Blogs

Cloud Peak coal production down sharply in second quarter

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Data reported to federal officials suggests Cloud Peak Energy Inc. could post a weak second quarter in the face of ongoing domestic coal pricing pressures.Cloud Peak’s three coal mines reported 11.6 million tons of coal production in the second quarter, down 3.7% from 12.1 million tons in the prior quarter and falling 17.8% from the 14.1 million tons of coal produced in the second quarter of 2017, according to data reported to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. It was the lowest production quarter for the company since its IPO in 2009, Seaport Global Securities LLC analyst Mark Levin wrote in a July 16 note.“While [the second quarter] is typically a weak quarter for all [Powder River Basin] producers, we think [Cloud Peak’s] production, even by those standards, is a disappointment,” Levin wrote. “We suspect low natural gas prices, coal plant retirements, and increased use of renewables continue to weigh on demand.”Levin added that while export markets are a bright spot, that does not offset underlying concerns about domestic demand for Powder River Basin coal. He reiterated a neutral rating on the company.MSHA data shows quarter-over-quarter production increased by more than a half a million tons at Cloud Peak’s Spring Creek mine, which is where the company generally sources the coal it sells into export markets. However, the company’s domestic utility-focused Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines both significantly lowered coal production compared to the same quarter a year ago.More ($): Coal production from Cloud Peak Energy mines down sharply in recent quarter Cloud Peak coal production down sharply in second quarterlast_img read more

South Korean governor opposes plans to keep local coal plants open

first_imgSouth Korean governor opposes plans to keep local coal plants open FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Chosun Ilbo:South Chungcheong Province, which is home to around half of Korea’s coal-fired power plants, is committed to phasing out the heavily polluting power source, even as the central government wants to hike coal power production to make up for its nuclear phaseout.South Chungcheong Province Governor Yang Seung-jo, who is affiliated with the ruling Minjoo Party, told the Chosun Ilbo on Wednesday, “We need to halt steps to extend the lifespan of aging coal-fired plants” since that would worsen already alarming air pollution.Boryeong, Dangjin, Seocheon and Taean in South Chungcheong Province are home to 30 out of Korea’s 61 coal-fired power plants. Two plants in Boryeong are more than 30 years old and 10 others were built over two decades ago.The governor believes the health of locals is at risk from the emission from these aging plants. “The amount of atmospheric pollution in the province is the highest in the country at 280,000 tons as of 2015,” Yang said. Yang added that decades-old plants must be shut down and transformed into eco-friendly power plants.The state-run Korea Development Institute claims refurbishing the plants could extend their lifespan by another 10 years to 2041. The cost of refurbishment is estimated at W1.51 trillion (US$1=W1,130).More: South Chungcheong governor resists gov’t’s coal power planslast_img read more

Wood Mackenzie: Battery storage will turn Europe’s gas peakers into stranded assets by 2030

first_imgWood Mackenzie: Battery storage will turn Europe’s gas peakers into stranded assets by 2030 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Europe’s power system will look very different in 2030, with energy storage supporting the “dominance” of wind and solar generation, according to new research from Wood Mackenzie.The big five European markets—Germany, the U.K., France, Italy and Spain—will get the majority of their power from wind, solar and other variable renewable energy sources as early as 2023, WoodMac says. By 2040, Europe is expected to add another 169 gigawatts of wind and 172 gigawatts of solar.As that variable output surges, Europe has four options for balancing out its grid: pumped hydro, gas peakers, energy storage and interconnectors. Only the final three of the quartet are likely to be the focus of new investment.For now, “gas peakers are more essential than ever,” said Rory McCarthy, Wood Mackenzie principal analyst. “They can ramp up to full output from warm in a couple of minutes for modern systems, have increasing efficiency levels at part loading and boast unlimited duration, assuming a reliable gas supply.”But by the end of the decade, battery storage will be the cheapest option for balancing Europe’s grid, overtaking gas peakers, according to a new long-term energy storage outlook. Europe’s energy storage capacity across all segments is expected to grow from 3 gigawatts today (excluding pumped hydro) to 26 gigawatts in 2030—and 89 gigawatts by 2040.“By 2030 energy storage will beat gas peakers on cost across all our target markets, resulting in a cloudy outlook for any new future peaking turbines,” McCarthy said. “Fuel and carbon prices are on the up, technology costs are not set for any major decreases and net-zero policies will eventually target the decarbonization of all power market services.”[John Parnell]More: WoodMac: Wind, solar and storage to dominate Europe’s power grid by 2030last_img read more

The First Recreation Forest

first_imgBiker Jeff Keener savors Dupont’s slickrock. A bill recently passed in the North Carolina State legislature that makes Dupont State Forest North Carolina’s first State Recreational Forest. Dupont is a 10,000-acre tract of land in Transylvania County, famous for its waterfalls and singletrack. The bill was introduced by state senator Tom Apodaca and representative Chuck McGrady in response to a proposed management shift for Dupont that could have resulted in a loss of certain recreational uses including mountain biking. Dupont is one of the most popular state-owned properties in North Carolina, with mountain bikers making up the majority of users.“The public recognizes Dupont for what it is—a premier recreation destination—but we wanted to make sure the state of North Carolina recognized that fact as well,” says Woody Keen, a professional trail builder and mountain biker on the advisory board for Dupont State Forest. “It was important to the public that the management of Dupont not change. Our representatives acted on that desire, and now we have North Carolina’s first state forest intended for recreation.”In addition to Dupont’s scenic beauty, which includes several waterfalls, the forest’s 85-mile trail system has become a showcase of sustainable trail building, hosting workshops and demonstrations by professional trail builders from all over the world. Here are two recent trail building projects worth checking out in Dupont State Recreational Forest.Jim Branch Trail: This former road has recently been converted into swooping, sustainable singletrack.Hill Top: An old trail was decommissioned and a new, more sustainable trail was built in its place, offering more than a mile of brand new singletrack.last_img read more

Clips of the Week: May 2, 2013

first_imgOur favorite web videos from the week that was:1. Tuckerman’s RevengeThings can get pretty rowdy at Vermont’s Tuckerman Ravine during the spring rut. This year was no exception, and here’s 30 seconds of it.30 Seconds of Tuckerman from Granite Films Jim Surette on Vimeo.2. Shutter’s Thru-HikeWe have been running dispatches from Chris Gallaway’s A.T. thru-hike, but here is a funny little video from last year’s hiking season.3. Basic Outdoors Epic-nessThe 2013 demo reel from Reel Water Productions. These guys know what they are doing.2013 Reel Water Productions Demo Reel from Reel Water Productions on Vimeo.That’s all for this week. If you have a video you would like to share for Clips of the Week, leave a comment or email submit@blueridgeoutdoors.com.Have a great weekend!last_img read more

Hi-Wire Brewing Lager Should Go Platinum

first_imgAnd the Winner Is…Budweiser Select?Budweiser Select won the gold for American style Lager at the most recent Great American Beer Festival. Miller High Life won the silver. Pabst Brewing Company won the bronze with their Special Export. I don’t even know what the hell their Special Export is (but I want to try it!).I’ve got nothing against Budweiser or Miller or Pabst. I drink all of those beers. But are they medal winners at this country’s quintessential beer competition? Are these grocery store standards still topping the charts when craft breweries are now making solid representations of lagers?Maybe. Maybe Budweiser’s got the lager dialed down so damned good, the little guy doesn’t stand a chance in that category. Or maybe gold medals don’t mean much, or maybe nobody else bothered to enter their lagers in the GABF. I don’t know. What I do know, is there are a number of great craft lagers out there for you to try, even if they don’t have gold medals swinging from their necks. Lagunitas and Bell’s both make a tasty lager (no, “tasty lager” isn’t an oxymoron). Devils Backbone, out of Virginia, makes the Gold-Leaf Lager, which actually won the silver in the American Style Pilsener category at this year’s competition.I like the lager put out by Hi-Wire Brewing, a new brewery out of Asheville. It’s unfiltered, light-hopped, light-bodied, light everything except for taste. This is a solid lager, people, straight down the style standards, and it’s become my go-to easy-drinking beer. If Budweiser Select is the gold-medal winner for Lagers, then this puppy should go platinum.Follow Graham Averill’s adventures in drinking and Dad-hood at daddy-drinks.comlast_img read more

Trail Mix – The Honeycutters

first_imgSince 2007, The Honeycutters have been doing their part to continue the tradition and honesty of vintage country music. Never mind the swill you’ll hear all over modern country radio. Instead, for true country, point your ears towards this quintet based in the mountains of western North Carolina.Though a band in the truest sense of the word, The Honeycutters are undoubtedly led by singer/songwriter Amanda Anne Platt, whose talents can be wisely compared to the likes of Iris Dement and Emmylou Harris. A songwriter with an ear for charming melodies and a pen rich with subtle wit, Platt writes songs for The Honeycutters that rummage deeply into the country music saddle bag.The band recently released On The Ropes, their fourth long player and the follow up to last year’s critically acclaimed Me Oh My, which established the band as a burgeoning new voice in the world of Americana music.I recently chatted with singer Amanda Anne Platt about the new record, boxing, and Asheville’s best local honey.BRO – You recently celebrated the release of your new record with your hometown fans in Asheville. That had to feel good.AP – Yes, it did! We love playing at home, and it means a lot to see so many familiar faces in the audience.BRO – The band rolls into Bristol on Friday. That has to be a bit like going back to the wellspring. Any bands from the Bristol Sessions from which you draw particular inspiration?AP – It would be hard to pinpoint. I definitely fell in love with the Carter Family in my late teens and went through a phase of reading a lot of nonfiction about early country music. I think more than anything, the idea of people who had been making music on their front porches their whole lives getting recording contracts and becoming big stars without a bunch of grooming is what inspires me. The music that gave rise to the Americana genre started just like that. It was very true music. So it’s nice to have a slice of history so close to home.BRO – We are featuring the title track to the new record on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?AP – “On The Ropes” doesn’t have a very interesting story behind it, I’m sorry to say. It’s a pick me up song, with a chorus that I started singing to myself when I was feeling discouraged. It kind of grew from there.BRO – I love the boxing imagery on the record packaging. Ever tempted to spend some time in the ring?AP – Yes, actually! I was thinking pretty seriously about signing up for lessons at the gym where we did the shoot. But I’m a wuss. I probably won’t follow through on that.BRO – Where’s the best place to grab some local honey the next time I am in Asheville?AP – There used to be a great little honey stand in Haw Creek called Haw Creek Honey. They just had this box where you put your money and then you took your honey. I think that people abused the system, though. I don’t believe that’s still there. But there’s always honey at the farmer’s market!Amanda Anne Platt and the rest of The Honeycutters will take to the stage at The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia, this Friday. Trail Mix wants to give you an opportunity to win tickets to that show. Take a shot at the trivia question down below and email your answer to dave@blueridgeoutdoors.com. A winner from all of the correct answers received by 5 PM on Thursday, June 9th, will win two tickets to the show!Be sure to check out The Honeycutters’ website for information on tour dates and how to get your copy of On The Ropes. Also, take a listen to “On The Ropes” on this month’s Trail Mix.Question . . . . It’s noted above that The Carter Family contributed mightily to the 1927 Bristol Sessions. Which band below, however, was NOT recorded by Ralph Peer during those sessions?A – The Bull Mountain MoonshinersB – The Blue Ridge Corn ShuckersC – The Possum Holler RamblersD – Dad Blackard’s MountaineersRemember . . . Email your answers in! Don’t post in the comments section below!  Good luck!!!last_img read more

Crush Friday In Floyd, Virginia

first_imgWe welcome folks to join us in Floyd, Virginia for our Crush Friday in Floyd campaign throughout 2018.Floyd’s Crush Friday campaign is a partnership with the VA Tourism Corporation’s state-wide Crush Friday campaign. “Crush Friday” is part of VTC’s ongoing efforts to support U.S. Travel’s “Project: Time Off” initiative, encouraging citizens to utilize unused vacation days.“We are excited to be working in partnership with the VA Tourism Corporation – and local partners – on this 2018 campaign encouraging folks to take that vacation day – and do so in Virginia – and especially in Floyd, Virginia, “ shared Pat Sharkey, Floyd County Tourism Director.Local Floyd businesses and organizations already committed to partnering in the project with the Floyd Tourism Office include: Floyd County Government, Town of Floyd, Floyd Country Store, Floyd Chamber of Commerce, Chateau Morrisette Winery, Chantilly Farm, Five Mile Mountain, On the Water, Riverstone Farm, Stonewall B&B and Floyd Yoga Jam.Crush Friday in Floyd will include suggested itineraries and special promotions starting on Thursdays at noon through the weekend in Floyd. Visitors who come to Floyd before the weekend – by noon Thursday through noon Friday, can stop by the Floyd Visitor Center to pick up their Crush Friday in Floyd passport that offers them special deals and activities. Specials and itineraries will be posted on VisitFloydVA.com website and will change quarterly throughout the year. You have to get to Floyd early enough to be a Crush Friday visitor!Visitors who use their passport are also eligible for Crush Friday in Floyd getaway packages valued at over $500 given away in early 2019 and good through that year.What can folks do in Floyd Virginia? Get outside on the mountaintop– Bike, Hike, Float Floyd; Sip the Spirits (beer, wine, shine) at our wineries, new brewery, distillery and many restaurants; and Move to the Music at numerous venues and festivals Thursday through Sundays. Floyd County is nestled atop the Blue Ridge Plateau bordering 40 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwest Virginia.“For a small mountain community, we offer an amazing diversity of things to do and enjoy! And VA Tourism Corporation continues to provide incredible support to communities like ours to help us share about our great offerings”.American workers left 662 million vacation days on the table last year. Of these workers, the millennial sub-set is the most likely to want to be seen as work martyrs. In an effort to be seen as valuable to the company a work martyr is the most likely to forego taking vacation days. The VTC Crush Friday Program is designed to encourage the millennial work martyr to give vacation a try. VTC and its industry partners aim to change that mindset and show the benefit that even one day of vacation can have. Virginia and Floyd Tourism offer a call to millennials to take a well-deserved Friday and crush it in Floyd, Virginia.For more information about Crush Friday in Floyd, go to www.VisitFloydVA.com or contact tourismdirector@floydcova.org or 540-239-8509last_img read more

Kentucky Trail Towns: Your Base for Adventure.

first_imgAll adventures, even the most remote back country excursions must start somewhere.  Kentucky Trail Towns are communities where adventure seekers embark on their journey.  Located near Kentucky’s best outdoor destinations, these communities serve as gateways to the natural world.  Kentucky is home to miles of trails for a variety of users, and some of the best streams and rivers in the region.  screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-12-54-53-pmRock climbers have long known Kentucky and its world-class climbing, and families will love the variety and diversity of campgrounds and lakes.  No matter what your adventure, there is a Kentucky Trail Town waiting to welcome you!screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-12-49-42-pmOutfitters, retailers, Kentucky Proud food, locally made spirits, and old-fashioned Kentucky hospitality help make these Trail Towns vibrant communities where visitors can find a true Kentucky experience.  They serve as welcomed respites along Kentucky’s long-distance trail systems and rivers. screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-12-49-51-pmSo, rather you’re testing your limits in the Red River Gorge, backpacking the Sheltowee Trace, cycling across the country on the TransAmerica or floating one of Kentucky’s iconic waterways, look for a nearby Kentucky Trail Town.  We think you’ll like what you find…screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-12-49-30-pmlast_img read more

