Is Everest’s Base Camp on your bucket list?

first_imgHobnail Trekking Co., an adventure travel outfitter based in Nashville, will conduct its “Everest Base Camp Trek Experience” presentation in Asheville at Diamond Brand Outdoors’ “Sherpa Night” on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The free event at 6:30 pm is co-sponsored by Sherpa Adventure Gear, an international apparel company founded in Kathmandu, and Diamond Brand Outdoors, Asheville’s most-tenured outdoor retailer.“When most people hear the words ‘Mt. Everest,’ they think of adventurers attempting to climb the world’s tallest mountain at the risk of their lives,” says Mark Johnson, Hobnail Trekking Co. owner. “But we deal only with trekking to Everest Base Camp, not climbing the mountain. The trek is an iconic, life-changing experience that is within reach of many people, both financially and physically. No mountaineering experience is required; this is just an awe-inspiring hike through the most revered mountain range on the planet.”Dawa Jangbu Lama, an Everest region Sherpa and longtime trekking guide who sees as Hobnail Trekking Company’s director of Nepali operations, will be a speaker during the event and will be available to answer questions.“I’m excited to visit Asheville,” says Lama, who has lived in the U.S. part-time since 2014. “Part of our mission at Hobnail Trekking is to let Americans know that experiencing the Himalayas is not as far-fetched as it might seem. A lot of it is actually very similar to North Carolina’s mountains.”Diamond Brand Outdoors Marketing Manager Chris Bubenik says “Sherpa Night” will be one of the store’s most anticipated and exciting events of the year.“When we decided to bring Sherpa Adventure Gear into our store, we knew we wanted to highlight what stands at the very foundation of the brand: the Sherpa,” explains Bubenik. “We knew from the beginning we wanted to invite Dawa Jangbu Lama to be part of Sherpa Night. As the only outfitter based in the eastern U.S. that provides treks to Nepal, Hobnail Trekking Company embodies the same spirit as Sherpa Adventure Gear, Diamond Brand Outdoors, and, of course, the Sherpas who make the routes, carry the loads, and set the ropes to the top of the treacherous slopes of the Himalayas and back.”Bubenik says Hobnail Trekking Co. will cover the details of trek — including pricing, itinerary, travel, food, and lodging — and will conduct a question-and-answer session with Lama. Sherpa Adventure Gear will also show a video documentary focusing on Nepalese culture, provide authentic Nepali food, and will offer giveaways and prizes. A portion of proceeds for Sherpa Adventure Gear sales will be donated to provide scholarships to children who grow up in remote Himalayan villages.last_img read more

Beech Mountain in June is Hard to Beat

first_imgFor the all of June, the folks in Beech Mountain, N.C. have an entire month of family-friendly events and outdoor adventures lined up.Located about two hours from Asheville, two and a half hours from Charlotte, and an hour from Johnson City, Beech Mountain is an easy day trip for families in the surrounding areas. Popular for its mountain biking in the summer and skiing in the winter, many of you are already familiar with the place.June is the time to bring the entire family for some unique fun in this picturesque outdoor paradise. From guided bike rides and hikes to races and movie nights, there is something for everyone to do. They are also offering special lodging rates for families looking to come play.This month’s special events include:Friday Field DaysFamily Friendly ConcertsThe Annual “A Cool 5 Race”Movies Under The Stars47th Annual Roasting of the HogMile High Fourth Of JulyHiking and BikingThe trails around Beech Mountain have something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely family stroll or wanting to charge some epic downhill on the bike, there is a trail for you. For family fun month, they have specials on mountain biking lessons and guided rides. There are guided hikes on June 7 and June 21 along the Grassy Gap Creek and Emerald Outback trails.Paddling and FishingFamilies visiting Beech Mountain for family fun month have access to free canoe and paddleboat rentals at Buckeye Lake. They provide the paddles and lifejackets as well. All month long, there are guided trout fishing tours with Rec Center staff. They provide the rods and reels.Other ActivitiesAlong with your traditional outdoor recreation opportunities, family fun month also has several other fun outdoor activities. Families can challenge themselves playing Mini-golf, disc golf, and pickleball all month long.For a full lineup of events and list of lodging specials, learn more about family fun month here.last_img read more

