Month: December 2020
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Environmentalist groups on Monday filed a complaint with the European Union’s energy watchdog challenging the legality of a power purchase agreement for a planned $1.3 billion coal-fired power plant in Kosovo.Kosovo and London-listed power firm ContourGlobal picked on May 3 a consortium of General Electric subsidiaries to build the 500-megawatt plant, which is designed to meet nearly half of Kosovo’s power demand.The Kosovar government has committed to buying the total output of the plant and the 20-year power purchase contract awaits ratification by the Balkan republic’s parliament.But environmental activists fear the deal would strain the state budget and lead to higher costs for consumers. In the complaint to the Vienna-based Energy Community body, five local and international environmental groups said the deal does not comply with the body’s rules on state aid “because it provides ContourGlobal a range of benefits that give it an unfair advantage over other energy producers”.The groups also said it guaranteed that a state-owned company would buy all the electricity generated by ContourGlobal at a target price of 80 euros ($90) per megawatt hour (MWh) –much higher than current electricity prices in the region.The state would also guarantee an “availability payment” to the company even when the power is not needed, as well as pay ContourGlobal’s network fees, reimburse it for a take-or-pay agreement that it signed with the state-owned lignite mine and provide the land for the plant “for a token fee of 10 euros”.More: Environmentalists file complaint over Kosovo’s coal project Environmentalists look to block latest attempt to build new coal plant in Kosovo
Anglo American Plc getting ready to exit thermal coal market FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Anglo American Plc will get out of thermal-coal mining in the next few years, following larger rivals in exiting the dirtiest fuel as investors ratchet up pressure over climate issues.“We are in a transition and we will end up without material thermal coal,” Anglo Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani said in an interview Monday in Cape Town. “You’re not talking five years; it’ll be earlier than that.”Anglo has spent decades positioning itself as an environmental and social champion, from treatment plans for employees with HIV or tuberculosis, to developing new ways to mine with less water. Yet it risks getting left behind on thermal coal, after Rio Tinto Group sold its last coal mine in 2018 and BHP Group looks at options to exit the business.That would leave Anglo and Glencore Plc as the only two large Western mining companies with thermal coal assets.“We would like to put more clarity around the transition as it goes forward,” Cutifani said. “If it’s done in my tenure, I’ve given my successor a running start.”Most of Anglo’s thermal coal assets are in South Africa and the transition will need to be handled carefully because of the impact it may have on government relations and communities in the country.[Thomas Biesheuvel, Felix Njini]More: Anglo American CEO says he’s getting ready to exit thermal coal
India’s government-owned EESL planning major distributed solar joint venture with Shell FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Technica:After achieving significant success in large-scale solar power projects and solar parks, the Indian government is now looking to expand the decentralized solar power sector as well.According to media reports, the government-owned Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is planning for a joint venture with oil giant Royal Dutch Shell to invest in decentralized solar power plants.Through this joint venture, EESL plans to invest over Rs 40,000 crore (US$5.3 billion) for setting up 5 gigawatts of decentralized solar power across the country. The plants will also have storage facilities and will be set up in rural areas of the country.As per unnamed sources, EESL is in talks with other investors as well for a stake in the venture. The joint venture would invest Rs 8,000 crore (US$1.1 billion) considering the debt to equity ratio of 80:20. The EESL can hold 51% stake in the JV. The company has hired Investec Capital Services to advise on the deal and to provide valuation of the EESL’s projects in coming three months.EESL currently has operational solar projects of 100 megawatts in Maharashtra and another 700 megawatts of projects are in the pipeline. The ultimate aim of the company is to increase the generation capacity to 5 gigawatts with storage.Until now EESL has concentrated on development of electric mobility infrastructure in India. It has issued a number of tenders for the procurement of electric cars for government agencies and ministries. EESL has successfully implemented a nationwide scheme to replace conventional lightning systems with energy-efficient LEDs. The UJALA (light in Hindi) scheme has resulted in over 360 million conventional lightning systems with LEDs leading to US$2.5 billion in financial savings.[Saurabh]More: Shell in talks for distributed solar JV in India
