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Biden may regret releasing report on Khashoggi murder

first_imgThe U.S. on Friday released a 2018 intelligence report that concluded the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian agents in Turkey was done “on behalf” of and “approved” by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who considered the regime critic a threat to the kingdom.Congress and the White House were briefed on the formerly classified report in November 2018, one month after Khashoggi’s death, and its general conclusions were widely reported. The U.S. Treasury sanctioned 17 Saudis linked to the killing, but took no action against bin Salman, often referred to as MBS, or the kingdom. Then-President Donald Trump rebuffed calls to release the report and falsely asserted that U.S. intelligence was not certain about bin Salman’s role.President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s decision to release the report could have implications for relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Biden has been critical of the Saudi record on human rights, particularly since King Salman, MBS’s father, came to power in 2015, and since taking office Biden has halted military aid to the Saudis’ war in Yemen and lifted the terrorist designation placed on Houthi rebels during the Trump administration.Karen Elliott House, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and editor for The Wall Street Journal who covered the Middle East and foreign affairs for more than three decades before retiring as the paper’s publisher in 2006, is now a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Elliott House spoke with the Gazette about the report, how Biden is likely to approach U.S.-Saudi relations, and what that could mean for the region.Q&AKaren Elliott HouseGAZETTE: We already knew the CIA implicated the crown prince. What else did we learn that was significant or surprising in the report? Why did Biden put out the report when the matter had long faded from the headlines, other than fulfilling a somewhat back-burner campaign promise?ELLIOTT HOUSE: There are no surprises in the report. No smoking gun. The case against the prince is circumstantial, as it was when the report was concluded more than two years ago. Essentially, the intelligence community concluded that an operation involving close associates of the prince who intimidates all around him could never have taken place without his approval.Biden seems to want to humiliate the crown prince anew by releasing the report at Congress’ insistence. Democrat activists in Congress who despise the abrasive crown prince in large part because he was close to Donald Trump will undoubtedly push President Biden to take more punishing actions against the crown prince and Saudi Arabia than merely releasing old news blaming him for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.This is potentially very dangerous, as President Biden likely will find himself dealing with the 35-year-old prince because his ailing father, King Salman, seems unlikely to survive the next four years.Indeed, no sooner did Biden release the report than he or his team leaked to The New York Times that he isn’t going to punish Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman because the “diplomatic cost” is “too high.”But that will not be the final word. Biden is going to find himself pushed by a Democrat pack to alienate the de facto Saudi leader more than he intends. The Biden administration should beware of unintended consequences. The crown prince is combative and has demonstrated he sometimes acts before thinking through the consequences of his actions. While the release of this report is political, it could spiral into actions and reactions that damage U.S. interests in the Mideast.GAZETTE: Though the report isn’t new, Biden only got to read the classified version earlier this week. How do you think these revelations will factor into the administration’s approach to Saudi Arabia? Does this force Biden to do more now that the details are public?ELLIOTT HOUSE: Yes, the president has unleashed a potentially dangerous game. He will be under pressure from his Democrat left to punish Saudi further. MBS wants good relations with the U.S. But make no mistake, his top priority is his survival. He faces any number of problems: royal and religious opponents, an economic reform program that has left unemployment stuck around 15 percent — and double that for young Saudis who have been his support base. All these groups could be emboldened by President Biden’s release of the old report blaming MBS for the murder, and the more so as the president waffled immediately. And don’t expect the crown prince to appreciate the Biden waffle. Make no mistake: MBS’ top priority is his survival.If the crown prince faces backlash from royals, religious, or frustrated youth, he won’t dither and depart as the Shah of Iran did four decades ago under U.S. human rights pressure. MBS will crack down.GAZETTE: White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said Thursday “a range of actions” are under consideration by the Biden administration. What kind of punishment or actions by the U.S. were the Saudis and bin Salman most worried about from the Biden administration? And do you think Biden will try to weaken or sidetrack bin Salman before he becomes king?ELLIOTT HOUSE: The most effective punishment would be against the crown prince and his implicated team by putting sanctions on those individuals. This would inflict pain on those the U.S. is alleging are