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Vermont’s Rising Stars celebrated


first_imgVermont Business Magazine, 41 winners and nearly 200 guests celebrated the Rising Stars recognition award Thursday night at the Comfort Suites in South Burlington. The list is comprised of young professionals under the age of 40. Award recipients were selected by a panel of judges for their commitment to business growth, professional excellence and involvement in their communities. SEE MORE PHOTOS BELOW or LINK TO FACEBOOK‘This is the second year we’ve honored a group of young Vermonters. Among their professional accomplishments, the judges looked very hard at how they’ve given back to their communities,” said VBM Publisher John Boutin. “All of these winners are outstanding members of their communities and have given a lot of themselves to help others.’ Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott gave the keynote address and noted how, in the wake of two major floods in the state in just the last six months, that truly, “We are Vermont strong.”Bob Guydos of Choice Strategies said that this group of younger Vermonters will lead the state into the future and will demand a new way of using technology to accomplish the goals of a modern society. For instance, he said, consider employee benefits. He said that it would be cheaper today for an employer to pay the average worker’s mortgage than to cover his health care. This, he said, must and will change.Choice Strategies, of Waterbury Center, was among a select group of sponsors for the Rising Stars event, which included PMG Public Relations of Burlington, NBT Bank of Burlington, Simon Pearce of Quechee, Lake Champlain Chocolates of Burlington and the Vermont Country Store of Manchester Center.‘We received many outstanding nominations and the judges had a difficult time getting it down to only 41,” Boutin said. “The latest census report shows that Vermont is the second oldest state in the US, but these young professionals show that Vermont is not losing its young talent. For these young professionals it’s not just about business. It’s about them making a difference in their communities.’ Vermont Business Magazine will honor Vermont’s most accomplished young leaders at the Rising Stars dinner on Thursday, November 3rd. The dinner will be held at 5:30 at the Sunset Ballroom at the Comfort Suites on Shelburne Road in South Burlington. The honorees will also be featured in a special program in the November issue of Vermont Business Magazine. FAST FACTS: Of the 41 honorees, there were 23 men and 18 women. There are 19 from Chittenden County, 7 from Washington County, 6 from Rutland County, 4 from Bennington county, 2 from Windsor County, 2 from Orleans County and 1 from Caledonia County. The average age of the winners is 30 years old. The oldest is 39 and the youngest is 10 years old. 2011 HONOREES Alec Newcomb – MyWebGrocer – Chief Strategy OfficeAlison Davis – Westaff/Mount Family Group LTD – Branch ManagerAmanda Ibey – Homebuilders & Remodelers Assoc. – Government Affairs DirectorAmy Cunningham – Everybody Wins! VT – Executive DirectorAndrew Savage – AllEarth Renewables, Inc. – Director of Communications and Public AffairsAnise Richey – Draker Laboratories, Inc. – Production ManagerBenjamin Adler – Skinny Pancake – OwnerBradley Holt – Found Line – Co-Founder & Technical DirectorBrian McKenna – D.B. McKenna & Co. – CFPCatherine Wisloski – Lake Champlain Chocolates – Director of Marketing & Brand ManagementChristopher Bernier – Special Olympics of Vermont – Marketing & Development DirectorDavid Metraux – State of Vermont – Information Technology Manager IIDavid Parker – Dealer.com – Senior Director, Corporate DevelopmentDemeny Pollitt – Girlington Garage – OwnerEdward Sanders – The Hampton Inn and Event Center – Director of SalesEli Moulton – Merrit & Merritt & Moulton – PartnerElliot Orton – Vermont Country Store – Chair of the BoardEric Mallette – The Paramount Theater – Programming DirectorGeoffrey Hand – Dunkiel Saunders – PartnerJessica Bridge – Real Estate Vermont – OwnerJohn Lyon – Wilkins Harley Davidson – General ManagerJustin Bourgeois – Community National Bank – Commercial Lending Office: VP/Commercial Lending; Business LenderKate Keough – iTech US, Inc. – Director of OperationsKate Neubauer – Community Sailing Center – Executive DirectorKathryn Vanderminden – Village Roots Catering – Chef/OwnerKent Melville – Kent’s Soda – Co-FounderLeslie Schreiber – Schreiber Training – OwnerLukas Snelling – Energize Vermont – Director of Communications Matthew Cota – Vermont Fuel Dealer Association (VFDA) Executive Director Michael Lannen – Eternity Web Development – President + FounderMichael Coppinger – Downtown Rutland Partnership – Executive DirectorMichelle Fairbrother – Berkshire Bank – Vice President, Vermont Regional ManagerMolly Turner – Ben & Jerry’s – Executive AssistantNicole L’Huillier Fenton – Flavor Communications, LLC – OwnerOliver Levis – Earth Sky Time Community Farm – Farmer/BakerRebecca Gutwin  – the RehabGYM Inc. – CFO Ross Evans – Simon Pearce – Director of Marketing Sky Barsch Gleiner – Vermont Sports Magazine – Owner/PublisherSeth Webb – Town of Killington – Executive Director, Economic Development and TourismTesha Buss – Good Commons – CreatorYael Friedman – Fletcher Allen Foundation – Annual Fund/Major Gift OfficerSource: Vermont Business Magazine. November 3, 2011last_img read more