Indigenous Trails

first_imgAaron Carapella is working to change the narrative about Indigenous Peoples in this country through Tribal Nations Maps. Whose land are we hiking, biking, climbing, and paddling on? When it comes to the history of public lands and conservation in this country, the Indigenous Peoples who once occupied those land are often left out of the conversation. Now, several mapping and preservation projects are telling a deeper story of the places where we play. With funding from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation through the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Historic Preservation Office, Littlejohn has written and filmed ten short videos that tell a story at or near historic Cherokee sites. “A lot of those people still live off of the land and survive off it,” she said. “It’s not just because they have to, but they want to. There are ceremonial practices that are also carried out and having that access to lands that are sacred or culturally important is really important for them.” However, the Native Land app does help start a conversation about the history of the land. Land acknowledgements are a way of recognizing the people who lived on the land before colonizers pushed them out. This could take many different forms, from a spoken acknowledgement at the start of a conference to a written acknowledgment in an Instagram caption.   “People are becoming more aware and thinking history didn’t just start here with us,” Littlejohn said. “What happened here 180 years ago? What happened 11,000 years ago?” “As a kid, I would go to pow wows or Native American events and museums in California where I grew up,” he said. “I would find really basic maps with 30 or 40 tribes on them, mostly the common ones you would hear if you were watching John Wayne movies.” “This is information that actually is about people,” Temprano said. “It matters. When you screw it up, it matters. So, if you draw someone’s territory wrong or you incorrectly write their name, that can be pretty harmful to some people and it’s important to pay attention to that.” “Everyone wants to be represented. We all want to be seen,” he said. “Not in an egotistical or narcissistic way but recognized as human beings. This is where we’re from. I was trying to combat some of those other maps that were cheesy with caricatures drawn on them that were culturally incorrect. They would have a Seminole Indian with a headdress on whereas they didn’t dress like that.” There are several sites along the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail open to visitors, including the Hiwassee River Heritage Center, Port Royal State Historic Park, and Mantle Rock Nature Preserve. These sites were stops along the route many indigenous people took during the forced removal from their land. As he did more research, Carapella started offering a variety of maps, from Nations of the Western Hemisphere to more localized regional maps. He gives people the option to buy the maps with or without modern-day borders. Native Land is an interactive website and app that allows users to search by zip code or use geolocation to better understand the people, languages, and treaties that once governed the land they are on and, in many places, are still a part of the landscapes but often go unrecognized. Click here to view the Native Land app. Littlejohn, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is now working on another ten videos focused on the Qualla Boundary. With the videos only running around five minutes and free online, she hopes the stories and history will be more accessible to more people, especially Cherokee families.  He has now developed over 150 Tribal maps, postcards, and puzzles, representing 3,900 Nations and sub-Tribes throughout the Western Hemisphere. Carapella found that most people didn’t know the land’s Indigenous history. A self-taught map maker, Carapella started designing his own set of maps to decolonize the way popular maps of the United States and tribal lands depicted Indigenous Peoples. But maps are only as accurate as the cartographer who makes them, often allowing for bias to influence how the map tells the story with labels and what, or who, is included. “I have this open policy that if I have a map in the incorrect place, the spelling has been changed by the tribe, or I’m missing a band here or there, I will always make regular updates,” Carapella said. “So, these maps have been a mission in progress. The ultimate point is to represent as many people that have been historically underrepresented on maps as possible.” Portions of these trails have become part of the Appalachian and Benton MacKaye Trails, but many have become overgrown or were abandoned. Using old maps and journals for his research, Marshall has also included information about the plants and animals of the area in the early 1700s.  As a teller of Cherokee stories for more than 30 years, Kathi Littlejohn is reaching a new audience on YouTube with her series Cherokee History & Stories: What Happened Here? Although he does sell the maps to cover the cost of printing, Carapella has donated hundreds of maps to museums, underfunded schools, and Boys and Girls Clubs so that the next generation has a better understanding of history and the present.  “If you were floating the Little Tennessee River or French Broad River, you’re following what was a Cherokee Trail on both sides of the river,” Marshall said. “Their trails were part of a continental wide network of trails that went from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.” Great Smoky Mountains National Park, N.C. “Ninety-seven percent of the tribal names that you see are the common or colloquial names that were given either by another tribe or from Europeans,” he said. “Only three percent are the actual original name for themselves. As Europeans moved west, they would ask a tribe, “Who is to the west of you? Who are the next people we are going to encounter? What do you call those people?”  “Where are these people that I just acknowledged?” he said. “Where do they live? What is the situation? Are they fighting for legal rights? Do they have land? What use do they have of their traditional territory? Start asking those types of questions and see if that takes people somewhere. Because otherwise it just becomes another easy thing to say that has no power and it’s just lip service.” “You could spend your whole life studying this and you would never even get started on it,” he said.  The overlapping outlines of communities illustrate the complexities involved with mapping Indigenous territories in the sense of what Westerners usually think of when it comes to states and boundaries. The Cherokee Garden at the Green Meadows Preserve features plants used by the Cherokee people of the region for food, medicine, tools, weapons, and shelter.  Johnson, who is Coast Salish from the Tsawout First Nation on her mother’s side and Tsimshian from Laxkwala’ams on her father’s side, said early explorers and settler governments used maps to invalidate Indigenous People’s claims to their own land.  One thing especially important to Carapella in the creation of these maps was the use of names. “They’ll talk about things like immigration, genocide, disease epidemics, which tribes helped in the Revolutionary War and Civil War, and all the different implications of that,” Carapella said. “The maps do prompt a whole lot of conversation.” Noland Creek Trail connected the Little Tennessee River Trail to Clingmans Dome, known to the Cherokee as Kuwahi or the Mulberry Place. Noland Creek Trail is also a section of the larger Benton MacKaye Trail.  Trail of Tears “It’s a pretty good step because it’s taking something that wasn’t ever visible or spoken and suddenly people are noticing it and trying to pronounce names,” Temprano said. “Even just thinking about it at all is a positive step. In my opinion, territory acknowledgements are useful early steps, but they can very easily become a token gesture because they don’t cost a lot to do.” Carapella started out with a map of nations in the United States. Then he started getting comments from people in Canada saying he was using an arbitrary colonial border to cut off a nation from both sides of the border.  