Egypt to build solar power plants in 7 African countries

first_imgEgypt to build solar power plants in 7 African countries FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Construction Review Online:Egypt has announced plans to construct solar plants across seven African countries as part of their commitment to help the continent in its development process and improve the renewable energy performances of those countries.The Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI), one of the largest industrial organisations in Egypt, will launch solar power plants in Uganda, Congo, Tanzania, Eritrea, Somalia, and South Sudan, with capacities ranging from 2 to 4 megawatts.Egypt, which is already building one of the world’s largest and most ambitious solar energy projects, carried out the implementation and supply activities in cooperation with its Military Production Ministry while the seven countries identified the priority areas for the implementation of these stations.The solar energy stations will be used in lighting and desalination through an Egyptian grant worth US$12m, Mohamed El Khayat, the renewable energy authority head said. The company hopes to be completed by 2020.Mohamed El Khayat, the renewable energy authority head said that Egypt also decided to locate and design each station and carry out installation, construction and operation works.  The African continent has been facing tough times with shortage of power. The frequent cuts in power supply have been having a toll on businesses and domestic consumers.According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the energy poverty in Africa is estimated to cost the continent 2-4 % GDP annually. It is estimated that in the Sahel region – Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea, about 64% of the population lives without electricity, hindering economic and social development.More: Egypt to build solar power plants in 7 African countrieslast_img read more

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New York City mayor to push for legislation banning natural gas, fuel oil use in large buildings

first_imgNew York City mayor to push for legislation banning natural gas, fuel oil use in large buildings FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he will work with the city council to develop legislation prohibiting the use of natural gas and fuel oil in large buildings, part of a suite of renewable energy and climate policies during his State of the City address.The announcement signals the nation’s most populous city intends to join the growing movement to ban natural gas, which is spreading through California and taking root in the Boston area and Washington state. If passed, the measure would build on a 2019 bill that sailed through city council requiring large buildings to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.“Patterned after that extraordinary retrofit law for our big buildings, we are going to take the next step. We will work with the council on a ban, ending the use over the next two decades — ending the use — of oil and gas in our buildings, replacing it with clean electricity,” de Blasio said during the Feb. 6 address.The details of the prohibition and when it would begin to take effect remain unclear. The proposal calls for New York City to stop using gas and other fossil fuels in large building systems by 2040, beginning with government buildings, according to a city hall press release. The mayor’s office “will work with lawmakers to ensure that new permits for building systems are aligned with our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” it said.Most building gas bans and electrification codes apply to new construction and renovations, though one proposal in Bellingham, Wash., would require property owners to convert to electric heating systems in existing buildings by 2040.During the address, de Blasio also signed an executive order to block infrastructure that would grow fossil fuel supply in New York City, including power plants, pipelines and terminals. The mayor said the idea of abandoning a fuel source upon which New Yorkers have long depended is hard to accept, but he framed the policy as a matter of survival amid a climate crisis.[Tom DiChristopher]More ($): NYC mayor to pursue building gas ban, orders end to fossil fuel infrastructurelast_img read more

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Oil price war boosts uncertainty for developers of U.S. LNG projects

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Saudi Arabia’s oil price war with Russia spelled more pain for the U.S. LNG sector in the near term and trouble for new U.S. LNG projects, even though it could ultimately help balance an oversupplied global natural gas market.The U.S. LNG sector was already grappling with a supply glut bumping up against the demand shock of the coronavirus before plummeting oil prices heightened worry over the global economy and sent LNG stocks tumbling as part of an overall rout of U.S. stocks. American crude oil futures fell on March 9 to near $30 per barrel.The oil price crash raised the possibility that a collapse in shale oil drilling will result in a reduction of associated natural gas production, reigning in some of the global oversupply of gas. Domestic gas prices could rise, benefitting long-struggling gas producers in Appalachia. But weak global demand for LNG could also mean less of an outlet for domestic gas.“The main issue we don’t know today is whether demand or supply will fall faster,” said Nikos Tsafos, a senior fellow with the energy security and climate change program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “You can take some associated gas off the market, but if you have nowhere to sell the LNG to, you might be taking off quite a bit of demand at the same time. We just don’t know which of these two factors are going to be moving faster.”The meltdown in crude oil markets also cast doubt on the appetite for investments in multi-billion dollar energy infrastructure such as LNG terminals. “Major new capital investment seems largely off the table,” energy analyst Katie Bays, co-founder of research and consulting firm Sandhill Strategy, said in a March 9 note to clients.There are a dozen or so export facilities being developed in the U.S., but many LNG developers have struggled to secure the long-term contracts they need to secure financing and advance to construction. Several developers had already delayed targets for commercially sanctioning their projects.[Corey Paul]More ($): Oil price crash adds to uncertainty for US LNG sector Oil price war boosts uncertainty for developers of U.S. LNG projectslast_img read more