No Snow? No Problem: 12 Snowless Winter Adventures

first_imgHere are 12 snowless adventures that will keep your winter wanderlust satisfied till it’s snowing or springtime.Lukewarm50°F – 60°FSend sandstone. Now that the swarms of fall break tourists have retreated back to their respective climbing gyms, the crags are blissfully quiet. For the truly dedicated climber, winter is one of the best seasons for climbing in the Southeast. Active bodies stay cooler, feet sweat less, and rubber soles grip better. Walls that are normally too exposed and too hot to climb in the summer become the perfect spots to post up for an afternoon of winter cragging.Where to go: Chattanooga, Tenn., has it all: classic cracks, plentiful boulderfields, climber-friendly hostels like the The Crash Pad, and a youthful downtown scene to boot. Tennessee Wall (trad), Sunset Park (trad), Foster Falls (sport), and Stone Fort (boulder) have the highest concentration of quality routes close to town. For a truly unique bouldering experience, take your chances with the weather and head north to Summersville Lake, a popular sport climbing destination outside of Fayetteville, W.Va. In the wintertime, the lake level drops and exposes huge swaths of shoreline littered with boulders.Grind gravel. Swap out the fat tires this winter and get on board with one of the fastest growing sectors of the bike industry, gravel riding. Over the past five years, gravel grinding has matured from a quiet niche to a respected cycling discipline unto its own. Why? Because churning out long days in the saddle over mixed terrain taps into the very core of what it means to be human—adventure, adversity, accomplishment. It’s hard not to feel satisfied after covering some major ground through sheer will and pedal power.Where to go: Whip out a map and connect as many Forest Service roads as you can for a DIY adventure. For those just starting out, Ride With GPS has a number of routes that trace some of the area’s best gravel grinding races like the Stokesville Strade (Virginia) and the Bootlegger 100 (North Carolina), both of which take place in the spring.Lap rivers. While paddlers out west have long hung up their dry suits for ski pants, boaters here are just starting to ramp things up. Though most people associate springtime with rain, the winter months of December and January can bring just as much rainfall. In Brevard, N.C., for example, home of the rowdy Horsepasture River (class V), December (6.38 inches) is the third wettest month after March (6.5 inches) and January (6.42 inches).Where to go: Even though the recreational release season is over, dam-controlled rivers like the Russell Fork in Kentucky can still be expected to flow. Other regional rivers that regularly run in the wintertime include the Watauga River near Boone, N.C., the Top Yough outside of Friendsville, Md., and Wilson Creek near Morganton, N.C. These sections of river are all less than five miles in length, so lap them till the sun goes down for a full day of whitewater.Catch the giants. For years, seasoned “catmen” have trolled river channels and lakes during the winter months in search of mammoth catfish. Until recently, these dutiful few had the water all to themselves, but it’s now widely regarded in the angling community that late fall and winter can provide some prime conditions for landing blue, channel, and white cats. Follow schools of shad and look for deep holes in the main river channel during the day or shallow flats at night.Where to go: Virginia’s James River is home to some really big blue cats ranging anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds in size. But for the really really big cats, journey south to Tennessee’s Lake Barkley, where the state-record blue catfish (caught in 1998) weighed in at 112 pounds, just 4 pounds shy of the current world record. Kentucky Lake, which is just west of Lake Barkley, is also a premier catfishing destination.A PADDLER NAVIGATES THE BOULDER-STREWN WATERS OF THE RUSSELL FORK GORGE IN KENTUCKY.[nextpage title=”Read on!”]Cool40°F – 50°FDo a cold dip. Admittedly, taking a plunge in freezing cold water in the dead of winter sounds counterintuitive (if not downright ludicrous). And despite the numerous health benefits claimed by ardent dippers—a boost to the immune system, improvements to cardiovascular circulation, and an increased metabolism, just to name a few—cold dips shouldn’t be considered a magical cure-all, especially for those with a family history of heart conditions. That’s not to say that cold dips are unsafe. People have been “winter bathing” since the famed publisher Bernarr MacFadden founded Coney Island Polar Bear Club in 1903. If nothing else, cold-water submersion is certainly refreshing and invigorating. When done with a crowd of half-naked or costumed strangers, the experience can be entirely too much fun and strangely unifying. Just be sure to check with your doctor before taking the plunge, and no cannonballs.Where to go: Next month, thousands of people will start the New Year off with a polar plunge. Lake Lure and Atlantic Beach, N.C., organize their cold dips on the first of the year, while other events like WinterFest at Chetola Resort will host a polar plunge later in January. If you need a good reason to freeze, Special Olympics Virginia also puts on its Polar Plunge Festival series starting December 2, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va., and continuing throughout 2018 in Radford, Richmond, Dumfries, and Virginia Beach.Plan a backpacking trip. Hardcore winter camping—the kind where you’re post-holing for miles in knee-deep snow, wiping your butt with snowballs, and putting on frozen boots in the morning—is not for everyone (or really anyone). It’s what we call “type II fun” : miserable in the moment yet somehow quixotic when the suffering is (way far) behind you. Have some “type I fun” instead this winter by taking a backpacking trip in tolerably cool weather. You’ll be moving enough to stay warm during the day and it’s cold enough to justify building a campfire and sipping on whiskey at night.FREE WEEKEND? CHECK. CAMPING GEAR? CHECK. PUPPY SNUGGLES? CHECK.Where to go: If magical evergreen forests are what you’re after, head to the Cranberry Wilderness near Richwood, W.Va. Because it’s a wilderness area, you won’t find much in the way of trail signage and the trails themselves will likely be overgrown or barricaded in spider webs. Bring hard maps and extra socks. If big mountain views are more to your liking, head south to Panthertown Valley in North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest. The 6,300-acre recreation area is pockmarked with massive granite walls and equally stunning waterfalls, some of which form the headwaters of the Tuckasegee River.Head to the coast.Maybe it feels like a copout to head to the coast when the weather turns sour, but hey, if birds can do it, so can we. With the beachgoing madness long in the rearview mirror, oceanfront lodging can actually be affordable and the atmosphere quite pleasant. Though much of the beachfront in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic is covered up in boardwalks and development, there are many miles of protected coastline to remind us of how special and important our beaches are. Where to go: We like South Carolina for its diverse landscape: estuaries, sand dunes, freshwater wetlands, bottomland hardwood swamps, longleaf pine forests. Explore Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge by boat and watch for sightings of alligators bathing and wintering black skimmers feasting. Boneyard Beach on Bulls Island is best seen at sunrise, where sun bleached remnants of oak trees rise impossibly from the sand like a forest of skeletons.[nextpage title=”Read on!”]Cold32°F – 40°FHit the trail.As the mercury drops on the thermometer and daylight fades faster, a quick midday trail run can be a godsend, even if you don’t necessarily like running. Make time, at least a half hour, to get outside and burn some steam. Even if it’s cold and raining, it won’t take long to get the blood pumping.Where to go: Anywhere! Hopefully you live in an active community like Asheville, N.C., or Roanoke, Va., where greenways and trail systems (like Bent Creek Experimental Forest outside of Asheville or Mill Mountain Park in Roanoke) are just minutes from downtown. If you can’t get motivated on your own, find a friend. Both of these cities have well established running scenes that regularly host group runs nearly every night of the week. Fleet Feet Sports has locations in both Asheville and Roanoke, and their weekly pub runs are a fun way to keep moving.Give back.If you’re anything like us, we know you’ve put some wear and tear on your local trails and rivers in the past year. Why not spend your next Saturday giving back to those places you love so dearly? As national parks, state parks, and the Forest Service continue to struggle with funding, volunteer trail maintenance is needed now more than ever. Step up, give back, and appreciate the hard work that goes into creating and maintaining spaces to go outside and play.Where to go: Start by contacting your local trail or paddling club. In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, for example, the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition regularly organizes trail maintenance days in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Down in Knoxville, Tenn., the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club logs countless hours of volunteer labor on the city’s urban trail system.Search for surf. You don’t have to road trip to the beach to get pitted. Over the past few years, river surfing—that is, surfing on river features with a surfboard or standup paddleboard—has spiked in popularity out west. The good news is that the Southeast has tons of river surfing potential. The bad news is that you usually have to wait till it’s freezing cold and/or raining for the levels to come in. Bring a 3/2mm wetsuit. You’ll need it.THE RIVER TOWN OF FAYETTEVILLE, W.VA., IS LEADING THE CHARGE IN THE SOUTHEAST RIVER SURFING SCENE.Where to go: Fayetteville, W.Va., has always been a hub for whitewater enthusiasts, mostly raft guides and kayakers. But now, standup paddleboarders rival playboaters in numbers when the surf is in. Those who are new to the sport should take a day and hike into the Lower Gauley River for some eddy service surf action at Diagonal Ledges. For the more experienced surfer, head to the New River Dries for high-volume, big (I’m talking terrifyingly big) waves.[nextpage title=”Read on!”]Freezing<32°FGo forest bathing.This used to be called going for a hike, but apparently even those of us who consider ourselves “outdoorsy” were too tuned in to Instagram and too tuned out of nature to fully absorb our surroundings. Enter forest bathing, which does not involve any bathing or water whatsoever. Forest bathing is less of a hike and more of a mindful, meditative wandering. The goal is not to walk far or to even have a destination in mind. By simply being present and paying attention to all of nature’s sounds, smells, sights, and textures, studies show that forest bathers can significantly reduce blood pressure and stress hormones.FOREST BATHING HAS THE POWER TO HEAL OUR SOULS AND ALSO REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE.Where to go: The beauty of forest bathing is that it literally can be done anywhere there’s a cluster of trees. You don’t need a trail. You don’t need a map. You don’t need to plan a weekend getaway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, either. Find a moderately forested city park close to where you live or work and just be. Be and breathe.Try ice-skating.This is such an easy and affordable way to get the family out, even when it’s bitterly cold. Most skating rinks charge $15 or less for admission and skate rental, with “family of four” packages offering even more of a discount. If you’re an adult and you’ve never tried ice-skating before, this is the year to do it, if not for yourself than for the spirit of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. You might not be landing seven triple jumps like Michelle Kwan, but at least you’ll have an appreciation for the sport’s graceful athletes.Where to go: Outdoor skating rinks are relatively common up and down the eastern seaboard, so you shouldn’t have to travel far to find one. Wisp Resort’s ice rink at Mountain Park is plenty big at 50’ x 85’ with a bonfire area to keep the kids cozy. Even urban dwellers in most major cities can hit the ice. Holiday on Ice is located smack downtown (or should we say uptown?) in Charlotte, N.C.BONUS ADVENTURE?!?Take a drinking tour.When in doubt, rent a bus (or bribe one of your friends to DD) and drink your winter blues away. With new breweries, cideries, distilleries, and wineries seemingly popping up overnight, you have plenty of destinations to choose from.Where to go: Central Virginia and Western North Carolina are hands down leading the charge when it comes to quantity and quality of craft beverage facilities. Check out Cville Hop On Tours, which shuttles visitors up and down Nelson 151 and the Brew Ridge Trail, home to six Virginian breweries, five wineries, a cidery, and now a distillery. Similarly, Asheville Brewery Tours escorts out-of-towners by passenger van on either a three- or four-stop tour of the city’s many breweries and cideries.last_img read more

Buncombe County Orders Residents to Stay Home for 2 Weeks

first_imgBuncombe County has issued what amounts to a “shelter-in-place” order for all residents of the county in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Read the entire order below: The measure goes into effect at 8 p.m. March 26 at and lasts through 6 a.m. April 9. Officials may change or extend the declaration as they see fit.center_img Buncombe Stay Home Stay Saf… by trunkle54 on Scribdlast_img

Costa Ricans Are The Western Hemisphere Nation Most Satisfied With Life

first_imgBy Dialogo March 29, 2010 They lack the per capita wealth of the Americans, but the Costa Ricans are the happiest people in the Western Hemisphere, while the Haitians and the Cubans are at the opposite end of the spectrum, according to a Gallup poll released today. About 63 percent of “Ticos,” as Costa Ricans are known, are satisfied with life and optimistic about the future, while only 2 percent have difficulty surviving from day to day, according to the survey. Following the Costa Ricans at the top of the happiness list are the Canadians, the Panamanians, the Brazilians, and the Americans. Things are very different in Haiti, where only 4 percent of citizens are content with their existence and where access to food, shelter, and medicine is a problem for 35 percent. In Cuba, 25 percent of people say that they are happy, compared to 11 percent who struggle to survive every day. In the survey, Gallup asked at least one thousand people in each country how they would evaluate their wellbeing on a scale of zero to ten, using a sample designed to represent the opinion of all citizens. According to the study, happiness depends on two factors, health and wealth, Gallup’s head of Global Practice, Tom Rath, said at an event at the firm’s headquarters today. And among all of an individual’s circumstances, “nothing is as important as having a good job” for a sense of personal satisfaction, Rath indicated. Gallup conducted the survey in more than 150 countries, together encompassing 98 percent of the world’s population. The nation where citizens said that they were most content with life was Denmark, while the nation with the worst result was Zimbabwe, where, according to Gallup, sadness reigns.last_img read more

Securing Caribbean Nations

first_img The Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, or CBSI, launched in May 2010 seeks to strengthen Caribbean-U.S. security ties and reduce spill- over violence from successful drug eradication efforts elsewhere in the region. According to the U.S. State Department, CBSI complements the United States’ Mérida Initiative by providing equipment and training to support law enforcement and technical assistance to confront criminal organizations in Mexico, Central America, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Objectives for the 15 Caribbean Community, countries include counternarcotics, antitraffick- ing, gang prevention, education and combating government corruption. By Dialogo July 01, 2010 I like the initiative, but it bothers me that Cuba is left out. Luisa last_img read more

Guatemala and Honduras Agree to Reinforce Measures against Drug Trafficking

first_imgBy Dialogo June 15, 2012 Lobo and his Salvadoran counterpart, Mauricio Funes, declined to attend a Central American summit held in Guatemala on March 24 in order to analyze Pérez’s proposal. “We know that this problem (of drug trafficking) is not only a Guatemalan problem or only a Honduran problem; it’s a problem that we share in Central America, as transit countries for drug trafficking,” Pérez said. “We also addressed how to improve security in order to eliminate blind (illegal) border crossings” through a binational police force, or a trinational one if El Salvador joins, the Honduran president added. He explained that all frontal assaults on drug trafficking should be supported by prevention strategies. Following a brief meeting in the Guatemalan capital, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez and Honduran President Porfirio Lobo agreed on June 13 to do better in the fight against drug trafficking and crime, which are heavily impacting their countries and all of Central America. “We’ve addressed issues that we Central Americans share as a challenge, increasingly strengthening exchanges of information and making that joint effort to combat transnational crime,” Lobo stated at a joint press conference with Pérez at the Presidential House. “People talk about how we’re more effective together, not on the combat side, but on the prevention side (…),” the Honduran president specified. Lobo recalled that they are working together with the United States on the strategy known as Operation Martillo, focused on containing the entry of drugs into the region. “Central America’s problems are problems that unite us; in addition, we have many more points of convergence, of union, than points where we could diverge,” Pérez concluded.last_img read more

Cocaine Discovered in France in Container of Chilean Seafood

first_imgBy Dialogo July 13, 2012 A shipment of around 21.6 kg of cocaine, worth 1.3 million euros, was discovered in the port of Le Havre (in northern France), in a container of frozen mussels from Chile, the French customs service announced on July 12. According to the preliminary results of the customs investigation, the cocaine was introduced into the container without the knowledge of the shipper or recipient. The traffickers replaced the container’s original seal after introducing the drugs. This technique, which is being used with increasing frequency, according to the customs service, was employed to transport 113 kg of cocaine seized in this port in June. In that case, the merchandise, with an estimated worth of 7 million euros, was placed in a container of cans of tuna from Ecuador. Separately, on June 21, customs officials seized 3.5 kg of cocaine in the port of Le Havre in a container of personal effects coming from Surinam and destined for Holland. The drugs, hidden in thermos bottles and in the speakers of a computer, were discovered by a trained dog.last_img read more

