Missouri utility plans three solar-plus-storage projects

first_imgMissouri utility plans three solar-plus-storage projects FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享St. Louis Post-Dispatch:Ameren aims to build the three largest investor-owned utility solar installations in the state, the electric utility said Tuesday, unveiling a plan to combine the projects with battery storage technology to improve reliability for local customers.The St. Louis-based electric monopoly announced that it had filed plans for the Solar-Plus-Storage installations with state regulators earlier Tuesday. If approved, the company said it hopes to have the projects — which would cost about $68 million, combined — in operation by the end of 2020.The proposed installations target small, rural communities, including Green City and Utica in northern Missouri, and Richwoods, about an hour southwest of St. Louis. Each of the communities are located on parts of the grid where transmission is vulnerable to prolonged power outages, Ameren officials said.At 10 megawatts apiece, Ameren said the projects would be the largest investor-owned solar facilities in Missouri. Combined, the facilities would be capable of meeting the power demands of roughly 10,000 customers, the company said. Fully charged, the accompanying battery system would be able to power 2,000 to 3,000 homes for about four hours at peak usage — like on a hot summer day, with air conditioners blasting. In less extreme conditions — say, on a day with temperatures in the 70s — the battery power could last for twice as long, said Kevin Anders, Ameren’s vice president of operations and technical services.More: Ameren seeks to add three ‘solar-plus-storage’ facilities in Missourilast_img read more

French Broad Distance Paddle

first_imgFor this week’s post, I wanted to tell you about a special project that I have in the works for this spring.  I’ve been hoping to do this one for a while, and it seems as though the pieces are finally falling into place.In about a month, I will start from the source of the French Broad River in NC, and paddle as fast and as far as I possibly can in 12 hours.  The journey will begin with a team on the steep class V stretches of the North Fork of the French Broad and hopefully Courthouse Creek (with a 40 foot waterfall if water levels and wood conditions permit).  The French Broad will then flatten out and I will paddle the rest of the way solo.  The focus will be to make as many miles as possible as the river winds its way through the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It will be an incredible trip, and I’ll be able to see parts of these mountains that I never have before.  This challenge will need to be tentative since it depends on rain to make the class V sections possible.  My goal is a day in early to mid April.I would love it if you could support this cause!  I have chosen to work with several non-profits that are doing great things.  Feel free to browse through the links below to donate and see why I have chosen each of these organizations:First DescentsAmerican Whitewater (Please enter “French Broad Distance Paddle” in the Additional Comments section)Western North Carolina AllianceIn addition to contributing to a good cause, there will be prizes from Astral Buoyancy, TerraVida and others for donators.  Prizes will be awarded for largest donations, best guess of river miles traveled, and other categories.Thanks so much for supporting organizations that are doing great things in the world, and I will keep you updated as this project develops!last_img read more

Festival Bands to Watch

first_imgThe Futurebirds, um, rock.Sure, seeing your favorite band on the main stage is a blast, but one of the best things about festivals is discovering new music. Look for these four Festival Bands to Watch at regional festivals.The Apache RelayInitially cast as successors in the spreading movement led by the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons, this Nashville outfit has moved beyond acoustic parameters to deliver high-energy indie roots music with a refreshing rock edge. Anchored by the heartfelt songbook of front man Michael Ford, Jr., the band’s tunes accelerate with infectious melodies while swathed in a balance of gritty electric guitar from Mike Harris and grounding comfort from Kellen Wenrich’s fiddle. For a primer, check out the great cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper” from the band’s latest album, American Nomad, an apt title from a group of dedicated road warriors. Appearing at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion. The Devil Makes ThreeThe Devil Makes Three is a California acoustic trio that brings a rowdy punk edge to the primitive traditions of early blues and ragtime. With odes to Jack Daniels and the pure energy of wood and steel, the band chugs through rowdy foot-stomping live shows of jug band music, folk, and rockabilly. The group delivers three-part harmonies through the spirit of the front porch played with the intensity of a rock show—not an easy feat sans drummer. Catch them on the last day of FloydFest.Gary Clark Jr.This fast-rising guitar ace likes to combine the explosive atmospherics of Jimi Hendrix with the soulful touch of Stevie Ray Vaughn. His talent was fostered from a young age amid the widespread musical opportunities of his hometown in Austin, Texas, mainly at the famed nightclub Antone’s. Now he’s traded licks with many of his heroes, including outspoken fan Eric Clapton. Clark Jr., though, isn’t just about guitar dexterity. His major label debut, last year’s Blak and Blu, showcases his soulful vocals and steady R&B grooves just as much as his ax chops. Appearing at the SweetLife Festival.Futurebirds – Featured in this month’s Trail Mix!The next great band to emerge from the storied music scene in Athens, Ga., which, in case you needed a reminder, birthed the likes of R.E.M., Widespread Panic, B-52s, and the Drive-By Truckers. Members of Futurebirds started jamming together as students at the University of Georgia, and in just a few years, they’ve developed a tight blend of country-hued garage rock that offers some of the same hair-raising satisfaction as Crazyhorse and early My Morning Jacket. The sound can be rowdy and charging with electric guitar outbursts but also mellow and ethereal with dripping pedal steel licks that accent the soulful lyrics from a band full of songwriters. The group is currently touring behind a new release, Baba Yaga, opening dates for Band of Horses in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia this month. You can also catch them at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.Check out the rest of our Outdoor Festival Guide!last_img read more

