FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sightline Institute:In his continuing bid to earn his country the title of most corrupt petro-state, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau just committed his government—or, rather, all of the country’s citizens—to a Can$4.5 billion bailout for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.Trudeau’s government has agreed to buy the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline, along with associated assets, from the current owner, a subsidiary of Houston-based Kinder Morgan, Inc. And despite fierce opposition from the provincial government of British Columbia, First Nations groups, local municipalities, environmental activists, government watchdogs, and any sensible person concerned about the integrity of the Salish Sea, Trudeau plans to move forward with building a second pipeline that would nearly triple flows of heavy tar sands oil to the BC coast.The big winner in all this is Houston’s richest billionaire, Richard Kinder—the executive chairman of Kinder Morgan, a multinational pipeline giant that rose from the ashes of Enron and succeeded in playing the Canadian government like a fiddle throughout the years-long Trans Mountain saga.The losers? Well, just about everyone else, especially the First Nations whose homelands and waters will be threatened by an unwanted pipeline.Financially, the Trans Mountain expansion was always a high-risk endeavor that struggled to attract investors. In the fall of 2016, Kinder Morgan, Inc. signaled that it was looking for joint-venture partners to share costs and risks, and the company continued to look for joint-venture partners through the following spring. Finding no takers, the company announced that it would raise equity through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) by bundling its Canadian assets, along with the Puget Sound Pipeline in Washington, into a shell company.More: Canadian Government Bails Out Houston Billionaire On the Blogs: Houston-Based Kinder Morgan Gets a Canadian Bailout
Los Angeles utility, developer sign record-low contract for solar-plus-storage project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Technica:When Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced his city’s Green New Deal in April — a plan that will accelerate its zero emissions and renewable energy goals — his words were welcomed by the Sierra Club and other climate activists. Now the city’s Department of Water and Power has presented a proposal that will help turn those words into reality.If approved, the city will enter into a 25-year power purchase agreement for 400 MW AC/530 MW DC of solar electricity at a price of 1.997 cents per kWh — the lowest price yet for solar power in the US. Adding a 100 MW/200 MWh battery will cost an additional 1.3 cents per kWh. The project includes the option to add 50 MW/200 MWh of energy storage for 0.665 cents per kWh more.The project, known as the Eland Solar & Storage Center, will be built in two 200 MW AC phases in Kern County north of the city and proud home of beautiful downtown Bakersfield. In the second phase, the size of the battery storage component may double. In an e-mail to PV Magazine, 8minute Solar says there is no price escalator clause that applies to the second phase of the project.The battery storage can be used to meet the late afternoon, early evening surge in energy demand that occurs on a daily basis. There is a possibility it may also be used to meet some of the early morning increase in demand. Using stored electricity means there is no need to ramp up gas fired peaker plants, which is good news for the environment.Representatives of LA Water and Power say they are drawing up plans for 7 other solar power plants to help meet the city’s needs for electricity in coming years. Construction of the first phase of the project is expected to begin in 2022 with a completion date set for the last day of 2023. When it is brought online, it is expected to supply 5% of the city’s renewable energy needs. More: Los Angeles & 8minute Solar announce 25-year PPA at under 2 cents per kWh!
Holly Golightly premieres the video for “Slowtown” this week on Trail Mix!I have been lucky, over the last few years, to have featured a few songs from Holly Golightly here on Trail Mix.True confession. The first of those tracks, a little ditty called “Goddamn Holy Roll,” had me hoping my mom – and my minister – weren’t paying attention to Trail Mix that month.Since running that first track, I have become a fan of both Holly Golightly’s solo work and the recordings she has done with her band, The Brokeoffs.Today, Holly releases her first full band solo record in a decade, Slowtown Now, a full on rock and roll record that represents a departure from the folksier recordings she has made since relocating to Georgia from her native England.Holly Golightly fans should stay tuned, as she will also be releasing another record with The Brokeoffs in October.I was happy to be able to feature “Seven Wonders” this month. Today, I am excited to offer up the video premiere for “Slowtown” on the Trail Mix blog.