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The Howlin’ Brothers

first_imgThe SkinnyThe Howlin’ Brothers – a grassy, bluesy, old timey trio from just outside Nashville, Tennessee – aren’t really brothers.  Heck, they aren’t even kin.  But these three gents – Ian Craft, Ben Plasse, and Jared Green – share a musical spirit.  Together, they create a distinctly American music, tinged with the twangy banjo of the Appalachians and the bluesy soul of the Louisiana delta that is delivered with the bottle bustin’ swagger of a Texas roadhouse bouncer.  The Howlin’ Brothers released Howl, the band’s fourth studio album, on March 5th.For Fans OfOld Crow Medicine Show, Jimmie Rodgers, The Hackensaw Boys They Said It“We love The Howlin’ Brothers!! They played Music City Roots back in 2010 and we loved having them on our stage. Their new record is fantastic and we are so excited to be welcoming them back to the show on April 10th. You won’t find many bands out there playing roots music like these guys!”— Ashlee-Jean Trott, Music City Roots, Nashville, TNOn StageThe Howlin’ Brothers return from an early March trip to SXSW to play a slew of dates in Tennessee to close out the month.  Catch them in Nashville on the 20th for their cd release party at The Station Inn and then at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn on the 21st, at Miller’s Grocery in Christiana on the 22nd, at Puckett’s Boathouse in Franklin on the 23rd, and in Knoxville at The Preservation Pub on the 27th.In Their Own Words“That was just a total blessing.  He really inspired us and took us under his wing.  He took us out on tour to open for him.  To see somebody that successful believe in us that much was really great.  He made us feel like we are doing the right things with our lives.”— Ben Plasse, on recording with Brendan Benson of The RaconteursOn The WebFor more info on The Howlin’ Brothers, surf over to www.thehowlinbrothers.com.You can also download Big Time – the lead track from their new album Howl – from our March Trail Mix!last_img read more

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The Quest for Vocations of Passion