Equinor teams up with JERA, J-Power to develop offshore wind projects in Japan FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Norway’s Equinor ASA is joining forces with utility JERA Co Inc and Electric Power Development Co Ltd, also known as J-Power, to develop a number of offshore wind projects in Japanese waters.The trio announced today that they have created a consortium to jointly evaluate and work towards submitting a bid for projects off Noshiro City, Mitane Town, Oga City and Yurihonjo City in Akita Prefecture. The group plans to bid for these schemes based on the “Act on Promoting the Utilization of Sea Areas for the Development of Marine Renewable Energy Power Generation Facilities.”When it comes to offshore wind power, JERA has gathered experience in Taiwan, while J-Power gained expertise by participating in a demo project off Kita-Kyushu City in Japan and is also taking part in the 857-MW Triton Knoll off the UK coast.Equinor, in turn, has offshore wind positions in the UK, the US North East and in the Baltic Sea. It considers Japan to be “a growth market with high potential for both bottom fixed and floating offshore wind,” the announcement says.[Ivan Shumkov]More: Equinor joins Japanese partners to co-develop wind projects off Akita
My morning on June 11 started with me doing what many might suggest is the “typical” salesman’s dream – playing golf with his customers in Richmond, Virginia. Don’t get me wrong, I love my customers and socializing with them is always time well spent. But when people ask me, “What’s the best thing you’ve done to help your golf game?” My answer is usually, “When I gave it up and started doing triathlons!” You see, I am, and always have been, a runner.I have been a fan of Scott Jurek since reading of his accomplishments in Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run” and Scott’s own book, “Eat and Run”. I had been following his progress on his attempt to break the record for fastest supported Thru-Hike on the Appalachian Trail. I’m also a big fan of the AT, and being able to hike and enjoy the outdoors are two of the main reasons I maintain my fitness. As Scott was gobbling up the miles in Virginia, I watched in admiration as he approached my home town of Roanoke. Here was one of the greatest ultra runners ever, and he was going to be running right through the valley! Even better, he was moving at a pace that I could likely keep up with.My employer offers me a great deal of flexibility which I appreciate, but I unfortunately could not blow off my date with my customers to be a part of Scott’s run through the valley. Much to my dismay, a crowd of 15-20 local runners met Scott at the trailhead the morning of the 11th and accompanied him up the trail to one of the AT’s most recognized views. But not me. I “had” to play golf. I was seriously bummed that I could not join Scott on his run up what I consider my “home course”.I started the drive home the afternoon of the 11th tired from the far-too-many golf strokes I took and the day in the sun. Driving south on I-81, looking east to Apple Orchard Mountain and its unmistakable FAA antenna, it occurred to me that I was going to be driving pretty much RIGHT PAST Scott as he made his way north.I quickly pulled off the road and opened up Facebook and my AT Trail Guide. Scott’s latest post had a picture of him standing on McAfee Knob and a shout out to the local Fleet Feet store for their hospitality. I called Fleet Feet and asked if anyone there had been on the run with Scott, and they gave me confirmation and a last sighting of Scott at US 220 at 2:00 PM. Perfect! I had a location, and a time, and I knew his pace was about 3-4 miles per hour. I was approaching Buchanan, Virginia from the north and he was approaching from the south. Above Buchanan, the AT criss-crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway numerous times before descending into Bearwallow Gap and then heading on to Jennings