Guatemalan and Mexican Armed Forces battle Los Zetas and ‘El Chapo’

first_img The Armed Forces of Guatemala and Mexico are cooperating to stop drug trafficking through the border the two countries share. In recent weeks, the Guatemalan Army has deployed 250 troops along the Suchiate River, which marks the western border between Guatemala and Mexico. The troops are part of the Tecún Umán Task Force, whose mission it is to stop drug smuggling and other criminal enterprises, such as human trafficking, along the border. The border is a major drug trafficking route for transnational criminal organizations, particularly Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, which is led by fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The Guatemalan soldiers assigned to the task force have been trained in to detect and stop drug shipments. The troops have also received combat and reconnaissance training, according to Guatemalan military authorities. These troops are equipped with heat sensors and night vision goggles, which allow them to operate at night. They also have armored Jeep J8 vehicles, which were contributed by the United States government. The U.S. is cooperating with Guatemala and Mexico in the battle against transnational criminal organizations. Guatemala’s National Civil Police (PNC) in recent weeks assigned dozens of officers to the border region, in departments such as San Marcos, Petén, Huehuetenango and Quiché. Binational meeting Security deployment In recent weeks, Mexico sent more than 2,500 soldiers and Marines to the border region. For Mexican military forces, the joint operation is known as the “Southern Border Plan,” which is being coordinated by the Mexican Navy. The operation was launched during the first week of September 2013. Mexican security forces are also being strengthened along the country’s border with Belize. In addition to the soldiers and Marines, the Federal Police (PF) is sending an additional 100 agents to the border region. Guatemalan and Mexican security forces are working to stop drugs, weapons, and humans from being smuggled into Mexico. The Mexican Army has established a military camp on the Tapachula-Talismán highway, near six border towns which are adjacent to the Guatemalan border. With the support of military dogs trained to detect drugs, soldiers are inspecting vehicles which pass through the highway. If organized crime operatives slip past the border, Mexican security forces will enforce additional checkpoints in Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo and Campeche. Additional checkpoints will be conducted in Veracruz and Oaxaca. Drug trafficking region Working collaboratively to strengthen security at the border makes sense for Guatemalan and Mexican security forces, according to Carlos Mendoza, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “The strategy to secure the border will inhibit the areas where transnational criminal organizations operate,” Mendoza said. “ It will certainly lead to a reduced flow of drugs, money, and weapons. Cartels will look for new routes.” “It’s a good partnership in terms of security,” the security analyst explained. “They are strengthening cooperation between both countries, as well as their cooperation with the U.S. in the fight against drug cartels.” Guatemalan and Mexican officials discussed security issues and other topics during the 11th Mexico-Guatemala Binational Commission meeting in Mexico City in May 2013. The two countries must cooperate to strengthen security in the border region, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Fernando Carrera Castro said during the closing ceremony of the binational meeting. Guatemala and Mexico cannot allow organized crime groups like Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel (CDG) and the Sinaloa Cartel to operate freely, Carrera Castro said. center_img During the past 15 months, Guatemalan and Mexican security forces have captured several important organized crime operatives who operated transnationally: • In May 2013, Guatemala’s National Civil Police captured Samuel Escobar, 20, an alleged high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel operative. Police captured Escobar in the department of San Marcos, near the Pacific coast. He was carrying a gun, jewelry, and more than $128,000 in cash. Escobar was with a gang which was threatening to kill police officers unless they stopped looking for him, Guatemala Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said. National Civil Police also captured Deisy Vallagran, 57, a suspected drug trafficker who was allegedly hiding firearms, drugs, and a money-counting machine in her home, and Juventino Encarnacion Garcia, 44, an alleged drug trafficker suspected of working with El Chapo. • In September 2012, Mexican Army soldiers captured Sergio Armando Barrera Salcedo, an alleged Sinaloa Cartel operative who is known as “El Checo.” He is suspected of receiving drugs that were smuggled through the Guatemala-Mexico border and transporting them throughout Mexico. • In July 2012, Guatemalan National Civil Police agents and Army soldiers captured 27 alleged Los Zetas operatives in the suburb of Quetzal, near Guatemala City. The suspects were all Mexican nationals. They were suspected of engaging in killings, extortion, kidnappings, arms smuggling, and drug trafficking. Improving security By Dialogo October 09, 2013 Important captures For years, Los Zetas, the Sinaloa Cartel, and other organized crime groups have used the 1,000-kilometer long Guatamala-Mexico border for drug trafficking and other illicit enterprises. While some drugs are smuggled from Central America to Mexico and the United States in boats and planes, the vast majority of drugs – 76 percent – are trafficked through the Guatemala-Mexico border, according to security analysts. last_img read more

OAS member nations strengthen cooperation in fight against organized crime

Cooperation crucial in the fight against organized crime The criminal activities of organized crime groups, such as drug smuggling, extortion, kidnapping, and human trafficking, have led to increased levels of violence in several OAS countries in recent years. For example, from 2000 to 2011, the homicide rate in El Salvador jumped from 60 to 69 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). During that time, the number of killings in Honduras rose from 51 to 92 per 100,000 residents. In Guatemala, the number of killings ncreased from 26 to 39 for every 100,000 inhabitants. The violent street gangs Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and Barrio 18, or 18th Street, operate in each of those countries, where they engage in domestic drug dealing, extortion, and firearms trafficking. Those gangs are responsible for much of the violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. These gangs also have alliances with Mexican drug trafficking organizations, such as the Sinaloa Cartel, which is led by fugitive kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and Los Zetas. Strengthening joint actions Security officials in Latin America need reliable equipment, technological tools, and sound tactical and strategic plans to succeed in their battle against organized crime, officials from more than 30 countries agreed following a recent conference. These were the main conclusions reached during the IV meeting of the Ministers of Security in the Americas (MISPA) in Medellin, Colombia. Officials from the 35 countries which comprise the Organization of American States (OAS) participated in the conference, which took place Nov. 21-22 2013. Security officials at the conference also determined that regional cooperation between OAS countries is crucial in the fight against transnational criminal threats. Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, and United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. were among the officials who attended the conference. The two-day meeting strengthened ties between OAS countries which battle transnational criminal organizations, Pinzón said. “The summit is an instrument that strengthens and reinforces joint actions against transnational crime and criminal behaviors that are common in these countries,” Pinzón said. Many OAS members face the shared threat posed by transnational criminal organizations, Pinzón explained. Transnational criminal organizations are “a global challenge that prevents the development of countries and violates human rights,” the defense minister said. Gangs in Colombia An international commission Colombian security forces are battling several organized crime groups, including the drug trafficking gangs “Los Rastrojos” and “Los Urabeños.” Both of these gangs have alliances with Mexican drug cartels. ”, both linked to drug trafficking in collusion with Mexican drug cartels, especially the Sinaloa Cartel, led by the fugitive of justice, Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán. Colombian officials are negotiating with representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has been fighting the government for 50 years. The ongoing negotiations are taking place in Havana. Organized crime activity increases violence By Dialogo December 19, 2013 At the end of the meeting, MISPA defined strategies for regional cooperation in the fight against transnational criminal organizations. The strategy calls for joint investigation protocols and improving the lines of communication for police forces from different countries to share information. Several OAS member countries are already cooperating in the fight against organized crime. For example, on Nov. 14, 2013 in Piura, Peru, the presidents of Peru and Ecuador agreed to strengthen cooperation on security in the fight against human trafficking and the illegal sale of fuel. The agreement President Ollanta Humala of Peru and President Rafael Correa of Ecuador marked the closing of the VII Binational Ministerial Cabinet. On Nov. 23, 2013, President Correa met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to discuss the progress of the agreements reached during the first Binational Cabinet meeting between the two countries. This meeting was held in December 2012, in Tulcán, Ecuador, where eight agreements were signed on issues of security, transportation, education, tourism, and petroleum. During the MISPA meeting, Insulza urged officials from OAS nations to support the idea of forming an international commission to fight transnational crime. “I hope that the proposal for an Inter-American Commission against organized transnational crime is considered and realized, because even today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we do not have a technical-political agency dedicated to organizing and coordinating collective efforts to address the growing threat of transnational organized crime,” the OAS Secretary General said. “In the five years that have passed since our first meeting in Mexico City, the issue of public security has become a cornerstone for OAS actions. MISPA has been institutionalized and response capabilities of the various agencies have increased,” Insulza said. read more

FUSINA Repels Honduran Drug Gangs in Mosquito Coast Region

first_img“In order to prevent the inhabitants of Gracias a Dios from developing direct and indirect activities for the benefit of common and organized crime, state forces have currently been deployed on land, sea, and air to take full control of this region,” Col. Paz Escalante said. “We are implementing a strong social development program that seeks to improve the living conditions of indigenous communities.” By Dialogo June 16, 2015 Such collaboration was crucial in the operation that led to the capture of Zambulá Thompson. “The arrest was the result of coordinated work done by various government agencies, which are currently operating in the area of Gracias a Dios, all part of FUSINA and deployed by land, air, and sea to shield this area of operations,” FUSINA commander Infantry Colonel Gustavo Adolfo Paz Escalante told Diálogo. And in July 2014, U.S. federal authorities in Florida arrested Miguel’s and Luis’s sister, Digna Valle Valle. Honduran daily La Prensa reported in April that she had pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and agreed to cooperate with U.S. federal prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence. Inter-agency and international cooperation is a key component of these efforts; for example, 400 Marines and pilots work in shifts to patrol sea and air routes throughout the day, while two ships patrol inter-oceanic waters. Meanwhile, a Military unit in the area coordinates these efforts with forces from U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). That initiative is being carried out by FUSINA, an organization comprised of 4,400 highly trained, equipped, and specialized men and women of the Armed Forces, the National Police, the Attorney General’s office, the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), the Immigration Agency and the Directorate for Intelligence. And their efforts have led to several successful security operations, including two major drug interdictions in the Mosquito Coast area. In mid April, FUSINA together with Navy personnel seized 691 kilos of cocaine on the Caratasca Lagoon in Puerto Lempira, the capital of Gracias a Dios department. The drug was hidden in six fishing boats traveling on the lagoon. And a week later, FUSINA agents conducted an operation that led to the capture of Jorge Zambulá Thompson, a Miskito man allegedly carrying 175 kilos of cocaine on a fishing boat in the department of Gracias a Dios. That initiative is being carried out by FUSINA, an organization comprised of 4,400 highly trained, equipped, and specialized men and women of the Armed Forces, the National Police, the Attorney General’s office, the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), the Immigration Agency and the Directorate for Intelligence. And their efforts have led to several successful security operations, including two major drug interdictions in the Mosquito Coast area. In mid April, FUSINA together with Navy personnel seized 691 kilos of cocaine on the Caratasca Lagoon in Puerto Lempira, the capital of Gracias a Dios department. The drug was hidden in six fishing boats traveling on the lagoon. And a week later, FUSINA agents conducted an operation that led to the capture of Jorge Zambulá Thompson, a Miskito man allegedly carrying 175 kilos of cocaine on a fishing boat in the department of Gracias a Dios. Government disrupts gangs in Gracias a Dios For example, in the Caribbean region of Honduras, some drug trafficking organizations are exploiting members of the Miskito indigenous people, using threats or promises of large amounts of money to persuade them to transport drugs. But the Honduran government is fighting back — aggressively focusing air, naval, and land forces against drug trafficking organizations as part of an overarching security plan known as Operation Morazán. Such collaboration was crucial in the operation that led to the capture of Zambulá Thompson. “The arrest was the result of coordinated work done by various government agencies, which are currently operating in the area of Gracias a Dios, all part of FUSINA and deployed by land, air, and sea to shield this area of operations,” FUSINA commander Infantry Colonel Gustavo Adolfo Paz Escalante told Diálogo. Agents with the Honduran National Inter-Agency Task Force (FUSINA) have made important inroads in the fight against transnational criminal organizations that operate in the Mosquito Coast region — particularly in remote areas that have become a haven for drug trafficking in recent years. As a consequence of FUSINA’s efforts, the Mosquito Coast region “can’t be regarded as a paradise for drug lords anymore,” said Eugenio Sosa, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). Those forces have contributed to several major drug seizures and arrests of organized crime kingpins in recent months, including the captures of several leaders of Los Cachiros, a drug trafficking gang, and the leaders of the Los Valles drug trafficking group. The two busts in April denote a broader trend in Gracias a Dios, where transnational criminal organizations have pulled some Miskito people into drug trafficking by threatening them or offering them large amounts of money, Col. Paz Escalante said. The Miskitos are located in the Northeast region of Honduras, an area known as “The Honduran Mosquitia” — specifically from the mouth of the Rio Wanks (also known as Rio Coco or Rio Segovia) to Rio Tinto (also know as Rio Black) in Gracias a Dios. That organization, based in the department of Copán, was led by brothers Miguel Arnulfo Valle Valle and Luis Alonso Valle Valle. In October 2014, Honduran law enforcement authorities captured the two brothers; the Honduran government later extradited them to the United States, where they face federal drug trafficking charges. U.S. federal prosecutors allege the brothers led an organization which transported tons of cocaine from Colombia to Honduras and finally to the United States. Strategic security initiative Dismantling groups like Los Valles and Los Cachiros is part of the Honduran government’s broad security strategy. At least four drug cartels, including at one from Mexico and one from Colombia, operate in Honduras; and FUSINA operations have hit them hard, seizing some of their assets and capturing some of their operatives. Those efforts have reduced violence and overall crime in the departments of Olancho, Copán, Cortés, and the city of San Pedro Sula. Additionally, FUSINA, in cooperation with the United States government, has also disrupted Los Cachiros. In September 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department designated seven individuals and five businesses tied to the Honduran gang; and in January, the group’s alleged leaders — Javier Eriberto Rivera Maradiaga, alias “Javier Cachiro,” and his brother Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga — surrendered to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in January. Strategic security initiative Overall, since its launch on January 27, 2014, Operation Morazán has led to the seizure of more than 11,000 kilos of cocaine, most of it at sea; the execution of 3,927 arrest warrants, including extradition orders; and the dismantling of 55 criminal gangs. As a consequence of FUSINA’s efforts, the Mosquito Coast region “can’t be regarded as a paradise for drug lords anymore,” said Eugenio Sosa, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). Those forces have contributed to several major drug seizures and arrests of organized crime kingpins in recent months, including the captures of several leaders of Los Cachiros, a drug trafficking gang, and the leaders of the Los Valles drug trafficking group. For example, in the Caribbean region of Honduras, some drug trafficking organizations are exploiting members of the Miskito indigenous people, using threats or promises of large amounts of money to persuade them to transport drugs. But the Honduran government is fighting back — aggressively focusing air, naval, and land forces against drug trafficking organizations as part of an overarching security plan known as Operation Morazán. And in July 2014, U.S. federal authorities in Florida arrested Miguel’s and Luis’s sister, Digna Valle Valle. Honduran daily La Prensa reported in April that she had pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and agreed to cooperate with U.S. federal prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence. “We are tackling crime in the countryside, towns, and neighborhoods,” Col. Paz Escalante said. “We trust in God that we will be cleaning and increasingly reducing the crime rate in each of the neighborhoods of the different municipalities.” Additionally, FUSINA, in cooperation with the United States government, has also disrupted Los Cachiros. In September 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department designated seven individuals and five businesses tied to the Honduran gang; and in January, the group’s alleged leaders — Javier Eriberto Rivera Maradiaga, alias “Javier Cachiro,” and his brother Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga — surrendered to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in January. Overall, since its launch on January 27, 2014, Operation Morazán has led to the seizure of more than 11,000 kilos of cocaine, most of it at sea; the execution of 3,927 arrest warrants, including extradition orders; and the dismantling of 55 criminal gangs. The two busts in April denote a broader trend in Gracias a Dios, where transnational criminal organizations have pulled some Miskito people into drug trafficking by threatening them or offering them large amounts of money, Col. Paz Escalante said. The Miskitos are located in the Northeast region of Honduras, an area known as “The Honduran Mosquitia” — specifically from the mouth of the Rio Wanks (also known as Rio Coco or Rio Segovia) to Rio Tinto (also know as Rio Black) in Gracias a Dios. That organization, based in the department of Copán, was led by brothers Miguel Arnulfo Valle Valle and Luis Alonso Valle Valle. In October 2014, Honduran law enforcement authorities captured the two brothers; the Honduran government later extradited them to the United States, where they face federal drug trafficking charges. U.S. federal prosecutors allege the brothers led an organization which transported tons of cocaine from Colombia to Honduras and finally to the United States. Agents with the Honduran National Inter-Agency Task Force (FUSINA) have made important inroads in the fight against transnational criminal organizations that operate in the Mosquito Coast region — particularly in remote areas that have become a haven for drug trafficking in recent years. “In order to prevent the inhabitants of Gracias a Dios from developing direct and indirect activities for the benefit of common and organized crime, state forces have currently been deployed on land, sea, and air to take full control of this region,” Col. Paz Escalante said. “We are implementing a strong social development program that seeks to improve the living conditions of indigenous communities.” Government disrupts gangs in Gracias a Dios Inter-agency and international cooperation is a key component of these efforts; for example, 400 Marines and pilots work in shifts to patrol sea and air routes throughout the day, while two ships patrol inter-oceanic waters. Meanwhile, a Military unit in the area coordinates these efforts with forces from U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Dismantling groups like Los Valles and Los Cachiros is part of the Honduran government’s broad security strategy. At least four drug cartels, including at one from Mexico and one from Colombia, operate in Honduras; and FUSINA operations have hit them hard, seizing some of their assets and capturing some of their operatives. Those efforts have reduced violence and overall crime in the departments of Olancho, Copán, Cortés, and the city of San Pedro Sula. “We are tackling crime in the countryside, towns, and neighborhoods,” Col. Paz Escalante said. “We trust in God that we will be cleaning and increasingly reducing the crime rate in each of the neighborhoods of the different municipalities.” In the area of La Mosquitia Excellent In my view this is an excellent magazine, positive and informative.last_img read more

