA Y LA REPÚBLICA POST MODERNA. center_img Rafael A. Salazar P. http://www.franciscodemiranda.info/es/documentos/capitulaciondoc.htm last_img read more

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Brazilian Army Participates in Operation at the Border with French Guiana

first_imgBy Taciana Moury/Diálogo June 20, 2019 The Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) and the French Foreign Legion stationed in French Guiana conducted an unprecedented operation along the border of both countries: Operation Tumucumaque. EB’s Amapá Border Command and the 34th Jungle Infantry Battalion (CFAP/34º BIS, in Portuguese), headquartered in the state of Amapá, and the French Foreign Legion’s 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment (3º REI, in French) coordinated the operation carried out April 11-13, 2019. The objective was to fight transborder and environmental crimes in the region. The operation was the result of an agreement between EB’s Northern Military Command and the French Armed Forces Command in French Guiana to enable simultaneous and coordinated use of troops in the border region. “There is integration between subordinate commanders deployed at the border and unit commanders to ensure the feasibility of such operations,” said EB Colonel Gelson de Souza, commander of CFAP/34º BIS. About 150 Brazilian and 150 French service members participated in Tumucumaque. Units carried out blockades, flood controls, area control, and riverine and land patrols. Service members conducted 12 activities during the operation and patrolled more than 180 kilometers of rivers. “The missions occurred simultaneously on both sides. While the 3º REI troop was conducting the incursion in Guiana territory, the CFAP/34º BIS troop was conducting river control and blockades, and vice versa, which enabled a more effective result,” Col. Gelson said. Benefits of a coordinated border operation For the officer, the first edition of Tumucumaque was successful. He said the combined activity keeps the ties of units that operate in the border active, and promotes operational exchange by sharing information and techniques. “As a result, units improve personnel planning in the region,” he said. Although this was Tumucumaque’s first edition, units already operate jointly on border patrol and to counter illegal activities. “Due to their proximity, issues can migrate rapidly from one territory to another in the region,” Col. Gelson said. “The integration with the French Foreign Legion is incredible, from the commander of the French unit and his General Staff to our most up to date patrollers, who work together on the Oiapoque River.” Activities conducted during Tumucumaque also contributed to important information gathering on most common crimes, especially illegal mineral exploration. “The information gathered will be compared against data from image analysis and intelligence reports and will serve as a basis for specific larger-scale operations, such as the phases of [operation] Ágata,” said EB First Lieutenant Leonardo Quintanilha Rodrigues, commander of the Special Border Company’s 1st Jungle Platoon of Clevelândia do Norte district. “During one of the missions we traveled across the Marupi River, a tributary of the Oiapoque River in Brazilian territory, which is between both countries. The day-long patrol identified various positions showing evidence of mineral exploration — trails and erosion in the jungle,” said 1st Lt. Quintanilha. “The reconnaissance river patrols are always efficient due to our troop’s expertise in a jungle environment and their ability to track signs of human activity within this environment.” According to 1st Lt. Quintanilha, overcoming logistics obstacles associated with the operation in the Amazon border region was challenging. “The large amount of water, food, and fuel required in these operations is a difficulty presented in long-distance travels,” he said. “Operation Tumucumaque required a thorough logistics study to ensure everything would go as planned,” Col. Gelson added. On the last day of the operation, EB service members performed a Civic-Social Action (ACISO, in Portuguese), in partnership with the Oiapoque Ministry of Health, in Vila Brasil, providing medical and dental services to the local community, as well as HIV and Malaria testing. “ACISO is very important to the residents of these remote areas. The Brazilian Army is often the only institution capable of providing such support,” Col. Gelson concluded.last_img read more

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Campaign Orion V Deals Hard Blow to Narcotrafficking

first_imgBy Myriam Ortega/Diálogo June 30, 2020 The international naval campaign Orion V to combat narcotrafficking, carried out in the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean, as well as in Colombian rivers, enabled the seizure of 50.3 metric tons of cocaine and 7.3 metric tons of marijuana, Colombian President Iván Duque announced on May 29.Duque, together with Colombian military leaders and representatives of participating nations, presented a summary of the results in a virtual press conference, where he described the combined work as “inspiring.” The campaign, with the participation of 26 countries from the Americas and Europe, took place from April 1 to May 15.“During the implementation of the phase, when we see that the tons of drugs seized not only continue to grow but also exceed dozens, we can all reaffirm that the multilateral commitment in the fight against narcotrafficking is essential, inspiring, and a guide for public policy,” Duque said. “Each of the nations involved has contributed with their intelligence, has contributed with their operational capabilities, has contributed with their prosecution capabilities, as well as with rigorous and timely information gathering, to show the world that we are united in preserving security and justice for our people.”Colombian Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo said that the cocaine seized represented about a $1.7 billion impact on criminal funding. The total marijuana seized has an estimated value of more than $36 million on the international market, the minister added.In addition to drug seizures, authorities (48 international institutions and agencies) captured 150 people of different nationalities, found 72 cocaine laboratories, and confiscated 38 boats, two semi-submersibles, and four aircraft that were intercepted on the ground. Members of the nations involved praised the Colombian forces’ leadership and the operational efficiency of the campaign, conducted in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.“Colombia is a trusted friend and ally whose immeasurable contributions to security and peace at home, in our hemisphere, and around the world, has earned the respect from nations around the globe. What better example than operation Orion in Colombia’s tireless work, with more than two dozen nations to defeat a foe, narcotraffickers, who heartlessly profit from human suffering and death,” said U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command. “Colombia’s successes against this threat are notable and one of the many reasons nations seek its advice on security and defense matters.”“This extremely effective collaboration among international agencies during the operation serves as a model for future multinational efforts to counter the common threat of transnational criminal organizations,” said U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Pat DeQuattro, director of Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-South).The Colombian Navy has been leading the Orion campaign since 2018. In its fifth edition, the campaign had the participation of 41 maritime and riverine warships, 62 coast guard interceptor boats, 39 riverine combat boats, seven sea patrol aircraft, nine helicopters, and four unmanned aerial vehicles.Argentina, Belize, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, and Uruguay took part in the naval campaign.last_img read more

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How other states address MJP

first_img February 1, 2002 Regular News How other states address MJP How other states address MJPcenter_img How are other states dealing with the multijurisdictional practice issue?On January 1, Idaho, Oregon and Washington entered into a first-of-its kind tri-state reciprocity bar admittance plan that would allow attorneys who pass one state bar exam to be admitted in all three.“There is a great deal of multistate practice,” George A. Riemer, deputy executive director and general counsel for the Oregon State Bar, told the ABA. “Why not make it legal for people, as opposed to tiptoeing under the boundaries of (unauthorized practice of law)?”If the plan is successful, Riemer predicts it will expand to include other Western states.Two years ago, Riemer wrote an article about lawyer regulation for the Oregon State Bar Bulletin that sparked a lot of discussion. He estimated that at least 400 lawyers will sign up for tri-state admission within the next year, particularly attractive to lawyers who work in the region’s border town, such as Pullman, Washington; Ontario, Oregon; and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.“Before, you had to go through the frill in each state, and that was a burden. This has reduced the level of hoop-jumping,” Riemer said.The requirements to multistate practice include graduation from an ABA-accredited law school, three years of law practice, and 15 hours of continuing legal education. The one-time application fee ranges from $650 to $700, depending on the state in which the lawyer seeks admission.Participants must pay annual bar dues for each state in which they practice and demonstrate good moral character. Ethics matters will be handled by the state where the questionable conduct occurred.Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have discussed a similar deal, but have not reached an agreement.On January 8, the California Supreme Court released a task force report recommending that the state ease up on the rules relating to out-of-state lawyers.“Today’s reality is that the needs of many clients do not stop at state lines, and neither does the legal practice of the attorneys who represent them,” states the 42-page report by the California Supreme Court’s Advisory Task Force on Multijurisdictional Practice, written by University of San Francisco Law School Professor Joshua Paul Davis.California’s proposal does not go as far as advancing reciprocity between states, but suggests limited situations in which out-of-state lawyers could practice in California.It recommends registration rights for in-house counsel providing out-of-court legal services for a single, full-time employer and for public interest lawyers offering services to indigent clients on an interim basis before taking California’s bar exam. Registration would let those lawyers practice in California on an ongoing basis if they were in good standing in another state.California’s proposal calls for “safe harbors” for transactional and other nonlitigation attorneys who offer services on a temporary and occasional basis, and for litigators planning to file suit in California or as part of pending litigation in another jurisdiction.“These changes would provide useful steps to accommodate current needs, while continuing to ensure the public’s interests are protected,” the report said.“As California goes, I think, other states will follow,” Raymond Marshall, chair of the task force, told California’s The Recorder. “Our willingness to recognize the changing law practice (in regard to) technology and the ability of commerce is important to the profession.”last_img read more