guilty and not on the country of Saudi Arabia, which isn’t responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death.Saudi officials fear that Biden will seek to isolate the kingdom by making Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his country international outcasts for the murder of Mr. Khashoggi and for the kingdom’s human rights record in general. No one should be surprised that the U.S. government’s report identifies the crown prince as responsible. The Central Intelligence Agency has indicated the crown prince’s complicity from the time the report was concluded but not released in November 2018.President Biden has made clear he is seeking to reduce U.S. contact with Crown Prince Mohammed by insisting he will speak with the Saudi king, not his son. This is a risky decision by President Biden, who seemed to have instantly realized that and assured The New York Times he doesn’t actually intend to isolate and punish the crown prince.The U.S. does not get to select the Saudi king. The current king has selected his son, Prince Mohammed. And the current king is elderly and ailing, so the U.S. may soon find itself dealing with a new king — almost certainly Mohammed bin Salman. Public talk of isolating the controversial crown prince will only anger him and encourage his opponents to seek to try to block his ascension upon his father’s death.While the crown prince seems in full control of all the levers of power, it is very hard for outsiders to know with any specificity what his opponents are planning. So the risk is the president’s excessive talk of declining to deal with MBS, followed by his immediate U-turn after release of the old intelligence report at Congress’ insistence, only creates resentment by the crown prince or, potentially worse, instability, which is surely not in U.S. interests.Mr. Biden has now showed he doesn’t know his own mind. Almost surely he is going to confront more pressure from Democrats in Congress and human rights groups to punish the kingdom.Americans should think back on the last time a U.S. administration sought to distinguish itself from predecessors by advocating human rights. President Carter pushed the Shah of Iran, who, when confronted by emboldened opponents in the streets and Jimmy Carter in the White House, dithered and was dethroned. He was replaced by a brutal Islamic theocracy, which led to America’s worst hostage nightmare: 444 days of Tehran holding American hostages.Talk about unintended consequences. The U.S. needs to recall history.GAZETTE: What are the primary complications the U.S. will have to take into account before embarking on a particular course of retribution?ELLIOTT HOUSE: The Biden administration mustn’t let the desire for retribution cloud U.S. interests in the Mideast. While America no longer needs Saudi oil (though the rest of the world does), the U.S. still needs a Mideast stable enough to allow Israel’s democracy to thrive and to avoid endless regional squabbles that risk drawing in U.S. troops.While the grandstanding on human rights the president did during the campaign and in his first weeks in office may make the Biden team feel good and please Iran, with whom the White House is eager to conclude a new nuclear agreement, it will not enhance Mideast stability, which ought to be our foremost concern. The president’s belated realization of that to The New York Times won’t correct his error.GAZETTE: Ex–President Trump made no secret of his admiration for the Saudis dating back to his days as a real estate developer, and Jared Kushner was quite chummy with bin Salman. If U.S.-Saudi relations cool, how does that affect Saudi Arabia’s position in the Middle East and the power dynamics overall in region? Who benefits if the kingdom is seen as being on the outs with the U.S., and who steps in to fill the void left by the U.S. as its “big brother” partner? Russia? China?ELLIOTT HOUSE: The excessively personal diplomacy of President Trump and his unelected son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was unwise. The U.S.-Saudi relationship is properly between the two countries represented by the al Saud monarchs and elected U.S. presidents over nearly 80 years. The Biden administration’s waffling over how to handle the Khashoggi murder and MBS emboldens Riyadh’s opponents. The ultimate winners are those who seek instability in the region — beginning with Iran, Russia, and China.Neither Russia nor China is in a position to replace U.S. security guarantees in the Mideast for a country like Saudi Arabia. Neither could provide the military muscle to rescue the kingdom should Iran seek to attack it with more than missiles and drones. Iran just last month targeted King Salman’s royal court offices at Yamamah Palace and can be counted on to continue to do so, making President Biden look weak if he doesn’t respond or like a hypocrite on human rights if he steps up to protect Saudi. Loose lips are dangerous to U.S. interests — especially presidential ones.Biden seems to believe he can talk a lot about human rights without risking any real realignment in the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Sometimes U.S. actions prompt reactions Washington doesn’t expect. America’s standing aside from the shah caused his opponents inside Iran to cooperate to topple him. Surely neither the Iranian people nor U.S. Mideast interests have benefited from the brutal Islamic theocracy that replaced the shah. Hopefully the U.S. has learned something from its history in the region.Interview was lightly edited for clarity and length.last_img read more