first_imgWhen I opened the unread message in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine’s Facebook inbox last Friday, the first line that stood out to me was, ironically, the last.“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”Paul Hora, a reader of Blue Ridge Outdoors and fellow outdoor enthusiast, had used the words of John Muir to sum up his sentiments regarding a recent hike he’d taken with his wife Kerrie. Along with the message, Paul had attached a photo of the two along the Colbert Ridge Trail near Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area. The photo, featured above, depicts Paul and Kerrie posing in front of a heart-shaped cluster of pink corundum.In the message, Paul said, “Our purpose for going to the mountains this past weekend was to be in nature, to connect with one another and realign our hearts to ensure that we are on the same path going forward. After the ‘heart rock,’ we both felt the obvious confirmation in the purpose in our wilderness sojourn.”Curiosity got the best of me. I not only thanked Paul for sharing both the image and the story with us, but I asked him for more. I wanted to know about the path, the connectivity they felt there on the trail, the lessons they had learned from time spent exploring the hills out their backyard.So here, for what I hope is to be the first of many reader-shared adventures, are Paul and Kerrie’s responses. If they don’t inspire you to take the reins of your own life and steer it in the direction you want, I’m not sure what will.JD: You mention this wilderness sojourn was meant to help ease your mind about big decisions you guys were considering undertaking. Can you talk a little more about that?PH: My wife and I are both looking at making midlife career changes and it’s been a real struggle making the full commitment to change. In addition to that we are trying to adopt our first child.We literally stumbled across the heart rock on the way back down the trail in the middle of talking about “following our hearts” rather than worrying about making a mistake.JD: And what are your current jobs?P&KH: Paul is a Resource Efficiency Manager and does energy management for the military, located on Ft. Bragg, trying to reduce energy load through conservation and awareness measures. Kerrie works from home as Director of Business Development for a healthcare technology start-up, located outside of Washington D.C. My wife and I are in jobs we enjoy but are not so much passionate about. We want to “unplug” and lead more community oriented jobs which we call vocations of passion.JD: Why is obtaining a vocation of passion important to you?P&KH: Another way to describe ‘vocation of passion’ is a vocation that “fits” and makes us “come alive.” So many times when we introduce ourselves to new acquaintances, they ask what we do for a living, the token conversation starter, right? When we give our honest answer, we feel highly inauthentic and want to say, “That’s not really me though, let me tell you who I really am.” I guess most people probably feel this way but when you are in vocations that are so set apart from your true nature it feels heavy, disappointing, and a bit fraudulent. Our lives are subdivided into compartments — work, marriage, community, friends, extracurricular activities….they don’t connect. What our future life will look like is the intertwining of all these silos in life — connectedness. This isn’t just about happiness either, happiness is cheap but joy runs deep and is lasting. We love the quote that says, “Freedom is found when we let go of who we are supposed to be and embrace who we really are.”JD: And how did that hike help you accept this turning point in your life? What have the woods taught you?P&KH: Every experience (good and bad) you learn something new — it’s about perspective. Spend time in preparation but roll with it — unforeseen things always happen. Every season is valuable. Slow down, listen, and gaze — soak in the moment for it will be gone quickly.JD: What is it like to have a significant other that likes to go outside and play, too?P&KH: Thankfully we are cut from the same cloth and breathe a little deeper as soon as we get a visual of the mountains. On our 1 year anniversary we took a 7-day backpacking trip in the Grand Tetons and novice we were. That still is one of the most physically grueling feats we have accomplished, but it began a tradition for us and every year for our anniversary we take an epic mountain trip and go deep in the wilderness together. It’s one of the key components to our over a decade marriage and it’s way cheaper than marriage counseling. We have to depend upon and rely on each other in ways that we don’t in our everyday and it gives us a deep appreciation of each other. One’s strength is the others weakness and so it goes.JD: The heart-rock-hike was obviously before Valentine’s Day — so how did you two end up spending the holiday of love?P&KH: Paul worked on a reclaimed wood project for his side business. Kerrie painted. Made dinner together, like we do almost every night, while drinking wine and listening to some classic Tears for Fears in the background — that must give away our age!###As the travel editor for this magazine, I gather my inspiration from our readers’ stories and adventures. Like me, you are the ones that head to the woods to sort things out, think through things, or escape it all. We’re a lot alike, you and I. Let’s talk. I’m here to listen.Connect via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter or contact us by sending inquiries to [email protected] as always, make time to #gooutsideandplay. Life’s too short, don’t ya think?last_img read more