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Notices: Florida Bar

first_img10th JNC to fill Polk County judgeship Williams petitions for Bar reinstatement Lawyers who donate services to the needy are being sought for public recognition by the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar.One lawyer from each judicial circuit and an out-of-state recipient will receive the Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award. The chief justice will give the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award to the lawyer who is deemed an outstanding example of dedication to the legal needs of the poor.Nominations also are being solicited for the Chief Justice’s Law Firm Commendation and the Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Service Award. The awards recognize a firm and a voluntary bar association that have provided significant pro bono legal assistance to individuals or groups which cannot otherwise afford legal services.Nominations may be made by any person or organization by contacting the circuit representative shown below. Nomination forms are available from the Bar’s Public Service Programs Department, telephone (800) 342-8060, ext. 5810 or via e-mail at [email protected] Eligible lawyers must be licensed to practice in Florida and not be employed by an organization which primarily delivers free legal services to the poor. The nominee should be a lawyer who, with no expectation of receiving a fee, provides direct delivery of legal services in civil or criminal matters to a client or group that does not have the resources to hire counsel.The deadline is September 20.The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Awards were established in 1981 to recognize individual service in specific Florida judicial circuits.The Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award commemorates Miami civil rights lawyer Tobias Simon, who died in 1982.The chief justice’s awards are believed to be the first of their kind in the nation conferring recognition of a state’s highest court on a firm and voluntary bar for pro bono services.Florida Bar president’s pro bono award circuit committee chairs FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Alan Bart Bookman P. O. Drawer 1271 30 S. Spring St. Pensacola, Florida 32501-5612 (850)433-6581 Fax: (850)434-7163 Email: [email protected] SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Kelly Overstreet Johnson Broad & Cassel P.O. Box 11300 Tallahassee, Florida 32302-3300 (850)681-6810 Fax: (850)681-9792 Email: [email protected] THIRD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Gregory Stuart Parker P.O. Box 509 Perry, Florida 32348-0509 (850)223-1990 Fax: (850)223-1991 Email: [email protected] FOURTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Henry Matson Coxe III Bedell Dittmar Devault, et al. 101 E. Adams St. Jacksonville, Florida 32202-3303 (904)353-0211 Fax: (904)353-9307 Email: [email protected] FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT William Harper Phelan Jr. Bond, Arnett & Phelan, P.A. 101 S.W. 3rd St. Ocala, Florida 34474-4132 (352)622-1188 Fax: (352)622-1125 Email: [email protected] SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT John Allen Yanchunis 100 2nd Ave. S., Ste. 1201 Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701-4338 (727)823-3837 Fax: (727)822-2969 Email: [email protected] SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Charles Chobee Ebbets Ebbetts, Armstrong & Traster 210 S. Beach St., Ste. 200 Daytona Beach, Florida 32114-4404 (386)253-2288 Fax: (386)257-1253 Email: [email protected] EIGHTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Robert Anthony Rush 726 N.E. 1st St. Gainesville, Florida 32601-5374 (352)373-7566 Email: [email protected] NINTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Russell W. Divine Divine & Estes, P.A. P.O. Box 3629 Orlando, Florida 32802-3629 (407)426-9500 Fax: (407)426-8030 Email: [email protected] TENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Robert Michael Brush Brush & Pujol, P.A. 825 E. Main St. Lakeland, Florida 33801-5151 (863)603-0563 Fax: (863)603-0884 Email: [email protected] ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Arthur Halsey Rice Rice Pugatch Robinson & Schil 848 Brickell Ave., Ste. 1100 Miami, Florida 33131-2943 (305)379-3121 Fax: (305)379-4119 Email: [email protected] TWELFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Anthony J. Abate Abel Band, et al. P.O. Box 49948 Sarasota, Florida 34230-6948 (941)366-6660 Fax: (941)366-3999 Email: [email protected] THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Richard Allen Gilbert De La Parte & Gilbert 101 E. Kennedy Blvd., Ste. 3400 Tampa, Florida 33602-5195 (813)229-2775 Fax: (813)229-2712 Email: [email protected] FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Robert Clarence Blue Jr. 221 McKenzie Ave. P.O. Box 70 Panama City, Florida 32402-0070 (850)769-1414 Fax: (850)784-0857 Email: [email protected] FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Jerald S. Beer Boose Casey, et al. 515 N. Flagler Dr., Ste. 1800 West Palm Beach, Florida 33401-4330 (561)832-5900 Fax: (561)820-0389 Email: [email protected] SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT James Samuel Lupino Hershoff, Lupino & Mulick LLP 90130 Old Hwy. Tavernier, Florida 33070-2348 (305)852-8440 Fax: (305)852-8848 E-mail: [email protected] SEVENTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Henry Latimer Greenberg, Traurig 515 E. Las Olas Blvd. Fl. 14 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301-2296 (954)468-1729 Fax: (954)765-1477 Email: [email protected] EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Clifton Adamson McClelland Jr. Holland & Knight L. L. P. 1499 S. Harbor City Blvd., Ste. 2 Melbourne, Florida 32901-3245 (321)951-1776 Fax: (321)723-4092 Email: [email protected] NINETEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT Louis B. Vocelle Jr. Clem Polackwich, Vocelle et 3333 20th St. Vero Beach, Florida 32960-2469 (772)562-8111 Fax: (772)562-2870 Email: [email protected] TWENTIETH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT James Christopher Lombardo Woodward Pires & Lombardo 3200 Tamiami Trl., N., Ste. 200 Naples, Florida 34103-4105 (941)649-6555 Fax: (941)649-7342 Email: [email protected] OUT-OF-STATE Richard Arthur Tanner 250 Bellevue Ave. Montclair, NJ 07043-1318 (973)744-2100 Fax: (973)509-9521 Email: [email protected] Klemick petitions for reinstatement Notices: Florida Bar Board to fill JMC vacancy Bar fees late after Aug. 15 Nominations sought for annual pro bono awardscenter_img Pursuant to Bar Rule 3-7.10 Julius L. Williams has petitioned the Supreme Court for reinstatement to The Florida Bar.On February 24, 2000, the Supreme Court suspended Williams from practice of law for a period of one year as a result of his engaging in conduct that is unlawful or contrary to honesty and justice, failing to act with due diligence on behalf of his client or maintain adequate communication with his client, failing to respond to The Florida Bar’s inquiry into his conduct, charging and collecting an excessive fee, and failing to comply with the rules regarding trust accounts.Any persons having knowledge bearing upon Williams’ fitness or qualifications to resume the practice of law should contact JoAnn Marie, Bar counsel, The Florida Bar, 1200 Edgewater Drive, Orlando 32804-6314, telephone (407) 425-5424. August 1, 2002 Regular News The 10th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications for a vacant Polk County judgeship, created by the elevation of Judge Ellen S. Masters to the circuit bench.Applicants must have been members of The Florida Bar for the past five years, must be registered voters, and must live in Polk County. Applications may be obtained from commission Chair Scott Bunn, 99 Sixth St. S.W., Winter Haven 33880, phone (863) 293-5000, or by downloading an application from the Bar’s Web site at www.FLABAR.org. An original and nine copies of the completed application must be received by Bunn no later than 5 p.m. August 7. Interviews will be conducted the last week of August. For more information, contact Bunn. Pursuant to Rule 3-7.10, Herman Montell Klemick III has petitioned the Supreme Court for Bar reinstatement.Klemick was suspended for 18 months after being convicted of the felony of unlawful compensation.Any persons having knowledge bearing upon Klemick’s fitness or qualifications to resume the practice of law should contact Randi Klayman Lazarus, Bar Counsel, Suite M-100, 444 Brickell Avenue, Miami 33131, telephone (305) 377-4445. Lawyer applicants are being sought to fill a vacancy on the Florida Supreme Court’s Judicial Management Council. The Board of Governors will be selecting nominees for this vacancy at its October 25 meeting. The nominations will then be forwarded to the Supreme Court for appointment.The council was established by court order dated March 30, 1995, under revised Rule of Judicial Administration 2.125. Its responsibilities include aiding the judicial branch in the comprehensive study and formulation of recommendations on issues related to the efficient and effective administration of justice that have statewide impact, affect multiple levels of the court system, or affect multiple constituencies in the court and justice community. The council is comprised of 21 representatives appointed by the chief justice to three-year terms. Two members are nominated by the Board of Governors, one of which must be a member of the Board of Governors.Persons interested in applying for the vacancy may download the application from the Bar’s Web site, www.FLABAR.org, or should contact The Florida Bar at (850) 561- 5600, ext. 6802, to obtain the proper application form. Applications may also be obtained by writing the Executive Director, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300. Completed applications must be received no later than the close of business Friday, September 13, 2002. Resumes will not be accepted in lieu of the required application. The Florida Bar’s annual membership fee — $265 for active members and $175 for inactive members — was payable July 1 and becomes late after August 15.The statements have changed little from last year and members have the option to complete their annual fee statement and pay their fees online via the Bar’s Web site at www.FLABAR.org. Under Bar rules, fees postmarked after August 15 will be assessed a late fee. Members who do not pay by September 30 will be deemed delinquent. The delinquency may be cleared by petitioning the Bar, paying the fees, the late fee, and a reinstatement fee.last_img read more

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May lawyers report past corporate misconduct?

first_img May lawyers report past corporate misconduct? Senior EditorIn a case echoing ongoing national business scandals, a Florida Bar member posed this ticklish question: Can he report possibly fraudulent corporate accounting to the Securities and Exchange Commission that he learned of as part of his employment?After a lively discussion, the Board of Governors by a 22-15 vote said the lawyer could not report information he learned in the course of his employment because it was confidential, and no exception to the confidentiality rule applies. The issue, though, may get more study.The board, at its August meeting in Sarasota, also said unanimously the attorney could not reveal the staff opinion answering his question if that would in turn make public confidential attorney-client information.The case involved a Florida lawyer who made an inquiry to the Bar Ethics Department. According to the lawyer, he discovered that an expense he thought should have been paid entirely by out of current reported profits was instead amortized over several years. That, in effect, inflated the current profits by several million and prevented a likely slump in the publicly-traded company’s stock price.The attorney said when he took his concerns to the top executives of the company, he was fired. His attempts to bring the matter to the attention of the firm’s board of directors proved futile. That led him to inquire of the Ethics Department whether he could report his concerns to the Security and Exchange Commission.The department issued a staff opinion that said the attorney could not report the matter because he would have to disclose confidential information about past misconduct when there was an attorney-client relationship. That applied, the opinion said, even though he was no longer working for the company.The Professional Ethics Committee agreed, and the attorney then appealed to the Board of Governors. The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics voted 4-1 to endorse the staff opinion.“How do you disclose this if it is a continuing crime without disclosing the past crime?” board member and BRCPE Chair Louis Kwall asked.He noted Congress, in recently passed legislation addressing securities fraud, asked the SEC to draw up guidelines on when attorneys might be required to report such potential frauds. But he said the BRCPE only dealt with Bar rules and not federal law.Board member Ian Comisky said it was a difficult issue, not the least because the federal legislation has the appearance of taking some regulation of attorneys away from states and giving it to a federal agency. It’s also ticklish because there are Bar rules that allow lawyers to reveal confidential information in order to prevent a crime.“Every period this company continues to issue reports, you practically have a new securities violation. It’s a past crime that has a continuing effect. It’s a fine line,” Comisky said. “We may need more facts.”Board member David Rothman noted, “Do you want to predict that someone is going to break the law in the future? The issue is very clear. Can he report a past crime? He can’t.”Board member Greg Parker asked if the attorney could report the matter if future financial reports continued the erroneous information. He said he was concerned about what would happen if an attorney learned about illegal toxic waste dumping that was no longer continuing but which posed a health hazard.Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Tarbert replied, “These are advisory opinions; the attorney is free to do what he wants. But the opinion reached the conclusion he cannot reveal the information because the information involves past misconduct of a client the attorney no longer represents.”The board voted 22-15 to support the staff opinion and the PEC and BRCPE recommendations.On the second question posed by the attorney, whether he could disclose a staff ethics opinion if it contained confidential information, the board unanimously agreed that opinion should remain confidential.After the votes, Comisky said he was still concerned about the issue and moved to refer it to the Professional Ethics Committee for further study. After discussion, he withdrew the motion and said he would make that request on his own. September 15, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News May lawyers report past corporate misconduct?last_img read more

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Culpepper appointed to Board of Governors

first_img Culpepper appointed to Board of Governors Culpepper appointed to Board of Governors A Central Florida banker with experience administering a law firm and in real estate will become the next public member on the Bar Board of Governors.The Supreme Court picked J. Blair Culpepper of Winter Park last month from a list of three candidates sent by the board.Culpepper will replace retiring public member Dr. Vivian Hobbs, who has served the maximum two terms allowed by Bar rules. He will be sworn in at the June Annual Meeting, along with other new and returning board members.Culpepper said his professional life plus some early experiences made him eager to contribute to the legal profession. “Throughout my career I’ve worked very closely with attorneys, both in banking and real estate,” he said. “I thought maybe this was an opportunity that would be very interesting.”As for the early experience, that came growing up in Tallahassee while he was a Boy Scout working on a civics merit badge. A busy and prominent lawyer took time to mentor him and others working on the badge.“One of the earliest contacts I had was with LeRoy Collins, who was a Boy Scout merit badge counselor even before he was a state senator,” Culpepper recalled, adding that Collins had the scouts up to his office to work on the badge. “There was LeRoy Collins teaching us about government and the law.”That gave him a high opinion of both the profession and The Florida Bar, he said.Culpepper hopes he can bring his practical business and professional experience to the board, adding, “I really just want to find out how I can contribute and participate as actively as I can.” Culpepper said he does have a special interest in ethical and children’s issues.Active participation would seem to be a Culpepper family trait. His grandfather was a county judge; his father was chancellor of the state university system; and his brother Bruce is a Tallahassee lawyer and former city commissioner; and two nephews and a niece are also lawyers.Culpepper, 66, was born in Gainesville but grew up in Tallahassee, and graduated from the University of Florida in 1959, prior to joining the U.S. Army. Following his active service, he received an MBA from UF. In addition to a year in law school, he also has taken several postgraduate courses in banking and management.He spent most of his career in commercial banking and the savings and loan industry, although he was also administrator for Anderson and Rush, P.A. He has also owned an art gallery and a title insurance company.Currently, Culpepper is vice president and a principal in First National Bank of Central Florida, which also has a subsidiary mortgage company and joint venture insurance company. He has also served for the past year as a member of the Bar’s Citizens Forum, and has been active in several civic organizations, including chairing two hospital boards.Besides Culpepper, the other two finalists for the public member seat were Michael N. Greenhill, a Cuban native who owns court reporting service in West Palm Beach, and Frederick A. Hamblin, a Sarasota mortgage broker.center_img May 15, 2004 Regular Newslast_img read more