Trauma Tuesday: Avalanche Escape Edition

first_imgTo call this an avalanche “escape” is a bit of a misnomer. This is more of an “almost avalanche escape to tomahawk to being swallowed to being rescued” type of situation. Extreme skier Julien Lopez drops into what appears to be a pretty tame slope…OR IS IT?!?!?Right, so this thing rips right away with an extra wide crown in the three foot range (eyeballing estimate from the video) on Lopez’s first turn. Not sure who was doing the snow report for these guys, but it was wrong, (almost) dead wrong. Lopez does the badass thing and tries to straight-line it, impressively ollieing the foam leading the charge down the mountain. At this point in the video, you’re like, “OMG, no big deal, this guy’s an extreme skier, so he’s probably good at skiing and straight-lining and out running avalanches”….OR IS HE?!?!?!The wall of snow breathing down his neck turned this pro into a gaper pretty quick as he catches an edge and tomahawks. #oppsIn the video commentary, Lopez throws out the term “lucky” a bunch. I’m not sure if the French term for lucky is the same as the English counterpart, but Lopez wasn’t lucky. There is no luck in the mountains, only preparedness and consequences. Obviously, I wasn’t there when this happened, but that slope was fantastically unstable, ripping not once, but twice with only a relatively slight load on it. Being on it was a huge mistake and should have almost cost Lopez his life. He was equipped with an airbag system, but more crucially, with a team on the scene with the knowledge and skills to extract him.This video is compelling yes, but there are lessons to be learned here too. last_img read more