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A Tribe Called FloydFest

first_imgEvery year, on the last weekend of July, I drive south with a car full of childhood friends laughing and singing our way through Southern Virginia. As we curve back and forth down the Blue Ridge Parkway, I await my first view of FloydFest from above. The rolling green mountaintop, the wooden stage frames and green roofs, the people, cars, and tents coalescing into one.Despite intermittent rain and clouds, FloydFest delivered its 17th year, offering an eclectic mix of music and activities centered around the theme “Freedom.” A giant wire butterfly, rainbow wings spread wide, decorated the center of festival grounds. Other new installations included a butterfly house where live monarchs flitted back and forth, perching on kids shoulders , and an immersive art wall posing the question “what does freedom mean to you?”In the butterfly tent, monarchs rested on festivarians young and old.Last year’s “On-the-Rise” winner, Rebekah Todd & the Odyssey, started FloydFest17 off with a bang Wednesday night. Channeling her inner Janis Joplin and Grace Potter, Rebekah Todd electrified the Beer Garden stage to a crowd of early arrivers.To festival-goers surprise, the late-night party Wednesday surrounded a small DJ tent setup amid the many food vendors. Hula hoopers and poi spinners rocked out to DJ jams while the taco truck served up late night treats. FloydFest17 had begun.Music got off to a late start on Thursday as attendees flocked in and wooded campsites turned into multi-colored tent villages. The Lil Smokies opened the Main Stage, wowing the crowd with a melody-driven bluegrass unique to the Blue Ridge. Davy Knowles, a British king of blues, followed with soulful guitar riffs — a reminder that every set at FloydFest brings something different.The Hip Abduction rocked the mountaintop’s magic hour, jamming out feel-good dance beats as the sun lowered and air grew crisp. Thievery Corporation’s trance-y beats and BIG Something’s endless grooves kept attendees dancing into the night.FloydFest woke to cloudy skies and strong gusts of wind Friday morning. Though the rain was inevitable, festival-goers were prepared with tent tarps, ponchos, and the best of attitudes. Friday’s downpours were reminiscent of FloydFest 2012, or “RainFest,” where parking lots flooded and energetic sets unfolded in the covered spaces.Indeed, amidst a downpour festival-goers lined the covered Speakeasy Tent’s floor early Friday afternoon to hear The Stash! Band, put on a totally unique set. Fronted by professionally trained acoustic bluegrass guitarist, Stash Wyslouch, the Stash! Band created modern takes on old favorites like “Turkey in the Straw…on Acid” and a variety of original metal numbers played with bluegrass instruments.The Stash! Band’s set reminded festival goer Emily Balcke of her favorite FloydFest memory: 2012 On-the-Rise winner Megan Jean and the KJB’s Speakeasy performance. As a torrential downpour unfolded, Balcke remembers running into the Speakeasy Tent, to hear Megan Jean and her washboard covering Beyoncé. “Everyone was soaking wet but just totally embracing the moment: listening and dancing like nothing else mattered.”The rain personifies what makes FloydFest great: the total openness of festival-goers to end up anywhere, at any time, to hear anyone. FloydFest is not just about the headliners — it’s the discovery of the unknown.Festival goers hangout amidst stormy skies.Friday afternoon, Zach Deputy, played his first of many sets at the Main Stage. Deputy moved from reggae to soulful ballads to funky dance numbers like “Put it in the Boogie,” proving his diversity and depth as an artist. By Deputy’s last set on Saturday afternoon, a huge crowd had amassed at Hill Holler Stage, dancing and cheering madly for the one-man-show. Word had spread on the mountaintop; Zack Deputy was a new FloydFest favorite.Tauk rocked Hill Holler Stage Friday night with ambient psychedelic jams. The hollowed-out hill acts as the perfect natural amphitheater presenting every attendee with a great view. At night at Hill Holler the crowd moves as one; a human mass grooving this way and that to airy guitar riffs and twirling lights.The Steel Wheels started Saturday off with a powerful roots-y set that paid homage to Virginia, the Blue Ridge, and the people that make FloydFest great. The quintet closed the set with a moving a cappella version of “Rain in the Valley;” as Trent Wagler stomped a rain stick against the stage the clouds grew darker.Saturday at FloydFest was a day of women: proudly unapologetic groups female friends and sisters fronted the different stages. Femina, a group of young women from Patagonia awed a Main Stage crowd with impassioned Argentinian ballads, raps, and rhythms, that celebrated life, love, and all that is being a woman. Baskery, a three-part sister set from Sweden rocked a Beer Garden Show while HONEYHONEY’s talented Suzanne Santos left a Hill Holler crowd cheering for more. FloydFest’s resident sister act, Rising Appalachia, concluded the afternoon on the Main Stage crooning out socially conscious folk tunes.A first-time festival goer from North Carolina, watched Xavier Rudd literally bring the sun out Saturday afternoon with his simple yet powerful words and multi-instrumental jams. “Xavier made me remember freedom is being who you are and doing what you feel at every moment. That’s so easy here” she said.An immersive art wall asked: “what does freedom mean to you?”After FloydFest17’s final downpour Saturday night, St. Paul & the Broken Bones electrified Hill Holler stage. The hill was packed from bottom to top as Paul Janeway’s falsetto broke the night air: he hit unimaginable pitches, rolled on the ground, and had the crowd going totally crazy.Turkuaz kept the late-night crowd dancing with an energetic Beer Garden set, followed by a totally rad DJ spinning out the side of his vintage Volkswagen van. Festival-goers of all ages danced till the morning hours, high fiving the unknown DJ when he finally called it quits.The sun was out to stay on Sunday. Festivarians laid in the grass, chatting and taking in rays, the beautiful harmonies of the Shook Twins echoing throughout the mountaintop. Fruition got people dancing despite tired legs and Shovels & Rope made goodbye bittersweet.FloydFest has changed over the years. Global Village, the trippy late-night stage and its all-night bonfire and drum circle, has been replaced with a luxury Yurt Village and bonfire “curfew.” The number of retail vendors has multiplied and corporate sponsors like Geico and Virginia Lottery obstruct the view with large tent setups.At the same time, the festival is featuring more nonprofits than ever before, has balanced growth and environmental stewardship impeccably, and from a festival goer’s eyes is flawlessly run. Despite years of growth, headliners, and national recognition, FloydFest remains a down-home gem of the Blue Ridge.As its tagline goes, FloydFest is: music, magic, and mountains.last_img read more