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September 15, 2004 Letters

first_imgSeptember 15, 2004 Letters Letters Hurricane Charley Thank you to the Columbian-American Bar Association, Cuban American Bar Association, Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, and Professional Translating Services, Inc., of Miami, for assisting The Florida Bar with a Spanish version of the Web page listing resources for victims of Hurricane Charley. Francine Andía Walker Director of Public Information and Bar Services, The Florida Bar Lawyer Advertising I would disagree with Advertising Task Force 2004 member Hal Lewis who recently said he is under the impression that criminal defendants “have been told they need a lawyer, so why do they need a letter” during a debate on whether to extend the 30-day ban on direct mail solicitation to criminal cases, as reported the August 15 issue of the News. Who tells them? The police? Don’t bet on it. One should not assume that Miranda warnings are read in each and every case, because they are not.Personal injury cases are not similar to criminal cases, in any aspect. In criminal cases the defendant has an immediate problem that may result in their incarceration for perhaps months or years. No such issue exists in a personal injury case. Immediate action is called for in a criminal case. There are potential witnesses, who may be reluctant, who might disappear. These witnesses should be interviewed as soon as possible.In the all-too-common DUI case, a driver has 10 days from the date of arrest to file a request for a hearing to contest an administrative suspension. I constantly speak to individuals who are arrested for DUI, and were not told by the police that they have 10 days to file such a request. Additionally I have found that drivers are told, incorrectly, by the arresting officer, that the DUI citation is their driving permit for 30 days. This is, of course, incorrect. They should have a lawyer file the hearing request for them, because there is more involved than just the filing.No, individuals who are arrested need immediate help. Maybe the Advertising Task Force ought to concentrate on billboard ads, and not what an individual receives and reads in the privacy of his own home. Timothy Foster Jupiter Gay Adoptions I am most disturbed by the letters to the editor appearing in the August 15 News, bashing gay and lesbian adoption, and the decision of the Family Law Section Executive Council to support adoptions by gay and lesbian persons. The opinions expressed evidence the bigotry toward gay and lesbian persons that continues to pervade our profession and our state. It is simply astounding, in this age of enlightenment, that such intolerance continues to exist within the greater “brotherhood” of Florida lawyers.It is apparent from these letters, however, that there is no “brotherhood” at all. Phrases, such as “the normal, usual definition of parents,” “going in favor of gay adoption certainly does not improve the lawyer image,” “potentially damaging to Florida’s children,” and “children who will suffer the consequences of being raised by gay parents,” are terrifically judgmental and, frankly, downright shameful. These words do absolutely nothing to enhance or elevate our profession — from within or without. Thankfully, none of these persons are members of the Family Law Section Executive Council.I wholeheartedly support the decision of the Family Law Section. Bravo. Legislative bigotry of any kind is intolerable in modern society. The greater good of all mankind is served by equality, tolerance, and respect. And that includes the right of gays and lesbians to adopt in this state. Michael T. Sheridan OrlandoI was disappointed to read recent letters in the News opposing the Family Law Section’s vote to support gay adoptions. Contrary to the opinions expressed in those letters, adoption by gay and lesbian individuals is an issue of vital importance to the 3,500-plus children languishing in Florida’s foster care system, waiting to be adopted.The Family Law Section has merely joined the ranks of enlightened and unbiased professional groups, including the nation’s oldest, largest, and most respected children’s groups who strongly oppose Florida’s ban on gay adoption: the Child Welfare League, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children. No mainstream health or child welfare group supports broadly restricting gay parenting and in fact these groups actively oppose such restrictions. The American Pediatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the NASW, and the American Psychiatric Association have issued policy statements uniformly supporting adoption by gay parents. As for the assertion that a bar association should not express an opinion on controversial issues, in fact, the ABA routinely does just that, and as I recall made national news in their support of gay marriage less than two years ago.As the Family Law Section has asserted, gay and lesbian adoption is a child care issue, not a gay rights issue. Consider these statistics: The median age of kids in foster care waiting to be adopted is 7.8 years and most of these children have endured at least three different foster care placements in this period of time. Many of these children will leave the foster care system, not because they find permanent homes, but because they reach their 18th birthday.Social science experts who have studied over 1,000 children and 500 gay and lesbian parents solidly refute the idea that gay parents and their children are not as healthy and happy as other families. Not a single respected study has found that gay parents are bad parents or that their sexual orientation harms the children they raise. Child welfare professionals consider adoption to be in the best interests of the children whose parents cannot or will not provide proper care for them.A review of 20 years of literature found that the prevalence of psychopathology among children in foster care is higher than the norm, even when compared with children who have similar backgrounds of deprivation. Within two to four years of leaving foster care only 54 percent of children had completed high school; over half were unemployed; 25 percent had been homeless; and 42 percent had given birth to or fathered a child.Given the inarguable need for adoptive parents for the thousands of children who may never find the parents they so desperately need and want, one would hope that the state would do everything in its power to find homes for the children languishing in its foster care system. In fact, the child welfare system is required to expend a great deal of time and energy expanding the pool of eligible adoptive parents, so that it even provides financial subsidies to prospective families who would otherwise be unable to adopt. Yet, question II-G on the form prospective parents are required to fill out in Florida requires all applicants to check “yes” or “no” to the statement: “I am a homosexual.” Next to the question is a quote from F.S. §63.042(3) of the state law: “No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.”When one studies the history of adoption in the U.S., it is understandable that there should be some debate, given the fact that as recently as 1970, single people who applied to adopt were routinely turned down, and, in fact, some states had laws barring adoption by single people. As the 1970s progressed, 4 percent of parents adopting were single; in the 1980s the percentage increased to 34 percent, and in 2000, fully one third, 33 percent, of the children adopted from foster care were by single parents.We have seen a relatively rapid change over the last 30 years, from the right to adopt almost exclusively reserved to married couples in 1970, to today where children are commonly placed in families that fall outside the traditional model of a married mother and father.Florida has a long history of morally disapproving of those who become intimate with members of other races, and of heterosexuals who become sexually intimate without marriage. As recently as 1964 Florida made fornication between interracial couples a felony instead of the misdemeanor crime it was when committed by couples of the same race.Seen in this historical context, it is not surprising that we still have resistence to the idea of adoption by gay parents. The law’s history reveals that it was a direct expression of disapproval of gays in general. Florida’s ban on gay adoption was only enacted in 1977 following the campaign led by an ex-beauty queen and songstress, which resulted in the repeal of Miami-Dade County’s first ordinance protecting gays from discrimination.Twenty-five years later, over a dozen of the state legislators who voted in favor of the gay adoption ban in 1977 have signed affidavits stating that they were wrong and now support efforts to overturn or repeal the law. I applaud the Family Law Section’s position in favor of gay adoptions, and look forward to the day that the legislature’s lamentable position banning gay adoption is repealed. I expect that the majority of my colleagues in The Florida Bar will agree with my position. Robin L. Bodiford Ft. LauderdaleClearly, The Florida Bar is negligent in allowing the gay adoption tar baby to reach its present proportions. The Bar has pussyfooted to the point that the tail (Family Law Section) is now wagging the dog (The Florida Bar) and it is time to take the bull by the horns.Past time, in fact, considering that the TV networks, radio, BBC News, and other media highlight this fiasco with frequency.A simple solution is readily available to rectify the Bar’s indolence – poll the membership by mail. (No specious protesting about cost, please; that’s why we pay dues.) Publish the results and promptly enact such measures as will implement the voted wishes of the membership.Isn’t that your duty? George Baker Thomson GulfportI was surprised to see so many letters in the News opposing “gay adoptions.” What the Florida Bar Family Law Section did was support the right of children to be adopted by persons who happen to be gay.Florida is the only state that, by statute, prevents all persons who happen to be gay or lesbian from adopting. The statute is a relic from the Anita Bryant days. It makes our state look like a laughing stock at best, and a haven for discrimination at worst. The Family Law Section did do a poll of members a few years ago and a good majority of practitioners supported lifting the ban. The people working in the area know that discrimination is wrong and harms society as a whole. The Bar should take a position on this issue. Michael E. Morris Orlando SCOPE I want to pass along my deep appreciation to theYoung Lawyers Division for making its SCOPE program available to Florida lawyers.As a sole practitioner, comparatively new to the practice of law in Florida, I have used the program several times, and the lawyers to whom I am referred are generous with their time, and thorough with their information and guidance. To a person they have returned my calls and given me the opportunity to call back if I need further clarification on a point.A special kudo to Wallace Anderson, who not only apprised me of the special guardianship proceeding known as Guardian Advocate, but sent me a computer disk with all the pleadings for the proceeding. This will enable me to serve my clients more effectively and at less cost to them for legal services.SCOPE is a very valuable service, especially to solo practitioners, and all those involved in this program should know that there is one attorney out there who couldn’t practice as effectively as she does without it. Cathryn Girard Sarasota (Editor’s note: SCOPE is an acronym for Seek Counsel of Professional Experience and is comprised of volunteer lawyers who provide general counsel and advice to lawyers confronted with problems in areas of law unfamiliar to them. To access the program call (800) 342-8060, ext. 5807. September 15, 2004 Letterslast_img read more

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Ricin Likely Mailed to Obama, U.S. Senator

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York President Barack Obama gave his first State of the Union address of his second term Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013.Federal authorities are investigating letters sent to President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) that contained a suspicious substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin, a lethal biological warfare agent.The U.S. Secret Service immediately quarantined the letter to Obama that was received at a mail screening facility offsite from the White House, the front of which was cordoned off by yellow tape Tuesday, officials said. Lab test results will take 24-48 hours to confirm if the substance is Ricin.“The investigation into these letters remains ongoing, and more letters may still be received,” the FBI said in a statement that did not indicate if there was a written message in the envelope. “There is no indication of a connection to the attack in Boston.”The mail case broke a day after the Boston Marathon bombings that left three dead and nearly 200 wounded. The FBI has said at least one of the two bombs was built out of a pressure cooker filled with projectiles.The apparent Ricin mailings are similar to letters containing Anthrax that were mailed to two U.S. Senators and several New York City-based news outlets for weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Five people died and 17 were hospitalized for exposure and the FBI’s suspect killed himself.U.S. Capitol Police, which responded with its HAZMAT crew, described the powder in the latest case as a “white granular substance.”Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, referred most questions about the case to the FBI and said Obama is scheduled to travel Thursday to Boston, where he will speak at an interfaith service.“Any time a suspicious powder is located in a mail facility, it is tested,” Carney told reporters Wednesday.Operations at the White House and the Capitol Complex have not been affected as a result of the investigation, authorities said, but other cases of suspicious packages have been reported Wednesday.“On the House side, at least, it’s business as usual,” Samantha Slater, spokeswoman for Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), told the Press. “What they’ve found so far is on the Senate side.”She added that she noticed the garbage cans were dismantled Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol Building.last_img read more