In Virginia, swaths of forest hundreds of miles long are being clearcut for pipeline corridors, drawing protests from Virginians across the political spectrum. Pipeline construction crews are bulldozing a path across Jefferson National Forest and blasting under the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail.Could similar pipelines be routed through North Carolina’s Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest in the coming years? The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest is finalizing a 30-year forest plan this winter. No pipeline restrictions currently exist in the forest plan.I HEART PISGAH—a coalition of over 100 organizations and thousands of individuals—is hoping to change that. They and other outdoor groups are encouraging the U.S. Forest Service to prohibit pipelines and other rights of way from passing through the Pisgah-Nantahala.“We are seeing the damage and destruction caused by pipelines in the Jefferson National Forest,” says Hannah Furgiuele, organizer for I HEART PISGAH. “We want to make sure the Pisgah-Nantahala avoids a similar fate. The Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Plan is our best opportunity to prevent pipelines from bulldozing through our Blue Ridge backyards.”Already, a gas pipeline has been proposed to run through Pisgah National Forest from the Duke power plant in Asheville to Canton. Other gas and infrastructure rights-of-way through the Pisgah-Nanthala may also be proposed over the 30-year lifespan of the forest plan.
When she told me this, it lined up with my previous research about our increasing time spent in front of screens, living our lives indoors, and forgetting our connection to the earth. Truth be told, much of my research left me depressed and anxious about the future. But Schuyler reminded me that fear solves nothing. What is play exactly, and how do we get it back? Photo by: Sarah Vogel Schuyler sees the disconnection most people have from nature and the anxieties internalized in a frightening world. Even the bus ride to Wildrock is ecotherapy, she says. “There are adults from the city who don’t know what a mountain stream looks like. Some kids have never seen a cow, and I even had a child ask me if the grass was real.” The world is a scary place, news anchors tell us — because scary sells. I interned one summer for the local Fox station in Philly (please forgive me for my sins), where I spent hours calling dozens of hospitals during a heat wave to find someone who had died of heat stroke. Hurrah, cheered the news room when I finally found one. We were the first to report on this horrible “epidemic.” The news cycle is shorter than ever with clips cut to the most inflammatory nine-second sound bite possible. Because that’s as much attention the average viewer has to spare. Nuance can’t exist in nine seconds. Only fear, death, and violence splashed in bold, bright red. Hobbit House at WildrockPhoto credit: Sarah Vogel In the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains, spring is full of new life. Winding, backcountry roads give a glimpse of calves and foals frolicking in the morning dew, unsteady kittens stalking leaves in the wind, baby foxes tussling with their siblings. They play. It’s not necessary to wait until catastrophic failure before taking action. Take it from me and my old Chevy — that strategy is more expensive and harder to fix. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But it’s easy to forget that what applies to your car and your physical health also applies to mental health, especially when there isn’t a clear answer to the question: What is the psychological apple-a-day? Seligman wanted to shift focus from the failures of the human psyche instead to its triumphs. In spite of adversity, the human-animal has proven time and time again it can still thrive. Now he wanted to know how and why, thus beginning the scientific field of “positive psychology,” the study of what makes for a good life. And isn’t that what it’s really all about? If we want to get serious about the mental wellbeing of our country, it starts with children. Remembering that childlike sense of wonder feeds something that many of us have neglected. Perhaps because play seems frivolous, and perhaps because it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But if we spend every waking moment doing things we think we should do, we never learn what we want to do. And if we don’t know what we want to do, we can’t learn who we are. Play has been declining steadily since the 1950s, a time that psychologist Peter Gray calls the “Golden Age” of play. With child labor laws in effect, children couldn’t work in the mines or the factory, and were left instead to their own devices and imaginations to fill the time. After school, neighborhoods were full of children roaming around on bicycles, climbing trees in the backyard, or catching tadpoles in the pond. But free time has dwindled, yards have signs that say “keep off the grass,” and latchkey kids are picked up by police. Said Seligman, “It is my belief that no medication or technique of therapy holds as much promise for serving as a buffer against mental illness as does human