In a Colombian sanctuary, once-trafficked birds fly again

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Biodiversity, Birds, Conservation, Conservation Solutions, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Heroes, Featured, Forestry, Forests, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Mangroves, Poaching, Rainforests, Tropical Forests, Wildlife, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking Article published by mongabayauthorcenter_img Colombia is home to the most important aviary in South America, a sanctuary containing almost 2,000 birds.The privately run National Aviary of Colombia serves as a refuge in which birds representing 165 different species have a second chance at life after escaping the hands of illegal wildlife traffickers.So far in 2018, Colombian authorities have rescued nearly 4,000 birds — victims of a trafficking industry that has become the third-largest illicit economy in the country. BARU PENINSULA, Colombia — A 50-minute drive from Cartagena, the most important tourist city in Colombia, is a place that preserves the colors and sounds of biodiversity. A two-hour stroll through the 7 hectares (17 acres) of the National Aviary of Colombia takes visitors through a recreation of the remotest and most difficult-to-access wildernesses of this country. There are no cars honking or street vendors yelling here. The stress of the day dissipates amid the chorus of the nearly 2,000 birds that live here and have, for two and a half years, been part of the largest aviary in South America.The tour through the aviary starts with an immersion in nature, proceeding through three ecosystems and 21 exhibits. An intense heat can be felt in the forest, but it diminishes at times with the spray from the waterfalls. The humid tropical forest of the Chocó region and the Amazon is the first stop: visitors enter an immense cage to see 60 species of birds, including the blue-billed curassow (Crax alberti), endemic to Colombia and critically endangered; the Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus); and the collared aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus).“The idea is that they inhabit very large spaces and that people have to find them. Here the sense of enclosure is lost,” says Martín Pescador Vieira, while pointing out a kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the bird he was named after (pescador means “fisherman” in Spanish). Vieira, 24, is the son of Rafael Vieira and Silvana Obregón, a couple who turned their passion for birds into an opportunity to protect them. Over more than 12 years, they and a handful of friends have worked on this ambitious private project. It seeks to show the world the biodiversity of the country and to preserve the birdlife that is threatened — which is the case for almost 80 percent of the 165 species that call the aviary home.At the edge of the humid tropical forest, in another immense cage, lives the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), one of the most powerful raptors in the world and a main predator in this ecosystem. Even the enclosure cannot hide its nature. Its flight is imposing, menacing and confident. It is one of only four harpy eagles in captivity in the country; the other three live in the coastal city of Barranquilla and in a reserve in the municipality of Cota, in the department of Cundinamarca. All four ended up in captivity after losing their habitat, an increasingly common occurrence for Colombia’s wildlife. Fewer than 10,000 individuals of the species are estimated to remain in the country, where it has lost 26.4 percent of its historical habitat, according to the Red Book of Birds of Colombia by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Research on Biological Resources. For this reason, says Martín Vieira, it is important to protect and breed them.A harpy eagle. Image by Maria Fernanda Lizcano for Mongabay.Rescued from abuseThe harpy eagle is not the only threatened species here. Veterinarian Jonnathan Lugo, who has worked at the aviary for a year and a half, says nearly 80 percent of the birds have been rescued, most of them brought by local wildlife authorities known as Regional Autonomous Corporations (CAR). These agencies carry out operations with the police and military to combat wildlife trafficking. For the seized birds, the aviary is a sanctuary where they get a second chance at life.“They have given us parrots with dyed hair and burned nails,” Lugo says. “Barn owls and true owls have also arrived in very bad condition, often with the wings and claws fractured. On one occasion I received an owl with a very serious infection. A wing was broken, rotten and full of maggots. In the end, we couldn’t save it.” For Laura Saavedra, the aviary zootechnician — an expert in managing domestic or captive animals — the cases of the owls are the most painful, because in this region of Colombia these animals are associated with witchcraft and esotericism, and this is how they end up stoned, beaten and even shot in their small bodies.Ideally the birds should be allowed to live in complete freedom, but this isn’t possible for stigmatized species, those under some degree of threat and with a small population, or those that simply wouldn’t survive in their natural habitat, according to Vieira. “Many cannot be released because they would be hunted,” he says. “It is one of the dangers to which they are exposed. We try to educate people but it is a process that takes a long time.”A white-throated toucan (Ramphastos tucanus). The species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. Image by Maria Fernanda Lizcano for Mongabay.Hunting isn’t the only risk. Henry Perez, head of the planning office of the Directorate of Protection of the National Police, tells Mongabay that wildlife trafficking has become the third-largest illegal economy in Colombia, after drug trafficking and the black market for weapons. Between January and August this year, he says, more than 3,860 birds were seized from traffickers. The most targeted birds are canaries (like Sicalis flaveola), true parrots of the superfamily Psittacoidea, macaws of the genus Ara, and the yellow-crowned parrot (Amazona ochrocephala).