On the Blogs: Unviable Export Projects in Northwest U.S.


first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Daniel Jack Chasan for Crosscut.com:Major fossil fuel export projects are still on the table. Gateway Pacific and Millennium are still under review, the Tesoro Savage plans for an oil shipping facility at the Port of Vancouver, has gotten a lease extension. Two methanol plants are planned along the Columbia River. Two oil pipelines and a coal port expansion are still being considered in British Columbia.But do any of them still make economic sense? Some critics have long doubted it. As the Vancouver Columbian reported, some analysts still see good sense, for instance, in the Tesoro Corp. and Savage Company’s plans for a terminal in Vancouver but even they are more cautious about full development of an oil terminal there.An environmental impact statement for the Millennium project came out April 29, noting that Millennium “states further development of western U.S. coalfields and the growth of Asian market demand for U.S. coal is expected to continue.” No doubt that was truly the expectation in 2010 when the project received its first permit. But now? The past tense seems more appropriate.“Coal’s a dead man walking,” says Clark Williams-Derry of the Sightline Institute, which opposes the coal projects. He talks about “zombie proposals.”“There’s no way you can get U.S. coal off the coast at anything approaching a profit,” he says.Environmentalists have predicted coal’s demise before, only to see it rise again when the cost of other fossil fuels gets high enough to make it economically attractive again. But this time may be different. “The recent bankruptcies of the nation’s leading coal producers are the latest benchmark in the steady decline of the coal industry,” Tom Sanzillo and David Schlissel of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis wrote recently in a New York Times op-ed.“The U.S. economy has experienced a slow, modest recovery at the same time the coal industry has collapsed,” explains Tom Sanzillo. “This decoupling is historically unprecedented.”Full item: How economics turned NW coal ports into the walking dead On the Blogs: Unviable Export Projects in Northwest U.S.last_img read more