College class rings symbolize tradition

first_imgIf you want to learn more about a Saint Mary’s woman and the unique experience she has lived during her college years, ask her about the class ring on her finger. “When I look down at my ring finger, I’m reminded of my love for Saint Mary’s,” senior Kelly Golden said. “The Saint Mary’s ring is much more than a status symbol to me. Its uniqueness and beauty remind me of my time at Saint Mary’s.” The Saint Mary’s class ring has stood as a symbol of the College since the 1950s, Ed O’Neil, regional sales representative for Balfour, said. Balfour, the Saint Mary’s ring manufacturer, did not introduce today’s version of the traditional Saint Mary’s ring until 1973. “To my knowledge, [the current design] has been [in place] since 1973, and the differences between the previous [rings] and today’s version are very, very small,” he said. “Most people almost wouldn’t even recognize [the differences].” The major difference between the most popular ring of today’s Saint Mary’s student and those of the past is the size of the ring. O’Neil said almost 95 percent of students today buy the petite version, whereas many women in the fifties bought the larger version or pinkie rings. “Sometimes alumni will come in and comment that there’s very little difference in the seal itself — the size itself is the only difference,” he said. Prior to the fifties, the Saint Mary’s ring looked very different. O’Neil said the original Saint Mary’s rings were made in Europe and shipped to the United States. “I gave a ring to Saint Mary’s from 1921, and it had a black onyx and the whole ring was a square-shaped, rectangular ring with a very small seal that was kind of the shape of the cross,” he said. “It was a four-pointed seal and had SMC lettering on it.” This is a dramatic variation from the current look of the Saint Mary’s ring. According to Balfour’s website,, the current look of the ring features the College’s seal at the top of the ring. The French Cross in the center of the seal stands as the instrument of salvation. Two anchors in the form of an “X” cross the seal and stand for the Greek letter Chi, the monogram of Christ and the source of the virtue of hope. O’Neil said these are the features that make the Saint Mary’s ring so unique. “The Saint Mary’s ring is extremely unique, extremely well thought of and definitely identifiable,” he said. “[Students] probably know that from listening to stories from people. No matter where they go, they’ll have a comment made that they recognize that ring.” Senior Bridget Gartenmayer discovered how well known the Saint Mary’s ring is while on a trip to Rome. Gartenmayer said a woman approached her and her group of friends while they were eating dinner. The woman noticed their American accents and inquired about where they attended school. “We told her that we went to Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, and she lifted up her hand in excitement to show us her Saint Mary’s ring,” she said. Gartenmayer said she and her friends instantly felt connected to the woman. “The woman, who was in Rome with her Notre Dame husband, was in her 40s, still wore her ring and had the essence of a Saint Mary’s woman,” she said. “It was so amazing to know that such a small symbol of Saint Mary’s College can bring Belles together all around the world.” Saint Mary’s class of 2007 alumna Jess Jordan said she still wears her ring, as it serves as a constant reminder of her education and the memories developed at Saint Mary’s. “My ring helps me stay connected, and even though I’m not there anymore, it reminds me of the time I spent at Saint Mary’s, my friends and my experiences,” she said. “I wear my ring as a symbol of pride because I’m extremely glad I went to Saint Mary’s and I enjoyed every minute of my time here.” O’Neil said anecdotes like these stand as a true testament to the character and teachings of Saint Mary’s. “In a school that graduates 350 people a year, [stories like these are] a tremendous statement really,” he said. “The attachments and the recognition are just tremendous. It’s such a connection to the past, and it’s that link that never goes away.” O’Neil said the 40 years of working for Balfour and selling Saint Mary’s rings have allowed him to play a role in the formation of the lasting connections Saint Mary’s students feel with their rings. “I think that the students and alumna at Saint Mary’s really [cherish] that, and that ring is very representative of that,” he said. “I was thinking about what the Saint Mary’s ring really represents, and it kind of is like saying a Saint Christopher’s medal is more than just a piece of jewelry. The Saint Mary’s ring is more than just a piece of jewelry.”last_img read more