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Rising Star: Community rallies around first black-owned, woman-owned brewery after attacks

first_img“When people try to bully, we have to let them know that’s not going to happen. I came here tonight because we aren’t going to stand for vandalism. We aren’t going to allow threats,” said James Garrison, one of hundreds who has visited Black Star Line Brewery in the days after hate crimes occurred.Black Star Line Brewery, the first black and woman owned brewery in Western North Carolina, celebrated its grand opening on November 10, 2017. L.A. McCrae, the owner, brings her loyalty to African techniques to the beer making process, which favors sweet flavors over hops and bitters. The brewery opened in a cozy building situated in the middle of downtown Hendersonville, North Carolina.A week after the opening, the brewery received threatening emails using the alias “N-word killer.”  The emails threatened the personal safety of those involved in the brewery.A day after receiving the first email threat, the brewers at Black Star Line realized that someone tampered with the electrical side of their operations, jeopardizing beer production. The Hendersonville Police Department is currently investigating both crimes.The craft beer community has stepped up to make it clear that Western North Carolina welcomes diversity. Both Sierra Nevada and Sanctuary Brewery played pivotal roles to help get Black Star Line Brewery back to producing beer and serving the throngs of customers who have come out in support of the brewery.Sierra Nevada helped the brewers fix the electrical side of their operations and Sanctuary Brewing Company, long-time friends of the Black Star Line Brewery staff, collaborated in various ways, including a keg swap.The staff at Black Star appreciates the community response over the past few days. “Everyone pulled together to get us back on our feet,” said Simon Melendez of Black Star Line Brewery.last_img read more

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Trail Mix: Essential Record of 2017