Creek.I drove up Route 43 to the Parkway and picked the Sharp Top Overlook, knowing I could be there at least an hour before Scott would be there. When I passed through Buchanan, I stopped and filled every water bottle I had in my car with ice, as it was well over 90 degrees, and I thought some ice water would be a welcome treat for anyone on the trail. Getting out of the car and changing from golf shorts to running shorts and shoes, I donned a small day pack filled with ice water bottles and started to head south on the AT.It was hot that day, but the shade of the trees and the lowering sun combined with my adrenaline to make the heat entirely bearable. Let’s also not forget I had a day pack full of icy bottles on my back! I passed several more thru hikers as I progressed, and none of them had seen Scott yet either. I offered each of them some “Trail Magic” by way of some ice or some of the icy water. It’s amazing how easy it is to make someone’s day with such a simple gesture on the trail. Each hiker seemed to be pretty excited about the fact that they were sharing the trail and their hike with someone trying to set the record.Finally, I heard two male voices accompanied by the click-clack of hiking poles striking rocks. The trail straightened out and about 25 yards from me I spotted the man also known as “El Venado” or “Jurker”. His friend Luis Escobar was with him, Scott in front setting the pace. I felt like a kid who had just witnessed Santa Claus exiting the hearth, making his way to the tree! “I found you!” I exclaimed. Scott gave a look that said… “Yep, I’ve been here all day!” I quickly explained that I would have loved to have joined him on the climb up to McAfee that morning, but that I “had” to play golf.“Pretty hot day to be playing golf!” Scott remarked.“Pretty hot day to be running 50-some miles!” I replied. I asked if I could tag along and of course Scott and Luis encouraged me to do so. I fell in line behind them and did my best not to step on the back of Luis’ shoes in my excitement to keep pace. To my delight, the pace we were at was comfortably conversational for me. Scott and Luis were moving diligently on the steeper sections, both up and down, carefully picking their footing and using their trekking poles. But when the trail opened up or flattened out in the slightest, their strides lengthened and the trees began to blur. We discussed one of the challenges of the AT being that it is like most eastern trails, is single track, rocky, and rooty. Many of the western trails are more open, converted from fire roads and above the tree line. Then Luis, who lives in California, chimed in with his description of how the trails there are paved with gold and naked women serve cold micro brews at the top of every climb! No wonder it is so hard to get an entry for the Western States 100! Luis himself had taken a week off work to come run with Scott and was planning to return the California for work the next week and then compete in the Western States race June 27th. I guess spending a week running most of the state of Virginia fit into his taper plan.We traded stories of the trail and I shared my favorite AT story, when I was once asked by a man, “Hey, how far does this trail go?”, to which I just smiled, pointed in one direction and said “Maine,” then pointed in the other direction and said, “Georgia”. It was about that time that we encountered one of the thru-hikers I had passed earlier. Blue Kazoo was her trail name, and Scott couldn’t wait to have her take a picture with him. I honestly don’t know who enjoyed that encounter more, Blue Kazoo or El Venado.The run had me energized. Scott had 40+ miles in for the day at that point and he looked fresh and happy as could be. We approached the Sharp Top overlook and as the road and his support van came into view, Scott let out a “whoop whoop!” to let his crewing wife Jenny know he was approaching. He and Luis stopped long enough to get some fresh water, a little snack, and indulge me in my photo request. It was 8 PM and he still had 9 miles or about 2.5 hours ahead of him before his stopping point for the night.The day started with my disappointment that I was unable to join Scott in his run up to my favorite peak. As it turned out, I was able to run with him and Luis like they were my two best running buddies, talking smack on the trail. Yeah, the Rolling Stones perhaps said it best. “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you’ll find, you get what you need.” Thanks for the opportunity to remember that valuable lesson, Jurker.