Lakewood 4th of July Fireworks Canceled

first_imgPhoto: Ryan Conroy / USAFLAKEWOOD – This year’s Fourth of July fireworks display and celebrations have been canceled due to COVID-19.The Lakewood Village Board announced the decision last week.The group previously postponed making any financial decisions with Zambelli Fireworks because of uncertainty with the virus outbreak. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img

Organics Conference

first_imgMore than 1,000 farmers, gardeners, health advocates and organic food lovers are expected to attend the 2017 Georgia Organics Conference and Expo. This year’s schedule includes farm tours, 10 in-depth workshops, 32 educational sessions, three daylong intensive workshops, two keynote addresses, one-on-one consulting sessions and a trade show.Registration ends on Monday, Feb. 6, for this year’s conference. The two-day annual event, one of the largest sustainable agriculture expos in the South, is set for Feb. 17-18 at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta. Matthew Raiford, executive chef and owner of The Farmer and The Larder in Brunswick, Georgia, will speak at Friday night’s expo reception. Raiford, known as a “chefarmer,” is a sixth-generation farmer at Gilliard Farms, a family-run organic farm.New York Times best-selling author Barbara Brown Taylor will serve as the keynote speaker on Saturday night. Taylor and her husband, Ed, run Indian Ridge Organic Farm on the foothills of the Appalachians in Clarkesville, Georgia. She has written three award-winning memoirs about their life on the farm and has been featured on the cover of Time magazine, appeared on Oprah’s “SuperSoul Sunday” and often serves as a featured speaker at Emory, Duke, Princeton and Yale universities.The conference’s famous Farmers Feast, featuring local, organically produced food, will follow Taylor’s talk on Saturday night. The Land Steward Award and the Barbara Petit Pollinator Award will also be presented Saturday night.University of Georgia experts will be among the conference presenters. On Friday, the first day of the conference, Suzanne O’Connell will co-lead a workshop on how to use high tunnels to grow lettuce, broccoli and many other cool-season crops. Participants will learn which high-tunnel design works best in Georgia and how to avoid common mistakes. O’Connell, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences assistant professor, teaches a course on protected- and controlled environment horticulture and conducts research on high-tunnel production.UGA CAES organics expert Julia Gaskin’s session will focus on selecting and managing cover crops. Participants will learn how to choose the right cover crop combinations to meet specific goals through production-rotation scenarios.Joan Fischer, director of UGA’s Didactic Program in Dietetics, will co-present a session on healthy eating and nutrition. She will discuss the health benefits a diet with a foundation in fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. On Saturday, UGA specialists will lead educational sessions on organic seed varieties, managing squash diseases and pests, and the food history of the South.Suzanne Stone, a doctoral student working in the UGA CAES organic breeding program, and Zach Matteen, a graduate student in the CAES plant pathology department, will present a session on the latest organic seed options from UGA researchers. Stone is developing a watermelon cultivar for organic growers. She started with a compact melon variety and has worked to select favorable traits.UGA CAES plant pathologist Elizabeth Little and UGA graduate student Lindsay Davies will teach a session on how to manage squash bugs, diseases and other pests through variety selection, row covers, cover crops and beneficial insects. Terri Carter, a Cobb County UGA Cooperative Extension agent, will take participants on a virtual trip back in time to discover how the South’s past created what is now known as “Southern comfort food” and “soul food.” She’ll explain how the foods of the Native Americans, African-Americans and Europeans melded together to create the dishes for which this region of America is known.For more on the conference and to register, go to read more