Music in the Mountains

first_imgThe hills are alive with the sound of music—now more than ever. As we look back on our past two decades, let us acknowledge the seismic shift in an industry that has left fans of live music with more options than ever. For musicians, the dream of getting a record deal is no longer relevant, as sales, sadly for the art form, of recorded music have steadily dwindled. In 1995, the year BRO was first published, the best-selling album of the year was Hootie and the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View, which moved more than 10 million units. In 2013 the top seller was Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience at just under 2.5 million.It’s no secret that the change in the sonic landscape is due to a digital revolution. From streaming services to 99-cent singles, people don’t pay as much, if anything, for recorded tunes. That leaves artists with one main option—hit the road. While they can use the same Internet accessibility to spread their sounds, a living ultimately has to come from ticket sales—ironically, music in its most analog form. As a result, we’re never short on shows in the South. Just look at the continuously increasing number of festivals or the full schedules of the Orange Peel in Asheville, the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, or the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville—all old facilities that, in this century, were renovated and repurposed as rock clubs. That goes too for smaller spots, like venerable singer-songwriter haunt Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta or the Purple Fiddle, a tiny general store that hosts bluegrass shows in West Virginia. Scrappy musicians are hitting venues like this on a nightly basis, working harder than ever to impress new fans.The independent spirit of this ethic encapsulates why BRO added music to our growing coverage of mountain culture back in 2004. Appalachia’s musical roots are steeped in the tradition of sharing songs through spontaneous performance and front-porch authenticity. That continues to happen today at old standbys like the Carter Family Fold and new rooms such as Chattanooga’s Track 29, and from the living legends to the indie upstarts, we’ll continue to highlight the musical faces filling these places with sound.MUSIC NOTESREFLECTING ON SONIC TRENDSRalph Rambles OnRalph Stanley just turned 88, but retirement doesn’t seem to be in his plans. The bluegrass icon, who first made an impact with his late brother Carter in the Stanley Brothers back in the mid 1940s, still tours with his grandson Nathan and his longstanding Clinch Mountain Boys. He’s also getting set to host the 45th running of his Memorial Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival at his old home place in southwest Virginia. It’s impressive longevity from a man who can still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when his haunting tenor sings signatures like “O Death.”Festival ExplosionIn 2002, the first Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival took place in Manchester, Tenn., drawing 60,000 music fans to a dusty 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn., for what was then primarily a jam-band gala. The event has proven to be a game changer in the music business. While historically not the first of its kind, the festival sparked a revival, taking a risk and proving that music fans were willing to spend big bucks on one-stop multi-band galas. In the years since, festivals across the country have been multiplying like Gremlins. Counterpoint, Shaky Knees, and Lockn’ are just a few that have popped up in the South in the last few years and attendance has swelled exponentially at some of our old favorites like FloydFest and the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.Bands aren’t complaining. These festivals typically mean a big showcase to make new fans and a bigger payday than club gigs. But many are starting to speculate that the crowded festival landscape is an expanding bubble that’s ready to burst. For now, we’ll just enjoy all of the options.The Ascent of Steep CanyonThe Steep Canyon Rangers are one of the region’s hardest-working bands, bustling around the region for the past decade and a half with a ripping bluegrass sound that respects traditions yet incorporates a progressive edge. In 2008 the Rangers were joined by a surprise guest at their own Mountain Song Festival in Brevard, N.C.—actor, comedian, and skilled banjo picker Steve Martin. Soon after, the comedy legend started devoting more time to his music. He’s released four albums (three studio, one live) since 2009 and toured extensively using the Rangers as his steadfast backing band for shows that integrate fast picking and plenty of humor. The exposure has helped Steep Canyon move into bigger venues—a well-deserved break for one of the Blue Ridge’s best bands.Avett ManiaThe Avett Brothers first caught our attention back in 2005, during an at-first unassuming set at Merlefest on the tiny Cabin Stage. It wasn’t difficult to realize the band was on the cusp of bigger things—even if the formula seemed relatively simple. Then touring as the original trio, the group looked like a typical young three-piece bluegrass outfit, armed with banjo, upright bass, and acoustic guitar. The sound was immediately intriguing—a unique meeting of Doc Watson’s front-porch sincerity, Beatles-esque attention to melody, and the accelerated grit of Faith No More. But the visceral connection came from the powerful singing, as brothers Scott and Seth Avett delivered honest lyrics through ragged harmonies, fully entwined by familial bonds.The secret didn’t last long; venue size grew rapidly and the North Carolina band now plays arenas in its native Southeast. From Mumford and Sons to the seemingly endless number of small indie-folk bands, more and more banjos are falling into the hands of young rockers. While this may be just a trend, the Avett Brothers—touring as an evolved seven-piece band to fit the bigger stages—have become a regional institution. They bring a piece of Appalachia to the rest of the world and always come home to play Merlefest, where they will headline this April.Roots That SplinteredMusicians often say being in a band is like being in a forced marriage, which inevitably makes it tough to stay together. Many favorite bands from the past decade-plus have parted ways with key or founding members. Gone for good? Powerful vocal duo the Civil Wars. But fortunately, in many cases band splits have resulted in even more good music being made. Jason Isbell left the Drive-By Truckers back in 2007, and while his old band still rolls on, the solo tunesmith has found even greater success. Old Crow Medicine Show split with founding member Willie Watson, but last year both the band and now-solo folk singer released exceptional albums. It’s also hard not to miss the original line-up of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, now down to one original member. The latest to leave, Dom Flemons, released a broad reaching folk album last year that is also definitely worth a listen.STRAIGHT TALKMEMORABLE QUOTES FROM INTERVIEWS WITH ROOTS MUSIC ICONS“We didn’t grow up with bluegrass or any one particular rootsy kind of music. We found that throughout our journey. As long as we’re progressing and changing, we’ll stay alive and breathe well. The word acoustic has a huge power with a new movement that includes us and a number of other bands. We want to respect that and cherish that without being stuck with limitations.” –Scott Avett of the Avett Brothers, May 2008“The first time (late guitarist) Mike (Houser) and I were playing together, we realized something special and different was going on. That has to be the pinnacle moment, because it led to everything that has come since. Playing venues like Red Rocks and the streets of Athens were really big things, but they happened because of bigger things like knowing we were a band that needed to stay together.” –Widespread Panic frontman John Bell, reflecting on his band’s 25th anniversary, September 2011“I like the quietness of being out in the country. It’s peaceful and the air is cleaner. The only shame is the spray they use at the Christmas tree farms. It seeps down into the earth and gets in the water table. You need to have a well that goes below the water table.” –the late Doc Watson talking about his long-time Deep Gap home in the North Carolina High Country, April 2009“I’m lucky that so far certain songs resonate with people. All we have to go by is what pleases us, what we feel, and what rings true to us. In some ways our lives might be different than those that listen to our music; we probably spend more time away from our families than most people, but everyone knows what it means to be homesick. People aren’t all that different. It isn’t like we are the Rolling Stones, living some extravagant lifestyle. We all come from working class roots.” –Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, May 2008“My mandolin has become a new body part for me. I cannot live without it.”–Chris Thile, December 2006“I really enjoy country and rock ‘n’ roll and everything in between. I would attempt hip-hop, but it wouldn’t be any good. I’ve never thought about my own identity. I’m just out here trying to write songs that don’t suck.”–Jason Isbell, August 2011I love challenge, and I love the banjo. And I love the musicians I get to play with. It’s a lot of work to play so much different music, but it’s very satisfying.I know how lucky I am to get to spend my life doing this, and I never take it for granted.” –Bela Fleck, January 2014BRO_Cover_0508_sm BRO_Cover_0512_smlast_img read more