Wilderness, with a capital “W,” is the most comprehensive and permanent form of environmental protection available, reserved for only the finest examples of North American forests. For hikers and backpackers, the Wilderness designation serves as a stamp of approval, an indicator that what lies within those federally designated borders is pristine and primal. According to the Wilderness Act, these few remaining forests are places where “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man.” As humans trammel more and more of the planet, Wilderness areas have never been more important—both scientifically and spiritually. They are also some of the most popular destinations for recreation, particularly here in the heavily developed Southeast, where ecosystems of such pristine character are especially rare.♦“Once you call a place Wilderness, it becomes a destination that everyone wants to visit,” says Jim Murray, president of the Virginia Wilderness Coalition, which played an integral role in helping pass the Virginia Ridge and Valley Act. “We all want to go into the woods and find solitude and nature as it was intended.”Wayne Jenkins, executive director of the Georgia Forest Watch, thinks the attraction that we have for Wilderness is in our DNA. “We have this built-in desire for finding solitude and exploring nature at its most primal and rugged edge. You see it played out every weekend in North Georgia. We’re all trying to get away from each other, flooding the highways that lead into the Chattahoochee National Forest.”The Chattahoochee National Forest is home to the Cohutta Wilderness, a victim of the ironic twist that pits so many people in search of such pristine isolation. The Cohutta is one of the most heavily used Wilderness areas in the country. Overuse is such an issue that the U.S. Forest Service banned overnight use near Jacks River Falls, a popular 50-foot waterfall in the heart of the Wilderness.The Cohutta isn’t the only overused Wilderness area in the Southeast. Shining Rock Wilderness in Western North Carolina receives more than its share of hikers, thanks in part to its astonishing scenic beauty. In Virginia, hoards of hikers flock to the Saint Mary’s Wilderness swimming holes, which look more like crowded swimming pools on summer weekends. And the views from atop of the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia have become a must-see destination for the masses.“The only answer to the paradox we’re experiencing is to have enough places designated as Wilderness so that no one place gets overused,” Murray says. “Luckily, there are still plenty of places worth designating.”To help disperse recreation within Southeastern Wilderness areas, use the following guide to find alternatives to the South’s most popular Wilderness hikes. These trails offer similar scenic beauty, unparalleled backcountry experiences, and only a fraction of the crowds.—Jacks River Trail (Georgia)Cohutta Wilderness, Chattahoochee National ForestThis hike follows the pristine Jacks River for 16 miles, forcing hikers to cross the creek a record 40 times. Along the way, you pass Jacks River Falls, a 50-foot waterfall complete with rock jumps, swimming holes, and big crowds. Jacks River is one of the most popular trails in the entire national forest.Iron Mountain Trail (Georgia)Cohutta Ranger District, Chattahoochee National ForestIron Mountain sits just outside the designated borders of the Cohutta Wilderness, towards the Tennessee border, but it traverses terrain similar to what’s found inside the Wilderness with none of the crowds. The irony here is that you’ll actually get more of a backcountry experience by stepping out of the Wilderness onto the Iron Mountain. Along the trail’s four-mile journey, you’ll cross the deep Conasauga River, pass through wildlife clearings, and have expansive views of the Cohutta Mountains from a ridgetop section. Hook it up with the Conasauga River Trail for a 12-mile loop that includes even more river crossings.Jack’s River is famous for the plunge swimmers take over the falls by the same name. You won’t find a waterfall jump to equal the Jacks River Falls on this alternate hike, but most of the river crossings on the Conasauga are near pools deep enough to swim in. And you won’t have to share your swimming hole with the crowds that swarm Jacks River Falls.Appalachian Trail side trip through the Laurel Fork Gorge (Tennessee)Pond Mountain Wilderness, Cherokee National ForestThis short stretch of the old A.T. near Watauga Lake cuts through the heart of the scenic Laurel Fork Gorge leading to Laurel Falls, a 50-foot tall, picturesque waterfall.Grassy Branch Trail (Tennessee)Citico Creek Wilderness, Cherokee National ForestCitico Creek is the largest Wilderness area in Tennesee, stretching 16,226 acres across the southeastern corner of the state where it connects with the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness in North Carolina. The remote Wilderness receives a fraction of the visitors that Pond Mountain