VSAC announces improvements to 529 College Savings Program

first_imgThe Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) has renewed its agreement with TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI) to manage the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan (VHEIP) — Vermont’s official 529 college savings plan — and is offering several enhancements to benefit Vermont families.The number of VHEIP investment options has expanded from three to six to provide families a wider range of choices with varying strategies and degrees of risk. Investors may choose options that range from conservative to aggressive, selecting those that best fit their college savings objectives and investment philosophy.In addition, program management fees have been restructured to help account owners put more of their investments toward their college savings goals. Of particular note, fees have been reduced for the Managed Allocation Option, a popular choice for many families because the underlying investments automatically adjust as the student beneficiary ages.As of September 30, the investment lineup is as follows:· Managed Allocation Option — fees decrease from 80 to 53 basis points (50 basis points equals one-half of a percent)· Interest Income Option — continues as a zero-fee option· 100% Equity Option — fees remain at 80 basis points· Equity Index Option (new) — fees set at 53 basis points· Balanced Option (new) — fees set at 70 basis points· Fixed Income Option (new) — fees set at 78 basis pointsEffective November 30, two options will change:· The Interest Income Option will be renamed the Principal Plus Interest Option with a guaranteed principal investment strategy — continues as a zero-fee option· The 100% Equity Option will be renamed the Diversified Equity Option with an active management strategy — fees increase to 89 basis pointsIn addition to those changes, plans are under way to make managing a VHEIP account online much easier. Account owners will be able to view electronic quarterly and annual statements online, rebalance existing assets to new or existing investment options, and make withdrawals to the bank account on record.Vermont Higher EducationThe Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan launched in December 1999 and has grown to an asset value of $100 million in about 9,600 accounts. VHEIP is the only 529 plan for which Vermont taxpayers can claim a state income tax credit of up to $250 per taxpayer per beneficiary (up to $500 for married couples filing jointly) on contributions in each taxable year. Also, contributions and any earnings grow free from federal and Vermont income taxes; withdrawals remain tax-free as long as they are used for qualified expenses, including tuition, room and board, books, and fees at most colleges nationwide and some abroad.A VHEIP account can be opened for as little as $25 per investment option, and individuals can make periodic or regular contributions to the account with a minimum of $25 (or $15 per pay period by payroll deduction, if offered).The program Web site — is external) — provides complete information and online enrollment. Information and applications can also be obtained by calling toll-free 1-800-637-5860. There are no income or residency restrictions on who can open an account.VSAC is a public, nonprofit corporation established by the Legislature in 1965 to help Vermonters plan and pay for education or training beyond high school. TFI, a national leader in managing 529 college savings plans, is part of the TIAA-CREF group of financial services companies, the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields.***last_img read more

Payment processor’s former president settles with attorney general

first_imgThe Vermont Attorney General’s Office, six other states and the Federal Trade Commission have settled court claims that the former president of a Florida payment processor violated federal and state laws law by debiting, or attempting to debit, more than $200 million from consumers’ bank accounts on behalf of fraudulent telemarketers and Internet-based merchants. The settling defendant is Derrelle Janey, who served as president of Your Money Access, LLC (’YMA’) from 2003 to 2006.According to the FTC and the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Vermont, between June 2004 and March 2006, YMA processed more than $200 million in debits and attempted debits to consumers’ bank accounts, over $69 million of which was returned or rejected by consumers or their banks for various reasons, reflecting a lack of consumer authorization. In many instances, after the defendants debited the accounts, the merchants failed to deliver the promised products or services, or sent consumers relatively worthless items. By providing access to the banking system and the means to extract money from consumers’ bank accounts, YMA and its president made their clients’ fraudulent schemes possible.Under the settlement order filed in the United District Court in Philadelphia, Derrelle Janey has agreed to a permanent personal ban on participating in the processing of payments debited from consumers’ bank accounts. The order imposes a personal $625,000 judgment, of which, based on sworn financial statements, Janey is required to pay $15,000; the rest of the monetary judgment is stayed but will be reinstated if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.Source: Vermont Attorney General. 9.8.2010last_img read more