Pizza+Hiking: A Match Made in Adventure Foodie Heaven

first_imgAfter a long hike, there is nothing better than eating your arm’s weight in pizza. Ben and I usually talk about pizza the entire hike, planning toppings and pairings. It’s extremely zen, walking through beautiful landscapes talking about banana peppers. Below we will present to you four Pizza+Hiking pairs you MUST try. It will be worth it, we pepperoni promise.1. Top Pizza Dog, Top Views Right Outta TownPizza: Brown Dog Pizza, Telluride, ColoradoHike: Via FerrataThis pizza and this ‘hike’ are a pair that should be at the top of your bucket list (I say ‘hike’ because you will have to use special climbing equipment to complete it safely, but, I digress). Even if you only do the hike once, allow yourself to go back to the pizza place every day you visit Telluride.PIZZA: Brown Dog Pizza is a Telluride staple. Pick from a crazy selection of combinations, but we HIGHLY suggest the Detroit Style Brooklyn Bridge that has won international pizza competitions. In fact, multiple pizzas have won awards off this menu- take your pick and dive in.HIKE: The Telluride Via Ferrata is an incredible journey.  A Via Ferrata (or road of iron) is a protected climbing route that involves clipping into a steel cable and using metal rungs to keep you safe while climbing 1000 feet above the canyon floor. It is scary, and beautiful, and earns you the right to eat an entire pizza from Brown Dog.PS- Brown Dog HAS INCREDIBLE GLUTEN FREE CRUST. I haven’t found better in all our journies across the country. TREAT YO’SELF.2. Pie, Pint, Climb, RepeatPizza: Pie’s & Pints, Fayetteville, West VirginiaHike: Endless Wall TrailPIZZA: When the menu leaves you starring in foodie shock because there is no way to pick just one pie, you know you’ve landed on something good. We chatted with our waiter for WAY longer than is polite about which specialty pizza to order. We ended up ordering two because we couldn’t decide. If I had to make one suggestion, try the Mushroom Garlic, a savory melty pizza that will replace any calories lost while hiking.HIKE: Endless Wall trail skirts along some of the most incredible climbing in the world. It zigs and then zigs along the cliff edge and gifts beautiful views the entire way. It’s only 2.4 miles long, so bring your climbing equipment and tag a few routes on the way.3. Wild Flowers and Wild FloursPizza: Secret Stash, Crested Butte, ColoradoHike: Rustler’s GultchPIZZA: Secret Stash is a staple on the Main street of the adorable town of Crested Butte, Colorado. With quirky decorations, a bathroom nicer than the one in your house, and awards across the board, this place is a joy to visit. Oh, DID I MENTION THE PIZZA IS INCREDIBLE? Order the Buddha’s Belly for a creative twist on thai pizza (it has coconut curry on it!). Do yourself a favor and order the crack fries plus extra dipping sauce as an appetizer. You’ll have the perfect potato base for the unique pizza to land on.HIKE: Do you ever go on those hikes that make you feel small in all the right ways? Rustler’s Gultch throws you for a loop as you journey farther into the looming mountains around Crested Butte and into a basin that is clearly home to mythical creatures. There are plenty of deep creek crossings so bring some sandals to keep your boots dry.  Also keep an eye on the weather, up at that elevation it can change with no warning. About four miles in find the basin, a waterfall, and isolated beauty.4. Honorable Mention: Rolling Pizza Hills + TrailsPizza: Mountain State Brewing Co., Deep Creek Lake, MarylandHike: Coopers Rock State ForestPIZZA: This pizza isn’t just called pizza, it’s designated as ‘flatbread’ with dough made in-house and cooked in a wood fire hearth. Try out the ‘Beetza’ here that includes beets, goat cheese and a balsamic glaze for an interesting pizza experience. May I also suggest the Meetza? Just kidding, it’s called the Meatlover, but it starts with a BBQ sauce base and couldn’t be more delicious.HIKE: Pick your adventure at Coopers Rock. It’s a hidden gem just over the state line and has great trails for hiking, biking, and viewing the sights from the top of a big ol’ hunk of stone. The state park runs plenty of events, so be sure to check the calendar and stop by for the hearth cooking demo (hint: make your own pizza and throw it on there).Now please, enjoy this haiku inspired by this blog post.If you like the gear we’re reppin’, or what we’re wearing, check out some of the sponsors that make this tour possible: La Sportiva, Crazy Creek, National Geographic, RovR Products, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, LifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine.last_img read more