Partner Nations Train to Combat Criminal Organizations

first_imgA sub-regional Military organization with the mission of contributing to the region’s security, development, and military integration, CFAC was founded by the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua founded on November 12, 1997. It has sustained an ongoing and systematic effort of cooperation, coordination, and mutual support for the joint analysis of issues of common interest and providing an optimal level of defense against threats to democracy, peace, and freedom. By Dialogo October 19, 2015 “Our work focuses on jointly reflecting on the need for the Military to act in situations of armed conflict and missions to maintain public order,” said Pascal Pinot, the ICRC liaison to the Armed Forces and Security Forces of Central America. Lieutenant Colonel Sidney Marenco, FAES representative at the training, said these exercises demonstrate the ways illegal armed groups operate. The combat “We had the opportunity to learn details about how these groups are trying to move throughout Central America, threatening the security of our nations,” said Lt. Col. Marenco. “This exercise has allowed us to incorporate this knowledge in order to defend the civilian population from the threats they pose.” “When the population is able to see how we operate – as professionals who always aim to protect their rights without violating them – they then understand that we are not just prepared for a war,” said Dominican Republic Armed Forces representative Lieutenant Angelita Peña. “We are ready to protect them from serious threats such as the illegal armed groups.” “The officials have reaffirmed their understanding of human rights to protect civilians during operations against illegal armed groups,” said Brigadier General Mauricio Villacorta, director of the FAES Doctrine and Military Education Command. “This technological exercise also helped strengthen command and control, decision-making, and operational planning.” Officers from four Armies of Central America and the Dominican Republic recently tested their ability to make tactical and operational decisions during clashes with illegal armed groups by using simulators at the Computerized Tactical Training Center (CETAC) of the Armed Forces of El Salvador (FAES). Forging ties with the civilian population There, from September 21-25, forty participants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic attended the Conference of Central American Armed Forces’ (CFAC) first Computer Simulation Exercise Applied to the International Law of Armed Conflict. There, amid staged high-pressure combat situations, officers led Troops and managed Military resources to combat illegal armed organizations similar to those operating trafficking networks in the region. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegates guided the Soldiers during the joint exercises. Since building a rapport with civilians was one of the training’s key components, Military officials learned to show civilians, through their knowledge and skills, that they are staunch allies of peace and security. Troops engaged in simulated combat scenarios in different environments, weather, and situations involving threats and Troop deployments, since conducting exercises in the real world with Troops on the ground would be far more costly. costlier. Promoting cooperation At the end of the computerized workshop, Derek Spranger, ICRC’s representative in El Salvador, spoke to the participants about the importance of the teamwork fostered through the CFAC. “The conference is an important forum within the framework of cooperation, the exchange of best practices, training, and brotherhood among those who devote their lives to the militaries of each of their countries.” “The teams undergo combat simulations – some without prior planning, with evolving scenarios, working together,” said Colonel Andrés Zamora of El Salvador, an engineer who served as one of the workshop instructors. “Crisis management and civilian assistance training exercises were also designed.” last_img read more

Osprey Aircrafts Arrive in Brazil to Support Unitas Amphibious

first_imgThe MV-22 Osprey has been employed to support troops in combat since 2007 and is the main assault support aircraft used by the U.S. Marine Corps. After a stop in the city of Belém (PA), the aircrafts arrived in Rio to join the Unitas Amphibious exercise on November 17 and 18, at Ilha do Governador, and on November 20, at Marambaia Island. By Dialogo November 20, 2015 Will they be there for only a little while or permanently, incorporated in the Navy of Brazil? The priority should be in investing in peace, and not in war preparation. Training is always good with very positive rapport, especially at this time. This game is really good because all the doll figures in it are on the same machine. With double the speed and five times greater range than that of a helicopter, the vehicle uses two engines positioned at the ends of the fixed wings which allow vertical landing and take-off. center_img This past Saturday (14), three MV-22 Osprey aircraft from the United States landed in Rio de Janeiro to begin the Operation Unitas Amphibious 2015 military training exercise. Completing the longest flight of its history, the MV-22 travelled the equivalent of 11,417 kilometers, from United States to Brazil. Led by the Brazilian Navy, through the Marine Corps Command, Operation Unitas Amphibious 2015 brings together Marines from eight countries: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, USA, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru.last_img read more

Honduran Troops and Police Join Forces to Protect Civilians from M-18 and MS-13

first_imgIn addition to the violent areas in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, Troops and police officers perform joint security patrols in the cities of La Ceiba and Choloma as part of the effort to provide security in all of the country’s major cities. “The timely action taken by the Armed Forces and the National Police has allowed us to neutralize any threat or extension to other neighborhoods or districts,” Commissioner Saucedo said. “The control over these areas has generated confidence in the people so that they are able to stay in their homes. We are doing our best for the sake of the Honduran civil society.” M-18 depends on income from extortion and MS-13 relies heavily on micro-trafficking drugs. A gang can generate illegal profits of up to $2.5 million annually, according to the Gangs in Honduras report issued on November 20, 2015 by the organization Insight Crime. M-18 currently operates in about 150 neighborhoods and districts of Tegucigalpa, while MS-13 is in 70, according to Honduran police intelligence. In San Pedro Sula, M-18 operates in 22 neighborhoods and MS-13 in 11, according to Insight Crime. The M-18 members told the terrified residents they had 48 hours to vacate their homes. “The gang members demanded that they leave their houses along the main street because they wanted to convert it into the border between the territories controlled by Barrio 18 and the rival gang for the sale of drugs and extortion,” said Second Lieutenant Selkin Arita of the Military Police for Public Order (PMOP), the newspaper Prensa Libre reported on March 24th. A week earlier, M-18 gang members gave residents in the Reparto Lempira district, located in San Pedro Sula–Honduras’s second largest city–24 hours to vacate the area or die. “On behalf of Barrio 18 we are giving you 24 hours to vanish from this area. After that, there will be no regrets. You will see lives lost just for opening the door,” the M-18 wrote on a note in the district, according to a report by El Heraldo. By Dialogo April 15, 2016 About 100 members of the Honduran Armed Forces and National Police (PNH) provided security to civilians so they could return to their homes in a district in southern Tegucigalpa after being threatened by the violent Barrio 18 (M-18) gang. “The residents of the Las Torres district were alarmed,” PNH Commissioner Leonel Saucedo told Diálogo. “They left their homes in order to protect themselves. There was an immediate and timely intervention from both the Armed Forces and the National Police, who are maintaining a permanent presence in that district. In the end, this generated confidence among the residents of those neighborhoods.” However, the Armed Forces and PNH arrived on the scene to provide security for those who returned to their homes on March 28th, according to Commissioner Saucedo. Effective Military responsecenter_img “There haven’t been any problems in the districts where the threats were received,” Commissioner Saucedo stated. “We are carrying out joint prevention patrols, motorcycle and vehicle patrols, 24 hours a day. The results of the operations in Las Torres and Reparto Lempira have been successful. The presence and support of the Armed Forces in all aspects of this security work have been invaluable. When necessary, we act as coordinating Military institutions.” The M-18 began threatening residents on March 23rd, when eight gang members armed with high-powered AK-47 rifles and automatic pistols arrived “at 7:30 p.m. [in Las Torres] shooting and shouting that Barrio 18 had arrived, and that they were the new owners of that sector of the capital,” the newspaper La Tribuna reported on March 26th. Gang members entered a residence in the district, also known as El Hoyo, and interrogated the owners, asking them if they worked with the rival gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Law enforcement has made strides protecting the civilian population from M-18 and MS-13, which are responsible for much of the crime in the nation’s urban centers. For example, the 5,148 homicides recorded nationwide in 2015 were 788 fewer than the 5,936 reported in 2014. Last year, authorities documented more than 1,460 homicides in San Pedro Sula and 26 in Reparto Lempira, according to a February 2016 report by the University Institute of Democracy, Peace, and Security of the National Autonomous University of Honduras. The Military and the PMOP immediately deployed personnel to protect civilians from gang members by establishing checkpoints and roadblocks. The security forces sent to Las Torres and Reparto Lempira will be be permanent, according to Commissioner Saucedo. Security patrols The collaboration between the Armed Forces and the National Police in the fight against gangs is increasing confidence levels. “The people, upon seeing professional work that gets results and a greater commitment by the security forces of the state, have more confidence in giving information to the authorities, which allows us to carry out joint actions to arrest the people involved in these criminal organizations,” Commissioner Saucedo explained. “As they continue their joint operations, Troops and police aim to further reduce homicides and the sale and distribution of drugs. The big challenge for 2016 is to reduce the occurrence of extortion, make arrests, and dismantle the criminal organizations.”last_img read more

Guatemalan Amphibious Troops Strengthen Skills

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo August 03, 2018 The Guatemalan Navy, with the support of the U.S. Marine Corpsy, trained a naval component in the Advanced Marine Course in Puerto Barrios, Izabal, throughout May 2018. The objective of the course was to improve the response capabilities of the Guatemalan Marines to conduct operations in various environments. “We thank the U.S. government for contributing to the training of our marines,” Captain Erick Roberto Orellana, second commander of the Guatemalan Marine Brigade, told Diálogo. “It helped us strengthen our skills and capabilities to fulfill our amphibious and riverine missions in coastal areas.” Soldiers of steel The training consisted of high-performance tactical phases in areas such as urban operations, water combat, use of support weapons, as well as incursion and amphibious landing techniques in waters 1 kilometer off the coast. “Soldiers have to bear the weight of their own body, plus the weight of all the equipment and weapons,” said Capt. Orellana. “It’s hard, because it’s twice the effort to get to shore without sinking or drowning and without being noticed.” With the support of U.S. service members, Guatemalan troops learned to take position in a war ship. They received specific combat training to respond to an ambush or enemy fire, and trained with modern physical conditioning techniques. U.S. service members also provided operational advice to naval and land officers of the Guatemalan Marine Brigade. The Advanced Marine Course demands physical and mental strength, and not every candidate is able to complete the course and graduate. “Out of 80 students accepted, only 25 passed the course,” said Capt. Orellana. “We don’t want supermen; we seek to train elements that will contribute to maintaining the defense of sovereignty and deliver maximum results in the fight against national and international criminal organizations.” Integrated cooperation The Guatemalan Marine Brigade contributes to the development of joint and combined military operations against any threat to the general public. According to the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense, the unit seeks to be the best-trained strategic brigade in the country to conduct operations in coastal, riverine, amphibious, and special environments. Collaboration with the armed forces of the Western Hemisphere allows Guatemalan Armed Forces to improve their sea, air, and land defense. The U.S. Department of State, in its 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, estimates that about 1,400 tons of cocaine were smuggled through the country in 2017, most was destined for the U.S market. “Integrated cooperation with the U.S., Colombian, Mexican, and Chilean governments allows us to be trained, improve our own doctrine, and apply it in our fields to attain the best outcome in an operation, and make completion of tasks more dynamic,” Navy Lieutenant Eduardo Antonio Carmona, chief of the Naval Training Center of the Guatemalan Marine Forces, told Diálogo. “We have a more technical training with the U.S. military, while we focus more on the military’s own capabilities when we work with Latin American forces. “Sometimes equipment or resources are inadequate, but marines are trained to complete assigned tasks with available resources. Marines know and trust they can fulfill their mission quickly and effectively, no matter how good their weapons or boots are.” The Guatemalan Marine Brigade has receives tactical and physical training from the United States since 2013. According to Lt. Carmona, a total of 540 marines have been trained by way of the advanced course. “Thanks to this cooperation we seized a huge amount of drugs in the last three years,” Capt. Orellana concluded. U.S. Marine Corps amphibious troops will offer two more courses in 2018.last_img read more

Chile Emphasizes the Importance of Women in Peacekeeping Missions

first_imgBy Guillermo Saavedra/Diálogo January 29, 2019 Through the Joint Peacekeeping Operations Center (CECOPAC, in Spanish), the Chilean Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded 2018 with a course addressing the role of women in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. The international course Women, Peace, and Security: Gender Integration in Peacekeeping Operations was conducted December 3-7, at CECOPAC in Santiago, Chile. Forty-five units from security and armed forces of the region, including representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, the United States, and Uruguay, took part in the course. Participants learned about gender issues, cultural diversity, human rights, and negotiation, among other topics. The objective of the activity was to share basic and fundamental knowledge on gender perspectives in peacekeeping missions to provide the proper tools and skills to the personnel deployed in these operations. The course also emphasized the role of peacekeeping personnel as protectors of the most vulnerable members of the population—women and children. “In the last two years, this has been a particularly relevant issue for us,” Chilean Navy Captain Marco Villegas Zanón, CECOPAC director, told Diálogo. “Basically, the course’s purpose and focus is to prepare monitors in these fields.” Troop requirement The course was conducted as part of the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), a program of the U.S. Department of State that seeks to reinforce partner nations’ capabilities in the execution of peacekeeping operations. CECOPAC conducted the third edition of the course with the support of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) through the Security Cooperation Office at the U.S. Embassy in Chile. “U.S. involvement is present in all areas,” said Capt. Villegas. “Professors come from the United States; they’re involved in the coordination of activities and program design, logistics, and the possibility of bringing foreign students to the country.” The course is the result of a partnership among GPOI, SOUTHCOM, the U.S. Navy’s Naval Postgraduate School, and CECOPAC that dates back to 2013. The activity also supports UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, and is a requirement for troops that deploy in peacekeeping operations. “[Resolution 1325] extends the traditional concept of security to include more citizens, especially women and people who weren’t traditionally considered part of the security structure that a country was supposed to provide,” said Guillermo Holzmann, a Chilean defense and international affairs analyst. “It suggests who should provide those conditions, and who should be the participants, and this is where it advises on the inclusion of women […], in humanitarian situations requiring security conditions that will be much more efficient and effective when the gender perspective is addressed.” Better prepared The course was taught in a conference format, with several modules distributed over the course of five days. Activities included lectures on concepts of organizational change, stress management, and intercultural communication, among others. “The course addresses a full range of risks, from marginalization of women to sexual and gender-based violence,” Alex Concepción, GPOI assistant program manager at SOUTHCOM, told Diálogo. “We take the perspective that peacekeepers who understand the risks to women develop intervention skills and apply those skills to realistic scenarios. They are better prepared to act morally and effectively when they encounter a genuine threat in a conflict situation.” According to Concepción, CECOPAC played an important role throughout the initiative and demonstrated its regional leadership in preparing security and armed forces on women’s empowerment issues. He added that Chile showed great interest in helping regional countries to deploy in peacekeeping missions. “At a regional level, Chile is very progressive in these areas,” Concepción said. “Chile was the first country in Latin America to create and develop a National Action Plan for Women, Security, and Peace, which has inspired other countries in the region, [such as] El Salvador and Paraguay, to work on their own plan.” “I would like to emphasize the opportunity that the GPOI initiative gives us to teach these topics to national and foreign personnel,” Capt. Villegas concluded. “Also, [I want to emphasize] the fact that we can contribute to training people throughout Latin America.” The course was first taught in Uruguay, in 2015. It was carried out twice more in 2018, in Peru in May and in Chile in December. CECOPAC plans to conduct the same course in El Salvador in 2019.last_img read more