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10 Questions With Roastmaster General Jeff Ross, Who’s Invading Long Island

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Fresh off his latest standup special, Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live at Brazos County Jail, the Roastmaster General is back on the road and bringing his funny act to Long Island this week. The Newark-native is best known for his brutal Comedy Central roasts of celebrities including Justin Bieber, Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump and many more. But he’s also got a lot more to say besides making fun of people. The Press spoke with “the meanest man in comedy,” who’s performing at NYCB Theater at Westbury at 8 p.m. June 25.Long Island Press: How exactly did you get started and end up as the Roastmaster General at Comedy Central?Jeff Ross: Man, I was doing stand-up for years and didn’t really have an interesting voice. Then one day, they asked me to be part of my first Friar’s Club roast … and I feel like I found my niche, my lane if you will.LIP: What is your impression of Long Island so far?JR: Oh man, well, I’m from New Jersey, but every hot Jewish girl I ever wanted to date was from Long Island, so maybe there’ll be some single women at the show. I definitely would love to speed-roast some Long Islanders at a certain point in my show on Thursday. I’ll invite anybody who wants to come up on stage and get speed-roasted.LIP: What can we expect to see in this upcoming show?JR: I’m talking a lot about the world at large now. People are curious about my jail experience, and I’m kind of fascinated by the darker subjects right now, so a lot of that will come out. Plus, my usual obsessions, food and sex, are a big part of the show. I wrote a couple of roast folk songs; I’m bringing my guitar, and then I’ll speed-roast some people on stage. It’s going to be a party!LIP: Are there any common misperceptions regarding your act?JR: You know what? People think I’m mean sometimes because they see me roast Justin Bieber and almost make him cry. But the truth is, it all comes from love. I say the things out loud that the people are afraid to say. I don’t like pranks, I like saying. If you’re going to do something, do it to their face.LIP: Is there ever a joke you couldn’t say? A line that shouldn’t be crossed?JR: In the right context, I think everything’s okay. People are so sensitive these days, but I think comedy is more important than ever. If comedians don’t cross the lines, then we’ll never know where the lines are.LIP: In your recent work, Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live at Brazos County Jail, you often talk about the first step to rehabilitation is laughing about yourself. Could you elaborate?JR: I think that’s true not just for inmates but in our real lives. I love people who take their jobs seriously, but I don’t really respect people who take themselves too seriously. It’s humanizing to see somebody laugh at their own mistakes and their own faults.LIP: I’ve recently seen you on Bill Maher and you’ve also performed at the Occupy Wall Street movement. Is politics something you’re looking to add to your performance?JR: For me, it’s never about the politics; it’s about the people. I respected their complaints and was curious about why they were down there, so I went down there. For me as a comedian, it’s always a mission to try and bring laughs where there aren’t any. Where it’s depressing or sad. So more than any other reason I just sympathize with the fact that we were hot and sweaty and outside. I like to think of comedy as purposeful. Comedy is really important and potent and healing. I didn’t see that when I first started. I saw it was good for me, but I didn’t realize it could be good for other people.LIP: You’ve directed your own film, Patriot Act: A Jeffrey Ross Home Movie in 2005. How was this experience?JR: Oh man, it was an intense, lonely experience. I mean back then nobody really wanted to talk about Iraq in a funny, nonpolitical way and that was my goal. To try and show the human side of the soldiers and the comedians. It was a hot button political issue at the time, and I was making an unpolitical documentary so that wasn’t easy. And the same goes for the show I just did about criminals in a county jail. I wanted to show the human side. It’s not a political show, it’s about the people.LIP: How was your experience on Dancing With The Stars?JR: I really enjoyed that experience. Before me, comedians used to sing and dance. They were true entertainers. I tried to emulate that, but sadly I got voted off after the first commercial break. I got a scratched cornea on my last rehearsal and that basically knocked me out of the competition. Hey man, I’m one for one. I won a dance contest in summer camp when I was about 11. Fifty-50, baby!LIP: You’ve done dramatic roles in television shows, such as CSI and Six Feet Under. Is this something you look to do more of?JR: Every now and then, comedians get asked to do fun stuff. I really consider it a fun departure, kind of a hobby, but my true love is on stage, live in front of real people. And that’s why I’m working so hard on my act and getting people to come to my shows. I feel like it’s a great night out. I’m definitely going to try and top myself after the jail show. It’ll be provocative, dangerous and it’ll be funny. If you’re thinking of having a date on Thursday night, definitely do so. I talk about sex a lot, so you’re guaranteed to get some action afterward.last_img read more

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Massapequa Man Arrested for Binghamton University Murder

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A Massapequa man was arrested for allegedly stabbing a 19-year-old fellow Binghamton University student to death at the upstate New York campus, according to officials and reports.Michael Roque, 20, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of freshman Joao Souza in a Windham Hall dorm room on Sunday, according to Binghamton University police.The suspect, who was apprehended Monday, is being held at Broome County Jail and is due back at Vestal Town Court later this week. The victim was an engineering student from Brazil.The case comes about a month after another Binghamton student from Long Island, 22-year-old Haley Anderson of Westbury, was killed in her off-campus residence.Her ex-boyfriend, 22-year-old Orlando Tercero, fled to his native Nicaragua, where he was arrested and is awaiting extradition.“This has been a very difficult semester for me and the entire campus with two student deaths in just a few weeks,” Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said in a statement. “These tragedies shake us to the core and we grieve together.”last_img read more

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ABA’s Leggett retiring

first_imgby: Nicholas BallasyDr. Keith Leggett, a senior vice president and senior economist at the American Bankers Association, will retire early next year.Leggett said he plans to relocate to the North Carolina coast, where he will continue writing his Credit Union Watch blog. He also said he will spend more time golfing with his wife and taking on a larger role as a member of the Board of Trustees for his undergraduate institution, Mars Hill University.“I guess I am like Captain Ahab and the credit unions are my white whale. Some things are just hard to give up,” he said of his plans to continue his blog, which has attracted credit union readers in addition to the targeted banker audience. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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New core systems required in digital age

first_imgby: Chris SkinnerI realized something about this new market of financial technology the other day, where banks become financial systems integrators. The realization was that banks really should think about what they are doing by developing so much of their core capabilities internally. Right now, coders are the new rock stars and banks develop pretty much everything themselves. I can’t think of hardly any large banks in the UK that have not developed their own core systems.Most of them are proud of this fact. For example, HSBC has more developers than Microsoft, more than 13,000 in fact. Microsoft employed 1,000 developers to produce Windows 7, by contrast.Why is that? Because banks developed their own core systems back in the 1960s. They then added onto these systems lots of middleware and front office applications. They then found these front, middle and back office internally-developed systems needed to be adapted to support call centers and then the Internet and most recently mobile. Now, they’re looking at wearables and the Internet of things and everything connected and thinking, wow, we need more developers to add these new-fangled gadgets to our creaky legacy network.Wrong.As I’ve screamed so many times, banks need to replace their core systems for the digital age.They have to do this because their systems were built in the last century for the physical distribution of paper in a localized network. Now, they need to be digital and their systems are just not fit for that purpose. So, what they do is separate the content of their systems – the data – from their processors – the engines. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Go make a difference

first_imgThis past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the confirmation of my grandson Christopher. Milestones in a young person’s life are very important and ones which involve a person’s faith are even more so.The ceremony was beautiful. The presiding Bishop, the most reverend Francis Kane, eloquently spoke to the 127 conferments as a group and individually as he administered the sacrament to each of them.The ceremony was filled with prayer and song and it was the words of one those songs that I thought were most inspiring and held true for not only the young people in attendance, but for everyone.The title of the song is Go Make a Difference. It is uplifting, energizing and true.“Go make a difference. We can make a difference. Go make a difference in the world”.“We are the light of the world, not to be hidden but to be seen. Go make a difference in the world. We are the spirit of hope, we are the voice of peace. Go make a difference in the world”.Having been involved with credit unions in some way my entire professional life; I find that I relate events life events to the industry and with the people in it. I do so because I have always felt that the people who work in credit unions every day are some of the most dedicated in the financial services industry. They are people who continually make a difference in others lives.Whenever a member enters their credit union they do so with the belief that they will be given outstanding service and shown individual attention to whatever their needs are. It is important that the staff at that credit union that must realize that how they treat their members, the service that they give them, the advice that they provide and the experience of the visit can forever make a difference in that member’s life.The message I believe that was conveyed in the words of that song, to my grandson, the other young adults who were there with him, everyone else in attendance along with everyone who reads them, is one of hope and confidence. A message to inspire and make one realize that everyone, people in all walks of life, can make a difference. The light that you bring to your life and to others must shine and not be hidden. Everyone has the ability, by their actions and deeds, to have a lasting impact on everyone who surrounds or comes in contact with them.Never doubt your abilities or potential to make a difference.You can make a difference.Go make a difference. 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Michael Fryzel Michael Fryzel is the former Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration and is now a financial services consultant and government affairs attorney in Chicago. He can be reached at … Detailslast_img read more

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Why credit unions need to venture beyond the ‘big 5′ of mobile banking with StrategyCorps’ Dave Defazio

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr with Mike LawsonAccording to StrategyCorps Partner Dave DeFazio, there are five mobile banking “must haves” today:Mobile bankingMobile bill payMobile depositsATM/branch locatorP2P paymentsIf you have those, you are meeting the needs of today’s increasingly mobile consumer. If not, you better get on the stick. But, as we all know, the FI market continues to evolve at a breakneck pace and CUs must be ready for it. So we asked Dave what’s on the not-so-distant horizon when it comes to mobile services — venturing beyond the big five, if you will, that keeps your members happy and loyal to your credit union.One of the items he discusses is integrating rewards with the transaction so the credit union, the member, and the retailer benefit in the process that fosters more activity and loyalty — which ultimately deepens the relationship. Dave mentions many other “beyond-the-transaction” possibilities that seem deliverable in the next few years — probably the next few months, and complements them with real-world examples. Check it out and let us know what you think about this peek into the future of banking. Pretty cool stuff CUs should consider. continue reading »last_img read more

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The key to acquiring millennials: A tailored referral program

first_img 30SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Millennials are presenting the banking industry with one of its most complex challenges ever. The generation is rapidly becoming a powerful driver of the economy, and the group whose spending and savings decisions will redefine the world of finance. Yet they’re also tepid at best and skeptical at worst of traditional banks.What can your credit union do to engage this challenging group?Find new ways to achieve referrals, ways that are engaging and relevant to this unique generation.Their needs and wants seem vast and complicated, yet when asked, one simple answer boils to the top: Speak to me authentically. Don’t advertise to me – advocate for me. Oh sure, showcase convenience and talk to me about how you can help me to realize my aspirations, but in the end, it boils down to value. Millennials are smart; they will pay more, do more, become loyalists and advocates as long as you provide what they consider added value. Authenticity allows you to engage with them, immediacy provides compelling content and social relevancy keeps you competitive. Marketing to millennials is about conversation, not clichés. It’s about the consumers, specifically these millennial consumers, who are shaping your brand and defining its success. So ask them what they want and really listen, then go deliver value. continue reading »last_img read more