The trail is maintained and in excellent condition. We recommend beginning at Wayah Bald and following the Bartram Trail route east to Bruce Knob where it leaves the Cherokee trail and ends at the Bartram trailhead at Wallace Creek. The pipeline map is available on Tribal Nations Maps’ website for free download to bring more awareness to current issues facing Indigenous communities.  Victor Temprano was mapping resource management projects, including pipelines running through traditional lands, when he began to realize that mapping Indigenous territories was a project of its own.   In many places, national parks that we now use for recreation were created without the consent of the people already living there. Johnson said that in some cases, park management policies prevent Indigenous Peoples from ancestral practices such as hunting, fishing, and harvesting cedar. “I think the whole intention is to stimulate discussion in talking about the land,” Johnson said. “Whose land are you on? What is the history behind the land? What is the history of how those people got removed or were excluded or essentially erased from their traditional territory? How did that happen and how do we deal with that?”center_img Kathi Littlejohn tells the story of The Leech Place. “The ecology was incredible during that time,” he said. “There were buffalo all over the mountain. You had millions of passenger pigeons that would land in the trees. It wasn’t like the forest we have today. Every third tree in the mountains was an American Chestnut. When it died out, that took out 20 to 30 percent of mast that was in the forest. So, the bear populations were less, the turkeys and deer were less.” Moving forward, Temprano said the next step is to start forming actual relationships with Indigenous Peoples and organizations. “There’s power in taking back your own name for yourself,” Carapella said. “Many tribes’ names are specifically tied to whatever area they are from. Our very name is embedded into the place we live.” Museum of the Cherokee Indian “There’s never just one pipeline,” Carapella said. “There’s never just one sacred site being discussed or litigated in court. There are so many pipelines that affect not only Native Peoples and cross Native territories, but it’s an issue for communities in general.” As a member of the board of directors, Johnson is involved with shaping the future of Native Land. Moving forward, the board will look at questions of who gets put on the map, how to approach the map in a respectful manner that does not harm communities, and what other educational materials they might want to put out.  The app opens with a disclaimer that the map does not “represent official or legal boundaries of any Indigenous nations” and users should contact individual nations for more information. Temprano makes it clear that the map is not an academic level project and should not be used as such.  For each nation represented on the map, Carapella works to have three sources for the name with the primary information coming from a tribal source. He has reached out to around 1,000 nations in the United States and Canada by phone, email, letter, or in person. As new information comes in, he makes sure the maps are as up to date as possible.  “I thought it was a really powerful tool,” she said. “At the time, I was learning about planning history and how land was taken away from First Nations people. Maps and drawing lines on maps was a really big tool that was used to do that. I thought it was a great idea, not only as an educational tool for settlers who don’t really know whose land they’re on, but also to empower the local communities to take the power of mapping and drawing lines into their own hands again.” Starting the Conversation Visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian for more than 11,000 years of history, culture, and stories of the Cherokee people. The museum hosts Heritage Day on the second Saturday of each month with live music, traditional dancing, crafts, and storytelling.  Click here to view more of Carapella’s maps. “Myself, as a settler, it’s kind of a strange space for me to be running this project and in control of all those complicated decisions about who is Indigenous,” Temprano said. “So, I really wanted to have a group of Indigenous People who could debate some of these questions and explore different answers and make decisions about what is appropriate for the map.”  “I am always looking for ways to get other people interested and to learn the stories to tell them themselves,” Littlejohn said.  West Cobb County, Ga. “My biggest hope is to tell the stories and protect those sites,” Littlejohn said. “We literally go past them every day. I wish that people would visit the sites, feel what happened there, and then use the stories in their own lives. I think that anybody that realizes something happened right there gives them a deeper understanding of things that are happening now.” “It was a policy for development by planners to systematically erase them from the land,” she said. “They mapped out where the resources were. They mapped out where Indigenous communities were in relation to those resources. And for the simple reason of wanting to gain profit from resource destruction, they would physically remove them from villages that they have lived in for centuries.” The maps include the commonly known names and traditional names like Ani’yunwi’ya (Cherokee), meaning the principle people, and Diné (Navajo), meaning the people. In 2016, at the time of the Standing Rock opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, he released a map detailing all of the proposed pipelines running through tribal homelands.  A map tells a story about the relationship between people and the land. Through the key, scale, and compass rose, a map can tell us where we have been and where we are going.  Although he has been working on this project for decades, Marshall said there is still so much to learn. “When I started, it was not that clear what exactly I was mapping,” Temprano said. “Was I mapping territory in 1492? Was I mapping territory today? You have many of the nations in Oklahoma now that weren’t in Oklahoma. So where should their territories be? Does that mean they’re not living on their own land? There are a lot of questions that go into that.” At the end of 2018, Native Land Digital became a not-for-profit organization led by an Indigenous Board of Directors.  Cherokee, N.C. The Unacknowledged History of the Land Beneath Our Boots  Green Meadows Preserve Lamar Marshall, the cultural heritage director at Wild South, has also been working with the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and the Trail of Tears Association to map Eastern Cherokee trails and create an online database of the history and ecology of the region. “A lot of people look at Native People in a historical sense,” Carapella said. “Native people are still here, living and breathing. There are 100 tribes right now that are in litigation over pieces of their land. There are tribes that are fighting over sacred sites. There’s always tons of fights to get native people to be represented. It’s positive over time but there’s still lots of struggles. There’s a story to every tribe. These maps are only one small piece of the puzzle of us, as a country, realizing how many native people were here.”  Telling the Stories Efforts to reclaim the history and names of Indigenous Peoples extends beyond literal maps of territories.  In one episode, Littlejohn stands on the bank where the Valley and Hiwassee Rivers come together in what is present day Murphy, North Carolina. Cherokee speakers still refer to Murphy as The Leech Place. Trimont Ridge Trail and Bartram Trail to Wayah Bald Franklin, N.C.  Acknowledgement as the First Step Noland Creek Trail Ga., Tenn., Ky., Ala., and N.C. Shauna Johnson was working on her Master’s at the University of British Columbia where she met Temprano and learned about the project he was working on. last_img read more