Bishop’s Big Breakthrough


first_imgPhoto: Michael NegreteJeremiah Bishop is a winner. He’s taken gold at the Pan American Games in 2003, triumphantly finished as a USA National Champion in 2008 for both cross country and marathon mountain biking, and most recently he made the 2012 Olympic Long Team, an eight member training pool out of which two riders will be selected to represent the U.S. in the Olympics. Despite his crowning achievements, Bishop embodies a strong sense of humility. He grew up with little money or opportunity, and surrounded by bad influences. The outlook was bleak. When the odds were against him, Bishop bucked the system. One day he straddled a little red mountain bike lent to him by a childhood friend, dropped the bike into low gear, and marveled at its power as he pedaled up a huge hill and never looked back. But in 2002 Bishop hit a physically limiting mental flatline, struggling to further improve. That year Bishop and his long time friend and inspiration, Chris Eatough, teamed up on the TransAlp Challenge, an eight-day behemoth of a stage race through the Alps in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and finishing in Italy—60,000 vertical feet of climbing in eight days. It was the toughest race he’d ever attempted. Along the way he learned that—while already being a pro—if he were to ride harder he could be more. He could be a champion.“Just imagine the hardest, most gutted out you’ve ever felt on a mountain bike: that was the first day. I said to myself, ‘This is a little more than I thought I was getting into.’ And this type of racing, point-to-point mountain bike racing, we thought we’d do pretty good, and we got our asses handed to us. We got served up some serious beat down that day.I cramped pretty bad and Chris was pushing me. I mean, we probably squeaked into 6th place on the first stage, a relatively short stage compared to what was coming.After the second day we were a little bit closer, and on the third day I was starting to pull with renewed strength when we got into the flat sections and we were riding with some of the lead groups. The fifth day, I started to feel stronger. Not just a little bit stronger. I was able to climb away from Chris. He wasn’t slowing down; I was just speeding up. I was actually able to stay with the lead group, and I would have to stop and wait for Chris. We had to ride together, so we stuck together for our best overall performance, but we realized we weren’t going to win the race.We got to the final stage and Chris was looking at the profile, and it had a really big 4,000-vertical-foot downhill, and he said, ‘I think we can win this stage.’ We looked at the map—it’s mostly singletrack—most of the race up until that point had been dirt road, which was immensely frustrating for two East Coast mountain bikers that can jump a knee- high log like it’s a sneeze and can navigate rock gardens like it’s second nature. I felt really strong and pushed it really hard. I was helping Chris get just over the tops of the climbs, you know, giving him a little bit of a push, just to get us up to that lead group.We made contact with the lead group right at the top, right before the final, major descent, and we just dropped in like a pair of bombers. We lost the two German guys who were leading the race and, yeah, we took off—just dropped the descent. We really put some time into those guys. Probably close to five minutes.We got out of the singletrack and we had some full-fledged downhill through several villages, a good straightaway of maybe 20 kilometers, and then the finish in the down of Garda. I was leading and we came around a really tight bend. The buildings in Europe are built right up against the corners of the alleys and streets. I angled and swung wide—Chris was on my wheel—and there was a car coming right at me. I locked up both brakes. First Chris hit me and then I hit the car and kind of slid one leg under the car. The car was luckily stopped at that point, and we dented the door. I got up so fast that I almost bounced up off the ground even though I had sprained my ankle and was all scratched up. I looked back and Chris was adjusting his jersey and had blood on his elbow and his knuckles and was spinning his front wheel. His front wheel was wobbly and mine was actually pretty messed up too, so I undid my front brake (we had cable brakes at the time), and we got back on and we slowly got back up to speed.We pinned it down on the last stretch of road. I was like a steam engine all the way to the finish.That race was a rebirth for me. I knew I was tough before that point. What changed was that I realized how hard I needed to train to get that level out of my engine. That meant I needed to train like a monster. I mean, I needed to do some really ridiculous training. Now I do that. It’s part of the job, and it works.”Bishop and Eatough were the first Americans to ever win a stage of the TransAlp Challenge.last_img read more