Down from the Ledge: How I Found Healing and Happiness through Meditation, Yoga & Mountains

first_imgI hope my story encourages you to make positive changes in your life and enjoy the journey of pursuing your passion and curiosity. Mine led to the creation of this transformational brand & experience that encourages self-care and conserves the environment while employing & empowering women in an outdoor industry still relatively dominated by men. I believed in the company I worked for but my job was mentally and physically draining plus I felt really under-appreciated by our region’s executives. I listened to lots of biographies, inspirational & self-help books during endless hours of driving throughout Florida for work and eventually worked up the courage to quit my job (on good terms) in 2015. I was in a toxic, gaslighting relationship with a depressed, unemployed boyfriend at the time while also working crazy hours at my job for a Fortune 500 company. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.) It still took me several months after that balmy, ominous night to officially end the relationship. He even refused to move out for several months after that but we finally parted ways the following year. I backpacked by myself for long stretches of 2015 and 2016 and got way out of my comfort zone. My parents were terrified and told me they were questioning my mental stability. I can understand why as we didn’t tend to travel very far from home nor spend much time outdoors when I was growing up. I knew it was time to make some major changes in my life the moment I was peering over the edge of the top floor of a parking garage in Miami Beach in 2012, contemplating whether or not I should jump off. I really enjoyed these adventures because I didn’t set any specific expectations for these destinations and simply enjoyed the journey. I realized that literally and metaphorically, I shouldn’t stress so much about how many steps there are in front of or behind me. At all times, including and especially right now, there is only one more step. Hiking and traveling taught me how to be present and how to accept my true self. Being outside of their routines and outside in nature allows them to become less self-conscious and more willing to try new things. This experience also rekindles that innate connection we all have with nature, inspiring more mindfulness of environmental conservation. I accidentally discovered a new way to make yoga, meditation and hiking more accessible. Many guests told me they are intimidated to go to a class at a gym or a yoga studio or hike alone. They don’t want to be the only one that doesn’t know the poses or be the least flexible student or be bombarded with yoga’s spiritual aspects or get lost/injured on trails. In 2019 I am now living my best life after I contemplated ending it seven years ago. I am grateful to work with 8 other yoga hiking guides and share my favorite trails near Asheville with a diverse group of guests. center_img In 2017, I trusted my gut and moved to Asheville, NC. I didn’t have a plan except to figure out what I love doing and how to get paid for it. By 2018, I had some other tree-hugging yogis reach out to me and ask to be a part of this brand I was building. I hired a fantastic business coach that helped me stay focused and continue to flourish. I was beyond happy to host all kinds of women who were craving self-care to deal with or celebrate major life transitions from brides-to-be & their bachelorettes to recent divorcees, birthdays, career changes, empty-nesting and more. I started practicing yoga at a studio in Fort Lauderdale several times per week and began to feel so much better about my body, my mind, my emotions, my past and what I wanted for my future. My lease was up soon so I sold most of my stuff and decided to wanderlust around the world. During my self-imposed sabbatical, I completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in southern India, cared for injured sea turtles in Sri Lanka, fed, bathed and scooped poop for rescued elephants in Thailand and meditated with Buddhist monks in Myanmar. I hiked the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas of Nepal, hiked multiple areas of the Alps in Switzerland and got incredibly lost in the Calanques National Park in France. I improved my Spanish, taught yoga and hiked around Colombia then trekked & camped in the Ausangate region of the Andes in Peru. I started by hosting a few meet-ups on select Saturdays to test the concept. After some initial success I acquired the necessary permits and insurance and utilized my decade of design & marketing skills to develop my brand, website & social media. Three weeks before I left the US, I discovered I had an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in which my immune system seeks and destroys my thyroid. I’m pretty sure it was triggered by that personal and professional stress as I had only just turned 30. A friend planted the seed in my mind to lead yoga hikes, which then grew into my business. Namaste in Nature combines hiking, yoga, and meditation here in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina. I am fascinated by the science & research behind the potential health benefits of practicing yoga and meditation in nature including boosting your immune system, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, losing weight, increasing confidence, reducing depression & anxiety, improving memory & focus, better sleep and more. Miranda Peterson is founder of Namaste in Nature, winner of the Favorite Yoga Studio/Class in our 2019 Best of the Blue Ridge Awards.last_img read more