Mullen Notes Importance of U.S. Relationship With Brazil

first_imgBy Dialogo March 03, 2009 In his first visit to Brazil, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with top leaders here and emphasized the importance of military-to-military cooperation as part of the overall U.S.-Brazilian relationship. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen met with Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim and the leaders of the Brazilian armed forces. Brazilian officials said having the meetings here, in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, would give Mullen a good idea of the country’s military capabilities and the challenges of defending areas such as the Amazon Basin. Military-to-military contacts between the two nations are important to the overall relationship between Brazil and the United States, Mullen said at an impromptu news conference before meetings at the Amazon Military Command headquarters. He said he was impressed by the discipline and professionalism the Brazilian servicemembers displayed, and that he enjoyed meeting the leaders and servicemembers in the field. “You learn a great deal more being in the field than being in the capital,” the chairman said. “I can really see what the command does every single day, and how important the command is to the country of Brazil.” Brazil is at the heart of a region that is vital not just to South America, but to the United States and countries around the world, the admiral said. “We are greatly dependent and have a great deal of respect for the leadership of Brazil,” he added. Jobim echoed Mullen’s emphasis on the importance of the U.S.-Brazil relationship, and noted that trust is essential to that relationship. The Brazilian defense minister turned to Mullen and said, “We trust Admiral Mullen.” Brazil is the fifth-largest nation in the world by population. The global economic crisis seems to have affected the country less than other nations, with an economy that experienced 5.8 percent growth in 2008. U.S. and Brazilian forces have worked together in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Haiti and elsewhere. U.S. and Brazilian servicemembers conduct military exercises together, and military-to-military cooperation also includes an extensive exchange program. U.S. Army noncommissioned officers attend the Brazilian Jungle School, and Brazilian cadets attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.last_img read more