Ski Season Preview: Big Changes at Beech Mountain Resort


first_imgBeech Mountain Opening Day 2012-13 from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.In the past few years, North Carolina’s Beech Mountain Resort has positioned itself to be a powerhouse in the realm of four season outdoor recreation. Beech went all in with downhill and cross-country mountain biking, becoming one of the best places to gravity ride on the East Coast — and this is saying something in a state as well known for singletrack as it is for basketball. The mountain hosted the Gravity Nationals in 2011 and 2012 and was the scene for the Collegiate Nationals in 2013, hosting the best college riders from around the nation (and by around the nation, we mainly mean Colorado). With the recent development of the Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, Beech Mountain and the greater Boone area is rapidly capitalizing on the growth of mountain biking and downhill riding in particular.Despite this influx of biking infrastructure, however, Beech Mountain Resort remains a skier’s mountain. Conveniently nestled on a sliver of land surrounded by national forest just north of Linville, Beech is the highest ski area in the eastern U.S. with an elevation of 5,506 feet at the summit, with 95 skiable acres, 830 feet of vertical, and 16 trails served by 7 lifts. The mile-high elevation means if there is snow in the area, it is falling at Beech, but this is still North Carolina so the battle against Mother Nature is constant. For the 2013-14 ski season, Beech has made significant improvements to its snowmaking capabilities, says the mountain’s Talia Freeman.“This summer we added an additional 12 new SMI Super PoleCat snow guns,” she said. “That ups our snowmaking system to 40 total SMI guns, so this gives us a pretty sophisticated snowmaking system. This is the largest modification of our snowmaking capabilities that we’ve ever had and it completely replaced our old compressor system.”Beech boasts snowmaking on 100 percent of their trails, so if the temperature cooperates, the slopes will be open.Speaking of open slopes, another big change at Beech for this year involves a scheduling change. Previously, Beech closed to groom the slopes between the day session and night session, but no more. The slopes will be open from 9am to 9pm on weekdays and 9am to 10pm on weekends.“We think that the streamline hours will allow us to provide a longer and more enjoyable experience for our customer base,” said Freeman. “We aren’t doing a session break anymore. It will be a nice addition for our customer base.”This will allow more skiers and boarders shred one of Beech’s terrain parks designed by Director of Operations Ric Wilkinson, now in his second year at the helm. Freeman says big improvements were made in that department last season, and this year Beech features two parks – one advanced and the other a progression park where youngsters can learn new tricks. Freeman also says there is a continuing commitment at the mountain to get first timers and local kids on the slopes through learn to ride programs and clinics throughout the year.On the events and amenities side, Beech is bringing back its very popular Totally 80’s Retro Weekend at the end of February featuring parties, costume contests, and a banked slalom race. There is also a new facility at the top of the mountain: a skybar/lounge/snackshack called 5,506.“It’s a really cool facility. The deck in front of the lounge area is about 2,200 square feet, it’s really large. The view up there is incredible. It’s kind of like a little glass round house, so we’ll have food and drinks and snacks up there, and then the viewing deck is really cool. It will be a nice addition to the top of the mountain and something we can use year-round.”There’s that term again: year-round. Beech may be expanding its clientele into all four seasons, but with the improvements geared toward the winter, Beech remains committed to skiers and boarders. They know where their bread is buttered.last_img read more