first_imgCheck out these must-hear albums from acts who hail from the Blue Ridge region.VALERIE JUNETHE ORDER OF TIMEIn the R&B-flavored “Got Soul,” the closer on The Order of Time, June is truthful when she says she “could sing you a country tune” and “play you the blues.” The record is indeed a fertile blend of roots music, covering the aforementioned genres and more. The Tennessee native ruminates on the rhythm of life as she moves between gritty juke-joint blues (“Shakedown”), gospel-hued slow jams, (“If And”), and banjo-led primal folk (“Man Done Wrong”). The one steady constant is June’s dreamy voice, an irresistible spirit guide in every tune.RYAN ADAMSPRISONERWritten following the dissolution of his marriage to actress Mandy Moore, Prisoner is Adams’ most focused and cohesive set of tunes to date. The record chronicles the stages and emotional fallout of a failed relationship, covering blame, anger, sadness, and hope. From the hard-charging heartland rock opener, “Do You Still Love Me?” to the icy ballad “Shiver and Shake,” Adams keeps the arrangements lean and spacious, and by the time his voice fades in the closer, “We Disappear,” he’s delivered a timeless break-up album.JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNITTHE NASHVILLE SOUNDFollowing up his Grammy-winning Something More Than Free, Isbell went back to recording with his long-time band, the 400 Unit, to make a hard-hitting album that blends amp-cranked guitar edge with Isbell’s deeply personal songwriting. With an earnest Southern drawl, the Americana tunesmith laments restless thoughts in “Anxiety” and ruminates on mortality in the poignant ballad “If We Were Vampires.” But optimism also shines through, especially in the gritty highway cruiser “Hope the High Road.”THE MOUNTAIN GOATSGOTHSFrom the expansive literary mind of John Darnielle comes another curveball in the catalog of North Carolina folk-punk cult favorites the Mountain Goats. This bold concept album—from a guy who has also framed records around Bible verses and pro wrestling—offers observations about old-school goth culture. The music in no way matches the subject matter. From the dark and theatrical “Rain in Soho” to breezier pop songs (“We Do It Different on the West Coast” and “Unicorn Tolerance”) Darnielle uses dramatic piano chords and orchestral flourishes to tell detailed tales with obscure historical references and humanizing observations about navigating life as an outsider.THE WAR ON DRUGSA DEEPER UNDERSTANDINGAdam Granduciel, leader of Philadelphia-based indie outfit the War on Drugs, took his deepest dive in the studio yet, meticulously adding instrumental layers to create an emotionally colorful rock epic. With lyrics steeped in redemption, delivered with a weary folk drawl, Granduciel blends reverence for unchained arena-ready power with obsessive sonic detail. A best example: “Holding On,” a driving anthem that takes shape from the 80s heartland heyday but sounds freshened with shiny modern synths and perfectly placed ascending guitar notes.WAXHATACHEEOUT IN THE STORMWaxhatachee’s Out in the Storm offers another look at bad love. Katie Crutchfield, who named the band after a creek near her old home in Alabama, leads a cathartic power-pop romp that seems to shed frustration with each distorted riff. She shares a ton about self-doubt and being mistreated, but she never wallows in melancholy. In songs like “Silver” and “Never Been Wrong,” the open-hearted admissions are delivered with melodic guitar squalls that get inside your head and stick around.NICOLE ATKINSGOODNIGHT RHONDA LEEJersey-bred, Nashville-based singer Nicole Atkins has the voice of an angel but she’s saying goodbye to devilish behavior in Goodnight Rhonda Lee. The album, a meditation on growing up and putting away a good-time alter-ego, is an honest statement filled with retro grace. Atkins made the album at Niles City Sound in Ft. Worth, Texas, with the crew that crafted Leon Bridges’ Coming Home, so the vintage vibe is well dialed, covering a range of sounds from classic soul to Brill Building pop. Key track: “Listen Up,” a personal wake-up call through vintage dance-ready R&B.IRON & WINEBEAST EPICAfter beefing up with extra backing musicians and detouring with duo projects with Ben Bridwell and Jesca Hoop, it’s great to have Sam Beam back in the confines of his hushed acoustic roots. Beast Epic is an engaging return to form, with Beam, who’s been delivering poetic alt-folk as Iron and Wine for the past decade and a half, letting his lullaby melodies do all the heavy lifting. With mostly just his gentle voice and relaxed strumming, the songwriter—born in South Carolina and now living in North Carolina—offers allusions to the afterlife (“Thomas County Law”), romantic pleas (“Last Night”), and introspection on his native South (“About a Bruise”).last_img read more

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Opinion: Great American Outdoors Act Becoming Law is a Monumental Step for the Future of Public Lands in the South

first_imgIn the South, LWCF funds have expanded state parks, protected coastal wetlands and marshes, secured more land for some of the most visited national forests in the country, and enhanced access to the Ocoee River, a popular whitewater destination. This last point is an important one, as questions of privilege have always beset conversations about who defines “authentic” outdoor adventure-making, and who (particularly in times of crises) should benefit from access to green space. This bill ensures that people stuck in cities have access equitable to those who can afford to escape them. By conserving green space in urban areas, the bill strives for equity in access, and helps ensure that low-income communities can just as easily benefit from nature  as those communities who can more easily escape to distant landscapes. Critically, as a source of employment, it also assists smaller, rural communities in recovering from the current economic downturn. They’ll also help the Park Service to fix up Shenandoah Park’s Skyline Drive, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and the Selma Interpretive Center at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Our national parks and public lands support the economies of our local communities while preserving sensitive ecosystems and habitats from over development. They also provide outstanding recreational opportunities — not just for tens of millions of outdoor recreation enthusiasts, but for countless people who simply need a break from being stuck at home and want to take a walk along a trail by a nearby river, never considering that they too are “conservationists.” It’s past time we devoted the appropriate resources to their upkeep. The bill itself is a marvel written in two movements. Its first part permanently dedicates $900 million of oil and gas revenues each year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This program is used by the federal land management agencies to expand public lands for purposes of recreation, while supporting a number of conservation programs, like the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program which incentivizes private landowners to adopt sustainable management practices rather than convert their land to non-forest uses. It also provides grants to states so that they may develop more local parks and playgrounds. But the current pandemic has put increased pressure on those resources and all the communities that rely on them for clean water and tourism dollars. While getting into the outdoors can be a true escape, a wonderful antidote for cabin fever, and a chance to reconnect with nature, it can also put a terrible strain on gateway communities and the resource we’re trying to protect. In fact, wear and tear has long been a problem for our public lands, most acutely in our national parks, where the deferred maintenance backlog approaches $12 billion.  Mr. Reynolds is Federal Legislative Director for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s National Forest and Parks Program.center_img Access to public land is the birthright of every American. Our parks, monuments, forests, and wildlife refuges offer places for respite, for recreation, and for the remembrance of the challenges and opportunities we’ve faced as a nation. As a common good, they’re also an exercise in humility, requiring us to make responsible decisions about how we’ll manage these precious natural resources for future generations. Cabin fever, outdoor access, the common good, an increasingly untenable maintenance backlog: it would be impossible to say what exactly was on the minds of Members of the House of Representatives as they approved the Great American Outdoors Act in late July by an astounding 310-107 margin. Even so, one could speculate that our current crisis has sounded the alarm for how critically important it is to promote better outdoor experiences today while ensuring that future generations will have the same special places to enjoy tomorrow. The second part of the Act commits nearly $10 billion over the next five years to address the maintenance backlog in our national parks. These funds will be used to address crumbling infrastructure and the deterioration of other visitor experiences in places like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which, as the most popular national park in the United States, has been loved to death to the tune of $233 million in deferred maintenance. The Great American Outdoors Act is a historic achievement. It’s also incredibly popular. Having passed the Senate by a margin of 73-25 last month, it continues to enjoy wide community support, and was signed by Trump into the law of the land. Many issues run out of time in D.C., falling victim to partisan bickering and grinding to a halt, but thankfully investing in greater access to wild, natural, and green spaces isn’t one of them. Photo: Shenandoah National ParkShenandoah National Park courtesy of Getty Images by zrfphotolast_img read more