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20 money mistakes you’re making now

first_imgIt’s the fourth quarter of 2015, and just as in the fourth quarter of a professional sports game, mistakes can multiply if you’re not keeping your eye on the ball. Sometimes, the money mistakes hit you where your investments live. Other times, your spending habits get out of whack, especially with the holiday shopping madness.While it’s hard to shake off bad money habits, the hope comes from recognizing what you’re doing and then implementing sensible strategies. Here are 20 money management tips and trip-ups that revolve around common money mistakes.1. Running Up Balances on High-Interest Credit CardsThis especially applies for frivolous purchases or shopping sprees around the holiday season, when it’s all too easy to get carried away. Credit cards can put you on a hamster wheel where making minimum payments barely nibbles at the balance.Among the worst offenders are department store credit cards. The Kohl’s credit card carries a 23.99% APR, and the Sears MasterCard has a jaw-dropping, eye-popping 25.24% APR. And this, of course, doesn’t include late fees. continue reading » 51SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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The benefits and challenges of the Internet of Things

first_img 76SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Stuart R. Levine Founded in 1996, Stuart Levine & Associates LLC is an international strategic planning and leadership development company with focus on adding member value by strengthening corporate culture.SL&A … Web: www.Stuartlevine.com Details The convergence of operations technology and information technology presents new and expanding market opportunities. The “Internet of Things” is a center point of this convergence. IoT can bring remarkable benefits to today’s ever-changing business environment and an effective culture must be in place to make it work. Core values of cooperation and continuous learning drive the culture to form a foundation necessary for the alignment.In IoT, interconnected electronic network systems are created that record, process and transmit information from sensors that are embedded into physical assets. According to McKinsey Global Institute, IoT can create as much as $11.1 trillion a year globally in economic value. Business-to-business transactions could generate $5 trillion in additional global GDP as energy, manufacturing, agriculture and real estate industries incorporate IoT technologies. Sensors built into manufacturing equipment can electronically tag items and components to track products throughout the supply and inventory chain. Smart networks are able to determine performance, location and production of physical assets. Hard asset providers create new business opportunities when IoT allows hardware, software and services to be integrated. For example, an industrial machinery supplier can evolve into a service provider when their in-depth knowledge of how assets function across an industry assist customers to operate more efficiently than they could by themselves.There are challenges as well in IoT. The data does not speak for itself. Leaders must understand the information. They must extract relevant actionable insights from the voluminous data and strategically communicate these insights. Some organizations, however, find it difficult to effectively employ the mountains of data produced. Although there is great potential value, information generated by IoT sensors are often underutilized or worse yet, ignored. Additionally, such a reliance on interconnected technology creates massive cybersecurity risks. Greater interconnectivity means many points of vulnerability that must be guarded and larger system failures could result from a breach. Malicious hackers, for example, can cause life-threatening problems in the case of healthcare.These new technologies that may bewilder some managers and traditional roles can shift. In the world of Big Data, information replaces instinct and past experience in decision-making. Senior management could find themselves more reliant on a tech savvy younger generation, and these “techies” must be developed into effective leaders. Values of continuous learning must come into play.Silos within the organization means trouble in this new world. A culture of collaboration incorporating data technology across enterprise functions must ensue. The Chief Information Officer, in particular, must have constructive working relationships with the senior leadership team. Furthermore, managers within IT must be fully integrated into increasing areas of the business, collaborating and strategically communicating across the organization. These analytics experts and data scientists must be connected with executive decision makers and with frontline managers. Through teamwork, insights from large data sets can be employed to capitalize upon data-driven customer knowledge. Information mining can stimulate innovation and allow the organization to embrace change faster, developing service-oriented products that reflect the customer voice.  IT thus becomes a communications center, not a cost center, using data to better serve the organization and its customers.last_img read more

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Physical security remains a top priority

first_img 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr While cyberthreats to financial institutions—hacked databases, skimmed ATM cards, identity theft, poor cloud security—increasingly have commanded public attention in recent years, physical security remains important because of direct and destructive threats to people and facilities.That means credit unions must stretch their dollars to cover both cybersecurity and physical security.“The degree of different threats affects how credit unions spend security dollars,” says Mary Pifer, vice president of international marketing and product management at 3SI Security Systems, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider. “Physical security is like any other threat—it moves and changes.“The biggest recent change in physical security,” she says, “is dealing with the technological transformation of branches—more machines and more open layouts. This means fewer tellers and a greater dependence on cash-dispensing machines, which become the natural target for robbers.”But open branch interior spaces offer some benefits. “Everybody can be observed and the presence of cash-dispensing machines can thwart a robbery,” says Michael A. Petrone, risk management consultant at CUNA Mutual Group. “The robber knows tellers can dispense only a relatively small amount of cash at a time. The rate at which tellers’ dispensers can dispense cash can be slowed, too.” continue reading »last_img read more

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Strategies to accelerate the growth of your leaders

first_img 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Talent.Most of us leading organizations are thinking about it all the time. Great strategy means nothing if you don’t have the people to make it happen.If you want to lead, if you want to accelerate your growth, if you want to energize your company, you need to have a talent management system that produces leaders.In Leaders Ready Now: Accelerating Growth in a Faster World, authors Matthew Paese, Ph.D., Audrey B. Smith, Ph.D., and William C. Byham, Ph.D. share their collective wisdom about talent and leadership. All three authors are employed by DDI helping organizations grow their own leaders.I recently spoke with Matt about the new book and the extensive research on talent and growing leaders in organizations. continue reading »last_img read more

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Should you be concerned about ransomware?

first_imgIf you’ve been keeping an eye on cybersecurity or computer safety news lately, there is a good chance the term ransomware has crossed your vision. So we’ve got phishing (not the band), malware, viruses, worms, and now ransomware?First, the primer: Ransomware is a form of malware, which in some circles is also considered a virus. Still confused? So am I.Primer, even more basic version: Ransomware locks your computer unless you pay some bad guy.Less basic primer: Ransomware is computer code which, once on your system, makes it so that you can’t access any of your files. The creator gives you an option to get the key, or program to unlock all your files, for a fee. This fee goes up the longer you wait, making it no less than a ransom demand. Hence, malware which asks for a ransom: Ransomware. continue reading » 19SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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A credit union man: Part 2

first_img continue reading » “You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years, And get pats on the back as you pass, But your final reward will be heartache and tears, If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.” -From The Man In The Glass by Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.When you work in the credit union business, you can always be proud of how you make a living. As a movement, credit unions do not aim for profit or charity, but for service. Credit unions offer affordable interest rates members may need to get through a rough patch and improve the quality of life for families across the country. Credit unions make small loans that replace a broken air conditioner in the summer or help warm a home in the dead of winter. The positive impact credit unions make on middle-class families is astounding, and business is done with members’ well-being top of mind.As a millennial, I intuitively know that our generation wants to make a difference in our communities. The Telefonic Global Millenial Survey found that 62% of millennials worldwide believe we can make a local difference, and 52% of American millennials believe we can make a global difference. As people who are passionate about service, we must invite more business- and community-minded millennials into the credit union movement because it is a business where loving your neighbor and building a stronger community is a part of the job. The credit union philosophy and the overriding mindset of our generation tremendously coincide. The person in the glass smiles back when we help other people. 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Additional credit union-friendly policies proposed by Clinton campaign

first_img 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr An expanded factsheet released by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton details policies that support credit unions and suggest regulatory relief.Among the proposed ideas that specifically mention credit unions are:Curtailing regulatory “creep” by ensuring credit unions and smaller financial institutions are “only subject to rules that make sense for their size and mission;” andCoordinating state and federal examinations, including flexible exam schedules for healthy credit unions.While CUNA does not endorse presidential candidates, it does appreciate the Clinton campaign for recognizing credit unions’ important role in the financial services industry and the effects of regulatory burden. continue reading »last_img read more

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Bankrupt Puerto Rico set for fresh hit from Hurricane Irma

first_img continue reading » Puerto Rico, already dealing with a financial disaster, is about to be hit with a natural one.Hurricane Irma is barreling toward the U.S. territory of 3.5 million residents, raising the prospect of costly damage to a poverty-wracked island that collapsed into a record-setting bankruptcy in May. The storm is expected to pass near or just north of Puerto Rico later Wednesday.The head of Puerto Rico’s electric company warned some areas could face electricity outages for months. And a devastating blow could accelerate the dramatic population loss that’s driven Puerto Rico’s long economic contraction, said Matt Fabian, a partner with Municipal Market Analytics.“After 10 years of a recession, the island is not at all prepared for a disaster like Irma,” Fabian said. “And Irma may permanently shrink Puerto Rico and push the island even deeper into poverty.” 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Rethinking vendor management

first_img continue reading » NCUA’s increased scrutiny over vendor management is costing credit unions money and leading to the wrong outcomes.The money going out the door, says Cornerstone Advisors, is due to CUs not managing vendors well in other areas outside of risk and security as they try to keep regulators happy.Brad Smith, managing director at Cornerstone, said that vendor management today must be much more than evaluating the partner’s risk, which includes their ability to protect sensitive member data.“But, unfortunately, that is what is happening at credit unions now as NCUA is asking CUs to carefully evaluate their vendors’ risk,” said Smith. “Credit unions are only focusing on the risk side, and not on vendor performance in their evaluations, and that is costing them money. NCUA does not care how much Fiserv is charging you or if Symitar is performing. They want you to assess their security and risk.” 22SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Two kinds of money – the kind you have and the kind you don’t have

first_img“When people think about types of payments, they generally view their money in two buckets – the money they have, including dollars in debit accounts, savings, investments, even rewards points, and the money they don’t have, including the money they can borrow or leverage plus access to other people’s money.” That is one of the thought-provoking concepts proffered by FIS Chief Product Officer, Bob Legters, at CSCU’s 2017 Annual Conference. “If you think about payments in those two categories, how purchases are made depending on which bucket a member uses to pay for something, then you can begin to make decisions to answer questions such as what’s the best tool? What’s the best approach? How do you interact with the member? How do you make it more convenient?”In terms of innovation, Legters said, “Innovation is expensive. Its expensive for the credit union, it’s expensive for the processors, and there’s a curve where the payback takes a while. How do you stay solvent while you wait for the payback? Basic blocking and tackling includes credit, debit, prepaid. Younger generations don’t have wealth or access to money that doesn’t belong to another generation, so how do you put the right tool in their hands to enable payments? You can’t really take a credit risk on someone with no payment history, but you can offer prepaid as a gateway to later offer debit and credit products. You can offer other products that increase the relationship with that member that will drive additional usage.” continue reading » 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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4 ideas for “me” time under $25

first_imgWhether or not you’re a parent, it’s important you take time out of your busy schedule to take care of yourself. Parents often call this “me” time and although some may not want to admit it, everyone needs a little time to themselves for rest and relaxation. Here are four budget-friendly tips for getting that much needed “me” time for under $25.Pick out a Pinterest projectWhether it’s a new recipe, a home décor idea, or a creative craft, go back to your Pinterest boards and tackle that project you’ve been longing to get to. Having a small project to do on your own will get you feeling creative and also productive.Have your car cleanedSometimes having someone do your chores makes all the difference in the world. Cleaning out your car is not something most of us look forward to, so do some research and find auto-detailing shops in your area on the cheap. In most cases, you can get a great interior and exterior wash for around $20. Check out Groupon for deals near where you live or work.Take a napWho doesn’t love a good nap? Many of us are lucky if this is ever an option. On the next weekend that rolls around, make it part of your day, even if it’s just 30 minutes. If you have children arrange in advance for them to be looked after. Just getting that extra time in to rest can really help recharge your batteries, even if you just lie down and don’t go all the way to sleep.Go out for a solo coffee dateThose fancy coffees can really put a dent in your budget, but grabbing one every so often can be a nice treat. Make a plan to hit up your neighborhood coffee shop with a good book or magazine and sit and enjoy your favorite beverage. The coffee will give you an energy boost and the alone time will help you feel happy and rejuvenated. 91SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Wendy Moody Wendy Moody is a Senior Editor with CUInsight.com. Wendy works with the editorial team to help edit the content including current news, press releases, jobs and events. She keeps … Web: www.cuinsight.com Detailslast_img read more