Iditarod Champ Trains for 1,000 Miles on Foot


first_imgWhen your husband tells you he wants to run a marathon, with zero running experience and forty pounds too much weight, you say no.But not if your husband is Pete Ripmaster.“I can tell him I’m worried, but when Pete puts his mind to something, nothing and no one can stand in his way,” says Kristen, Ripmaster’s wife.Ripmaster ran 26.2 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway by himself. For Ripmaster, that marathon in 2008 was just the start.On February 28, 39-year-old Ripmaster also has permission from his wife to run 1,000 miles through the heart of Alaska in the dead of winter hauling a sled with all his gear. This will be Ripmaster’s third start in the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Instead of running the 350 mile version of the race, as he has the past two years, Ripmaster will be among a handful of runners who will attempt the entire 1,000-mile historic dog sled route from Knik to Nome.Last year, no runners finished the unmarked race that crosses a portion of Alaska’s vast interior. Since 2000, just 15 runners have crossed the 1,000-mile finish line. The last winner, in 2014, took 23 days.But don’t worry. Pete’s ready.To fully understand his commitment to lugging a sled in sub-zero condition across Seward’s icebox, there’s something you should know first about Ripmaster. He is used to defying the odds.As a 20 year old, he got whipped into shape on a NOLS course in Alaska after earning a 0.5 GPA while living in a frat house at the University of Kansas.Kiss_The_Pacific_150221_5793_FIX“I didn’t give a shit. I was a punk,” says Ripmaster who grew up in the Detroit suburbs. “The instructors weren’t easy on me. They said you have a lot of potential, but there’s a lot to work on. By the end of the trip, I knew if I wanted something I had to work for it. It was very eye opening. That brought me to some beauty, and also made me realize I had to change.”It wouldn’t be overnight, however. Ripmaster’s pattern of heavy drinking got worse after losing his mom to cancer when he was 24.“My mom was my emotional stability. I wasn’t afraid to tell her anything,” explains Ripmaster. He moved to Telluride, Colorado after college where he skied, drank, and pretty much hit rock bottom. “My mom knew what made me tick and my faults. I held her hand when she passed. It was the hardest thing in my life.”In Telluride, he met his wife and moved to North Carolina in 2004 to be close to her family.“For some reason, she was willing to help me through it,” he said. “Kristen brought me through some dark places. Somehow I got through it without hurting anyone else or myself. She’s a huge piece of the puzzle.”Another piece was running.Soon after completing his impromptu DIY marathon on the Parkway, Ripmaster became addicted to the sport. Over the next five years he ran 50 marathons in 50 states and raised over $60,000 for cancer research to fulfill a promise he made to his mother in her final days.Still, Ripmaster says he was looking for something deeper, bigger, more intense.So when Ripmaster read about the Iditarod footrace, he immediately sent an e-mail to the race director, at that time, Bill Merchant. Within minutes he got an email back.“He knew I was going to get my ass kicked, but he saw something in me that I didn’t see in my own self,” Ripmaster says.That’s pretty much how Merchant saw it too.“I’ve been dealing with people for a long, long time. Pete was raised old school—I could tell from his e-mail,” said Merchant, who picked Ripmaster from a long list of runner applications in a race where keeping all of your digits—or your life—is no guarantee.“He didn’t have the qualifications of some of the other runners, but there was just something in his e-mail that I could tell about him. If I could explain it, I would. Pete’s one seriously good egg.”Despite Merchant’s confidence, Ripmaster says, he did indeed get “his ass handed” to him.From the first hill, Ripmaster realized he was hauling about fifty pounds too much gear. He also veered twenty-five miles off course and spent the first night in a bivy on the side of a lake. And the spikes from his overly taut snowshoes blistered his feet.“I was green,” Ripmaster admits, yet he finished in 10 days, 6 hours, twelfth among twelve runners. “I may not have a lot of sense, but I have a lot of mental toughness. I’m not sure where it comes from, but I have that in spades.”In 2015, he knocked four days off his time and finished third.He admits that while the run included moments of euphoria, more often than not, it’s filled with despair. Ripmaster, who has struggled with depression his entire life, says those highs and lows on the trail are precisely why he runs.“I typically hold all of my emotions in,” says Ripmaster, who has struggled with depression as long as he can remember. “The only way I can feel free it is to let it out. That’s why I run. It’s mental health. I embrace the pain.”Kristen, his wife, agrees that running is meaningful to him.“He can get very deep within himself on runs. For Pete, it’s a very spiritual experience,” Kristen says. But most importantly, she added, it brings him joy.Adam Hill, a friend and running partner, says that running seems to help Ripmaster tackle life. “He really learns more about who he is each time out. Pete’s not afraid to wear emotions on his sleeve.” Or, added Hill, is he afraid to take on lofty goals.So not only will he attempt to slog through 1,000 miles of ice and snow, he’ll also aim to raise $44,000 for Hope Chest of Western North Carolina to support women living with cancer.Ripmaster is well aware that he may not raise those funds, or even finish the race, but that’s okay with him.Like in life, said Ripmaster, success and failure is yours alone.last_img read more


Smithsonian Institution Will Exhibit the History and Culture of Panama in the U.S.