receives, so you’ll likely have the Grassy Branch Trail to yourself. Try to count how many times you cross the creek on this 3.2-mile hike. If you’re not too soggy, continue on the South Fork Citico Creek Trail, which follows the creek deeper into the heart of the Wilderness, passing old growth trees and stellar campsites.Still looking for the quintessential waterfall experience that the Laurel Fork Gorge presents? Head over to Falls Branch Falls inside the Citico Creek Wilderness. It’s a picturesque 60-footer that cascades over a slick granite gorge wall. The difficult two-mile hike on Falls Branch Trail keeps most visitors out, so you’re likely to have the falls and the 150 acres of potential old growth hemlocks and tulip poplars to yourself. The Art Loeb Trail (North Carolina)Shining Rock Wilderness, Pisgah National ForestThis 32-mile trail has been the darling of the national magazines during the last few years, and it’s received the bump in users to prove it. Hikers are particularly fond of the short stretch that crosses Black Balsam before dipping into the Wilderness area near the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the top of Black Balsam, you feel as if you can see all of the Southern Appalachians.Green Mountain Trail (North Carolina)Middle Prong Wilderness, Pisgah National ForestThe Middle Prong was designated as Wilderness partly to relieve some of the hiker traffic that neighboring Shining Rock received. It doesn’t seem to have worked. The smaller, slightly more remote Middle Prong is relatively ignored compared to its more famous neighbor. Hike the six-mile Green Mountain trail for a taste of what you’ve been missing. The hike summits Green Knob, a 5,900-footer complete with a grassy ridge and views of Sam’s Knob, Black Balsam, and the rest of the Shining Rock Highlands. The trail is unmarked and faintly traveled so pay attention as you cross the open grassy meadows on your way to the summit. Along the way, you’ll ford creeks, pass seasonal waterfalls, duck through rhodo tunnels, and get stuck in high elevation peat bogs. And from the summit of Green Knob, you might even be able to see all the hikers and cars parked at Black Balsam.Shining Rock Wilderness is famous for its 6,000 footers, but the 5,900-foot Green Knob offers comparable views. Just think, if Green Knob were 100 feet taller, it might receive the hordes of hikers that nearby Black Balsam gets.The Red Creek Trail (West Virginia) runs through the heart of the Dolly Sods Wilderness, an area defined by its rocky plains with big vistas. Hikers get to ford Red Creek twice on this particularly rocky hike which leads you through high elevation forests more indicative of Canadian ecosystems.Canyon Rim Trail (West Virginia)Roaring Plains West WildernessTechnically, this is a user created trail that’s unofficially been adopted into the Roaring Plains West trail system. And it’s a good thing. Canyon Rim follows the edge of a one-mile wide, 2,000-foot deep gorge that runs for three miles in the West Virginia high country. The trail is faint and only marked by rock cairns, which you’ll have to consciously locate as you hike through boulder fields with some of the best views in the Mountain State. You’ll get the grassy meadows with big views, wild spruce shaped by the wind, high elevation bogs, and views all the way to Seneca Rocks.Roaring Plains is one of the newest additions to West Virginia’s Wilderness stock, and officially became protected as Wilderness when Obama signed the Wild Monongahela Act (part of the Omnibus Public Land Bill) on March 30, 2009. It consists of one of the highest plateaus in the Eastern U.S. The Plains is surrounded by popular recreation areas like Seneca Rocks, Spruce Knob, Dolly Sods, and Canaan Valley.Saint Mary’s River Trail (Virginia)Saint Mary’s Wilderness, George Washington National ForestThis short hike close to the Blue Ridge Parkway follows the Saint Mary’s River and its series of waterfalls, most of which come complete with swimming holes. The hike has become a popular escape during the hottest months of summer.Rowland’s Creek Falls and Jerry’s Creek Trail (Virginia)Seng National Scenic Area, Jefferson National ForestWhat’s a National Scenic Area? It’s the compromise that some Wilderness advocates in Virginia have spearheaded in order to bring mountain bikers into the Wilderness fold. The NSA gives an area many of the same protections that Wilderness affords, but allows for mountain biking on select trails. The Seng National Scenic Area will permanently protect 5,192 acres, while allowing mountain bikers to continue to enjoy the 12-mile Rowland’s Creek-Jerry’s Creek loop. As a hiker, you’ll also dig this route, which allows you to rock hop through Jerry’s Creek and scramble to the base of the 50-foot Rowland’s Creek Falls. Jerry’s Creek and Rowland’s Creek may not offer the collection of swimming holes that Saint Mary’s boasts, but the creeks are as pristine as you can find in the Southern Appalachians, and wild brook trout hide in shady corners. Bonus: The loop hike will also take you past 216 acres of possible old growth forest.Old is the new NewThere’s nothing “new” about the chunks of Virginia and West Virginia mountains that were recently designated Wilderness in the Omnibus Public Lands Bill—in fact, the ancient character of the forests contributed to their overall Wilderness qualifications. But the federal designations are new, and there’s something about freshly minted Wilderness that gets hikers excited.