USS Bataan ARG/22 MEU Complete Relief Mission In Haiti

first_imgBy Dialogo March 26, 2010 The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and embarked Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed their support to Operation Unified Response and depart Haiti on March 25th. U.S. Southern Command released the Bataan and its embarked Sailors and Marines following a steady decline in demand for the capabilities of the ship and its crew as relief efforts in the Caribbean nation transitioned from urgent life-saving activities to long-term recovery. Bataan arrived in Haiti Jan. 18 and immediately began supporting U.S. relief efforts led by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). Within 48 hours of arriving, helicopter and landing craft from Bataan transported 23 patients with serious earthquake-related injuries to the ship, where they were stabilized and treated before being transferred to follow-on care facilities to begin their long-term recovery. During its two months on station, rotary-wing aircraft from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the MEU flew 2,200 missions to aid communities affected by the earthquake, delivering nearly 560,000 liters of bottled water, 200,000 gallons of bulk water, 1.6 million pounds of rations and 15,000 pounds of medical supplies. Helicopters and air cushion landing craft (LCAC) from the ship evacuated 97 patients to the ship’s medical facilities and transported another 524 patients to and from the hospital ship USNS Comfort, aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and to medical facilities throughout Port-au-Prince. Bataan’s crew also assisted residents in the town of Grand Goave, removing 150 tons of rubble, building 65 shelters for 130 families and distributing more than 500,000 meals. “The Marines and Sailors of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and the MEU have once again demonstrated how their speed, flexibility and training can be called upon to help save lives,” said Maj. Gen. Cornell A. Wilson, Jr., commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South. “They brought food, water, medical aid, and hope to the people of Haiti in some of the most devastated parts of the country at a time when getting help into Haiti was extremely challenging.” To date, the U.S. government has contributed more than $779 million in earthquake response funding for Haiti.last_img read more

Colombian Anti-Narcotics Police Dismantled 27 Drug-Trafficking Organizations in 2010

first_imgBy Dialogo March 31, 2011 Two hundred eighteen tons of cocaine seized in 2010, as well as 426 kilos of heroin kept off the world’s streets, are some of the chief successes highlighted by Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera on 28 March, on the occasion of the twenty-fourth anniversary of that country’s Anti-Narcotics Police. “These are all facts and actions that give rise to feelings of pride in and respect for an institution and a group of men whom we will never be done recognizing for their work for the good of their homeland,” Rivera affirmed. The minister also announced that thanks to the work of the more than six thousand men and women of the Anti-Narcotics Police, twenty-seven organizations dedicated to drug trafficking, with five hundred members, were dismantled last year. “Thanks to actions like these, which are repeated daily, the International Narcotics Control Board, INCB, removed Colombia from its special list of countries with drug-trafficking problems, although it continues periodically evaluating the results of this fight,” the minister said. Finally, Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera stressed not only the Anti-Narcotics Police’s efforts to attack every stage in the process of drug trafficking, but also the areas of preventing the use of psychotropic substances and training other police forces around the world. “Prevention programs and campaigns have benefited 157,000 students, 65,000 teachers, and almost 5,000 parents,” the minister affirmed. And he added, “As if this were not enough, 102 agents from the police forces of fourteen countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay) have been instructed and trained by the National Police in different specialties, such as jungle operations, combat medics, area defense, instructional techniques, and rural techniques.”last_img read more

U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Is Decorated by Commander-in-Chief of Chilean Navy

first_img The commander-in-chief of the Chilean Navy, Adm. Edmundo González Robles, awarded the Order of Naval Merit in the grade of Commander to the U.S. Navy’s chief of naval operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, in recognition of his attitude toward and decided commitment and significant contribution to promoting the relationship between the Chilean Navy and the U.S. Navy. At the award ceremony, Admiral González referred to the great personal help he received from Admiral Roughead following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of Chile and its coastline on 27 February 2010, something reflected in the fact that his was the first phone call he received from abroad to offer support and solidarity in facing this tremendous crisis. The ceremony, which took place on 5 August 2011, was attended by the U.S. ambassador to Chile, Alejandro Wolff, and the high command of the Chilean National Navy. The commander-in-chief of the Chilean Navy expressed his gratitude to Admiral Roughead, emphasizing that “We owe him our gratitude for his ongoing and committed predisposition toward and interest in participating, either personally or accompanied by delegations at the highest professional level, in important activities carried out by our Navy, inspired by the progress of Chile’s maritime interests and focused on the consolidation of balanced and effective naval power for global or regional strategic deterrence.” By Dialogo August 10, 2011 U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Is Decorated by Commander-in-Chief of Peruvian Navy Is it Peruvian or Chilean?last_img read more