first_imgBy Dialogo July 17, 2009 PANAMA CITY, 15 July 2009 (AFP) – An exhibition organized by the prestigious Smithsonian Institution, located in Washington, will present the history, culture, and scientific advances of Panama in a score of events that will take place in the United States between October of this year and May 2010. “We have a very simple goal, which is that people in the United States get to know Panama,” said Eduardo Díaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, upon announcing the exhibit in a presentation in Panama on Tuesday. “Many people know that there is a canal in Panama, or if they’re salsa fans, they know that Rubén Blades is Panamanian,” but apart from that, “there is very little knowledge of what Panama is and what its geological formation means or its importance for biodiversity,” Díaz explained. The different activities will take place primarily in Washington and New York, but there are also events planned in Panama. The organizers estimate that a least a million people will visit or participate in the various activities planned in the two countries. “Panama at the Smithsonian” will display aspects of the geological and archeological history of the country up through its present biodiversity, by way of Spanish colonization, Caribbean heritage, and the arrival of the railroad and the widening of the Panama Canal. In addition, there will be components related to traditional music like décimas or the importance of the African legacy in percussion rhythms and dances, without forgetting modern music like salsa and jazz and its importance in the present configuration of the country. The organizers emphasized that it will be possible to observe that “the formation of the isthmus began in Panama more than 3.5 million years ago” and that Panama “is the origin of many things that have affected the entire world, like the creation of the ocean currents or (being) a bridge that united two continents.” Díaz acknowledged that “it is always difficult to publicize the scientific part, because people are more interested in movies or music,” for which reason he believes that this is a good opportunity to present the scientific work done in the country. “First the indigenous people, then the Africans arrived, then the Chinese: all these arrivals of different cultures and their influence in Panama are going to be dealt with in this program,” said Eldredge Bermingham, director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, located in Panama, a co-organizer of the exhibit together with the Interoceanic Canal Museum of Panama. U.S. scientists will give talks in Panama on tropical archeology and the history of the naturalists of the isthmus. The Smithsonian Latino Center seeks to ensure that Latino contributions to the arts, sciences, and humanities are highlighted, supporting various programs as part of the activities of the U.S. institution. Díaz also affirmed that a goal is that people in the United States differentiate among Mexicans, Colombians, Cubans, or Panamanians “and understand that they are not the same just because they are Latinos and that each Latin American country is different.” Colombia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico have been the subjects of previous exhibitions, and once the events related to Panama have concluded, Argentina will be the guest of honor in commemoration of the bicentennial of Argentine independence from Spain.last_img read more


US provides relief for floods in Guatemala


first_img The United States said it has requested 50,000 dollars in emergency aid for flood-hit Guatemala and reprogrammed another 4.38 million dollars in economic aid for recovery efforts. “We are very, very concerned about the disaster there,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. The US ambassador in Guatemala City Stephen McFarland at the weekend asked for 50,000 dollars in aid from the US Agency for International Development and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance as a “US initial response,” he said. “We have since reprogrammed 4.38 million dollars in economic support funds to assist Guatemala’s recovery efforts,” Crowley added. He also said the US embassy has freed up helicopters which are normally used to help fight drug trafficking for the purpose of surveillance and rescue missions. “And we’ll continue to look for additional ways to provide support to the people of Guatemala,” he said. In Guatemala, at least 45 people died over the weekend amid the heaviest flooding in recent memory. By Dialogo September 10, 2010last_img read more