The BRO Guide To FloydFest’s Outdoor Side

first_imgLocated near to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Patrick County, Virginia, FloydFest has become a constant on the calendars of outdoor lovers and festival-goers from across the region.Every year, FloydFest features a mind-blowing lineup of musicians in one of the most picture-perfect Blue Ridge Mountain settings. Musical amazingness aside, FloydFest takes full advantage of its surroundings and beautiful property, offering a wide range of outdoor activities to attendees. As an outdoors magazine, that is music to our ears (pun intended).When you need a break from the stage, the festival offers hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, slacklining, running, yoga, and even an 18-hole disc golf course. It’s the perfect festival for the outdoor recreation and music lover. With so much to do, see, and hear, it’s a good thing you have 5 days to soak it all in.Start At The Outdoor Adventure TentLocated in the main field, the Outdoor Adventure Tent is your hub for everything outdoors at FloydFest. From guided hikes and bike rides to free adventures and giveaways, start here before you go outside and play. The tent also features various outdoor brands and retailers offering sales and interactive demos with gear.FloydFest 5k Run / Photo: Roger GuptaHike, Bike, And Run The Moonstomper TrailThis hippy highway meanders through the forest on the outskirts of the property. Here you’ll find hikers, bikers, ENO Hammock hangers, and everything in between. The Moonstomper connects the village, various campsites, stages, and greenways together. Your favorite disc golf company, Innova, sponsors the 18-hole course along the trail as well. Check out the festival’s site map to plan your route.The Moonstomper will play host to the Back Country Ski & Sport 5k Trail Running Race. This is a free event to enter and features prizes for the top runners in each category. The race is at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 29 with a runners meeting 15 minutes before. Participants can sign up any time at the Outdoor Adventure Tent.Look for this van at FloydFestHike With The Get Out More TourThe Backpacker Get Out More Tour is offering several hikes near FloydFest this year. Hikers can take on three different hikes that range from 1-11 miles and vary in difficulty. All of the hikes start at Rocky Knob Picnic Area. New for this year is a sunrise hike at Buffalo Mountain on Friday morning. A short but steep 11.5-mile hike that offers incredible views at 3,971 feet in elevation. On a clear day, you can easily see Pilot Mountain in North Carolina. Don’t forget to bring your headlamp.Belcher Mountain Beatdown / Photo: Paul SullivanThe Merry Moonstompers’ Famous Belcher Mountain BeatdownA guided mountain bike ride, the Belcher Mountain Beatdown takes you along a 19-mile route with 1600′ of climbing and 3400′ of descending. Wait, how am I descending so much with so little climbing? At the end of your ride, there will be a catered lunch and shuttle waiting to bring you back to the festival. I think we can all appreciate a lengthy descent without a ton of suffering beforehand. This ride is on Saturday only and starts at 9:30 a.m. It is limited to 20 riders, so get to the Outdoor Adventure Tent asap if you want to sign up. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your helmet!Photo: On The WaterFloat or Paddle Down The Little RiverFloydFest has teamed up with On The Water, providing daily float trips down the Little River in Floyd County. You can choose from a tube, kayak, or canoe to drift down an undeveloped stretch with small whitewater. The float trips are suitable for all ages and last about 2.5 to 3 hours. Your tickets include a fully catered lunch and are purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis.Photo: Roger GuptaAnd Of Course, Check Out Some Bands!While FloydFest may well be one of the more progressive festivals when it comes to outdoor recreation, the music is what it’s all about! Featuring eight different stages across the property, there are over 80 bands playing throughout the weekend. Mainstream acts include the likes of Foster The People, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jason Isbell, Langhorne Slim, Tyler Childers, Gov’t Mule, and Keller Williams to name a few.Oh, did we mention that we will be there? Be sure to swing by the Blue Ridge Outdoors tent, grab the latest issue of the mag, and enter to win some free swag!Justin Forrest is an outdoor writer, fly fishing addict, and co-founder of Narrative North—based in Asheville, N.C. He posts pictures of cats and fishing on Instagram sometimes.last_img read more