strength.” With my previous job working with at-risk youth, most of my kids were diagnosed with ADHD. Many of them would get in trouble regularly at school for outbursts, leaving class, or failing to complete an assigned task. Even when given the opportunity to play, those children still managed to get in trouble after flitting from one toy to the next, quickly bored by the limitations of their gadgets. At Wildrock, I saw children with an infinite number of possible games, but most of them stuck to one activity for their entire visit. They were lost in the world of their imaginations, building castles and being superheroes. Why was a natural playscape so engaging? In my research for this article, I reached out to ecotherapist Carolyn Schuyler, founder of Wildrock, a non-profit, natural playscape nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Crozet, Virginia. Wildrock features mountain views, a wading stream, a walking labyrinth, educational center, and more. Though Wildrock is accessible to people of all ages, children are the most common visitors. When looking at humans, I think parents intuitively understand that play is good for children — at the very least, it tuckers them out enough to get a little peace and quiet from time to time. And while important in a world of increasing obesity, the benefits of play go beyond physical exercise. In children, scientists have determined positive effects of play on attention, creative problem solving, academic achievement, emotional regulation, empathy, reasoning, and language. Nature doesn’t tell us what to do or who to be, it just waits for us to participate. “It’s reassuring to know that memory never goes away and you can always rekindle a relationship with nature. It’s like seeing an old friend — it could be ten years and it feels like nothing has changed,” said Schuyler. “Everyone’s got something, even if it’s just looking at the moon, or looking at snowflakes out the window of your apartment in New York City. Something that makes you go, ‘Wow.’” Play doesn’t need to be outdoors, but it certainly seems to help. Perhaps because indoor activities are limited, especially with toys designed not for child development, but to create greater market demand. Chintzy plastic characters from the latest hit movie and robotic dogs have no personal significance and leave little to the imagination. Parents with the best intentions might try to keep their children safe indoors, and entertain them with educational games or television programs. But when you put blinders on play, restricting it to narrow boundaries, inevitably you hit a ceiling. Nature, on the other hand, is limitless. Aside from abductions, accidents, and murder, parents have also begun to fear something perhaps more insidious — failure. In such an uncertain and scary world, it makes sense that parents want to shield their children from suffering. But at what cost? It’s hard to ethically study the neurological impacts of play since cutting into children’s brains is considered a little taboo. Much of the research is conducted on animals, often on rats. But since we are also animals (and like rats, a social, vertebrate species), scientists hope their findings can point us at least in the right direction. No Child Left Inside In a world run by advertisers and media, we are bombarded with messages every day that our lives are not enough — we need this product, we need to lose weight, we need a college degree, we need this car, we need a respectable career. The world is constantly telling us what we need. Play perplexes scientists. Since it serves no utilitarian purpose at the expense of depleted energy and potentially fatal danger, it does make one wonder where the evolutionary benefit lies. For a long time, scientists believed that play prepares young animals for adulthood — predators practice giving chase, prey practice being chased. But this explanation doesn’t always pan out. More than once I’ve heard a parent say, “I can’t let my child play outside. Things aren’t like they used to be.” And you know what? They’re right. Children are safer now than ever — the mortality rate is lower, fewer children go missing, abduction rates are lower, kids aren’t getting hit by cars. Still, parents are petrified, and I don’t blame them. Who wouldn’t be in a world with toxic tap water, baby-eating dingos, school shootings, microplastics in the table salt, and Amber alerts on push notification? Hypocritical though it may seem with me sitting here telling you that we need nature, we need to get our children back outside, and we need ecotherapy, I ask that you bear with me. Nature is everywhere. We all have a relationship to nature, no matter how removed it may seem. If you have a pet, if you grow houseplants, if you go fishing or hunting, if you listen to nature sounds on Spotify to fall asleep — that relationship already exists. I’m just asking for you to remember, in whatever form that takes for you. And to fall in love again. Not Prozac, not Adderall, not Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Human strength. How do we find that strength? Perhaps we need to take a closer look at what it means to be human. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” they say. In the case of the human psyche, I’m with Seligman. I say we can do better. Connecting to nature meets a basic human need for play in both children and adults alike. And one reason it is so important is that play, by definition, is self-motivated. If it weren’t something we liked to do just for the sake of it, it wouldn’t be play. Like children, adults don’t need to go outside in order to play. But in nature, play seems almost inevitable. When I stand at the edge of the river, I skip rocks just to see how many jumps I can make. When I sit in the yard, I find myself absentmindedly braiding grass or linking daisy chains. Neuropsychologist Jaak Panksepp was interested in whether or not play was a primitive process, like the drives for food, sleep, and sex — “memories evolution built into the brain.” These drives reside deep within the ancient, inner brain, while the newly evolved outer cortex controls learned activity (e.g. stop on red, go on green). To study this further, Panksepp surgically removed the outer cortex of young rats and compared their behavior to that of normally developed rats. Both groups still tussled and played. And we never stopped to ask in what universe a child might need a resumé. Where does that leave us? With kids who are overworked, stressed, sleep-deprived, and more anxious and depressed than ever. Today, many kids are enrolled in SAT-prep classes by middle school, pack their schedules full of AP classes, and choose their hobbies based on padding their resumés for college admissions rather than on things they enjoy. We expect a lot from kids: wake up before the sun, sit still and pay attention, get to seven classes with less than five minutes between bells, participate in an organized sport or work a job, go home and study, rinse and repeat. In 1983, the Department of Education released a report “A Nation at Risk,” lamenting a “rising tide of mediocrity” in American children. “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war,” read the dramatic report. The same attitude led us to No Child Left Behind in 2002, shifting focus of education entirely to standardized test scores. The message received by educators, schoolchildren, and parents was that one thing mattered: producing results. Wildrock “Animal Rescue Station”Photo credit: Sarah Vogel But when we exercise to impress others, study to achieve a better letter grade, post on social media for the likes, and work for dollar signs, we prioritize outcome. The problem is that outcome is often out of our control. And even if we do reach that outcome, there is always something more to want. Making Jack a Dull Boy Schuyler’s own park prescription is to sit on a moss-covered hill in her backyard a few times a week. “I think it’s important to de-mystify this because, in a way, it is really simple,” she said. “The only reason there is a name for ecotherapy is that we’ve forgotten the simple things that matter.” Intrinsic goals, on the other hand, give us autonomy and a sense of control. When we exercise to feel stronger, study to become more competent, post on social media to share joy, and act on the love of what we do, we embrace rather than fear failure. We learn and we grow, because the outcome doesn’t really matter. We prioritize the process. And the process tells us more about our authentic desires than anything anyone tells us we need. “Playing in nature is so organic and human. That’s how people throughout history have connected, and how people begin their relationship with the world. Through playful exploration,” explained Schuyler. “Nature gives us all these materials and incredible resources to express ourselves, whether it’s a beautiful space that makes you want to dance, or dried leaves you want to pick up to make something with. Everywhere in nature there are invitations to express ourselves, and I think that’s hardwired. That’s been going on since ancient man.” Children learning about snakes at WildrockPhoto credit: Sarah Vogel What does this mean? Well, for one, it means that the impulse for play is deeply ingrained, like our other primal instincts. Furthermore, scientists like Panksepp believe this finding indicates that play, though seemingly pointless, may actually be key to animal survival and evolution. So what benefits does play provide? But do animals need it? And specifically, do humans need it? Nature taps into a different way of knowing, a way that isn’t intellectual, perhaps in a way that can’t be verbalized. Build a bonfire and tell me it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. Catch a fish and tell me it isn’t an adrenaline rush. Watch a sunset and tell me it isn’t beautiful. Or don’t. Only you know what makes your heart sing, but nature can help you figure it out. Falling in Love Visiting Wildrock on a field trip day is something to see. Kids are allowed to choose whatever they want to do, whether it’s splashing in the creek, building forts out of sticks, playing “wildlife rescue,” dressing up in costumes, climbing a giant wooden salamander, hiding in the Hobbit House, crawling through tunnels, or digging in sand. There is no limit to the games they invent. It’s