Colombia Turning to Rodents in Battle Against Land Mines


first_img Why rats? Turning to rats The National Police plan to eradicate illicit crops and land mines has for more than four years experimented with using rodents ─ in addition to their use of trained dogs ─ to detect anti-personnel mines in various parts of the country. The idea was borne from the APOPO organization’s experience in Tanzania. APOPO researches, develops, and deploys detection rat technology for humanitarian purposes. It is a registered charity in Belgium and is headquartered in Tanzania. APOPO has led demining programs in that African country with enviable results. In fact, Tanzania no longer is listed as having a high number of land mine victims. Top levels of the Colombian police forces and the Ministry of Defense gave free rein to those conducting the experiments using rodents to detect buried mines, mindful of the fact that mine-detecting dogs often activate the mines because of their weight. The rats used are from the species Rattus norvegicus, better known as albino rats, and they are trained in four critical phases. In the first, they try to socialize the rats to humans and other animals, such as dogs and cats. At the same time, the rats are trained to tolerate unusual sounds without scurrying away and hiding. “In the first phase, they primarily try to reduce the animals’ stress levels so that they can interact more calmly with their environment and not be startled by humans or animal species from which they would normally flee,” stated the project’s scientist, Luisa Fernanda Méndez, DVM, in reports provided to Diálogo by the Communications Office for the Colombian National Police. After the animals achieve a high level of sociability in their environment, the training efforts next focus on the rodents’ ability to recognize orders so they can respond to stimuli from the technicians who are in charge of training the animals. This recognition ability is necessary so they can be used without leashes or harnesses. The third phase in training the rodents to detect landmines is exposing them to explosive substances, first in the lab and later in the field. They are trained in 10 meter by 10 meter quadrants in order to prevent the rodents from being easily distracted while they are tracking odors. At first, the trainers build mazes in the lab with corridors and pathways that have different types of smells, but especially the scent of explosive substances. This way, the animal can learn to identify the scents and relate them to an incentive. When they are able to track and identify them with over 90 percent accuracy, the trainers begin the rodents’ field training. In the field, the albino rats, or the rodent demining squad, are trained in areas at measuring at most 10m x 10m, with barriers between the quadrants. This allows the animal to devote its full attention on searching for its object, “the treat”. In the fourth phase, trainers focus on the animals’ diets, ensuring that they are always sated and can concentrate their efforts on searching for the “treat” they receive for detecting the explosives. During this phase, trainers condition the rodents to not be distracted by edible plants or insects so their senses are focused on finding explosive substances. Their reward for finding explosives is a simple sugar pill, which the rats find irresistible. “The key is to develop a strict diet for the animal, so it is always satisfied and is only waiting for the treat. It can then focus on obtaining the treat and will not be distracted by other things that, in the field, it might consider as food, such as worms, flowers and grain,” stated Dr. Méndez’s report. By Dialogo January 11, 2011 Dear Sirs I believe that rats are the most suitable to find the location of landmines, however we count on the U.S. to locate the mines despite the fact it would be one by one and time consuming and we need to develop a method to provide us with a general map of the locations of the mines. This way we can detonate them in sequence as we will gain time and agility in the action. There is in Bogota and Switzerland studies with electromagnetic waves for detonations in series; however I request contact with CCCM AND THE SWEDISH EMBASSY TO EXCHANGE IDEAS. I WILL KEEP SEARCHING AND IF I FIND OUT ANYTHING I WILL WARN THEM; MEANWHILE I CAN ONLY WISH LUCK AND SUCCESS TO YOU. IN CASE OF FURTHER HELP, PLEASE NOTIFY MR. CARLOS DE MORAES Interesting information. Brilliant!!! An animal that can to learn this work. Congratulations to the those who put this into practice!!! They should be praised! center_img Bogotá, D.C., Colombia, – Colombia is second only to Afghanistan in its annual number of land mine victims, according to a recent report by the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor. But Colombian officials are hopeful that a new program that uses rats to detect the deadly hidden weapons will improve those statistics. Colombia recorded 764 land mine victims in 2009, according to the study released on Dec. 10 and sponsored by USAID, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Embassy of Sweden. Although that number dropped by almost 15 percent from 2008, the countryside in many parts of the nation still is dangerous, especially because armed insurgent groups continue to plant mines. “The situation in Colombia remains dire. We still have the second highest number of victims of land mines in the world, only surpassed by Afghanistan. But worst of all are the armed conflict and the use of land mines as weapons of war by insurgent groups,” explained Álvaro Jiménez, director of the Colombian Campaign against Landmines (Campaña Colombiana Contra las Minas – CCCM). International Landmines Monitor and CCCM are especially concerned about mine injuries to civilians employed in the eradication of illicit crops. About 180 of the 2009 victims were working on drug eradication efforts when injured, including 52 who lost their lives. Colombia has taken important steps to eliminate the land mines, according to International Monitor. Authorities have swept and cleared mines from 326,223 square meters out of the nearly 50 square kilometers where mines are believed to have been planted. “Direct research and corroborating information have revealed that land mines are present in 650 municipalities. However, we must point out that the records are not precise with regard to the number of victims. In many parts of Colombia, especially where insurgent groups are active, such cases are not reported because people are afraid of the insurgent groups,” said the director of CCCM. Colombia has also asked to delay the deadline for complete removal of mines by 10 years, and their request to keep 586 mines for military training, pursuant to the provisions of the Ottawa Convention. According to statistics gathered by CCCM, out of the 32 departments in Colombia, only the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina are free of land mines, while the most affected departments are Antioquia, Meta and Caquetá. These figures also indicate that at least 650 of the almost 1,200 municipalities have landmines buried in them. The decisión to employ rodents to detect landmines is largely due to the animals’ low weight, which makes it all but impossible for them to detonate the mines, Colombian police informed Diálogo. The researchers’ experience indicates that the lightest weight that will activate an explosive device is 420 grams (14.8 pounds). Albino rats never reach this weight, and therefore they run the least possible risk in searching, detecting and clearing fields of mines. At least this is what was demonstrated during clearing efforts conducted by Apopo in Tanzania. This allowed them to achieve a significant reduction in the number of victims among the persons involved in deactivating these lethal devices. Colombia’s new demining rodent squad is scheduled to begin operations in the first few months of 2011.last_img read more