Brazilian Officer Returns To Brazil With Unprecedented UN Award

first_imgBy Taciana Moury / Diálogo August 21, 2019 In early July 2019, the officer was assigned to the Almirante Sylvio de Camargo Training Center, in Rio de Janeiro, and will be working at the Naval Peacekeeping Operations School, which trains MB service members for UN peacekeeping operations or MB international commitments.UN Secretary-General António Guterres presented Lt. Cmdr. Márcia with the award on March 29, 2019, for serving as military gender advisor in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA, in French). The officer visited the Central African Republic (CAR) from April 2018 to April 2019.In an interview with Diálogo, Lt. Cmdr. Márcia attributed the award to her dedication to the work carried out in MINUSCA. “It was a personal battle. I had never dedicated myself to anything as much as I did to protecting the civilians,” she said. “There was no better way to close the cycle of my mission in CAR. It’s very good to be recognized, and to have it done on an international level is beyond my wildest dreams.” The activities were carried out closer to the local community and projects were developed to mitigate threats. “I believe that whenever service members are on the ground, we can avoid abuses. The patrol, preferably comprised of men and women, the engagement, and listening to the community are fundamental for the protection of civilians.”The small number of women working on MINUSCA was among the main challenges Lt. Cmdr. Márcia faced. “I had 3.7 percent women. The average for missions was 4 percent, including military observers, team, and troop workers. [It’s a] very small amount, when considering the importance of mixed patrols to get closer to women, especially those who have been victims of sexual violence,” she said. “Language was another obstacle to approaching the community. There were battalions that did not speak French, which is predominant in the region.”Despite the challenges, Lt. Cmdr. Márcia said the experience in a UN mission is unforgettable. “At each obstacle, I increased my strength to continue working toward helping people. I was the happiest I had ever been. I miss Africa. It’s part of me now, part of my history,” she concluded. United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial: Uniformed Capabilities, Performance and Protection A main part of the work Lt. Cmdr. Márcia developed was to assess and understand the region’s more sensitive areas and the  locations of groups. The goal was to document characteristics of the terrain to be able to advise military commanders on the best troop positioning.“The gender advisor must be on the ground, with the locals and the contingent, not working from an office,” she said. “If I know about armed groups recruiting children in an area, I need to pay more attention to the kids’ routine, to understand how abuses occur and alert the troops to the need for intervention.” Lt. Cmdr. Márcia encouraged interaction with children during the mission. (Photo: United Nations)The officer also received the Victory Medal from the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, on April 5, 2019, which President Jair Bolsonaro presented. “This shows that, like the UN, Brazil recognizes the importance of gender equality and the protection of civilians,” she said.The goal of her mission was to apply gender perspectives within the military component, to avoid human rights violations. Until then, no such work had been performed in MINUSCA. “I created an action plan from scratch, from staffing to the engagement of locals.”According to Lt. Cmdr. Márcia, five steps were defined in the line of action: development of the workforce; service member training, which included visiting sectors and battalions to explain the importance of using the gender perspective on a day-to-day basis; information exchanges; inclusion of gender perspective in documents and guidelines produced in the mission; and engagement and deployment within communities. “It was a full cycle. It was gratifying to see the mixed teams of men and women working to protect the local population,” she said.last_img read more

US Places Nicaraguan Military Chief, Finance Minister on Sanctions Blacklist

first_imgBy Steven McLoud/Diálogo June 10, 2020 With the intent of increasing pressure on the regime of Daniel Ortega, the United States announced sanctions against Nicaragua’s military chief and finance minister.General Julio César Aviles, commander of the Nicaraguan Armed Forces, and Iván Adolfo Acosta, minister of Finance and Public Credit, were placed on the U.S. sanctions blacklist on May 22. The U.S. Treasury Department froze the assets of both men and banned all Americans and U.S. companies from doing business with them.According to the Treasury Department, the Nicaraguan military under Aviles’ command is alleged to have provided support to the police and paramilitary gangs that carried out crimes against the Nicaraguan people, including attacks on protesters during the unrest that began in April 2018 that lead to the deaths of 300 protesters. The Treasury added that Acosta used his role to arrange financial support for Ortega and threatened banks so that they would not support opposition strikes in 2019.“The Ortega regime’s continued violations of basic human rights, blatant corruption, and widespread violence against the Nicaraguan people are unacceptable,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The United States will target those who prop up the Ortega regime and perpetuate the oppression of the Nicaraguan people,” he added.The U.S. has already slapped sanctions on Ortega, his wife, and two of his sons, with the U.S. Treasury calling Ortega’s son, Rafael, as the “key money manager” for his family. The Nicaraguan National Police as well as its chief and three commissioners have also been blacklisted by the U.S. as well as the European Union.U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that these sanctions aimed to hold the Nicaraguan officials “accountable” for supporting Ortega.last_img read more

League of Women voters still conducting its judicial survey

first_img July 15, 2001 Regular News League of Women voters still conducting its judicial survey Florida judges still have time to participate in a confidential survey that will be used to help educate voters about the value of an independent judiciary and the important balance between the three branches of government. Mimi Jones of the Tallahassee League of Women Voters said the organization has solved a computer glitch which may have prevented some judges from completing the online survey asking about the day-to-day realities of the threat to judicial independence. Every state judge should have received a letter inviting participation in the survey, and the league has sent out another round of letters encouraging those who have yet to respond, or had a problem in responding, to do so now. “The initial password caused a problem,” Jones said. “We have removed the password, and now all the judges have to do is log on. Because every judge uses the same logon, anonymity is still assured.” Questions on the survey include: • During recent judicial elections in Florida, have incidents arisen regarding inappropriate negative or misleading campaign advertising? • Are you ever conscious of the possible ramifications of making an unpopular court ruling? • Has this affected your decisions? Do you believe this has influenced the decisions of other judges? • Are you aware of any misleading or unfair criticism of individual decisions or personal attacks on judges in your circuit? • Should the legislature remove the budget authority of the chief justice and transfer it to the executive branch? • Should the legislature be allowed to supersede judicial rulemaking, as some legislators have proposed? • What issues or concerns have arisen in your circuit regarding judicial appointments? The Tallahassee League of Women Voters received a $3,000 grant from the Open Society Institute to conduct the survey. The goal of the survey is not only to publish the results, expected by the end of September, and encourage media coverage of the findings, but also to continue to educate voters about the issues at election time. “We are getting some wonderful, interesting, varied returns,” Jones said. Judges who have questions about the survey or are encountering problems in accessing the survey may call Jones at (850) 942-7199. League of Women voters still conducting its judicial surveylast_img read more

Advice available for lawyer reservists

first_img November 15, 2001 Regular News Advice available for lawyer reservists Advice available for lawyer reservists The Florida Bar’s Ethics Department With the tragic events that occurred on September 11, many reservists and National Guard personnel were mobilized to assist in the fight against terrorism. Some of those called to duty were members of The Florida Bar. Because of the possibility of a greater mobilization in the near future, it is important for attorneys who may be called to active duty to be adequately prepared to handle the impact on their law practice. While most reservists have a developed contingency plan to protect their clients and law practice, we have learned that some attorneys were not prepared for an immediate mobilization. Mobilization is especially difficult for solo practitioners who do not have the advantage of another attorney working in their office to assist in the transition of cases. Attorneys who practice in a firm have the benefit of allowing another attorney within the firm to handle client matters. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel has posted some guidance on the ABA’s website which may be beneficial to sole practitioners who do not have a current mobilization plan which includes their law practice. The guidance includes an article entitled “Mobilization Readiness Advice for the Solo Attorney/Reservist.” The article offers tips on selecting an attorney to assist in the winding down of a law practice. Factors such as competence, experience, professionalism, and adequate malpractice coverage are primary considerations when selecting a designated attorney. Transitional conferences with the attorney and staff regarding status of cases are also suggested for at least the most pressing matters. The designated administering attorney would need to have an understanding of office systems such as conflict checks and calenders. It is also important that designated attorneys have access to locked storage facilities as well as passwords to obtain computer information. Most importantly, the trust account should be made accessible. Failure to have an authorized signatory on your account could require a court’s order to release client funds. Client notification is also discussed in the article. Clients should be notified of the possibility of an activation order once it appears that a mobilization is likely. Information provided in the notification would include a discussion of what to expect when activation occurs and the necessity that the client file be forwarded to another attorney. Notification and communication with your malpractice carrier is also critical. The article, as well as samples of suggested documents and checklists, can be viewed in its entirety at www.abanet.org. The Florida Bar has a link to the relevant section of the ABA website on its homepage at www.FLABAR.org. It should also be noted that the Military Affairs Committee of the Florida Bar is sponsoring a pro bono referral program to assist active duty military, recalled reservists, and recalled National Guardsmen with their legal needs. Those interested in volunteering should complete an application (provided below) and return it to the Military Affairs Committee staff liaison, Jennifer Wilson. Civilian attorneys and other local bar associations in the state should refrain from soliciting or otherwise directly contacting the military to provide assistance. The Florida Bar Military Affairs Committee will coordinate all necessary assistance and provide training for the volunteers. In addition, the Law Office Management Advisory Service of the Florida Bar (LOMAS) has information and materials available for attorneys who employ reservists. LOMAS can be contacted at (850) 561-5611.last_img read more

Foundation finds success with summer fellows program

first_img August 15, 2003 Daniel Staesser Assistant Editor Regular News Foundation finds success with summer fellows program Foundation finds success with summer fellows program Assistant EditorSometimes a foundation gives us a feeling of security — that though the harsh winds of life may blow against us from all sides, we will somehow weather the storm, because we know we are being held fast. For some of Florida’s neediest, the poor, the elderly, children, and victims of domestic violence and discrimination, that foundation is being laid.In cooperation with Florida law schools, The Florida Bar Foundation has sponsored the 2003 Summer Fellowships Program at legal aid and legal services programs throughout Florida. With funding provided through the IOTA program and the Florida Lawyers Legal Insurance Corporation, the fellowships, granted to first- and second-year law students, has four main purposes:• Involve the fellowship recipients in high quality civil legal assistance to those in need.• Provide educational experience in representing those in need and in working with individual clients and client groups.• Increase student interest in and awareness of the legal problems of the needy and the challenges and satisfactions of representing them.• Promote pro bono representation of those in need.According to the Foundation’s Camille Stawicki, organizer of the summer fellowships, the program has seen considerable success.“We get the law students accustomed to what they would be doing [as legal aid lawyers],” Stawicki said. “For those fellows who will not become legal aid lawyers, this experience, hopefully, will encourage them to volunteer as pro bono attorneys.”Of the 146 applications received for the fellowships only 23 were offered, of which 21 were filled, including a Florida resident attending an out-of-state school. Sylvia Simmons, of Florida State University, is the recipient of the Terry Russell Fellowship funded by Florida’s legal service program’s Project Directors Association, and served at Florida Legal Services in Tallahassee; Luis Maldonado, of the University of Florida, served his fellowship at Withlacoochee Area Legal Services; and Laura Sterling, of Florida A&M, fellowed at the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association.A returning fellow, Simmons said she loves the structure of the program and what it allows her to be involved with.“You sit in a law library and read up on it, but you don’t really talk to the people whom the law affects,” Simmons said. “But this program gives you that opportunity.”Simmons said she spent time researching, volunteering, and on the “hotline” answering calls from victims of domestic violence and similar circumstances.“Sometimes they just want somebody to talk to; somebody who will listen,” Simmons said. “Sometimes the only reason a victim stays in those dire circumstances and puts up with the violence is because they need the money to raise their children.”With a passion for assisting victims of domestic violence, Simmons also said that the fellowships really come together at “an intersection of social work and the law.”“I’m really touched by the cases that involve child abuse,” she said. “It used to be more of a private issue, and now it’s coming more to the public’s attention.”Though growing up in a very supportive environment, Simmons said she had seen so much violence around her throughout her childhood.“I am very close with my family,” said Simmons. “I know how important that structure is, and when you have someone shake up that structure it is very detrimental to its foundation.”Maldonado agreed, having also grown up around similar societal issues. From LaBelle, Maldonado said, “It hits close to home. I essentially have been helped throughout my life, so I feel it is a responsibility to help.”Taking that responsibility very seriously, Maldonado assisted with community outreach education programs, wrote appellate briefs, interviewed clients, and served as an interpreter in court and administrative proceedings during his fellowship.“It was nice putting skills I learned in law school to actual use,” said Maldonado, who said he did everything from translating advertisements to facilitating health screenings.Maldonado said the fellowship was definitely a learning experience and that “working with legal services serves as a reality check – and our issues become menial when compared to worrying whether or not you are going to have a home.”“I’m not helping someone who hurt their back lifting a box win a $10-million suit; I’m helping someone stay in their apartment and have a roof over their head,” said Sterling, who already has a master’s degree in social work, but felt she could do much more as an attorney.Sterling said she tripped into the legal aid arena in college, when she took a class called “Death and Dying.” She volunteered in a nursing home, applying what she learned in class.“Learning and applying the law are two different things,” said Sterling, who praised the Foundation’s program, saying that it gave students a chance to see things first-hand and realize into what area of law they want to go.Students who are selected for fellowships must be in good standing with their law schools, and are selected on the basis of their experience working in low-income communities, academic achievement, writing skills, and previous contact with and long-term commitment to public service and pro bono work.First-year student recipients are allotted $4,000 and second-year students receive $5,000 for the 11-week fellowships. Whether students receive academic credit for the fellowship is up to their law schools and may affect the amount of the stipend. Each fellowship recipient must attend a two-day training seminar before they start work.Fellowship applications are available after November 1 at Florida law schools or from The Florida Bar Foundation’s Web site at www.flabarfndn.org. For more information about the summer fellows program contact Camille Stawicki at (407) 843-0045, or at cstawicki@flabarfndn.org.last_img read more