easy to lament how the world has changed and wish for a return to simpler times. But, as Schuyler gently pointed out, we can’t. “I don’t think there’s any going back. Yes, there are dangers about what urbanization and technology can do to the brain. Yes, there is an environmental crisis and we don’t want people to ignore that. But fear creates a bigger disconnection from nature. Scaring people doesn’t help make better stewards of the future. It’s falling in love with nature that does that.” Click here to read the whole article My truck often gives me grief — unsurprising, considering its age and the odometer reading. Several months ago, I noticed my engine would shudder at low speeds, followed by a clunky cylinder misfire. Without the money to afford a repair, I hoped it would somehow magically straighten itself out, which cost me a new distributor cap, ignition module, rotor, spark plugs, and spark plug wires. The only thing that needed replacement in the first place were the spark plugs. But due to my willful ignorance, I paid four times the price for what should have been an easy fix. Play is, simply put, what we choose to do when we don’t need to, just because it’s fun. If we do something to reach an extrinsic goal, it’s probably not play. So for all the parents with their kids enrolled in after school soccer or chess club, that isn’t play. Directed activity with structure, rules, and rankings isn’t play. Play comes from freedom of choice. In 1998, psychologist Martin Seligman gave an inaugural address to the American Psychological Association, concerned about the ten-fold increase in depression diagnoses since the 1950s. Damage-control and treatment are important, he argued. But to improve the mental wellbeing of an entire nation, psychological professionals would need to start addressing problems before they became one. The problem is that play is dying. There are some other theories. Play might help animals develop cognitive, motor, and social skills and greater understanding of abilities and limitations. Perhaps play helps animals learn to deal with stressful and new situations in their environments. Different animals play differently (even animals like crocodiles, turtles, and wasps) and it’s possible these are different means to different ends. No one really knows for sure. A relationship with nature doesn’t need to be complex. You don’t need to hike the Appalachian Trail, be a master naturalist, or live off the land. My earliest memories of being in nature involved digging holes with a stick in the backyard. Ostensibly I was digging to China, but still, it was simple. Getting dirt under my fingernails, uncovering wiggly worms and beetles, picking up bits of quartz and pretending they were diamonds. Until only the last few decades, psychologists have been more interested in mental dysfunction than on what promotes flourishing and happiness. The DSM, often referred to as ‘the bible of psychiatry,’ stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Notice there is no secondary manual for mental wellbeing. One study found that rats raised in a sterile, boring, isolated environment grew up very differently from rats raised with an interesting environment full of toys and other play companions. “Enriched” rats not only were more successful in attracting mates, they also developed larger cerebral cortices and larger brains. Further studies found that these rats were smarter, better able to complete mazes, and showed increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein necessary for the growth and maintenance of brain cells in both animals and humans. When I asked Schuyler for practical advice to people who want their own taste of ecotherapy at home, she suggested writing a park prescription. “How much do you need to be in nature to feel well? You might probably already know. And at what point are you not getting enough? You probably already know. What kind of nature do you need to feel your best self? Do you need to be in the woods, or at the beach, or near water? You already know these things because you have already been connected to nature your whole life.” Going back to positive psychology, research shows that goals based on external rewards (like money, fame, appearance, prestige, or power over others) lead to lower levels of happiness. In studies conducted by psychologist Edward Deci he found that “having an unusually strong aspiration for material success was associated with narcissism, anxiety, depression, and poorer social functioning.” Obviously, that’s not to say that money and material things don’t matter. We have to eat, after all. But if your motivations are founded on the desire to get rich, well… in the immortal words of the Notorious B.I.G., “mo’ money, mo’ problems.” Wildrock was founded in the hopes of providing a bridge into nature for people who either haven’t had the opportunity of nature connection in their youth, or live such fast-paced lives that they’ve lost touch. But she focuses on children in the hopes of shaping the adults of tomorrow. “All of us ecotherapists are conservationists, even though that’s not in the tagline. You allow people to be curious about nature, and with curiosity comes caring, and with caring comes conservation. You go from ‘What is this?’ to caring about it and wanting to protect it.” Any good doctor, veterinarian, or mechanic understands that wellness isn’t just about fixing what’s already broken. Maintenance and preventative care are vital, if not the most important components of a healthy lifestyle. Click here to read the whole article