Enforcement Increases on Brazil’s Borders

first_img RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Organized crime is facing increased efforts by law enforcement along the 16,886-kilometer (10,492-mile) Brazilian border. Operation Sentinela (Operation Sentinel) resulted in the seizure of three times the volume of narcotics confiscated by the country’s Federal Police during the first five months of the year. In June and July alone, 33.7 tons of marijuana and cocaine was confiscated, according to the Ministry of Justice on Aug. 29. The operation is part of the federal government’s Strategic Border Plan, introduced on June 8. With a 2011 budget of R$20 million (US$12.1 million), the plan calls for coordinated actions between the armed forces and federal law enforcement agencies, according to the Ministry of Defense. Cooperation with neighboring countries is also part of the strategy, which aims to prevent and combat the most common border crimes: the trafficking of drugs, arms and people; tax evasion; financial and environmental crimes; and homicides. By Dialogo September 09, 2011 In July, when Operation Sentinela intensified, a total of 23.5 tons of drugs was confiscated – 22.16 tons of marijuana and 1.34 tons of cocaine – representing a 130% increase compared to the previous month. The effort also resulted in the arrest of 786 adults and 70 minors. Of the 8,514 square kilometers (3,287 square miles) of Brazilian territory, 27% is located in border regions – 122 municipalities in 11 states running alongside borders with 10 countries. The plan prioritizes strengthening security at 34 of the highest-risk locations along the stretch of 7,363 kilometers (4,575 miles) of border land and 9,523 kilometers (5,917 miles) of land along rivers, lakes and canals. “All of the vulnerable locations identified along the border will receive attention,” says Gen. José Carlos De Nardi, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, responsible for planning joint military operations. “At each location, we will work to curb illegal activities and reduce crime, through the coordination, planning and execution of military and police operations.” center_img Neither the Ministry of Defense nor the Ministry of Justice disclosed the areas where security forces are conducting joint operations, for operational security reasons. Operation Sentinela was launched in March 2010, but it gained strength with the new border security plan, which includes a 100% increase in the participation of the Ministry of Justice – through the Federal and Federal Highway police forces – in all missions carried out in the area. The efforts are coordinated by the federal government, with logistical support from the armed forces. The Ministry of Justice is also participating in Operation Ágata (Operation Agatha), coordinated by the armed forces, with actions being carried out at predetermined locations. The operation began at the start of August along borders in the Amazon region, which neighbors Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, these last two countries being the world’s largest cocaine producers, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Operation Ágata also includes agreements with other countries. The first agreement was signed with Colombia on Aug. 4. It’s aimed at creating a Bi-National Border Commission (COMBIFRON) and adopting a Bi-National Border Security Plan. The agreement is expected to strengthen cooperation and exchange of information among the countries’ armed forces, National Public Security Forces and police forces. “The plan is to adopt the same military proposal with all of the countries that border Brazil,” Gen. De Nardi says. Operation Ágata is expected to extend to the Brazilian Midwest, along the borders with Bolivia and Paraguay, as well as to the Brazilian South, along the borders with Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. The plan also calls for the creation of Integrated Border Management offices (GGIF) that will coordinate and articulate the work of the federal, state and municipal public security entities in the 11 Brazilian states that border other countries. Improvements to the facilities used by Federal and Federal Highway police are also planned. “I am certain that this is not an operation aimed at transferring our border problem to neighboring countries,” President Dilma Rousseff said during the June 8 ceremony held to launch the Strategic Border Plan. “On the contrary, it seeks to work together with neighboring countries to protect this border area where we coexist in a harmonious manner, without battles, without conflicts, with 10 other countries from our Latin America.” We need to put more armed forces on the borders, use drones more often and have stricter Brazilian laws.last_img read more