Uruguay Seizes 173 Kilos of Cocaine

first_img The drugs “were hidden under the false bottom of a light truck that was inside the container.” By Dialogo April 10, 2012 Around 173 kilos of cocaine hidden in a shipping container destined for Europe were seized at the port of Montevideo, the Uruguayan Interior Ministry announced on 7 April. Gil explained that, at the time of the seizure, an arrest warrant was also issued for a Spanish citizen who after “dispatching the container in Montevideo, travelled to Spain, where he was arrested” in the last few hours, Gil explained. “The seizure took place at the port of Montevideo following court-authorized proceedings that culminated in the confiscation of approximately 173 kilos of cocaine,” Fernando Gil, in charge of the ministry’s communications unit, told AFP. The drugs seized are estimated to have a market value of over 4 million Euros, according to police.last_img read more

UN Unveils New Tool to Fight Organized Crime

first_img The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) unveiled on October 16 a new tool in the fight against organized crime, the result of a joint effort with the Italian and Colombian governments and global policing body Interpol. UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov and Italian Interior Minister Annamaria Cancelleri introduced the tool, a digest of more than 200 case analyses and knowledge from more than 50 experts that countries can use to understand different crime-fighting experiences and integrate them into their own strategies. Fedotov said the digest was much needed, given the multi-faceted nature of organized crime. “Organized crime groups engage in many different criminal activities and markets. Drug trafficking is one prominent example; others include trafficking in persons and cultural property, extortion, cybercrime and piracy,” Fedotov said during the presentation. “To effectively combat organized crime, countries must dismantle the criminal organization as a whole, bring the ringleaders to justice, deprive them of their illegal profits and prevent them from laundering money,” he added. The tool’s presentation took place on the sidelines of a week-long UN crime conference attended by some 800 ministers and civil society representatives. By Dialogo October 18, 2012last_img read more