UNODC: Central America’s Murder Rates Now Among World’s Highest

first_img Regional leaders meeting at a high-level international security forum in Mexico City said they’re dismayed with the findings of a recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, but are clearly unsurprised. The UNODC study said the murder rate in Central America is reaching crisis levels, with Latin America now more deadly than Afghanistan when it comes to homicide. Only Africa exceeds Latin America in the number of killings, concluded the report. Mexican President Felipe Calderón, speaking to forum delegates, said the turf war involving organized crime and drug cartels over territory and trafficking routes have turned Latin America into “the most violent region in the world.” He urged his regional counterparts to redouble their resolve to defeat the cartels. “It’s not an option, [but] an ethical obligation that the good fights against the evil,” said Calderón. Since 1995, said the UNODC study, the number of homicides has fallen in Asia, Europe and North America while increasing dramatically in Central America and the Caribbean. The report, noting that the bloodshed is “nearing the crisis point,” blamed organized crime for much of the violence, though it said other factors also account for increases in certain regions. Poorer countries are four times more likely to suffer violent crime than richer ones, it said. Income disparities and accessibility to weapons also come into play; guns were used in 75 percent of all homicides in Central America and the Caribbean. In addition, it said, the 2008 recession led to a rise in homicides. To help fight violence, said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, “crime prevention policies should be combined with economic and social development, and democratic governance based on the rule of law.” Honduras, which had 6,200 killings in 2010 out of a population of 7.7 million people, and El Salvador, with 4,000 murders among its 6.1 million people, have the world’s highest homicide rates, said UNODC, followed by Panama, Mexico and Belize. Ramón Custodio, the Honduran human rights commissioner, said he feared that worse was to come and that next year’s homicide rates will be higher. “We Hondurans have lost the right to live without fear,” he said in a news statement. The 2011 Global Study on Homicide calculated a rate of 82.1 homicides per 100,000 people for Honduras and 66 per 100,000 people for El Salvador. One country that has received wide praise for its efforts to curb drugs is Colombia. On his first visit to the country, UNODC’s Fedotov said Colombia had demonstrated strong political will in its fight against organized crime. He pointed out that a decade ago Colombia was by far the world’s leading producer of cocaine; now its share in production had shrunk. “Colombia’s progress in drastically reducing drug production has had a positive global impact in terms of security and public health,” said Fedotov. The UNODC chief highlighted developments in Colombia’s department of Antioquía, where alternative development programs are helping wean farms off coca cultivation. More than 150,000 campesinos have switched from coca to other products such as coffee, cacao, honey and hearts of palm. UN and Colombian officials agree that the country has made four million hectares — an area the size of the Netherlands — drug-free. “Consumer countries must do their part too, and reduce the demand that drives the drug trade, trafficking and violent crime,” Fedotov said in a press statement. “This is a matter for all of us. I urge the international community to keep up support for Colombia, which has shouldered so much of the burden of drug-related crime and terrorism in the past.” As long as the countries that most use drugs don’t come up with a TRUE policy to cut down on drug use, the producers will not stop producing. If drug use is stopped there will be no demand. By the way, I ask the drug users: Aren’t you ashamed to smoke or “snort” the lives of so many people with each “toke”? Don’t you have a conscience? You are criminals just like the paid assassins of the drug trade. Wake up! By Dialogo October 24, 2011last_img read more