ASSISTANCE TO WIDOWS AND ORPHANS OF TOGOS / C Djinadou Moutiou 04BP 941Lome-Togo In order to help empower local women in Barbados, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Assistance Program recently donated funds for the Caribbean island’s Young Woman’s Christian Association (YWCA) through the U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Embassy to the Caribbean. On 14 January, Mrs. Marquita Guillory, representing the U.S. 4th Fleet, officially handed over various goods to YWCA President Marilyn Rice-Bowen on behalf of a minimal cost humanitarian assistance project managed by Southcom. The funds were used to purchase equipment for the Sewing Project, a local initiative designed to give unemployed and underemployed women skills to help them become financially independent. Laurel Armstrong, coordinator of the Sewing Project was thankful for the support, stating: “The gratification is immediate because after each class they will see the success and reward”, she commented to The Barbados Advocate. The contributions included 16 commercial Singer sewing machines, computers, office supplies and other locally-purchased equipment that will be used to teach local women to sew marketable products. Lieutenant Colonel Edward Harvey, military liaison officer with the U.S. Embassy to the Eastern Caribbean said it was a “tough but enjoyable task to get the equipment together and present it to the YWCA”. FIELD OF PROJECTS TO BE FINANCED EDUCATION- Teacher – School teacher – Facilitator or supervisor of children – Educators specializing- Pre school teacher – studentHEALTH- Doctor – Nurse – Midwife – Health Care Aide – Student – Specialized educator – Anyone elseRIGHT- Lawyer, bailiff, lawyer – Student – Any other person HEALTH-Construction of clinics, drug distribution and patient materials WATER AND SANITATION EDUCATION-Construction of classrooms, supplies, school materials For more information, please prove visit our websitewww.avotogo.orgemail! [email protected] / [email protected] write us by mail box: ASSISTANCE TO WIDOWS AND ORPHANS OF TOGOS / C Djinadou Moutiou 04BP 941Lome-Togo By Dialogo February 08, 2011 You want to do humanitarian mission in Africa in Togo in summer or winter? You want to bring your support, know-how to the villagers and orphans?AVO-TOGO is calling you all the volunteers who have the taste of the humanitarian mission to come and contribute. COMPUTER- Programmer Maintenance Technicians, Graphic Designer – Webmaster etc..JOURNALISM- Moderator – Reporter etc..ORPHANAGE- Students VolunteersVoluntaryOther people would like to work in an orphan The association AVO-TOGO appeals to all volunteer to help the destitute children of the streets and abandoned children,no clothes, no school supplies, not care of health. That is why AVO-TOGO opened a small orphanage center to feed, clothe and supports their tuition and other.Please support us to have money to give to become a man.You can visit them in the center hosts. The center is so small and can not get a lot of orphans.We look for people to support us to be able to support abandoned children. – Construction of latrines and school toilets, family and public garbage dumps. looking for volunteers to help orphans from Togo For more information, please prove visit our websitewww.avotogo.orgemail! [email protected] / [email protected] write us by mail box: FIELD OF STAGE
By Dialogo August 22, 2011 As part of preparations for the “Land SAR 2011” combined exercise, which the Chilean Army will conduct with its Argentine counterpart at the end of August this year, in Chilean Antarctic territory, Chilean military personnel from the O’Higgins exploration group travelled to the Mackenna Pass sector, located 34 kilometers south of the Antarctic peninsula, to install an emergency logistical support post. This consists of a Weatherhaven tent, specially designed for extreme climates, capable of withstanding temperatures as low as -50º and winds of 160 kilometers per hour. Its chief characteristics are its ease and speed in set-up and assembly, enabling it to provide shelter and greater logistical capacity to personnel conducting reconnaissance, exploration, and scientific activities in this area. Along with this, radio and satellite communications links were established to the different entities that will participate in the mentioned exercise, chiefly the Argentine Army’s “Esperanza” [“Hope”] base and the different Navy, Air Force, and Army units involved. The O’Higgins exploration group, part of the Army’s military base in Antarctica, is made up of mountaineering specialists, operators of communications equipment, mechanics, and nurses who carry out expeditions in the northern part of the white continent, using special equipment and protective clothing for extreme conditions.