Going up? What women in leadership positions in credit unions bring to the table…

first_imgAccording to “Women in Leadership: Obstacles and Opportunities,” a report from the Filene Research Institute, 53 percent of all credit union CEOs are female and 70 percent of CU employees in the U.S. are women – numbers that far exceed other industries in terms of female representation. While women make up the overwhelmingly majority of Credit Union employees, they mostly only lead smaller institutions. This industry has opportunities to increase the number of Women in Leadership roles and take advantage of the many qualities that women are bringing to the table; qualities that will increase the bottom line of CU’s. Here are a few examples:Just the Facts-If you’re not familiar with the power of the purse, here are some numbers to think about. Women control an estimated $14 trillion in assets, representing more than 50% of all private wealth. They influence 85% of all purchasing decisions and launch 70% of all new businesses at a rate of 2 times more than men.  Nearly 60% of all college graduates are female and 57% of graduate degrees are earned by women. Single women account for 17% of homebuyers in the U.S., vs. 7% of single men. There are more women with experience, finances and knowledge that they are willing to share with others in the industry and companies can benefit from having them in leadership positions.Women Know Women– What’s better than having an inside track on your clients, your employees and your leadership team? Women understand the differences in communication styles, they rally around change and they bring teams together through collaboration. While women know women they also can help the connections between men and women in buying, selling and working together. They aren’t afraid of sharing their knowledge and sometimes it’s through what isn’t said, rather than what is.  Take the time to observe and listen. Long-Term Relationships Are Here-While we talk about the differences between being transactional and relational, let’s take that one step further.  The result of being more relational will result in long-term relationships, golden referrals and valuable strategic partners.  Women will develop and nurture relationships and that will show up as continuous business in the future.  Sometimes the bonds are so deep that you will need a flow chart to see where it all began.  More Than Just a Product-Women tend to look at companies that have more than just a product or service to offer.  They want to see how the company gives back to their community or if they have a social cause they believe in.  This helps in your customer growth, recruiting efforts, retention and promotions.  Women want to be part of something bigger than “just” a position. They want to give back, support and mentor. Did you know that 65% of women that are mentored become mentors? Imagine what that can do for your bottom line.There are articles after articles and studies after studies that show the benefits of having more women in leadership positions. I recently came across a New York Times article in which Therese Huston reviews studies that answer the question, “Are Women Better Decision Makers?” The studies show that, under stress, there are gender differences, and women tend to perform better. In stressful situations, women typically take smaller, measured risks and are more able to consider another person’s perspective. Men tend to take bigger risks for bigger wins, even when they are more costly and unlikely. She concludes with a study that revealed large-cap companies with at least one woman on their boards significantly outperformed comparable companies with all-male boards.According to a Credit Suisse Research Institute study, companies with more than 15 percent of women in top management have a higher return on equity than companies with less than 10 percent. Think about your company. Is there room for more women at the top? Invite women in be a part of this level.  They bring a different perspective and one that compliments what the men are already successful doing. Learning and sharing is part of what makes us who we are. 90SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Judy Hoberman Men and women sell, manage, recruit and supervise differently.  Judy Hoberman, creator of “Selling in a Skirt”, shares essential insights about gender differences and how to embrace and use those … Web: Detailslast_img read more

How to monitor sex offenders in your area

first_img“For a small or nominal fee, you can go into a neighborhood watch type program, where folks can enter their children’s names, their children’s address, their email addresses, their cellphone numbers, and parents will be automatically alerted if their child comes in close proximity or within contact.” (WBNG) — The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office has a warning for parents at home; do you know where the sex offenders are located near you? He said his office is able to utilize available technology to help catch these offenders when they try to disappear. Sheriff DuMond told 12 News Friday his office believes Planty Jr. was trying to avoid detection.center_img The sheriff says 37-year-old Martin W. Planty Jr. failed not only to submit an annual verification of residence, but had moved entirely without updating authorities. He was arrested and charged with a class D felony in New York, punishable by up to seven years in prison. The Sheriff is referencing the Offender Watch app, a program the sheriff’s office uses, and one you can download for yourself on your phone’s app store.last_img read more