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Cabral Case in Guatemala Reveals International Drug-Trafficking Network

first_imgBy Dialogo July 11, 2012 A visible victim of organized crime in Central America, Argentine folk singer Facundo Cabral died a year ago in a hail of hitmen’s bullets on a busy Guatemalan street. His murder uncovered the operations of a drug-trafficking network the regional ramifications of which still cannot be calculated. The homicide, for which the alleged planner and four hitmen are in custody, was memorialized in music on July 9 on several radio stations in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, the three countries in the region particularly impacted by the crime. Cabral died when, following a concert, he was traveling to the airport on a road in southern Guatemala City, accompanied by Nicaraguan businessman Henry Fariñas, believed by investigators to have been the target of the attack ordered by Costa Rican Alejandro Jiménez, alias “El Palidejo,” in a settlement of accounts. “The investigation made it possible to identify this criminal structure that planned the attack” and determined the links between the planner and the hitmen, AFP was told by a spokesperson for the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s Office, which has concluded the investigative phase and is waiting for a hearing to set a trial date. Jiménez, suspected of acting as a liaison for a Mexican cartel, was arrested in Colombia in April and turned over to face charges in Guatemala, a country where more than 98 percent of crimes go unpunished according to the United Nations. Legal proceedings in Guatemala are “suspended,” however, since two of the defendants have filed motions questioning the impartiality of the judge who is supposed to handle the case, the spokesperson for the Supreme Court of Justice, Carlos Castillo, said on July 9. Fariñas, who was unhurt, became the key witness in the case once behind bars. He was arrested in March in Nicaragua and will face trial on August 22 together with several members of his family and others who have been arrested, accused of drug trafficking and money laundering. “Unfortunately, an international figure like Cabral had to die in order for us to see the tip of the iceberg of a network that has branches in Central America, Colombia, and Mexico and that generated a process of corruption that penetrated institutions of the Nicaraguan state,” Roberto Orozco, a security expert at the Managua Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policy, told AFP. According to Nicaraguan investigations to which AFP had access, the Mexican Los Charros cartel, linked to the now fractured Familia Michoacana [Michoacán Family], established its Central American network with the support of “El Palidejo,” who is believed to have moved to Nicaragua in 2008 in order to direct its operations, according to the charging documents. In Nicaragua, the investigations involve senior judge Julio Osuna, arrested and accused of obtaining false Nicaraguan identification cards for the network and helping to launder money, after maintaining contact since 2009 with the Mexican David Patrón, considered a leader of Los Charros. Cabral’s agent, Percy Llanos, who was unhurt in the attack, told Costa Rican broadcaster ADN on Monday that the encounter between Fariñas – who contracted the concert in Guatemala – and the folk singer came about by chance.last_img read more

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