“When an area gets a capital ‘W,’ people get excited about exploring some of these places that they never would have heard of unless they were federally protected as Wilderness,” says Mike Costello, executive director of the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition.Here’s a look at the stellar recreation that awaits the intrepid explorer in some of the newly designated Wilderness areas in Virginia and West Virginia.West VirginiaBig Draft Wilderness, Monongahela National Forest (West Virginia)This 5,242-acre tract of forest has been a popular hiking destination for locals of Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs for years. Big Draft sits between the Blue Bend Recreation Area and the Greenbrier River, making it one of the most accessible Wilderness areas in the Mon. Check out the Anthony Creek Trail, which follows the river of the same name for four miles, providing access to the creek’s many swimming holes. Boaters also take note: Anthony Creek provides five miles of class I-III whitewater through the heart of the new Wilderness Area.Spice Run Wilderness, Monongahela National ForestYou want solitude? How about a 7,000-acre chunk of steep forest that requires fording the Greenbrier River to access? The Spice Run is now one of the most remote Wilderness areas in the Monongahela, sandwiched by the Greenbrier River, Calvin Price State Forest, and mountainous private land. There are no designated trails within the new Wilderness, so bushwhacking and orienteering are a must if you want to explore Spice Run.“This is where you go if you want that true, rugged backcountry experience that you can’t always find on designated trails,” says Mike Costello, executive director of the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition.There’s an old dirt road along the ridge that separates the new Wilderness area from Calvin Price State Forest, and another that climbs Slab Camp Mountain, the highest point within the Wilderness. Besides these two un-maintained grades, Spice Run is a blank canvas.Cranberry Wilderness Expansion, Monongahela National ForestRepresenting the largest chunk of new Wilderness to be designated in the Wild Monongahela Act, the Cranberry Expansion adds 12,000 acres to the already sizable Cranberry Wilderness. With the new acreage factored in, the Cranberry is now the third largest Wilderness area east of the Mississippi. The expansion beefs up the Cranberry’s western flank, and is dissected by half a dozen mountain streams. For a trip that runs through the “old” Cranberry and “new” Cranberry, hike the 22-mile North-South Trail, which crosses the Wilderness area on high ridges, connecting the Cranberry and Tea Creek Campgrounds.VirginiaStone Mountain Wilderness, Jefferson National ForestThe 3,270-acre Stone Mountain Wilderness might be small in size, but it pays off big in dividends. This block of the Jefferson is considered to be the “least disturbed tract of forest in Southwest Virginia” by Wilderness researchers and offers a couple of rugged trails and 100 acres of potential old growth oak, maple, and 300-year-old eastern hemlocks. The 14.2-mile Stone Mountain Trail climbs the crest of Stone Mountain largely without the aid of switchbacks. The trail is steep, the footing is rugged, and the views from the ridge top stretch into Kentucky. You’ll also pass massive boulders and vertical cliff faces. If it’s hot, take the side trip to Keokee Lake, a secluded 92-acre lake that sits just outside the Wilderness border.Raccoon Branch Wilderness, Mount Rogers National Recreation AreaDickey Creek is a trout stream running along the southern border of the newly designated Wilderness. The terrain climbs up the slope of the long Dickey Ridge, which peaks at 4,000 feet along a four-mile section of the Appalachian Trail. The area receives the heaviest traffic from A.T. hikers and equestrians using the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail, which runs through the heart of the new Wilderness area. But step off of these two thoroughfares and you’ll get a taste of the solitude Wilderness affords. Check out Dickey Knob Trail, which starts at the confluence of Dickey Creek and Raccoon Branch and climbs 2.5 miles to the 3,649-foot Dickey Knob (former site of a fire tower) which has views of the Rye Valley to the north. And the long forgotten and much overgrown Scott Branch Trail in the southeastern section of the Wilderness probably offers the best chance for solitude. This 1.5-mile trail doesn’t even show up on most maps of the area.