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Berger, Hunt kick off Congressional Caucus with NAFCU priorities

first_img continue reading » 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr NAFCU’s 2017 Congressional Caucus general sessions opened Monday with a question-and-answer session featuring NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger and Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel Carrie Hunt, who detailed the association’s top priorities in its work to ensure the credit union industry’s best interests.During the session, Berger and Hunt discussed several of NAFCU’s priorities, including:ensuring credit unions get all of their money back from the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (TCCUSF) and preventing an increase to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund’s (NCUSIF) normal operating level (NOL);working with the NCUA, CFPB and Congress to reduce regulations that make it more expensive and difficult for credit unions to serve their communities;last_img read more

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3 futuristic gadgets that make traveling more awesome

first_imgDays spent travelling can be tough. Little things like a neck pillow or a sleeping pill can make your trip more relaxing, but those things aren’t the cure for everything. Here are three gadgets that are completely unnecessary but completely awesome when you’ve got a day of travelling ahead.AirBolt Smart Travel Lock: This TSA- compliant lock syncs with your smartphone, which enables you to lock and unlock it easily using your iOS or Android device. The location tracking in the AirBolt will help you to never lose your luggage while keeping it safe and secure. What happens if you accidentally unlock AirBolt? It will re-lock itself if it’s not removed. The AirBolt is currently available for $79.99.Skyroam Solis: Presented as the “Ultimate Travel Companion,” the Solis from Skyroam provides you with unlimited, fast Wi-Fi, shareable on up to 5 devices. Imagine being connected to unlimited 4G LTE in over 100 countries around the world. And with Solis’ built in power bank, you can charge your gadgets while you’re connected. The Skyroam Solis is available now for $149.99 and just $9 for 24-hour Wi-Fi.Micro Luggage: Don’t feel like pulling your carry-on luggage around all day? Check out Micro Luggage from Micro Kickboard. This carry-on folds down into a 3-wheeled scooter to help you get from gate to gate in time. Plus, when it’s folded up, this TSA-approved bag easily fits into a standard-size overhead compartment. With a retractable handle and a lightweight aluminum deck, Micro Luggage is super easy to use. You can find it on multiple retail sites, including Amazon.com for $299.99. 28SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,John Pettit John Pettit is the Managing Editor for CUInsight.com. John manages the content on the site, including current news, editorial, press releases, jobs and events. He keeps the credit union … Web: www.cuinsight.com Detailslast_img read more

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The digital evolution of financial services is evolving at full speed with or without credit unions

first_imgThere was a recent survey published about whether or not different types of financial institutions believed that digital transformation is necessary for a financial institution to be relevant – the overwhelming majority of C level executives said that it was extremely relevant.  The lowest level of urgency however was in the credit union segment – an unfortunate shortsightedness in this author’s opinion. Let’s begin with the assumption that credit unions exist to create value for their members and to be the better alternative because of the cooperative model. Let’s also assume that the ongoing viability of the model is based on a credit union’s ability to not only offer competitive products but offer a unique and superior Member Experience that attracts new member while retaining existing members. This unique Member Experience has been differentiating credit unions in the “sea of sameness” that is financial services for decades. It is the major reason consumers become members of a credit union.The days of the teller line being the most important part of the credit union are long gone. Most credible consumer surveys conducted in the last few years indicate that more consumers each year do financial transactions through remote means, and their comfort with doing loans, opening deposit accounts, and managing their accounts thru digital means has exponentially improved.  One of the challenges with any major change in how we deliver solutions is whether or not the credit union wants to manage an “evolution” of its Member Experience or be forced to react and enact a “revolution”. History has shown that those credit unions that evolve with the changes in the market, challenging their established operating paradigms, and leveraging emerging technology see organic growth, a balanced age mix of members, and sustained success. Those that attempt “revolution” to catch up usually fail to deliver a relevant Member Experience, and over time, become merger candidates. It is probably not a leap of faith to assume that embracing the status quo was more comfortable for those credit unions then facing their fear of change.    In the last 30 months, I have visited many credit unions of all sizes in this country. I usually ask them what their major challenges are, and then what are they devoting resources to – the mismatch is almost always present and glaring. These projects have large resource commitments usually approved in the prior year, and have either become obsolete because of market changes, or stopped all other progress at the credit union because of the scarcity of resources. We need to ask ourselves if the process that moves each institution on its strategic course is too static. Does it take into account, or even allow a change based on the strategic landscape? And without this nimbleness can credit unions stay relevant for the new generation of members? In today’s market “nimbleness” appears to be the key to garnering real market share. The success of the financial technology companies is not really based on what volume of loans they are doing or how much in the way of deposits they are attracting – those numbers are significant.  The real success they are having is attracting investor dollars to do research and development of new ways of leveraging consumer behavior and creating expectations that are difficult for traditional financial firms to deliver. The “rocket mortgage” has made consumers believe that an eight-minute loan approval is the norm. Kabbage made small businesses believe that a small line of credit could be established in minutes. SoFi and Lending Club provide immediate financing at the point of sale.  The large credit card companies can approve a digital application in minutes, have the consumer execute the documents and deliver a card the next day. Historically credit unions are risk averse and do not have it in their corporate DNA to ever fail. That is why these radical changes from the traditional methods are hard to visualize within our experiences and perceptions of what poses unknown risks. As the Financial Technology companies sell off their innovations to various distribution companies such as Amazon (do you know that 64% of all USA households have a Prime Account), the large insurance companies, and yes, even big banks, the consumer will demand that all transactions can be done when they want, how they want and without friction. Let’s go back to Amazon for a moment. Not only do they have incredible dynamic data analytic models that anticipate needs (they employ hundreds of very expensive data engineers), they have expanded their reach to households that are apt to become members of credit unions, and they have already established a stronghold in the credit card and payment system – just ask “Alexa”. And doesn’t it seem a bit frightening that their “prime” account links value to membership and even more value if one uses the Amazon credit card? Haven’t we focused on being our member’s prime (primary) financial institution for decades? Credit union executives have a myriad of proven digital technology solutions readily available that can help them along their strategic journey. This takes a commitment at the highest level of the organization to dedicate resources to not only implementing the solutions, but more importantly, re-imagining the process and Member Experience. It is time for the strategic planning process in credit unions not to focus on operating goals, but on defining what the credit union brand represents, who they are going to serve, and what the Member Experience looks like in 3-5 years. You may be wondering why “Member Experience” is capitalized throughout this article – it is in my opinion what makes credit unions different – they are not just words. Most digital solutions offered to credit unions either by CUSO’s, or those corporations with specific credit union divisions, are relatively inexpensive, and proven by other institutions to not only create positive results but have a high level of member satisfaction associated with them. Digital transformation requires not only a commitment and a strategic plan by the credit union, but an understanding of how “big data” analytics, digital credit models, API integrations, electronic signatures, sophisticated marketing communication methods, etc. work together – you get the point, there is much for us to understand and to translate to our cooperative model that supports providing access to financial services to those of modest means in a way that attracts and retains them.  A very wise CIO I worked with always said that a great strategic plan with a poorly executed operating plan is a fail, and a great operating plan with no strategic plan is a useless exercise – a credit union needs to have a clear strategic plan with an elegant execution of a relevant operating plan. There is a need for credit unions to remain a relevant part of the financial market and to continue to offer better values to consumers. But we will not be able to fulfill our mission if we lose sight of the changes going on around us. There are great examples of not coming to terms with changes in the marketplace. Think about the disappearance of phone booths replaced with mobile devices; Blockbuster replaced by Netflix and others as well as cable companies using their expansive distribution channels; record stores replaced by numerous digital means to acquire music; Shopping malls closing due to Amazon and online shopping; and, one I grew up with in business – typewriters – now a distant memory as we have computers, laptops, digital printers, etc. All these dominant market participants did not evolve, and revolution was not an option to catch up to the changes.  We owe it not only to our current members, but a future generation of members, to keep the credit union cooperative model relevant, vital and sustainable. The industry has incredible talent with real emotions about the well-being of their memberships. Let’s use that talent and “heart” to create intimate, caring digital solutions. If we learn from our past, understand the present and embrace the future without losing our core values we will be a stronger consumer financial services segment then we have been any time in our history. And we will preserve the beauty of the Member Experience as our core brand value. 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Joe Brancucci Web: curatereset.com Detailslast_img read more

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Commonly asked questions about automated valuation models

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » An Automated Valuation Model, or more commonly known as an AVM, is a program that automatically analyzes various data points to produce an estimate on the current value of a home or property. An AVM includes:Property identifying information including address and/or assessor’s parcel number and owner namePrior sales of the propertyLiving area/square footageYear builtNumber of bedrooms and bathroomsLot sizePublic record information collected from state and county records, such as deed transfersRecent sales and listing of similar properties in the local market areaArea pricing trendsI recently sat down with Chuck Mureddu, SVP, Chief Valuation and Compliance Officer, for a Q&A about what you can expect when using an AVM.last_img read more

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The importance of content marketing is growing

first_imgContent marketing without a doubt has become a necessity for every credit union brand. It has emerged as the core of almost every digital marketing effort, be it directed at desktop or mobile users. Behind every credit union brand should be a wealth of valuable and highly relevant content that really connects with the credit union audience.If you were to ask 10 content creators to define their field, you might receive 10 different definitions. However, they would all point back to the same core concept. Content marketing is beyond a simple marketing strategy. It is a member engagement strategy that revolves around the development, publication, and distribution of content to a defined target audience.While content is used to support short term business goals, it is best used when considering long term objectives of your credit union brand.Aside from the obvious gains in SEO, look at all the fundamental benefits content marketing provides:It attracts traffic online and offline.It builds your reputation.It stimulates trust and faith in your credit union brand.It can influence dialog between members, prospective members and your staff.It can make you monetize your digital channels.Your evergreen content lasts forever, supporting your digital footprint.Content might evolve, but it will never be unnecessary. Today, I see the following types of Content Marketing: The competitive landscape for credit unions is continually evolving. If you’re not investing the time and money to create unique and relevant content, you can rest assured your competition is. Make sure you have a plan to develop content that can set your credit union brand apart from the competition. Case Studies (have you shown your impact to member households?) Whitepapers Newsletters (printed and digital) FAQs and Q&As Reviews Social media posts Livestreams Infographics Videoscenter_img Articles in media Interviews Seminars Blogging Webinars 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Bryan Clagett Bryan is on the executive team and singularly focused on driving revenue growth through a variety of new initiatives that help financial services and fintech become ever more relevant to … Web: https://www.strategycorps.com Details Surveys and polls Quizzes Podcastslast_img read more

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What are credit union leaders really concerned about?