Jacksonville couple has been practicing for 50 years

first_img July 1, 2005 Senior Editor Regular News Jacksonville couple has been practicing for 50 years Jan Pudlow Senior Editor She was the only woman when she entered law school in 1949 at the University of Florida, back in a time 45 men would stand against the blackboard waiting for her to leave the classroom first.He was a certified public accountant in Atlanta, lured to law school by his young wife, graduating a year later from UF in 1955.Together, June and A.B. Blackburn had double reason to celebrate when the 50-year members of The Florida Bar gathered at Annual Meeting in Orlando.The Jacksonville duo, married since December 1950, each boast at least 50 years as Florida lawyers.June C. Blackburn, a retired Duval County judge, says of her tax-lawyer husband: “I am proud of the fact that he is honest, and how he treats these elderly people who don’t have children to look after them. He is concerned that nobody scams these women, his clients who are in their 80s and 90s, and one lady is 101. He has always looked out for people. When they have to go to the hospital, they call A.B. to take their jewelry to the bank.”And A.B. Blackburn, Jr., who still practices law with their son Bryan at Blackburn & Blackburn, says of his wife: “I have been proud of her all the time. She speaks softly and carries a big stick.”“He doesn’t think I’m afraid of anybody,” adds June, who doesn’t dispute that.“You know, June had an uphill battle because the mentality of most people back then was male. I give her credit that it took guts to stick it out,” A.B. says of his feisty wife, who was a freshman in law school while he was finishing up his bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting.To hear June tell it, she was always comfortable in a man’s world, from the time she was a kindergartner winning all the boys’ marbles, to playing catcher on the boys’ high school baseball team during practice, but not allowed to compete against other teams.Entering the UF College of Law in 1949, she was one of three females among 500 males. One co-ed left to join the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service); one dropped out for financial reasons, so June found herself “the only girl.”She has fond memories of law school, where she was treated like a lady by her classmates, although with a paternalistic tinge.“Most of the law instructors were very, very gentlemanly,” June recalls. “But one or two of the very young ones would call on me with questions on rape cases. The guys in my class did not like that. They were very protective.”To let the professor know they disapproved of such graphic questions of the slender, blonde woman in class, the men would shuffle their feet under their seats.When class was over, she said “45 men would wait for me, standing against the blackboard, waiting for me to go out.”Once she had earned her law degree in 1954, finding a job as a lawyer proved difficult.“They were not used to hiring women. You were kind of a fluke,” June said. “Nobody would hire me. Some wanted to hire me as a secretary. My first degree was in business, and I knew shorthand and typing. I said, ‘Look guys, I didn’t go to law school to be a secretary. Why would you go to all that trouble?’”Already, she had taught high school in Atlanta for a year and worked as a secretary and assistant law librarian while in law school.Turned down time and time again for a job practicing law, June said, many law firms rejected her with the excuse that she would “send cases off to your husband.”She started a family instead, at a time there was no family leave for having babies, and every time she rejoined the work force, she would have to start anew at the bottom rung.First came daughter Alice Blackburn, who has a master’s in divinity; then Bryan Blackburn, the lawyer, was born in 1958.In 1960, June and A.B. Blackburn opened their own law firm.“But to buy groceries both of us taught at Jacksonville University part-time,” June said.In 1963, their third child was born, Mark Blackburn, now a health care executive.When the Blackburns look back on their accomplishments through the years, their children make them most proud.“One of the judges told me in the grocery store, ‘Your son is a gentleman.’ That makes you feel good,” A.B. Blackburn says.This married legal duo ended up thriving in contrasting areas of law.For June, the thrill was in trial work. After a stint as assistant general counsel for the City of Jacksonville in 1976, she honed her expertise in the courtroom as an assistant public defender in 1981 until 1988 “where I had my eyes opened, and sometimes had them opened up more than I wanted.”In 1988, she successfully ran for county judge, where she presided over “everyday people. People who don’t have a lawyer. People whose kids are in trouble. You just try to be honest and fair with them and help them try to work it out.”Then in 1998, the year she turned 70, Florida law said it was mandatory for June to retire from the bench.“Just because it’s your birthday, you have to quit. That’s pretty sad,” she said, adding that she worked two and a half years as a senior judge.Her advice to young lawyers: “Don’t get discouraged. Tie a knot and hang on. Take the bumps in the road. That’s what I had to do.”A.B. still gets his kicks saving people money on their taxes.“I started my career in public accounting and then switched to law. What I found fascinating about it is you could help people both in their personal estate or business tax planning and avoid taxes in a lot of cases. With some simple planning you could help people save considerable amounts of money. saving people money on their taxes, it was like they were making money,” A.B. says.“A.B. used to work with the IRS,” June adds.“Not with them,” A.B. gently corrects, “But to keep it from being a cat fight. I was calm and collected.”A member of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law and Elder Law sections, A.B. served on the Probate and Guardianship Rules Committee and the Elder Law Committee before it was a section.He still goes to the office to see clients several days a week, chuckling when he says, “I now come in late, and to make up for it I leave early. I’d rather do that than stay home, because June would keep me too busy.”What is their secret for a long, happy marriage with dual careers in the law?“Whatever you say, dear,” A.B. is quick to retort.“Don’t let him kid you,” says June, the former judge, who gets the last word. Jacksonville couple has been practicing for 50 yearslast_img read more

Wyandanch Murder Suspect Nabbed in Fla.

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York U.S. Marshals have apprehended a Copiague man wanted for fatally shooting a 35-year-old man in the victim’s hometown of Wyandanch two years ago, Suffolk County police said.Boyd Holland was arrested in Orlando, Florida and was returned Tuesday to Long Island, where is facing a charge of second-degree murder.Homicide Squad detectives said the 22-year-old suspect shot and killed Eric Brooks at 11:34 p.m. on May 9, 2012.Police had said that officers responding to a 911 call reporting gunshots fired when, upon arrival, they found the victim suffering from a bullet wound to the abdomen in the backyard of a house on North 22nd Street.Brooks had been taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where he was pronounced dead.Holland will be arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Central Islip.last_img read more

Nassau Cops Add Moving Billboard to Robbery Spree, Murder Probe

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau County police are taking an investigation into a string of armed robberies and a related homicide to the streets.Several members of the police brass joined Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano outside a BP gas station in Jericho on Friday to unveil a giant school-bus sized mobile billboard requesting information that will help an army of investigators find the brazen, gun-toting robber, who has targeted at least 11 businesses, mostly gas stations, in Nassau since mid December.“Nassau County Crime Stoppers needs your help!” the billboard blares in large white letters.Crime Stoppers is offering a combined $35,000 reward—$25,000 for the homicide and $10,000 for the robberies—for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.Mangano, standing at a podium in front of the billboard on the gas station’s property, said police are asking the public to help “bring this cold-blooded killer to justice.”The moving billboard will be driven to the areas where the robberies have occurred, police said. Officials hope this effort will breathe new life into the investigation and perhaps attract the attention of individuals who have crucial information regarding the suspect.“This person has struck every day of the week,” said Chief of Detectives Kevin Smith, describing how the suspect operates. “Our resolve is intact,” Smith added. “It’s not diminished. We’re going to catch this guy.”Police officials are hoping the public can help with their cause.“Don’t hesitate” to call, Smith implored.An armed assailant, pictured in these surveillance images, is believed to be responsible for nine robberies and one homicide since December, police said.The suspect, who is still unknown to police, is responsible for 10 robberies in the county, beginning on Dec. 20 last year and continuing into February. The suspect last struck on Feb. 18, stealing cash from a Sunoco gas station on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow.Investigators believe the suspect is also responsible for the fatal shooting of 57-year-old Levittown resident Hany Awad, who was gunned down on Jan. 28 inside the same BP gas station where officials held Friday’s press conference. Police have yet to say what, if anything, was taken from the gas station during the homicide.The suspect is described as a black man between 5-feet, 11-inches and 6-feet tall, with a thin build, wearing all black Nike clothing, a black mask, black gloves, black Nike sneakers with red laces and armed with either a black or a silver revolver. The assailant has hit nine gas stations and two 7-Eleven stores in Westbury, Hicksville, and Jericho. The robbery in East Meadow was the only one committed outside those three neighborhoods.Both the robbery and homicides squads are investigating the crime spree. The Major Case Bureau and Bureau of Special Operations are also assisting in the investigation.Anyone with information regarding these crimes can call Crime Stopper sat 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.last_img read more

NYC Woman Married 10 Men, 2 on Long Island, Prosecutors Say

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York She said “yes” to the dress—10 times.Liana Barrientos, 38, of Manhattan, has been charged with filing a false marriage license, a felony, after marrying 10 men over the course of 11 years without ever filing for divorce from any of the grooms, Bronx prosecutors said.The Bronx District Attorney’s office said Barrientos also married two men on Long Island in 2002—in Hempstead and Huntington.According to a criminal complaint, 2002 was a particularly busy year for the alleged serial bride. During that year, she filed six different marriage licenses in her name, prosecutors said.Authorities uncovered the alleged wedding spree after scrutinizing a March 2010 marriage license filed in the Bronx County Clerk’s office that stated Barrientos had never been married before, according to the criminal complaint.Investigators found a marriage license dating back to Nov. 5, 1999. The license was filed in Eastchester.Since then, licenses were allegedly filed in Rye, Yonkers, Greenburgh, Mamaroneck and White Plains.The Hempstead marriage took place on Valentine’s Day in 2002. Exactly one month later another license was filed under her name in Huntington, authorities said.Barrientos, who was originally arrested last November, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday at Bronx Supreme Court.last_img read more

SBU Prof. Named First Andrew Carnegie Fellow from a Long Island College

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A Stony Brook University professor was the first educator from a college on Long Island to be named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow when he won the prestigious fellowship this week.Jared Farmer, an environmental historian and award-winning adjunct professor of history, plans to use the $200,000 award to complete a creative non-fiction book on the human relationship with long-lived trees and our larger relationship with nature in a time of climate change.“I am bringing together the history of trees and the science of longevity to contemplate the ethics and politics of long-term thinking in the Anthropocene,” said Farmer. “I’m a historian by training, but this new project includes aspects of science writing as well as creative writing.”Farmer is one of 35 fellows recognized by the program, which aims to support emerging humanities scholars that are working to strengthen the US democracy, drive creativity, explore global connections and improve environments. The program launched in 2015 and each fellow publishes a book or major study.The professor, who earned his PhD in history from Stanford University, previously authored three books, including the award-winning On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape. He began teaching at Stony Brook a decade ago.“Climate change is not only the policy problem of our time; it is also a problem of time,” Farmer said. “It requires thinking and caring in the long term—beyond the moment, the individual, and the species. I think it’s important to find historical precedents for long-term stewardship of the more-than-human world. To the extent possible in 2017, I want to write a hopeful book—one that shows the shared solicitudes of science, religion, and the humanities.”last_img read more

When it comes to social proof, we think alike

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: Joe SwatekAs a financial services marketing professional, your job is to persuade likely prospects to open new accounts and take advantage of services at your institution.That description almost makes it sound simple. Of course, you know it isn’t.There are methods you can use to reach that goal. They were explained years ago in the book, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, written by marketing master Robert Cialdini.One of Cialdini’s six tool of persuasion he described in the book is Social Proof.Social Proof goes by a variety of names, some not so flattering, but the concept is easy to grasp. The idea works all around us, not only with advertising. Through some sort of influence, people conform to a group idea or, in advertising, choose a particular product.You probably know an individual or family who always drive the same make of car. They might be Ford people or Chevy owners. Maybe they go so far as preferring a particular model, like the Mustang. These people are following Social Proof. Because the grandfather or father or someone with influence claimed one make of car was the best, all the others follow suit. continue reading »last_img read more

Williams: ‘Innovation drives growth’

first_imgAuthor, innovator gives CU leaders tips on how to embrace innovation in the workplaceTurn on the television and chances are you’ll find a cooking show exploring how to take ingredients from the cupboard and combine them into a tasty dish.Innovation is no different.While the final product isn’t a delectable dish, the ideas that are created from innovative thinkers can lead to growth, Luke Williams said during an Executive Series session breakfast Tuesday, at the America’s Credit Union/World Council of Credit Unions Conference in Denver.“Innovation is taking the ingredients we have and looking for a different arrangement,” said Williams, the executive director at the NYU Stern School of Business, a fellow at the innovation company frog, and author of “Disrupt.”Leadership is about leading an organization through innovation, Williams said. While some may be hesitant to embrace change and new ideas, Williams said everyone should. continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Cannabis credit union in Denver sues Federal Reserve over rejection

first_img 18SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr A cannabis-centric credit union is going after the Federal Reserve after its application to open a “master account” was rejected.Fourth Corner Credit Union (TFCCU) in Denver wants to be the first to provide financial services to the marijuana industry in Colorado, where recreational use of the drug is legal under state law.The credit union, which was quietly notified of its rejection in July, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the central banking system for the setback, the New York Times reported Thursday. It accuses the Fed of preventing “equal access” to the financial system.Mark Mason, an attorney from South Carolina, had a leading role in founding TFCCU, which cannot officially start business before securing an account.Mason said he was not surprised by the decision and thinks the Fed had been looking for reasons to reject the credit union’s application.“I felt all along like they were trying to figure out a way to deny our application,” Mason told the Times, adding that a “federal judge who is only concerned in applying the law can [now] make the decision.”Mason confirmed the lawsuit in an email to The Denver Postlater that night. continue reading »last_img read more

One thing that can help stop the savings crisis in America

first_imgThe savings crisis is not waving the little white flag anytime soon. Americans face a barrage of financial obstacles in today’s economy: stagnant wages, low interest rates, and a painful absence of financial literacy. The situation is so dire many Americans believe they won’t ever be able to leave the workforce. They survive paycheck to paycheck. However, all hope is not lost. One simple maneuver is helping millions of working Americans save for their futures.In a perfect world, parents and the education system would teach personal finance to every boy and girl. Our children would grow up being taught good savings habits, applying those lessons throughout life to improve their financial situations. Unfortunately, reality is quite different. Many parents are afraid to talk about money, and while some schools are now teaching personal finance, bureaucracy hinders a more national impact. As a result, we’re left with a country filled of financial illiterates — where nearly half of Americans save virtually nothing.What’s the solution? Make saving money the default decision. When faced with a choice on a seemingly complex subject such as money, many individuals often take the default or “no decision” choice. In the case of voluntary savings plans, which requires participants to take action in order to save money, the “no decision” choice is a decision not to save. 401(k) plans are the most popular example. One quarter of employees don’t even save enough to receive the employer match, missing out on $24 billion of practically free money every year. continue reading » 27SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Alternative needed to adding rules to overdraft protections: CUNA

first_img 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr CUNA continues its advocacy efforts after last week’s discussion with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) about overdraft protections (ODP) and followed up the meeting Thursday with a letter to CFPB staff. CUNA subcommittees traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to discuss regulatory relief with the CFPB and National Credit Union Administration.“As noted by several credit unions during the meeting, credit union members utilize ODP and small dollar loan products in a reasonable and responsible way,” reads CUNA’s letter.“In addition, these loan products and services are often the best financial option for these consumers. We echo the comments of the credit unions at the meeting, and request that the CFPB continue and increase its outreach to credit union members and other consumers in order to gain a complete understanding of how and when these products and services are used,” the letter says.CUNA advocates that the CFPB remains focused on ensuring consumers understand ODP as a service, rather than actual ways to regulate the service. continue reading »last_img read more

8 Points about people’s potential

first_img 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr People power organizations. Not products. People. Prudence posits that if we peer into the pates of professionals, there are a plethora of properties particular to each person. These properties, in the presence of positive pressure, progress as people are pushed to pursue their potential. Psychologists propose that each person possesses the power to be part of propelling organizations forward. Organizations participate in this process by perpetually pondering how to put people first. So it seems proper in this post to present postulations aplenty of propitious practices for the propulsion of people toward their potential.My apologies. Every once in a while, like in the preceding paragraph (dang it — did it again) I try the most random — and some might even say nonsensical — things to communicate my points. Like, say, alliterating an entire paragraph just for kicks. For a hot minute there — a really hot minute if you’re into verbiage — I felt like the V for Vendetta guy in one of my favorite scenes of any movie, ever. If only I had a black bath towel to pin around my neck. Of course who I am is but the form following the function of what, and what I am is a man behind a blog. (See what I did there? If you’re a fan of the movie, you do. If you’re not a fan of the movie…well…never mind.)In a post a while back, I mentioned that one of the components of a constructive culture was that people start to realize what they’re capable of. In other words, they start to realize their potential and push toward it. If I were talking nerdy to you, I’d say they self-actualize, but we’ll not go there. At least not today. continue reading »last_img read more

Boost employee engagement for better marketing

first_imgYou did the research, set realistic goals, developed a tactical plan and now it doesn’t seem to be bringing in new loans/members/deposits, etc. What went wrong?In working with credit unions all across the country on their marketing plans and execution, we have seen first-hand that there is one thing that can kill the success of your marketing…and that is poor employee engagement.Here is a tried and true plan to get your employees engaged and excited to help drive the credit union’s success:Get their feedback first. Ask them questions about what they think the credit union should be doing to market to its members and potential members. No, you don’t have to employ every single idea, but spending time at the beginning of the process is critical for two reasons: it uncovers opportunities you might not have known about and it lets them know they are an important and valuable part of your team.Share the plan with them and any marketing collateral before it is launched externally. Once we complete plans for clients, we always do a “launch party” of sorts to build excitement, communicate the goals and reiterate that they are a crucial part of the credit union’s success.Share the results along the way! As part of the plan’s execution, build a separate plan for how and when you are going to communicate the progress on your goals. Separate your goals out by month to break up the annual goals into manageable chunks. Communicate successes early and often to build and keep momentum.Soon, you’ll not only see noticeable difference in the success of your marketing efforts, but you’ll have better camaraderie and teamwork as a result. 38SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Amanda Thomas Amanda is founder and president of TwoScore, a firm that channels her passion for the credit union mission and people to help credit unions under $100 million in assets reach … Web: www.twoscore.com Detailslast_img read more