By Dialogo September 21, 2011 Three actions by the FARC guerrilla group in northeastern and southern Colombia left 4 dead and 12 wounded, including 9 members of Government forces, military and civilian authorities announced on September 18. Initially, a FARC attack in a rural area of the Colombian municipality of Sardinata (in northeastern Colombia) wounded seven members of Government forces, said General Fernando Pineda, commander of the Army’s 30th Brigade in the area. “In effect, there was an attack by the FARC’s Squad 33 early Sunday morning. We evacuated two Soldiers and two police officers who were more seriously wounded,” the officer told Bogota radio stations. Another three police officers were also wounded, the announcement added. According to Pineda, “the Army reinforced the local police with helicopters and personnel, while operations are continuing” in order to locate the rebels who attacked the town. The attack took place in the hamlet of Las Mercedes, in a rural area of Sardinata (500 km northeast of Bogota), a “neuralgic” region “for all drug-trafficking activities,” the officer affirmed. Elsewhere, in a rural area of the municipality of Barbacoas, in the department of Nariño (in southern Colombia), two civilians died and five people, including two police officers, were injured when an explosive device was activated at the same time that around 200 people were participating in a political rally. Condemning the action, which took place on September 17, the peace advisor of the Nariño Governor’s Office, Javier Hernández, demanded respect for communities’ human rights from armed groups and also asked the national government for “greater results in dealing with the security issue.” Also on September 17, in the department of Caqueta (in southern Colombia), alleged FARC guerrillas attacked an Army patrol, leaving two Soldiers dead, authorities in the region announced on September 18. These incidents come on the heels of another FARC attack the day before, targeting a caravan of vehicles, including several tractor-trailers carrying oil, that left one civilian dead. Also on September 16, FARC guerrillas launched a canister bomb that fell on a school in Caloto, a rural area in the country’s southwest. Colonel José Obdulio Espejo, a spokesperson for the Armed Forces General Command (CGFM), confirmed that at least one minor died, while at least seven or eight others were injured in the incident. In recent weeks, the FARC guerrilla group has increased its actions against members of Government forces, in what the authorities consider an offensive that has become traditional in the period leading up to elections, as a mechanism for demonstrating the group’s presence and vigor in various regions of the country. On October 30, Colombians will go to the polls to elect departmental governors, municipal mayors, provincial legislators, municipal councilors, and district commissioners.
By Dialogo October 11, 2011 Some 12 countries have confirmed their attendance at the anti-drug summit being organized by Peru for 2012, with the objective of coordinating and elaborating joint policies in response to drug trafficking, the Peruvian anti-drug czar, Ricardo Soberón, announced. According to the Andina official news agency, Soberón, head of the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (Devida), said that “as of now, 12 countries will participate in the summit,” to be held in Lima in the first half of 2012. “The region’s anti-drug czars and representatives of the consuming countries will analyze the way to improve cooperation mechanisms in the fight against a problem that has acquired a transnational dimension,” he specified. The Peruvian proposal won greater adherence and support during the recent visit by the Peruvian head of state, Ollanta Humala, to the United Nations, he added. He announced that in upcoming days, he will meet with the anti-drug chiefs of several Latin American countries to analyze the different legal and police tools used to dismantle the gangs of drug traffickers that are active in the region. Soberón has maintained that a comprehensive plan for the fight against drug trafficking is needed, because the idea of reducing illegal cultivation of coca – the raw material for cocaine – has not had results, since cultivation of that plant increases every year. He indicated that eradication has been “symbolic” in recent years, since while crops were being eliminated in one area, according to him, they were appearing in another. A United Nations report noted in June that growth in the production of coca – the basis for cocaine – has brought Peru to the level of 61,200 hectares planted, compared to 62,000 in Colombia, a country that has nonetheless gradually decreased the area dedicated to that crop.
By Dialogo October 16, 2012 Contacts between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to formally launch the peace process in Oslo, were delayed, apparently due to weather conditions, but reasons were kept in the utmost secrecy. For now, Norway will conduct a press conference on October 17. A source close to the negotiating team confirmed that the departure of (government) delegates from Bogotá was delayed on October 14 due to the weather conditions. “We don’t know when they will be travelling.” Bogota’s El Dorado Airport closed its operations for several hours and canceled flights in recent days due to hail and thunderstorms. The FARC were contacted in Havana and they did not want to comment about the issue, or reveal when they plan to travel. The Norwegian government announced that a press conference will be held on October 17, and its Foreign Ministry confirmed on October 15 that the date of the event still stands for the time being. President Juan Manuel Santos’ governmental delegations and the FARC have agreed to celebrate with discretion. “It is better not to provide details to avoid speculation or possible misinterpretations,” Marco León Calarcá, member of the FARC delegation in the secret communications held in Havana to set up the agenda for the negotiations in Oslo, told AFP via email. “We have requested journalists to be understanding, because apart from the news and information, the important thing is to move forward in the peace process,” he added. Meanwhile, the armed conflict is still taking place, because government opposed a cease fire due to the rebels’ actions. The FARC guerrillas blew up two energy towers on October 14, in the rural Colombian department of Norte de Santander, which borders Venezuela.