first_img 29SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Jim Bouchard “THE SENSEI LEADER is not just another leadership development program. It is a movement.”Our programs support this movement and help us fulfill our vision and mission…                                                                     Vision: To promote … Web: TheSenseiLeader.com Details We’ve been literally coast to coast, and from the far North to the deep South over the past few months working with credit union leaders. These leaders come from all levels from head tellers and shift managers to CEOs.We’ve heard any number of concerns and interests ranging from how to deal with changing regulations to employee engagement to how to close the leadership gap by quickly training new managers.Our sole focus in THE SENSEI LEADER MOVEMENT is on the human-centric side of things. Simply put, we’re dealing with leadership––not management. So I’ll leave dealing with regulation, compliance and technical HR issues to others and focus on the top 3 leadership concerns shared by CU leaders lately…#1 Dealing with negative people in the workplace…This issue has been coming up in workshops a lot! I mean––A LOT! And it’s not limited to rallying the troops––many managers, particularly in middle ranks, are very concerned about how to reduce negativity in their leaders!This issue is bigger than what we can cover in a short article––that’s why we do workshops. Having said that, there are a few simple things you can do.First of all, take a deep breath and seriously consider what you have control over and what you don’t. If you’re not in a position to address a negative superior––you may just have to do your best to mitigate the damage they’re doing.The number one thing you can do––as stupid as it sounds––is be positive yourself. I’m not saying you have to be that annoying person who always goes around pointing out roses growing from piles of manure. What I am saying is that you have precious little control over anyone else’s attitude. You have complete control of your own.This is not easy. It means taking serious and regular inventory of what is going right and making sure you and others appreciate it. It also means being realistic about what is going wrong and addressing problems on a manageable scale.If you do have power or even some influence over hiring and firing, you should also consider how you might be able to address or in some cases, even confront a negative personality. Remember that a negative person in the workplace is also affecting the productivity and even health of everyone around them. It’s simply not responsible to look the other way.Having said that, you should also practice our key characteristic of compassion. We are all susceptible to negativity based on any number of circumstances and conditions at work and off the job. It’s a worthwhile investment in time and effort to “seek first to understand” as Stephen Covey once put it. Sometimes a simple gesture of interest and concern can transform someone’s attitude. #2 Leading up…Again this starts with some self-reflection. As much as you want to influence the leaders you report to, it’s important to consider exactly how much control and power you have in any given situation.The reason I emphasize this is because so many leaders who approach me with this issue, particularly young, ambitious leaders, want to make serious changes––and quickly. They often see a problem clearly––at least they think so––and they’re frustrated by the inertia of those in charge, which often doesn’t seem to make any sense at all.You have to carefully consider the balance of yin and yang here. On one hand you want to make an impact and you know you can. On the other, you should show respect and sometimes even deference to those who have earned their position.Now this doesn’t mean you just put up and shut up. It means finding respectful and meaningful ways to share your ideas while respecting that those in charge may have good reasons for their decisions and actions.Now there is a very personal side to this. If you really think your contributions are being dismissed out of hand, or if you believe you’re being held back by jealousy and office politics, you might want to dust off your resume and start looking for new opportunities. I’ll just caution you not to act out of haste. Just because it seems that nobody is paying attention doesn’t mean they’re not!Approach your supervisors and ask them if your ideas and input have any merit. Ask them for advice in reshaping your contributions to be more useful.Again––think about what exactly you can and cannot control. You cannot control which of your ideas or contributions might be incorporated in the current decision making process, but you have absolute control over the diligence of your preparation and the quality of your work. Appreciate that no effort is without reward––it just might be that what you’re learning now will have more immediate application in the future.#3 Low levels of engagement…Ian Smith is a dear friend who is an expert in the area of scaling and acquisition. On a recent episode of Walking the Walk we got into the engagement problem. He shared that the average American workplace only enjoys a 29% rate of active engagement. Then he added,“But the good news is that we’re the best in the world!”There are any number of studies that provide reasons for these low levels of engagement––and conversely the high levels of active disengagement. Most of these reasons have nothing to do with management, which is why they’re very difficult to manage! It’s a leadership issue.I say this 20 times a week…The research is clear. People perform at their best when, and only when they know their leaders care. They need to know their work has meaning and that they have the opportunity to learn, grow and develop. To accomplish this, leaders need emotional intelligence, strong interpersonal skills and a highly developed and accurate sense of self-awareness––we might even say humility.We call this type of leader a “human-centric” leader. A leader who puts people first.In the dojo, we call this person “SENSEI.”If you want to engage people––be this type of leader, Be the Sensei.Now I’m not saying this to be self-serving. Let me explain how being the Sensei will help you engage people and be a more effective leader.A Sensei’s job is simple: Inspire, empower and guide. That’s it.In the dojo, this means helping people get to black belt. What does it mean in your life? Your work? Your role as a leader?How can you inspire, empower and guide others to their very best?Well it starts by leading with courage, compassion and wisdom. This is how you earn the respect, trust and loyalty of the people you serve––and those are the essential ingredients in engagement.Above all, you must “walk the walk.” You must lead by example and model the behavior you expect from others.Again the research is clear. Bad leaders and managers cause disengaged employees. It is that simple. If you don’t care––don’t bother. You’d do less damage doing nothing!People follow examples much more enthusiastically than they do orders. When you truly walk the walk you become an inspiration to others. When you care––they’re more likely to care. When you work with purpose––they will too.When they see you actively engaged in your own self-improvement, well…What is interesting is that almost all other issues leaders face can be traced back to these three, and a couple of more––all human issues. All more leadership issues than management issues.The plain fact is you lead people. And––leaders are people too.If you want to be a better leader––be more human.Every issue we talked about can be addressed with our 3 key purposes of the leader: Inspire, empower and guide. Commit yourself to the practice of these purposes and your positivity will be contagious, you will influence others both up and down the line and you will engage people on a deeper, more meaningful and much more productive level.Inspire, empower––guide.That’s what makes you the Sensei too!last_img read more

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The pros and cons of spring

first_img 34SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,John Pettit John Pettit is the Managing Editor for CUInsight.com. John manages the content on the site, including current news, editorial, press releases, jobs and events. He keeps the credit union … Web: www.cuinsight.com Details Spring means baseball and grilling out. Those two reasons alone are pretty much all I need to justify my belief that spring is the best. If you’re thinking that I once said “fall is the best,” I probably did, but we’re not talking about fall so let’s move on. All seasons have their ups and downs, so let’s focus on the pros and cons of spring…PRO: We get to finally be social again. I met most of my neighbors when I moved into my new house last spring, but then cold weather eventually hit and now I can’t remember any of their names. I need to start writing this stuff down. I did binge watch quite a few tv shows during that time though (and my Tigers won the natty!), but that’s more of pro for winter. Anyway, the point is fresh air and conversations are good for the soul, so soak it up while you can. If you live anywhere near the same latitude as I do, summer will probably come early and it’ll then be too hot to do anything outside.CON: Pollen is the worst. If pollen was a person, they’d be shunned. I cut my grass for the first time two weeks ago and then was basically a zombie for the next two days. Side note: If you’re one of those people who believes in switching up your allergy medication so that your body doesn’t get used to a certain brand, don’t switch in April-May. Huge mistake. You’ll regret it more than that time you bought sushi at a 7-Eleven.PRO: It’s truly the best time to get in shape. A lot of people enjoy making their New Year’s Resolutions every year, but if your resolution is running, it’s destined to fail unless you have a treadmill or a gym membership. If you’d prefer to strap on your Nikes and run around your neighborhood, you’re more likely to succeed if you want until the weather is nice. Try 7pm on a spring evening. It’s good stuff.CON: THERE ARE NO OTHER CONS. Spring is awesome! Did I mention baseball and grilling out? Okay yard work isn’t my favorite, but it’s way worse in the summer so we won’t harp on that right now. Enjoy the rest of your spring!last_img read more

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Service-profit chain guides member service

first_img 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Stuart R. Levine Founded in 1996, Stuart Levine & Associates LLC is an international strategic planning and leadership development company with focus on adding member value by strengthening corporate culture.SL&A … Web: www.Stuartlevine.com Details HBR’s classic article, “Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work”, first published in 1994, had a profound impact on my thinking about the fundamental drivers of business success. Employee satisfaction and empowerment directly impact the member experience and, of course, the member’s actions determine financial success. The article is as fresh and relevant today and applicable to your credit union’s business as when it was written 25 years ago. In the intervening years, volumes of data have been collected and analyzed that support the themes of the article. The service-profit-chain describes the interconnected relationships that create financial results. Simply stated: 1. Customer loyalty drives profitability and growth. 2. Customer satisfaction drives customer loyalty. 3. Value drives customer satisfaction. 4. Employee productivity drives value. 5. Employee loyalty drives productivity. 6. Employee satisfaction drives loyalty. And, 7. Internal quality drives employee satisfaction.Senior management puts the chain to work when it concentrates on the quality of the work environment, i.e., its organization’s culture as much as on financial measures. Management focuses on the employees and commits to invest in their people. Listening, learning and collecting data are fundamental as management seeks to understand how employees feel about their work, their colleagues, and the organization. Management actively uses what they learn to take action that drives employee satisfaction and engagement. Management is aware of the importance of each employee, each member, and the interactions between them.Employees are most engaged when they operate in an atmosphere of respect and sense that they have opportunities to learn, improve, grow, and add depth to their work. They are engaged when they have management’s attention and the company provides the technological and knowledge-based tools that they need to succeed. They are engaged when they feel empowered to make things right for members, colleagues and themselves. These aspects of a healthy culture drive employee loyalty, which in turn triggers the other links in the chain – employee productivity, leading to creating value for the customer, resulting in satisfied members, whose loyalty builds. For your credit union member, loyalty means member retention, repeat business, and their referrals.Millennials now represent about half of the labor force, and they are particularly attuned to organizational values, the organizational climate, and opportunities for learning and growth. Moreover, they are more likely to vote with their feet when they feel they are not in an environment where their aims, objectives and ambitions are addressed in their conversations with management. Gallup reports that they are more than three times as likely than non-millennials to change jobs. For this group in particular, loyalty and retention arise from their empowerment and autonomy in driving value for the member. Your credit union has the power to sustain a culture that inspires employee engagement and loyalty and harnesses their desire to serve your credit union’s members. High quality member service matters in inspiring member loyalty, and profit and growth are driven by it. Your credit union’s success increases when your most loyal members become “apostles”, committing their business to your credit union and spreading the word of excellent service.last_img read more