Cordray affirms credit unions’ small loans, defends exemption stance

first_imgCFPB views credit unions’ payday alternative loans as a “good product” and wants to make room for those loans in its payday lending rulemaking, CFPB Director Richard Cordray told the Senate Banking Committee Thursday as he delivered his semiannual report to the panel.In testimony similar to that given last month before the House Financial Services Committee, Cordray testified before the panel about CFPB’s regulatory and enforcement activities, future rulemaking and the bureau’s regulatory relief efforts for credit unions.The CFPB director fielded numerous questions from committee members on matters important to credit unions, including consumer services and regulatory topics, such as the bureau’s exemption authority.Asked by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., what solutions are out there for small, short-term credit, Cordray noted the role of credit unions and singled out PALs as a good, law-abiding product. He added that the bureau wants to allow room for the product under any new rules on payday lending. continue reading » 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

How to outsmart ransomware

first_imgHave $175? Then it doesn’t matter if you utterly lack technical skills, you can become a cybercriminal. That’s because a malware strain called Karmen – potent ransomware – has been on sale on the dark web for $175.  That’s how bad this has gotten and it very well may cost your credit union money.In mid-May a ransomware attack infected thousands of organization in 70+ countries.  It all happened in the space of a few days. Some 200,000 are said to have been victimized.  Ransomware now is just about the fastest spreading malware out there.  The tools that spread it are slick and, as Karmen shows, they are also cheap.Little to no technical skill is needed to unleash ransomware via phishing emails on an unwary public and, increasingly, the targets of choice are businesses – especially American businesses – and that’s because businesses often are willing to pay up to rid themselves of malware. Symantec, in fact says the average ransomware payout in 2016 was $1077, up from $294 in 2015.Symantec also said that the payout rate in the US reached 64%, compared to 34% globally.  That means about two in three US victims pay up.Data from NTT Security also said that the US is by far the most common victim of ransomware.  The news gets worse.  Symantec said ransomware attacks were up 36% year over year.  Probably there will be still more this year.Ransomware is bad. There are various flavors but a common format is that the criminal mass mails out links that, when clicked on, download apps that lock files, preventing the user’s access. The files could be just about anything, from email to the entire computer.Know this: There are steps you need to take to protect yourself against being a ransomware victim. A key secret: the best self-defense is assuming you will be a victim and preparing accordingly. How? Read on.Also know: credit unions have already fallen victim to ransomware. How many? Nobody knows. Victims – especially ones likely to feel exceptional embarrassment and that includes financial institutions – do not advertise that they fell into a trap.  But credit union security experts talk of “at least several dozen” credit unions that have fallen victim to ransomware, paid ransoms, and sometimes regained access to their data.Small and medium sized credit unions are believed to be especially vulnerable because – unlike the mega credit unions – they typically lack sophisticated malware detection tools that stop malware from penetrating the organization.Probably more credit unions will fall victim. That’s because savvy criminals now are doubling down on attacks on businesses. Said Symantec: “a small number of groups have begun to specifically target businesses with ransomware attacks designed to infect multiple computers on a single network and encrypt valuable data.”Won’t a small payment result in the files being unlocked – so maybe this isn’t such a big deal? Not necessarily. Cyber crooks are crooks and that means they may not always live up to their word. Just because a ransom is paid does not mean full access to data is restored.  Said Symantec: “Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee decryption of the victim’s files. According to the Norton Cyber Security Insight team, only 47 percent of victims who paid the ransom reported getting their files back.”Symantec also – worryingly – reported that smart criminals are beginning to try to attach ransoms that take into account the value of the data that has been locked. It pointed to a $70,000 ransom paid by San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency which had seen its light rail system disrupted.A credit union’s files might well be perceived as highly valuable.What can a credit union do to protect itself? Several things and it starts by training employees not to click on links in phishing emails – and retraining them frequently.But probably the single biggest step a credit union can take is to make sure its data are backed up and can be easily retrieved and put to use. Do just that – assume you will be victimized and prepare your defenses now – and you put yourself on safe ground.Savvy smartphone users generally aren’t ready ransomware victims because an iPhone user often has most of his/her data backed up to iCloud. An Android user also often will have lots of data automatically backed up in Gmail, etc.  When the data is on hand, it’s easy to tell the criminal to buzz off.The very same idea works for a credit union. Backup all critical data and that’s the antidote to ransomware.Accept this: very probably your institution will be assaulted this year by ransomware criminals.  How you fare is up to you.Take a few steps, now, and very probably you will do well indeed. 43SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Robert McGarvey A blogger and speaker, Robert McGarvey is a longtime journalist who has covered credit unions extensively, notably for Credit Union Times as well as the New York Times and TheStreet, … Web: www.mcgarvey.net Detailslast_img read more

The reliable branch

first_img 23SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Chad Davis Chad Davis is Industry Sr Solutions Marketing Manger, F5 Networks, which is the leader in app security and multi-cloud management. He can be reached at c.davis@f5.com. Web: https://www.f5.com Details Personalized member service has always been a top priority of credit unions. Although that mentality still reigns true, modern-day customer service has evolved and employees are looking into different ways of helping their members.These days, members are looking for more than just familiar face from their financial services providers. They require a wider range of products and services, a full array of delivery channel options, and account access whenever and wherever they want it. On top of that, members continue to appreciate traditional, old-fashioned personal service. This is especially true of consumers more inclined to take their business to a financial institution that claims to be different from its competitors. If a credit union promises to put members first, the frontline service it provides should clearly demonstrate that commitment.What do credit unions need to do to satisfy their members by successfully creating the amalgam of modern-day banking and individualized attention? Several timeless aspects of one-to-one personal service, combined with technological tools for branch management, can help target the types of transactions and guidance members are seeking so the financial professionals staffing each branch can anticipate and deliver on those needs.Different members, different branch. Branches tend to reflect the character of their surroundings and, in general, the types of members who choose those locations. Branches in family-friendly neighborhoods serve different needs than a branch with a prime spot in a business park. And neither serves the same type of members as the office within walking distance of residential developments that cater to active seniors.A demographic survey can sketch in the outlines of the types of services a branch can expect to be in demand in its market area. Using data from the core processing system and lobby tracker software can supply more detailed information about members’ requests for service so frontline employees can be trained and scheduled to be on hand and fully prepared to deliver the services members expect when they walk through the door.Make business personal. Members want to be treated like people, not account numbers. Lobby tracking software invites members to sign in and state their business. Access to this information up-front facilitates queuing and gives financial professionals the information they need to greet members promptly and personally.Keep it short and sweet. On the other hand, overscheduling staff results in employees standing around idly when branch usage is low and can increase costs for credit unions. By monitoring branch traffic, they can more effectively schedule full- and part-time employees to be on hand during periods of peak demand.The 2017 FMSI Teller Line Study, which analyzed patterns in more than 16 million branch transactions at  credit unions across the country, found that mornings are generally less busy than lunch hours and afternoons. Credit unions can combine core processing data with information from lobby tracker software to conduct individual branch analyses of types and volumes of transactions to better align scheduling with members’ banking habits.Try using this friendly greeting: “I’ve got everything ready for you.” For the most part, the technology supports discussed thus far to improve branch service delivery operate in the background, but one new automated tool is designed to connect directly with members. Busy people appreciate the benefits of appointment-scheduling software as it ensures that their time spent in the branch is being used efficiently and effectively—no waiting when they arrive and any preparation, such as having the right forms and documents lined up, completed in advance. Appointment apps also supply useful data for branch managers to track what types of transactions and guidance members are seeking.There’s more to service delivery than service. Staff scheduling software can help credit unions reduce idle time among branch employees and identify blocks of time where secondary duties, such as outbound sales calls, can be assigned with the aim of enhancing revenue production.The teller line study quantifies the impact of smarter scheduling and other strategies to improve branch efficiency on teller productivity and labor costs. According to that analysis, tellers working for FMSI’s top 10 clients, based on productivity measurements, handled an average 20.3 transactions per hour, compared to the 13.1 average for all credit unions included in the study. Labor costs per transaction for top performers averaged 94 cents, compared to $1.30 for all credit unions.Fully understanding members and their banking preferences and their habits —what brings them to a branch and when and where they prefer to conduct these transactions—can help credit unions personalize customer interactions, reduce wait time, and schedule staff more efficiently. While technology has pushed members to redefine high-quality service, it can also help deliver on those expectations branch by branch.last_img read more

Why credit unions should not decline Facebook authorizations

first_img 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Some credit unions are declining authorization for Facebook payments due to the relatively high number of fraud cases being reported for that merchant category code. But declining these authorizations may have unintended negative consequences on your members. Here’s why.Facebook launched in mid-2015 the ability for its users to send other Facebook users money through the Facebook Messenger app. The source of the money transfer comes from a debit card, and receipt of the money goes to the recipient’s account through his or her debit card (meaning each side of the transactions needs to enroll a debit card with Facebook). As a bonus, iPhone users can add touch ID (fingerprint scan) as an added layer of security. Facebook claims that person-to-person (P2P) payments are wrapped in secure layers and use encrypted connections. Facebook points to its history of processing over 1 million payment transactions per day for game players and advertisers since 2007.While the actual transactions may be secure, Facebook’s P2P is still subject to fraud. Facebook scams have been featured on nightly news. Phishing attacks claiming that someone has sent money, and to click here to get your cash, have been documented by KnowBe4.com, an employee Security Awareness Training program. Account takeover is another threat, according to RSA Security, since Facebook and Messenger use the same login, leaving fraudsters who gain access to a Facebook page the ability to gain access to an enrolled debit card and drain the victim’s bank account (up to the daily limit). An even more nefarious fraud scam involves using Facebook to set up brand-new accounts, connect them to stolen debit cards, and then transfer the money. continue reading »last_img read more

Bankers contend NCUA already violating law in FOM expansions

first_img continue reading » 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The NCUA already is using its new—and illegal– Field of Membership rules to greatly expand the reach of specific credit unions, the American Bankers Association said Tuesday, in its lawsuit against the agency.The ABA contends that the NCUA has approved expansions that “are not limited to a single ‘well-defined local community, neighborhood, or rural district,’ as required by the Federal Credit Union Act,” the ABA said.In October, the NCUA board approved rules that board members said would provide credit unions with more flexibility to determine their fields of membership. Then-board Chairman Rick Metsger said the rules would make it easier for people to gain access to affordable financial services.last_img read more

The key to understanding millennials

first_img 16SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Misconceptions about millennials pervade politics and business, says pollster and author Kristen Soltis Anderson, including the idea that they don’t vote.But understanding this generation is becoming increasingly important for both politicians and businesses, says Anderson, co-founder of Echelon Insights and author of “The Selfie Vote.”“You have to understand millennials from a corporate perspective because they’re changing a lot of society’s institutions,” she says. “They’re also beginning to vote. So we’re now in an era where millennials seem quite eager to make their voices heard.”Anderson, who’ll address the 2018 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, examines societal trends and how they affect consumers’ decision-making, from their politics to their purchases. continue reading »last_img read more

CFPB defanged?

first_imgWith Trump-appointed deregulators now in charge of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the specter of new regulations governing overdraft practices and fees has been lifted, at least temporarily.CFPB is at a fork in the road and less likely to further restrict credit union overdraft programs, at least in the immediate future, observes Brian Witt, senior partner in the Farleigh Wada Witt law firm, Portland, Ore.“They’re likely to put a freeze on any new regulations for the next six to nine months, until they see what the new director’s priorities are,” he says. “That should bring credit unions and banks short-term relief from any potential new regulation.”The threat of heavy-handed overdraft regulation by CFPB was receding even before an anti-regulation acting director took over, he notes; CFPB’s own research study showed little need for more restrictions. continue reading » 17SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

The tax implications of board insurance benefits

first_imgAre insurance benefits provided to board members considered taxable income? The answer is largely “yes,” but also, “it depends.”“The general rule under the tax code is something provided in return for services rendered is taxable income to the recipient (board member),” says R. Scott Richardson, JD, CLU, ChFC, president/CEO, IZALE Financial Group, a CUES Supplier member in Elgin, Illinois. “However, insurance benefits can be treated differently.”Richardson explains that while the value of accident and health insurance is not taxable for employees, it will likely be taxable for board members.“There are narrow exceptions where it would not be taxable income,” so consulting a tax advisor is worthwhile, he says. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

CUNA leaders meet with new NCUA board member Todd Harper

first_img CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle, Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan, Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer Elizabeth Eurgubian and Senior Director of Advocacy and Counsel Mitria Wilson met with new NCUA board member Todd Harper Wednesday to welcome him to the board and discuss credit union priorities. Harper was nominated by President Donald Trump in January and was confirmed in March, along with NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood.“We thank board member Harper for his time and attention during our discussion about issues that are important to credit unions, most notably reducing the regulatory burden to increase member services,” Nussle said. “CUNA is pleased with the direction the agency has taken over the past few years, and we believe with a full board in place NCUA can continue its work and build on this positive momentum.”CUNA wrote a letter to Harper after he was sworn in, expressing hope that NCUA will: From left, CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan, CUNA Senior Director of Advocacy and Counsel Mitria Wilson, NCUA board member Todd Harper, CUNA Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer Elizabeth Eurgubian and CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. continue reading »center_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

CFPB gathering feedback on remittance rule

first_img continue reading » The CFPB has issued a request for information (RFI) on its remittance rule – a positive sign for the industry as the bureau considers possible changes to the rule. NAFCU has long expressed concerns about the rule’s highly burdensome compliance costs and urged the bureau to exempt credit unions from the rule.“NAFCU has long argued that credit unions should be exempt from all CFPB rulemakings, including its remittance rule,” said NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger. “The remittance rule imposes overbearing compliance costs, which have effectively prevented many credit unions from providing assistance to consumers in need.“The rule, as it stands, pushes countless consumers away from credit unions and into the waiting arms of shady, fly-by-night entities that may do consumers harm. We appreciate the CFPB’s commitment to reviewing the rule, and we look forward to continuing to work with them throughout the process,” Berger added. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Banking brands can’t keep pace with digital giants without AI

first_imgEven though the acronym AI is now well-embedded in banking industry consciousness, actual use of artificial intelligence, and its cousins machine learning and data analytics, has been limited except with a handful of the largest financial institutions.According to an MIT Sloan report cited by IBM, 81% of all enterprises do not understand what data is required for AI, or how to access it. Still, the report found that 83% agree that driving AI across the enterprise is a strategic opportunity.Meanwhile the big tech firms, notably Amazon, Google and Facebook, have built big leads in this area, powering their ecommerce empires, which increasingly include financial services.There are options, however, to enable a wider range of financial institutions to take advantage of AI for use in marketing, personalization, user experience, payments, and more. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