Colombia and Panama Reinforce Joint Strategy against Drug Trafficking


first_img At the conclusion of a meeting in Bogotá on March 28, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón and Panamanian Public Safety Minister José Raúl Mulino agreed to reinforce their countries’ joint strategy in the fight against drug trafficking and signed an aerial interdiction agreement. According to an official statement, the agreement “establishes the possibility that in aerial interdiction operations conducted by Panama, Colombian officials may be contributing and collaborating with information they have with regard to aircraft that might be affecting the two countries’ stability.” During their meeting, Ministers Pinzón and Mulino also agreed “to strengthen coordination in the area of intelligence exchange, reason for which it was decided to connect the two Governments’ databases in order to improve performance in the fight against criminal organizations active on both sides of the border,” the statement said. “We have to incorporate those marginalized towns along the border into all our strategies, in order to actively involve them in the productive life of our nations and thereby disconnect any impulse to collaborate with terrorist groups or drug traffickers,” Mulino said. It was also decided at the meeting that the Colombian Army will include officers from the Panamanian National Border Service (SENAFRONT) in its special-operations and infantry courses. For their part, the police will conduct training programs in aviation intelligence and aircraft maintenance for Panamanian officers. Meanwhile, the Colombian Navy will send a group of maritime interdiction experts in July to hold a course for Panamanian units, while the Colombian Air Force will hold a course on aerial intelligence for the Central American country’s authorities in August. “We’ve agreed to provide complete collaboration to the Panamanian government to train its officers in the various public-safety services in each one of the specialties and by each branch of the Armed Forces and the police in Colombia,” Minster Pinzón said in that regard. By Dialogo March 30, 2012last_img read more


U.S. Military Operation Martillo to Reinforce Guatemalan Police


first_img A total of 171 United States Marines will provide support, starting this week, to the Security Forces of Guatemala, in an operation called Martillo, focusing on countering drug trafficking in Central America, reported an official source on Aug. 21. The Guatemalan Defense Minister, Ulises Anzueto, said operations will last two months and will aim to neutralize the drug gangs that smuggle drugs across the Guatemalan Pacific. “‘We try to counteract drug trafficking and provide the restraint needed for their entry into Guatemalan territory, and if they enter, bring them to a place where we can stop or disrupt their activities,” said Anzueto to the internet newspaper, Prensa Libre. The actions will cover six departments of southwestern Guatemala. Operation Martillo is an initiative of the U.S. government to combat drug trafficking, together with Central America and the Caribbean, and so far, it has only been implemented in Honduras. According to Anzueto, the joint operation will involve some two thousand Guatemalan soldiers. The Americans used the South Air Command in Retalhuleu, about 105 miles from the capital as a strategic point, but the Brigade Base Paratroops of Puerto San José (South) of Central Air Command, in the capital, will be added to the Task Force operation of Northwestern San Marcos (southwest), explained Anzueto. The drug traffickers began to use the south coast, especially since the sea is easy access. What they do is unload [the drugs] at sea, and then they use routes to move toward the border of Mexico’, reported the Guatemalan President, Otto Pérez last Monday. The presence of foreign military in Guatemalan territory, under the Constitution, can only be approved by the legislature, which has not happened so far. By Dialogo August 23, 2012last_img read more