Intelligence in the 21st Century: Challenges and New Threats

first_img The emerging risks and new threats of the 21st century are very different from the traditional threats that we have been used to dealing with in past decades. Currently, they are embodied by hybrid dynamism and advanced technology, which makes them difficult for government agencies to predict and detect. Across the various expressions of Brazil’s national power, complex issues have risen, posing a direct threat to social stability, such as international terrorism, cybercrime, the growth of global markets and of national and transnational criminal organizations, the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, environmental degradation, climate change, drug trafficking, piracy and bio-piracy, economic and industrial espionage, dual-use technology, and others considered sensitive. This range of subjects has become part of the area of interest of the intelligence services, resulting in a pressing need for a larger number of people to process them and for professional and technical preparation to evaluate their potential, or lack thereof, to become a crisis. In the same way, this has demanded constant reformulation of counter-intelligence doctrine, with the reorientation of its objectives, positions, and principles. Two points have been brought up as crucial. The first is the protection of sensitive information against virtual attacks or cyber terrorism, attacks which take place daily, targeting military personnel, in different countries, from different sources. The second point involves leaks or the systematic compromising of confidential matters by sources originating within the intelligence community itself, as recently occurred on the Wikileaks website. This process of transformation is still underway in the majority of intelligence services, and it is slow because it entails the rupture of paradigms present since the creation of these agencies, in large part, following the end of World War II. As far as doctrine is concerned, it remains practically the same, especially with regard to the collection, search, and analysis of data and the methodology used to produce knowledge. The major difference for the 21st-century intelligence community is in technical and professional preparation and changes in the mindset of its personnel (field agents, analysts, and managers), plus the use of new technologies. These new technologies assist in reducing risk and considerably increase the degree of assurance about certain events, in addition to their specific nature, providing the analyst with a variety of data that allows a more accurate view of the situation in real time, and consequently higher quality in the knowledge produced. Another important issue is moving away from the “secret-focused perspective” that characterized activity during the Cold War. With today’s diversity of sources and modes of access, a great deal of information is no longer classified as secret. A clear example of this statement is provided by open-source intelligence (OSINT), which collects 80 to 90 percent of its information on the web and on social networks. It is the knowledge generated from this data after it undergoes the process of analysis that may be classified as secret, and not the data itself. This Cartesian vision, still predominant in some organizations and agencies, ends up hampering greater cooperation between them when it comes to redirecting the analytical process toward other peer agencies in the governmental sphere and greater coordination and effective collaboration among them, especially in data sharing, since there is an enormous amount of collected material that remains in storage due to personnel shortages. The most damaging consequence is internal competition for information hegemony, bringing with it the possible execution of threats that at first were only a probability. In fact, this was one of the problems noted by the federal commission that investigated the causes of the September 11 attacks, one that more than a decade later continues to be present in various agencies around the world. Still, despite telling victories, which do not become public knowledge in most occasions, and resounding failures broadcast in the media in a sensationalist manner, this activity has come to be recognized by the international community as a vital area for practically all expressions of national power, notably in the military, economic, scientific, and technological fields, with direct consequences for international politics. In view of the emergence of new non-state actors, the current perception is that the development and progress of any society necessarily entails the efficient provision of advice to the decision-making process at its highest level on sensitive matters involving wide-ranging and complex issues, such as security, defense, and sovereignty. In this context, it is natural that controversies and uncertainties should arise in different quarters, in some cases due to lack of knowledge about this activity and its mechanisms of control by the state. Among the most convincing is the position that defends the thesis that excessive power given to intelligence services must result in curtailment of freedom and a decrease in individual rights and guarantees in the name of a hybrid enemy, as described in George Orwell’s classic work 1984. This fear is especially felt in Latin American countries, where between the decades of 1960 and 1980, information services emphasized the domestic field of operations, detecting and imprisoning members of the communist movement, a period during which some abuses were perpetrated. Currently, the threats are more complex, all-encompassing, and lethal. In conclusion, intelligence activity will always be a source of fascination for people due to their need to solve mysteries and the unknown, or even due to the secret classification attributed to its content, which will continue to nourish the widest possible variety of paranoia and conspiracy theories. However, the great lesson that history teaches us with respect to this activity is that from pre-history until our own day, it has become ever more firmly established as an indispensable tool for the survival of societies in a world that has always been highly competitive and in which new risks and threats appear every day. Lieutenant Colonel (retired) André Luís Woloszyn holds a diploma in strategic intelligence from the Brazilian Army War College (Escola Superior de Guerra do Brasil) and is a specialist in terrorism. By Dialogo October 01, 2012last_img read more