Compliance is the baseline for credit union diversity-equity-inclusion programs

first_img 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Miriam De Dios Woodward Miriam De Dios Woodward is the CEO of PolicyWorks, LLC. She also serves as Senior Vice President of AMC, the holding company of the Iowa Credit Union League and parent … Web: https://www.policyworksllc.com Details As credit unions increasingly embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and seek to better represent and serve their ever-changing communities, understanding the regulatory components that touch such initiatives is an important starting place.For example, laws such as the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOA) and Equal Credit Opportunity (ECOA) acts outline baseline requirements for employers and financial services organizations to follow to ensure equal treatment regardless of ethnicity, national origin, gender and other protected classes. Viewed from a different perspective, these laws provide the baseline for inclusivity in hiring and lending. While the EEOA speaks to the area of human resources, which is a robust area in and of itself, let’s focus on DEI from a membership standpoint. Certainly, few if any credit unions today consciously or actively discriminate against particular groups based on national origin, race, religion, or other criteria. But inclusion involves more than mere non-discrimination. It means proactively reaching out to underrepresented groups, understanding their needs, and striving to meet those needs through the credit union’s products and services in a compliant manner.Adjusting Products and ServicesCredit unions, like all organizations, have to make business decisions on a variety of matters every day. One such business decision could be expanding their services to underrepresented groups. A way to ensure the credit union is addressing the community at large is to consider the changing demographics in its membership area and aligning account opening and lending practices accordingly. If the credit union is serving immigrant groups for example, this may require an update to a member identification program, lending policies and procedures, in order to be inclusive of all.End-to-end MindfulnessIt is important to keep the needs of the target community in mind from end-to-end, all the way from advertising to member service on the front-line. For example, if a credit union advertises its services on its website or elsewhere in a language other than English, be sure to have employees available to speak to members in that other language. This will not only make non-English speaking members more comfortable working with the credit union and can reduce misconceptions or misunderstandings among non-English speaking members, this will help you avoid any potential UDAAP ( Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices) violations and overall will avoid misleading members into thinking you offer services in another language if in fact you don’tIf you are going to provide materials in another language, a translation strategy is also important to ensure all relevant information is accurately translated, leaving no room for misunderstandings. Because there can be many ways to translate a word or phrase from one language to another, it is important to seek experts who not only understand the native language being translated to, but also understand financial and credit union terminology for any required translation work. Accuracy, consistency, and relevancy are important in translations. Avoid using Google Translate for something this important and seek outside consultants, if necessary, to assist. Going Beyond Traditional ApproachesServing diverse population groups is part of the credit union creed. While there are always regulations to consider, there are also many opportunities to grow credit union membership by tailoring products and services to specific needs of the membership base.Serving people with non-traditional forms of identification, such as a consulate card, is one example of new membership a credit union could be serving. By expanding services to include underserved members and updating the credit union’s member identification policy and procedures to include non-traditional forms of identification, you do not have to turn down membership. The IRS’s Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which is a taxpayer identification number that some immigrants may have, is a valid taxpayer identification number that credit unions can accept to lend and open interest-bearing accounts. Another opportunity to be inclusive in lending is through the underwriting process. Members without traditional credit histories may not have the traditional forms of documentation you seek to verify credit, however, this does not mean that they have not established credit. The credit they have established however may be found in non-traditional sources such as alternate payment data, including that found in paying recurring bills such as utilities, or rent. While this likely would not alter your lending policy, it would require a change in underwriting procedures to ensure your requirements list is as inclusive as possible. This would apply for anyone seeking a loan at your credit union, whether it’s a young college student or a recent immigrant.  To achieve success in DEI initiatives you need to go beyond meeting the regulations. The regulations provide a baseline framework, however, it takes initiative and a commitment to ensure you go beyond what’s required to what’s needed in your communities.last_img read more

Next-generation youth banking using cards & apps blows away the old

first_imgA growing number of fintechs and banking startups in the U.S. and other countries is targeting Generation Z, and even reaching into the younger Generation Alpha, children born after 2006.In the U.S., roughly 25% of the population is under 19. In Europe teenagers and younger kids comprise around 20% of the population. This represents a tremendous market, but typically incumbent banks don’t aim many products and services at Gen Z because they aren’t currently profitable. This contrasts with more financially mature Millennials.Newcomers are outflanking incumbents. The legacy institutions’ lack of interest created a two-fold market niche for challenger banks and fintechs: serving the current “pocket money” needs of young people and building the loyalty of today’s youngest customers for the coming years.73% of American parents provide a regular allowance to their children, a total of $41 billion per year, according to RoosterMoney’s Kids Allowance Report. Part of pocket money is earned from domestic chores. Parents say their goal is to teach children about financial literacy, involve them in useful activities and help them to form healthy spending habits. The parents lived through the Great Recession and want to inculcate thrift. Indeed, in comparison to older generations, Gen Zers tend to save almost as much as they tend to spend right away. When they spend, it’s typically on food — mostly sweets, eating out, video games, toys and books. Most Gen Z consumers prefer in-store shopping rather than ecommerce. However, the older they grow, the more online transactions they make. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

The power and practice of empathy

first_img“Empathy is about standing is someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes.  Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”  Daniel H. PinkIt’s a beautiful sentiment and so true­—and yet so challenging sometimes.Navigating the world of financial services is difficult. For most members, coming to or contacting the credit union is an activity they have to do rather than one they want to do. They find themselves temporarily without a job, or having reduced hours, or worse yet, wondering how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.  It generates anxiety and stress. And when things don’t go as planned, or something doesn’t work as promised, emotions are heightened and logic can go out the window.On the other hand, when things are going really well, and the member expresses positive emotion around the situation, empathizing enables you to reinforce the member’s positive feelings toward you and the credit union. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

Credit union members want 3 things during COVID-19 crisis

first_imgGallup recently initiated a study among its Credit Union Consortium participants — representative of 3.2 million credit union members across the U.S. — to better understand how members have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and exactly what kind of support they need most.Credit Union Members Are Suffering More ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »center_img Due to the economic impact of the pandemic, supporting members’ financial wellbeing has become the central issue for credit unions. Gallup finds that credit union members are getting hit harder than the average American — 76% say they have experienced a great deal or fair amount of disruption, compared with the national average of 70% recorded in mid-March.Gallup defines financial wellbeing as “managing one’s economic life to reduce stress and increase security” — in short, one’s emotional relationship with money, which paints a truer picture of hope and worry than traditional financial health metrics do. A Gallup analysis of Consortium participant data shows that financial wellbeing is deteriorating: The percentage considered “thriving” is decreasing, while the percentages considered “struggling” and “suffering” are growing.last_img read more

Calls from CUs to members still being erroneously blocked

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Calls from credit unions and other legitimate businesses are still being blocked or mislabeled as spam, CUNA and other organizations wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Monday.The letter was sent in response to the FCC’s rulemaking implementing the TRACED Act, which requires the FCC to ensure robocall blocking services are provided with transparent and effective redress options for callers whose calls are erroneously blocked.“Consumers are harmed when outbound calling numbers used by lawful businesses are mislabeled, or calls from those numbers are blocked, because they may not receive lawful calls affecting their health, safety, or financial well-being. These calls include, for example, safety alerts, fraud alerts, data security breach notifications, product safety recall notices, healthcare and prescription reminders, power outage updates, and other necessary account updates and reminders needed to maintain financial health,” the letter reads. “Some calls placed to consumers are required by federal or state regulators, such as certain mortgage servicing calls. It is critical for consumers that these calls be completed without delay.”last_img read more

NCUA outlines CSA, CBSA application requirements

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Amendments to the NCUA’s chartering and field-of-membership rules go into effect Oct. 14, NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood wrote in a letter to federal credit unions (20-FCU-03). These changes will allow a credit union applying for NCUA approval of a community charter, expansion, or conversion to designate a Combined Statistical Area (CSA) or an individual, contiguous portion of a CSA as a well-defined local community (WDLC) if the area has a population of 2.5 million or less.Beginning Oct. 14, 2020, prospective and existing federal credit unions seeking a community charter may use a CSA or portions of a CSA (within certain limitations, as defined in the rule) as a basis for defining their proposed service area without documenting how a CSA’s residents interact or share common interests.The rule also clarifies that an applicant credit union must provide the NCUA with the business rationale used to define a CSA or Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA) if the defined area does not include an area’s largest county or named city. continue reading »last_img read more

September jobs report falls below expectations

first_img“The September jobs report was a troubling one, as job growth fell below expectations and thousands left the workforce,” said NAFCU Chief Economist and Vice President of Research Curt Long. Non-farm payrolls rose 661,000 during the month, and while the unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage points to 7.9 percent, the labor participation rate also fell – dropping 0.3 percentage points to 61.4 percent.“In all, the labor force shrunk by nearly 700,000 workers in September, 89 percent of which were female,” Long said in a new Macro Data Flash report, noting that the drop in female labor participation coincided with the start of the school year. “Meanwhile, the ranks of the unemployed continue to tilt away from temporary layoffs and toward permanent ones; the latter group swelled by 350,000 during the month.With those additions, permanent job losers represent 2.3 percent of the labor force, which is just over half the peak during the Great Recession. It was not until 2017 that the figure returned to its pre-crisis level,” he added.Results among the major industries showed modest gains in most sectors, led by services growth. Leisure and hospitality gained 61,000 jobs, as did education and health services. Professional and business services (+25,000 jobs) and construction (+16,000) also saw gains. This is placeholder text continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrcenter_img This post is currently collecting data…last_img read more

Wantagh Man Killed in Crash

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 24-year-old Wantagh man was killed when he crashed his vehicle in Levittown over the weekend.Nassau county police said Eklind Veizas was driving his Toyota northbound on Wantagh Avenue when the vehicle left the roadway and hit a utility pole and tree near the corner of Grey Lane at 3:39 a.m. Sunday.He was pronounced dead at the scene.Second Squad detectives impounded the vehicle and are continuing the investigation.last_img read more

‘Into the Badlands’: Martial Arts Drama with No Punch

first_imgSo, for the sake of argument, let us join Sunny and go into the Badlands, this post-apocalyptic world with vast meadows of roses. Early on, after effortlessly wiping out about a dozen dudes without breaking a sweat, Sunny rescues M.K. (Aramis Knight), a teenager he finds trapped in a chest. It turns out that M.K. can unlock a mysterious power of ass-kicking whenever he bleeds, making you ponder the consequences if he ever accidentally nicks himself. And so, on top of motorcycle-riding assassins armed with Japanese Samurai swords, we also have magical teenagers.The Badlands are also occupied by the sickly Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas, The Lord of the Rings), his eighth wife-to-be (Sarah Bolger), his jealous wife (Orla Brady), Sunny’s pregnant lover (Madelein Mantock), and primitive boys training to become cold, heartless Clippers–and follow in Sunny’s footsteps. Figuring out their names was less concerning than trying to understand why all this cliché drama littered the background of a show loosely based on “Journey to the West,” a 16th century Chinese novel.It all was so odd yet so familiar…Apparently, there was something about Sunny’s martial arts skills that piqued the interest of the Baron–who decided to put it to “good” use–and will supposedly keep us enthralled in the journey ahead.But after Sunny brings M.K. back with him inside the high-walled doors of The Fort, where Baron Quinn runs his adolescent training camp, the drama within turns silly and mundane, and the more obvious it becomes that Into the Badlands is nothing more than an excuse to watch Daniel Wu flex his well-oiled muscles.And then it hit me. After tons of dull dialogue, the closing shots flashed on-screen with the song, “Lead Me Home,” by Jamie N Commons. The tune turned a knob in my brain, opened a door, and flooded out memories dating back to February 2013.“Lead Me Home” also concluded an episode of The Walking Dead (“Clear”, season three), when the protagonist Rick Grimes parted ways with an unhinged underling, Morgan Jones, for the second time in the series.This is another post-apocalyptic world. Humans coping with everyday drama are simply trying to live their lives in an environment that won’t let them. It’s the same formula with a new skin. Even AMC’s promotional commercials of Sunny’s martial arts abilities had shot-by-shot similarities to Walking Dead’s Michonne, Daryl and Morgan’s katana slicing, kicking, and stick wielding against the oncoming zombies. The cable network labeled its Sunday double-bill, “Twice The Fight.”Was AMC trying to make another Walking Dead out of Into the Badlands? Sure, there were no zombies lumbering through the Badlands’ rose meadows, and the characters were a lot more settled in, but paralleling the two shows explained all the out-of-place drama.Each commercial break started with these words, “Coming up on Into the Badlands,” leaving viewers hanging with a suspenseful action scene, as though AMC knew the risk that many (myself included) might change the channel if their curiosity weren’t aroused. Almost 20 million viewers tuned in for The Walking Dead’s season six premiere in October, so it’s no surprise that AMC hopes to draw those numbers with the five remaining episodes of its new series before the show enters the real badlands of low ratings.And that might prove the match for a prized martial arts champion like Sunny no matter how many necks he snaps.(Photo credit: AMC) Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Following Sunday night’s zombie apocalypse as depicted by the latest episode of The Walking Dead, AMC presented badass martial arts mayhem with its season premiere of Into the Badlands.A lot of strange words with no context were tossed around–Clippers, barons, and the Colts–but swift sidestepping, bone snapping, and karate whooshing distracted the brain and glued the eyes to the screen.At least for a little while.Wearing “cool guy” sunglasses and riding a motorcycle in a blood-red trench coat, Sunny (Daniel Wu) hits the trail to brighten nomadic and hostile gangs’ days by snapping their wrists and impaling them with rusted skewers or wielding his ever shiny katana.Evidently, once upon a time, Sunny was one of the aforementioned Clippers, assassins who “just show up, kill people, and leave.” But beneath all his ink, which records each of his many kills (404 and counting), Sunny is supposedly just a nice guy who made a bad career move. Now he’s about to rewrite his job description, as we shall soon see.last_img read more

Weekend Snow Storm Could Dump 8 Inches on Long Island

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Parts of Long Island could receive up to 8 inches of snow Saturday as a second storm this week treks east.In response, the National Weather Service’s Upton office issued a winter storm warning from 7 a.m. Saturday until 1 p.m. Sunday for eastern Suffolk County—meaning there’s a potential for hazardous driving conditions. A winter weather advisory has been issued for western Suffolk. According to the forecast, the East End could see 4-8 inches of snow, and western Suffolk 4-6 inches. There are no advisories active for Nassau County, which could see up to 3 inches of snow. Saturday is expected to be mostly cloudy with a high near 26 and wind chill values in the teens. The mercury will only plunge from there, with forecasters predicting wind chill temperatures in the single digits at night. Snow will develop Saturday morning and continue into the evening, forecasters said. It could cause snow-covered roads and reduced visibility of a mile or less, the NWS said. The agency urged drivers to use caution.The storm is currently navigating the south, where parts of at least nine states have active winter weather alerts. Meteorologists are warning of major travel days for drivers and airline passengers alike. This would be the most significant snowfall of the season on LI.Friday morning’s storm amounted to a dusting across most of the Island except for some eastern Suffolk communities that measured up to 4 inches of snow.The worst weather Long Islanders have had to contend with thus far has been frigid temperatures caused by arctic air flowing through the region.While there’s no snow in Sunday’s forecast (for now), below-freezing temperatures are expected. Maybe the Giants can warm our hearts with a big win against the Packers on Sunday.last_img read more

Garnar: County has 68,000 masks to distribute

first_imgDespite this, Garnar says the PPE donation center at the old Macy’s building in Oakdale Mall. The center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Garnar says the state and federal governments have supplied Broome County with 68,000 masks. 68,000 masks (WBNG) — Broome County Executive Jason Garnar announced the county has thousands of masks to be distributed. The masks are not ready to be distributed, says Garnar, but the county will draft a plan for distribution by “the end of the week.” For a map detailing where coronavirus cases are located, click here. Garnar also thanked Bates Troy Laundry and Cleaning Services along with Resciniti Dry Cleaning, for dry cleaning every homemade mask donated at no cost. Broome County April 22 coronavirus update 12 people have died from it and 86 have recovered. In total, 241 cases of the virus have been reported. Coronavirus numbers Garnar announced there are 143 active cases of COVID-19 in Broome County. last_img read more

While construction continues on Fairmont Park Apartments, residents raise concerns

first_imgBut Town of Union officials 12 News spoke with said it’s not, and provided 12 News with a list of other properties that are in the area. TOWN OF UNION (WBNG) — Construction is underway for the Fairmont Park Apartments, but some residents who live nearby are raising concerns. Some residents even wondered if the construction should be happening at all, questioning if the apartments are on FEMA buyout property. “We wanted to have a nice, quiet neighborhood, to be living in something residential. I mean we didn’t want anything commercial or I would’ve chosen something like that. You can get a lot less expensive places if you move into places commercially zoned,” said Kelly M., who rents in the neighborhood. Town of Union officials also added that they have been meeting with residents since last year when the project began in order to maintain transparency.last_img read more