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Good timing: Distributed ledgers launch during the pandemic

first_imgA viral pandemic has proven to be the right moment for some forward-leaning credit unions to begin the long-planned rollout of new contactless technology for authenticating members.UNIFY Financial Federal Credit Union($3.2B, Torrance, CA) and Desert Financial Federal Credit Union($5.7B, Phoenix, AZ) are two of the first member-owned cooperatives to begin offering members digital credentials using distributed ledger technology, the blockchain tools that have been in development globally for the past several years.UNIFY and Desert Financial are co-owners of CU Ledger, a credit union service organization, and among the two dozen or so credit unions that are in various stages of deploying MemberPass. That’s the CUSO’s branded distributed ledger system for which approximately 500 digital credentials have been issued so far, all originated on members’ smartphones.The system bypasses the normal know-your-customer regimen of online and telephone challenge questions by allowing the same credentials to be used across all channels where it’s been enabled. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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VACU’s members follow their credit union online for financial education

first_imgVirginia Credit Union($4.3B, Richmond, VA) had to slam the door on in-person classes when COVID-19 came calling, but the Old Dominion cooperative was ready to roll online.Quickly switching to an all-virtual class structure, VACU continued with its already robust lineup of digital offerings, which include topics such as “Strategies for Eliminating Debt”, and added some more timely ones, like “5 Steps to Protect Yourself Financially from the Impact of the Coronavirus”.That particular webinar, in fact, has drawn more than 2,000 viewings. In total, from mid-March to the end of July, 26,346 people have attended one or more of the pre-recorded virtual sessions on a variety of topics, says Cherry Dale, who became the Richmond-based credit union’s first financial education director when she came aboard in August 2007.“We’ve had as little as 10 or 20 people attend a webinar and some that have drawn more than a thousand people,” Dale says. continue reading » 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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How artificial intelligence bots are changing the face of financial services

first_imgDespite all the excitement around innovations in fintech, larger and more traditional financial institutions are typically a little bit slower to adopt due to their complexity and size. Particularly with artificial intelligence, traditional financial services have always been eager to capture its potential but sluggish to fully implement.However, this has changed rapidly due to the onset of COVID-19. In the past few months, there has been over a 200% increase in mobile banking registrations and an 85% increase in mobile banking activity.This is a trend that is unlikely to change soon. In fact, 57% of consumers prefer internet banking in response to COVID-19 and it’s a rate that is likely to increase.The digital shift in consumer behavior has many implications for the financial services industry and it’s opened a new door for innovative fintech solutions to assist with the surge in online banking activity.One trend that is rising in popularity amongst the more innovative financial institutions is the emergence of Artificial Intelligence Virtual Assistants as a method for providing better member support.What Is Driving The Implementation Of AI Virtual Assistants?Member service channels for most financial institutions have become overburdened in the era of COVID-19.This is a critical risk for financial services. It’s a risk because many people are already feeling overwhelmed with financial stress due to a challenging economy and any additional barriers to finding the member support that they need can further exacerbate their anxiety.Fortunately, innovative fintech solutions already exist and the climate is perfect for the rapid implementation of them within the existing framework of most financial institutions. Many of the industry-leading banks and credit unions have already launched AI-powered virtual assistants or chatbots to help provide faster and more reliable member support.Financial institutions need to adapt to consumer behavior otherwise they risk falling behind as a necessary service. This means that they must find new ways to accommodate the surge in online banking activity without any friction to the normal member support experience that has become expected by most of their members.Why Are AI Solutions More Appealing Than Hiring More Member Service Representatives?People-power is incredible and it always takes dedicated and creative humans to overcome major challenges.Of course, there is an inherent challenge to scale when you are entirely reliant on people, instead of technology, to expand the capacity of a team. Furthermore, redundant tasks that are repetitively completed by people over and over is a waste of human potential.If member service channels are overloaded, then a natural response might be to simply hire more member service representatives. In a more traditional environment, this might have been the right path towards a member support solution.However, reality is demonstrating that this is not a blip in consumer behavior, but rather an evolution of consumer trends, which requires modern solutions in order for financial institutions to truly adapt with the increased demand to interact virtually with members.AI virtual assistants and AI chatbots are a strong member service solution and they provide many advantages to financial institutions such as:Flexibility to adapt to member support demand without hiring or firing staffFaster and more reliable member supportEliminates redundant or repetitive member support tasks from workflowsImproved data collection and reportingWhat About The Personal Touch Of Member Support?One of the major concerns against implementing AI virtual assistants or chatbots is that there will be a painfully obvious lack of the personalization that a human member support representative can typically provide.While this is a valid concern, particularly amongst credit unions where members expect a certain degree of personal support for their accounts, it is also an underestimate of the capabilities of artificial intelligence.Artificial intelligence solutions can actually help streamline personalized support in two ways:AI virtual assistants are capable of providing a personalized experience for standard transactions and member support queries.AI virtual assistants can identify more complex requests and connect members to support more efficiently.Admittedly, the youngest versions of these tools can be clunky or respond to queries in a way that seems inaccurate. However, as machine learning takes hold, AI chatbots can be extremely effective at providing replies to member support requests as it learns to identify patterns and behavioral trends.Furthermore, AI chatbots can act as part of a qualification process and can connect members with member support agents faster and more efficiently by providing background information and data on those members.While AI is not, and may never be, a replacement for human support, it is definitely an extension or tool that enables a higher quality of ongoing member service from real member service representatives. 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Dr. David Tuyo Dr. David L Tuyo II, DBA, MBA serves as the President and CEO of University Credit Union. He is a veteran of the financial services industry where he has served … Web: https://www.ucu.org Detailslast_img read more

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Deciding Whether To Transfer Colleges: Facts, Figures & Other Considerations

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Should I Transfer Colleges? Choosing whether or not to transfer is a decision many students ponder, but can be easier to make if they consider certain facts and statistics. It’s that time of the year—temperatures have risen, spring semester has ended, and college students are considering whether they should transfer schools. With fall admission application deadlines fast approaching, countless college students are contemplating the idea of leaving their current institution to attend another that better suits their needs. Yet, a significant portion of those students may not be quite ready to click “send” on their applications. A Little HesitationReasons abound as to why students may be hesitant to transfer. Some students interpret their dissatisfaction with their current school choice as failure or defeat. Others may hesitate because they anticipate social isolation in an unfamiliar college or university. Students who enrolled in colleges away from where they grew up may miss their family and friends. They may miss the good home cooking. They may simply yearn for all the familiar pleasantries and creature comforts associated with transferring home. Not only are transfer students anything but failures, they are also not alone. Every semester, an infinite number of students ask themselves “Should I transfer colleges?” “Do college credits expire?” and “How do I transfer college credits?” While some may conclude it’s best to stay where they are, others decide to take that step forward and search for success elsewhere.Surprise!The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), an organization that informs students who are looking to continue their education after high school, compiled a 2014 State of College Admission Report, which concludes that there are more transfer students than you probably think. (Team Morey includes several transfer students, one whom transferred from Nassau Community College to Hofstra University, utilizing one of its transfer-friendly articulation agreements. What is an articulation agreement? A special arrangement between schools that maximize your transfer credits!). The NACAC cites the National Student Clearinghouse—a nonprofit organization that conducts research on educational trends and patterns—which in a 2015 report found “About one-third of the 2.8 million students who began postsecondary education in Fall 2006 had transferred at least once in the following five years, and almost half (46 percent) of students who completed a four-year degree in 2013-14 had enrolled in a two-year institution at some point in the previous 10 years.” This indicates that in recent years specifically, the number of college transfer students versus non-transfer students is pretty split down the middle. Some students even transfer more than once before they earn their bachelor’s degree.The report also discusses NACAC’s 2013 Admissions Trends Survey, which reveals that 44.4 percent of institutions saw an increase in transfer applicants throughout the past five years and 37.6 percent saw an increase in enrollment. Additionally, the number of students transferring from community colleges, or two-year schools, is about the same as from four-year schools. “Admission Trends Survey respondents reported that, on average, transfer populations on their campuses were roughly evenly divided between students who transferred from community colleges and those who transferred from other four-year institutions,” the report notes. Although transfer students have to adjust to their new surroundings, the NACAC points out that more often than not, transfer students finish their studies and earn their degree—associate or bachelor’s degree—just as other non-transfer students do, specifically when it comes to transferring from community colleges. The report refers back to the National Student Clearinghouse, stating that 60 percent of students who first attended a two-year school and then transferred to a four-year school earned a bachelor’s degree. Some even continued their education, earning advanced degrees, as well. This exemplifies how transfer students can be just as successful as those who do not transfer.Just because some students follow a different path than others doesn’t mean they’re incapable of thriving in college or in their post-college careers. When contemplating transferring colleges, you should decide sooner rather than later, however. It’s also important to weigh some of the related options when making such a decision, such as whether you should live on campus or off campus as a transfer student. Running through a list of other helpful transfer tidbits in a Transfer Student Checklist can also prove beneficial in advising this all-important decision. Beginning your research early can help ensure a smooth, easy transition to the college of your dreams!Morey Publishing specializes in smart, effective inbound marketing strategies and beautiful website design work that will amplify your company’s message and attract new clients. Contact us today!last_img read more

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Good Shepherd Fairview celebrates prom with residents, high school students

first_imgJason Osborne, a local high school student attending the prom with his date, Reagan Stevens, said he was happy to have at something in lieu of prom. With coronavirus-themed music, residents were able to boogie with their loved ones from a distance. With many nursing home residents staying indoors, organizers say hosting events like these with social distancing measures in place brighten the spirits of many residents. “Everyone is struggling right now,” says Director of Therapeutic Recreation Lori Sciamanna. “Trying to find some excitement to keep things upbeat to try to be positive. We also want to recognized what is actually happening outside our walls.” Outside their walls, proms across the Southern Tier have been canceled, so organizers wanted to extend the invitation to local high school students. BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — With many events canceled, Good Shepard Fairview Home wanted to give residents their very own prom celebration. Some students had already bought their outfits before the pandemic started, so they say they were grateful to be able to still have a dance. At the end of the dance, a prom king and queen were crowned. Afterwards, residents reminisced on prom photos.last_img read more

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Town of Chenango Zoning Board to hold public hearing on proposed cell phone tower

first_imgTOWN OF CHENANGO (WBNG) — A meeting will be held by the Town of Chenango Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposed plans for a cellphone tower coming to Brotzman Road. The meeting will be held via Zoom. Click here to join. The meeting ID is: 862 3151 3116 and password: 600374. This is as developing story. Stay with 12 News for more information.center_img According to the town website, Airosmith Inc., the agent for New Cingular Wireless, PCS, LLC, applied for a permit to construct and operate a wireless telecommunications tower at 735 Brotzman Rd., which is located in an agricultural district. last_img read more

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Noah Farrelly Run set to be held virtually

first_imgAll participants who put a picture up on social media with #Noahrun2020 will be entered to win a gift card. Noah’s mother and event organizer, Bridgette Farrelly, told 12 News despite the run being moved virtually, she still expects a fun day. BINGHAMTON (WBNG) – On Sunday, the second annual Noah Farrelly Run will be held virtually due to the coronavirus. The run costs $25, and all proceeds go to the Noah Farrelly Foundation, which reflects all different parts of Noah’s life.center_img The run, which began in 2019, honors the life of Binghamton High School runner, Noah Farrelly, who tragically died in December of 2018. “More of a disappointment opposed to a difficulty in terms of planning, but we just realized that even if we were allowed to host the event that it really wasn’t a safe time,” said Farrelly. last_img read more

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IRS to provide stimulus debit cards for people who threw theirs out

first_imgIn June, Brindisi told 12 News he supported another round of stimulus checks. This comes one week after Brindisi and Katko called on the IRS to take immediate action. (WBNG) — Congressman Anthony Brindisi and Representative John Katko of the 24th District announced Friday the IRS will provide a new card for those who received an economic stimulus debit card but threw it away.center_img Brindisi and Katko say the IRS plans to send letters in July advising these individuals to utilize their card or obtain a free replacement if necessary.last_img read more

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Maine-Endwell CSD staff member tests positive for virus, school year unaffected

first_imgStaff are working remotely. The quarantine for possible infected persons ends Aug. 28. Staff return to the school on Sept. 7 and students start their first day on Sept. 14. However, a spokesperson for the school says the positive case will not affect the beginning of the school year.center_img ENDWELL (WBNG) — A staff member at the Maine-Endwell School District tested positive for the coronavirus, district officials say.last_img

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