It’s that time of year again, time to celebrate the changing of the seasons by hitting the trails for the annual Blue Ridge Burn trail run. This race is part of a host of events taking place at this year’s Festy Experience.The course for this 5k/10k trail run will begin inside The Festy grounds and will wind through the picturesque rolling hills of Infinity Downs Farm. Registration is $25 and includes a race T-shirt. The race takes place on Saturday, October 7 and all proceeds will benefit the Southern Environmental Law Center. You may register here. Please remember to fill out this form. After the race come visit us on the festival grounds to enjoy the music of The Infamous Stringdusters, Ani DiFranco, the Drive-By Truckers, Elephant Revival, The Travelin’ McCourys and many more!
By Dialogo September 08, 2009 Large crowds also came out for a demonstration in Honduras led by de-facto leader Roberto Micheletti, who took power after a June 28 coup that ousted President Mel Zelaya.This shows what they want. Thousands of people demonstrated against controversial leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in marches held in several countries and organized via Internet by a group of Colombians. The best-attended rallies, in which white-clad demonstrators marched under the banner “No More Chavez,” took place in Colombia, Honduras and Miami and drew several thousand people, while in Caracas a few hundred took part in marches either for or against the Venezuelan leader. Small anti-Chavez demonstrations, none of which attracted more than 200 people, also were held in New York, Madrid, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Panama City, Quito, La Paz, Paris and Berlin. The biggest rally took place in Bogota, where between 8,000 and 10,000 people marched from different parts of the capital to the downtown area. Tensions have arisen recently between Colombia and Venezuela over Bogota’s decision to allow U.S. troops access to several of its military bases and insinuations by President Alvaro Uribe’s government that Chavez has been arming Colombian leftist rebels. Chavez has threatened to cut off imports from Colombia if Bogota does not back out of the basing deal, a significant threat given Colombia’s exports to Venezuela made up a disproportionate share of the nations’ $7 billion worth of trade last year. Chavez – who was briefly ousted in a 2002 coup, which he claims the U.S. government supported – says the base deal represents a threat to his country and could spark a war in the region. Colombia, however, contends Venezuela has nothing to fear and maintains the agreement will bolster the fight against drug trafficking and terrorist activity and is necessary after Ecuador ended a lease allowing U.S. access to a base in that country. Tensions also have surfaced over supposed meddling by Venezuela in Colombian politics ahead of next year’s presidential election, with the Uribe administration filing a complaint in that regard with the Organization of American States. Chavez’s critics see his alleged interference in Colombia as part of a plan to spread communist revolution across the region, pointing to his close ties with Cuba’s leadership to support those claims. They also say he buys the support of poorer countries by providing subsidized oil, while Chavez counters by frequently ridiculing right-leaning leaders in the region as oligarchs who want to keep the poor in their place. Oscar Morales, one of the Colombians who coordinated the rallies via Facebook and Twitter, told Efe Friday’s marches are just the beginning of a campaign in some 30 countries to push back against “the Venezuelan president and his expansionist aims.” Large crowds also came out for a demonstration in Honduras led by de-facto leader Roberto Micheletti, who took power after a June 28 coup that ousted President Mel Zelaya. Zelaya, who turned to the left after taking office in January 2006, was arrested by army soldiers and flown out of the country after his efforts to amend the Honduran constitution upset the political establishment. His opponents say he was influenced by Chavez and wanted to change the charter to stay in power indefinitely, even though any constitutional change couldn’t have occurred until