International security, intelligence leaders share ideals, enrich partnerships

first_imgBy Dialogo September 12, 2014 Military and civilian representatives from 30 countries around the world attended the 6th annual Hemispheric Security and Intelligence Forum (FISH) Aug. 17 – 20 here. The purpose of the forum was to share experiences and ideals regarding security and intelligence, while continuing to building stronger partnerships among attending nations. “The number one objective with FISH is that the attendees build relationships among each other,” said David Shedd, the U.S. Defense Intelligence acting director. “That will hopefully lead them to a proclivity to share more information among themselves and define solutions for some of these very difficult problems we have that are by their very nature transnational. A fusion of intelligence leads to a better outcome than each element of their intelligence community—if they have one—going it alone.” The ability to share information and have strong relationships is critical for Americans operating in Central and South America, especially when, according to U.N. statistics, two of the most violent countries on the planet are in that area of operations: Honduras and Guatemala. Forums like these put faces to names for military leaders when they need to get the job done in an emergency. “In our business, every second counts.” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Geary, U.S. Southern Command’s Director of Intelligence. “Our conference has focused on intelligence and security across the region, and our continuing efforts to share information as we expand and build new partnerships.” “The security challenges we’re facing are not limited to a country’s border, especially when we consider the Transnational Criminal Organizations that are fueling corruption, eroding good governance, and deteriorating regional security. The threat is here; it is real; and it is vitally important for us to share information and know who to call because our partners are critical to our shared efforts at countering these serious security issues.” Beyond operational assistance, there are grander reasons for the United States to strengthen the bonds with its southern partners. While eyes continue to look to the crisis in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, many Americans have overlooked actions taking place within the Western Hemisphere. “We owe it to ourselves to invest in Mexico, Central America and South America,” said Shedd, who served at U.S. embassies in Costa Rica and Mexico in the 80s and 90s. “Why? Among other reasons, they’re our neighbors. It’s what we need to do in terms of our own national security. But even more importantly, it’s to help raise the standard of living and to help improve the way of living for those countries.” Otherwise, if we don’t help them, other counties with nefarious intentions may see this void, take advantage of a dire situation and move in, Shedd said. “So, the whole relationship with our Latin American partners is critical, not just for the United States, but also for these countries,” Shedd added. Meanwhile, there continues to be progress in region as evidenced by the host of this year’s forum: Colombia. Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón was among those in attendance. “My country is very proud of how far it has come, Pinzon, said adding, “We have made great strides in combating the drug trade and human rights violations.” “With diplomacy, of course … it’s necessary to pursue collaboration.” said Juan Carlos Pinzón, the Colombian Minister of Defense. He added:“(However,) It’s necessary, for the groups (against Colombia) to be confronted with all that the state has available.” The successes of countries like Colombia give Shedd hope for the future of the region. He hopes that with forums like this, the United States can continue to help build the partner relationships of the nations at this forum, and to help encourage others to build a better future for themselves. “Colombia is a real bright spot. The success here speaks to the necessity of the United States to invest for the long term and not back away,” Shedd said, adding, “But Colombia is not over the finish line yet and we should not pull out too soon. Chile is an enormous success story, and Peru is also doing some great things. I think the success of information sharing in Brazil for counterterrorism at the World Cup was outstanding. I think we have to see how Venezuela and Bolivia and Ecuador will come out, but I’m very pleased with the direction this region is headed.” The progress made by the Colombian intelligence service is threatened by the politicization of Colombia’s armed forces and police. We are on the brink of suffering setbacks to this progress which is important to national security and even hemispheric security. It would be interesting for you to go in depth regarding the national intelligence project in Uruguay, which will become law, and it includes national defense and national security. It is a broad law which looks at every possible area of attention regarding intelligence, above all everything concerning borders and human trafficking and drugs. A collaboration with bordering countries would be important, and establishing a regional intelligence program, most of all because of the threat of terrorism in the U.S., which could spread throughout the South American region. Personnel has to be trained, which would come to be through regional agreements. Interesting forum. As of now, the conflict in Colombia has become a kind of cancer throughout the region, threatening peace, security and regional stability, illegal insurgent groups, counter-insurgent paramilitary groups, and in many cases, state groups have turned the conflict into a kind of corporation for their own dealings and interests, ok Within the framework of the Colombian conflict, the government hasn’t negotiated a peace treaty, nor has it put an end to those illegal groups, whether they are paramilitary or guerilla. The conflict spilled over the borders years ago, the international community needs to press for an arrangement or intervene and put an end to that cancer, drugs, another global threat that comes from there The countries of the Security Council along with Canada, Mexico and Brazil, should come up with a joint strategy to begin to strongly counter that threat called Colombian armed conflict, weapons embargo, aero-naval blockade, bring in AWAC systems, drones, smart weapons, submarines and ships selective targets, rapid deployment forces The paramilitary groups are just as murderous as the guerrilla, state groups also associated with transnational groups, the Colombian government administrations have done very little to eradicate poverty, out of control population growth, damage to the environment, etc. Capital flight, brain drain, anyway, a breeding ground for armed groupslast_img read more