Military Interoperability at the Helm of Brazil’s Mega Events

first_img Jurassa Peccini/Brazilian Air Force Magazine The Brazilian Armed Forces have acquired the necessary materials to support public forces during mega events, according to the general, and they are working on capabilities that can still be improved. For security reasons, he didn’t go into details. He also said that at least 1,500 Soldiers will be used in each of the 12 venues at the World Cup headquarters, up to a total of 18,000 Soldiers, “but this does not prevent the Aerial Defense Coordination team from further analyzing the need, and possibly increasing this head count,” he added. In addition, Gen. De Nardi said military airports may be used during the 2014 World Cup, but a decision is still pending regarding this matter. Marcos Ommati/Diálogo Staff Brazil recently hosted two large events: the 5th Military World Games and the Rio+20 Security Conference. Both were successful because of the high level of security provided and the joint participation by the Brazilian Armed Forces. The country will host at least four more important events in the next three years: the Confederations Cup and the World Youth Day in 2013, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Once again, the Armed Forces will join the games to guarantee law and order. The responsibilities of the Brazilian Military during mega events are determined by a Defense Ministry decree. The document states that the Armed Forces will defend and control the airspace; defend the ports, rivers, and maritime areas; maintain cyberspace security; prepare and use anti-terrorism teams; detect and dispose of explosives and also assist in the activities of the contingency forces against chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents in all host cities and other locations where the events will occur. According to the chief of the Brazilian Armed Forces Joint Staff, Army General José Carlos de Nardi, who was interviewed by Diálogo in Brasília in late January 2013, those who work with security know the importance of the lessons learned from prior events. “The experience accumulated during the 5th Military World Games, Rio+20 and, prior to those, the 2007 Pan American Games, will help to improve the operational procedures and planning, formulation and execution of responsibilities assigned to the Armed Forces,” declared Gen. De Nardi. Transferring teams to sites within the cities will be coordinated jointly by all authorities, including the security staffs from the international sports organizations. In the case of the World Cup, for example, FIFA security agents will escort the teams with support from the Brazilian Federal Police. These transfers will be monitored by the command and control centers of the public security agencies in each city. The interoperability between all forces involved is crucial to avoid disruption. “Providing security for the event is one thing, but creating conditions for public safety so that the event takes place is another thing,” Colonel Alberto Pinheiro Neto, chief of the General Operational Joint Staff of the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro (PMERJ), told Diálogo. He explained that the investments on the PMERJ will ensure that people who “come to Rio de Janeiro to attend a game in Maracanã stadium, but also plan on attending another event in Copacabana, for example, will be safe; and if they want to visit another town, they will also be safe, because safety is not limited to the inside of Maracanã stadium only.” The Brazilian Defense Ministry said the security plan it created was designed to interfere as little as possible in the population’s daily routine. The main concern was to increase security against potential threats, such as terrorist and virtual attacks. Because of that, they have not scheduled a specific time for the Armed Forces to occupy the slums before and during the mega events. For strategic and security reasons, Gen. De Nardi preferred not to elaborate on the possible creation of a joint task force for anti-terrorism operation. “I can say that our troops have been properly trained to deal with such challenges. We also have very well-trained special forces, which makes me confident in our prevention competency in case of terrorism and response system in situations of counterterrorism.” The general stressed interoperability. He said the Brazilian Armed Forces will act in joint commands composed of participants from the three forces, allowing for a permanent integration. For instance, during the World Cup, these commands will be divided according to the host city. The Army will appoint defense coordinators for Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, São Paulo, Brasília, Fortaleza, Cuiabá, Manaus, Porto Alegre and Recife. The Navy will assign the coordinators for Salvador and Natal, while the Air Force will assign coordinators responsible for Curitiba. “In any event, the focus of the actions is to create synergy in the face of a common goal, since none of the branches of the Armed Forces can, on their own, handle all the challenges that come with the security of these events,” he concluded. By Dialogo April 01, 2013 Interoperability The military will build command and control centers in each of the headquarters for the 2014 World Cup. They, in turn, will coordinate with the command and control centers maintained by public security organizations and by the Armed Forces Joint Staff, which is responsible for coordinating the troops. “Integration will be the key point of security in these events, and each action has a respective scope,” said Gen. De Nardi. According to Brazilian Minister of Defense Celso Amorim, well-coordinated international cooperation plays an important role in the success of these events. “This is why we have been receiving delegations from different countries and increasing our bonds of trust and interaction with all of them,” Minister Amorim told Diálogo. center_img The general pointed to the security plans implemented during the Military World Games and Rio+20 as examples of the Brazilian Armed Forces’ concern with airspace security, since anti-aircraft artillery is a prerequisite for international committees that organize the World Cup and the Olympic Games. He said anti-aircraft artillery is part of the equation, but it does not represent a solution by itself. Gen. De Nardi said each of the host cities will have an air defense adjusted to its needs (see sidebar). Brazilian Air Base Anti-terror Actions Brasília will serve as a major airbase, with aircraft from different bases throughout the country mobilized for the security of international sports competitions, such as the Confederations Cup, the World Cup and the Olympic Games. The new command and control models were tested last year in military operations that brought the three services together. They anticipate creation of a central command in Brasília to articulate all aerial transportation in the country. Before then, all aircraft involved were moved and accompanied by the command in each region of the country. “It represents the conservation of ma- terial, human and financial resources,” said Lieutenant General Antonio Carlos Egito do Amaral, chief of the Aerial Operations General Command Joint Staff (EMGAR). The World Cup, for instance, will take place in 12 host cities throughout the country, which indicates, by the previous model, that the concentration of resources and Soldiers will be in each of these regions. According to the new model, a central command will coordinate resources for aviation security in the areas of the events. “With centralized planning, we will place the right aircraft at the right time to meet the needs of each area,” the general said. Airspace Integrated Commands last_img read more

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