after Zelaya’s term had expired. Chavez thought “that with a little fuel, not his own but that of the Venezuelan people, he was going to buy consciences in our country: he was wrong,” Micheletti said during a demonstration in Tegucigalpa, referring to subsidized oil provided to Caribbean and Central American countries by crude-rich Venezuela. Supporters of Zelaya also held a counter-demonstration in the Honduran capital to demand his reinstatement. In Miami, more than 2,000 Latin Americans marched in spite of the rain to protest “Chavista interference and expansionism in Latin American countries.” Meanwhile, hundreds of Chavez opponents marched peacefully in Caracas for three hours against the socialist head of state and his Bolivarian revolution, while supporters of the Venezuelan leader demonstrated elsewhere in the capital.
By Dialogo January 22, 2010 In an interview published today by the daily O Globo, Brazilian Gen. Floriano Peixoto, commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti, expressed appreciation for the work of US troops in aiding the victims of the January 12 earthquake.” “The United States soldiers act professionally, courteously, and respectfully,” Peixoto declared, thereby countering reports of supposed “rivalries” between Brazil and the United States in the humanitarian work being done in Haiti. The Brazilian general leads the troops of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which has around nine thousand soldiers and police from some thirty countries. In recent days, as part of its aid plan following the earthquake, the United States has deployed around ten thousand soldiers to the Antillean nation and plans to send another four thousand in coming days. According to Peixoto, “this contribution of men for humanitarian aid is beneficial,” and “the roles” of MINUSTAH and of the troops that have joined the rescue and assistance missions “have been clearly defined.” MINUSTAH is responsible “for maintaining security,” and this task continues to be “under the absolute control” of this arm of the UN, affirmed the general, who maintained that the intention of the United States is not “to fight over” space in this terrain. “It needs to be made quite clear that this collaboration (by the United States) is dedicated to humanitarian aid, with enormous respect and cooperation,” he underlined. With regard to the situation in Port-au-Prince ten days after the devastating earthquake, Peixoto said that “it’s improving day by day,” since more and more streets are becoming “passable,” facilitating management of the “enormous amount of aid” arriving in the country. Nevertheless, he admitted that “the demand (for aid) is still much greater than the supply,” and that attempts are underway “to bring in more troops from other countries to increase the distribution capacity.”
By Dialogo July 05, 2011 Retail drug sales promoted by Salvadoran gangs have displaced extortion as the chief cause of the violence and homicides that are plaguing the country, President Mauricio Funes said on 29 June. “We have detected that the chief cause of violence and homicides in our country is what is known as the retail drug trade, that is, the retail sale of drugs, which has now become the chief source of (economic) income for gangs, surpassing extortion,” Funes affirmed at an official event in San Salvador. Funes recalled that up until a few months ago, extortion was the most common way for gangs to obtain money, but he said that since military control of Salvadoran prisons succeeded in “breaking” the chain of command through which illegal collections were ordered, this is no longer the case. “Extortion is no longer the chief source of income for gangs. What constitutes the chief income for gangs at present? Drug sales at the retail level, not in large amounts (…) what is called the retail drug trade,” he emphasized. Due to the change in the situation, the president explained, the gangs have launched a “ruthless war” for territory and control of the drug-distribution business. Violence generated by crime results in an average of twelve homicides a day in El Salvador. According to a 2010 report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), El Salvador has around 10,500 gang members.