“Most likely, by the end of 2018, this number will reach 5,000 or 6,000 individuals,” Perez says. “It is a business in which the villagers who capture [the birds] do not profit, only the traffickers.”He says the trappers get 50,000 to 100,000 pesos ($17 to $34) for catching a macaw in the wild, while the trafficker can sell it abroad for up to 5 million pesos ($1,670). Perez adds that the Colombian areas of major concern are the cities of Santa Marta and Medellín, and the regions of La Guajira and Urabá.A home to which they always returnThe second major ecosystem of the aviary is the coastline, distinguished by its extensive mangroves. There, most of the birds live freely, such as the black-bellied whistling duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) and the black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), which arrive to breed. “The beauty of this ecosystem is that there are times you find many birds and then suddenly only a few,” Vieira says. “They return because they want to. They feel safe because they know that nothing bad will happen to them here. Last year there were at least 300 or 400 nests of night herons that came to have their chicks.”The jabiru stork (Jabiru mycteria) also inhabits this area. The highly territorial male bird finds it difficult to coexist with the aviary’s two females, so the three individuals must be kept in different environments. Further down are the flamingoes (Phoenicopterus ruber), which grew from a population of fewer than 20 individuals to about 145 in just seven years. Lugo says that to achieve an effective breeding program they had to modify the soil and build some nests. “This is how they got stimulated to start building [the nests] themselves,” he says. “It also provided the birds with a balanced diet.”Also present here, among others: the black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus), northern shoveler (Spatula clypeata), scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), striped owl (Pseudoscops clamator), spectacled owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata), great blue heron (Ardea herodias), great white egret (Ardea alba) and white ibis (Eudocimus albus), which this year produced 16 chicks.A white egret, right, and a black-crowned night heron. Image by Maria Fernanda Lizcano for Mongabay.Deeper into the aviary, the Barú heat becomes more intense. The land becomes arid as the ecosystem shifts to desert. The soundtrack here is the melodic song of the Venezuelan troupial (Icterus icterus) and the vermilion cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus). Later, stone-curlews (genus Burhinus), parrots and woodpeckers (family Picidae) appear. Lugo says one of the saddest moments at the aviary was when a group of 35 parakeets arrived; two of them were already dead and another four died shortly after. “We fed the others with a probe for a month and they were saved,” he says.As soon as the desert ends, a special atmosphere takes over: that of the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), the emblematic bird of Colombia, which, despite sitting atop the country’s coat of arms and being a source of national pride, is in danger due to the loss of its habitat. According to the Humboldt Institute, it is estimated there are fewer than 130 condors left in the country, distributed between the ranges of Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, Serrania del Perijá, Páramo de Cáchira, Macizo de Santurbán, Páramo del Almorzadero and Sierra Nevada del Cocuy.“The condor is a scavenger animal, it eats only dead animals,” Vieira says. “However, many villagers think that condors are the ones that kill [their] cattle and therefore they kill them … To save them requires education and the preservation of their territory.”A male Andean condor. Image by Maria Fernanda Lizcano for Mongabay.The Humboldt Institute, in its Red Book of Birds, says conservation measures should not only include the protection and reintroduction of the species, but also the recovery of their habitat, especially at a time when deforestation has spiked. Last year alone more than 2,200 square kilometers (850 square miles) of forest were cleared in Colombia, according to the environment ministry.The condor’s situation is so worrying that most of the aviary’s efforts are focused on getting it to breed. For more than a year, a male and a female have been left alone to try and mate. The process depends entirely on the chemistry and attraction between the two birds. These two have gotten along well, and both are of reproductive age. But the effort has to yield any chicks.Even though saving species and educating the public is a joint effort, it is a slow process. Luis Eduardo Pérez, from the Regional Autonomous Corporation that has jurisdiction over the Cartagena area, says the operations they have carried out against wildlife trafficking have served to discourage the possession of wild species. “[Twenty] to 30 percent of the animals that come to us are brought in voluntarily. This did not happen before,” he says.A passion inheritedFor as long as Martín Pescador Vieira can remember he has been surrounded by birds. When he was 2 years old, he watched his father carry pigeons and roosters to a small piece of land they had in El Palmar, in the Rosario Islands, a tiny archipelago that is part of the island zone of Cartagena. This wasn’t just a getaway for the Vieira Obregón family, but also the place where Martín’s father, Rafael, began to channel his passion for birds.The elder Vieira studied taxidermy in the U.K., his son says, but his interest has always been living animals.“That place was filled little by little with exotic species that my father’s friends brought. They did it for different reasons … because they found them wounded or because they simply did not want to have them in their homes anymore,” Martín says. “Then, if some acquaintance found, for example, a frigatebird [genus Fregata] with a broken wing, he gave it to my parents to rehabilitate it. If it could be released, it was released. If it could not fly, it stayed with us. And that’s how this started.”A ringed kingfisher. Image by Maria Fernanda Lizcano for Mongabay.Along with three friends, Rafael Vieira turned what was a hobby into a vision to ​​create a place that would gather much of the country’s biodiversity of birds. Getting started wasn’t easy, however, and El Palmar didn’t have even a hectare of land for such a project. They decided that a site on the Barú mainland was the best option, and construction began in 2006. In February 2016, they finally welcomed the public to the largest aviary in South America.“It was a private project that required a large investment of capital and time, so we opted to work on it calmly,” says Alba Lucía Gómez, one of the four founders and now the manager of the aviary. The hope is to one day have 34 exhibits and a veterinary clinic specializing in birds. Gómez says there are currently there only 24 people working in the entire aviary, but they do their utmost to rehabilitate the birds that arrive in serious health conditions and, above all, strive for the conservation and breeding of at-risk species such as the Andean condor, blue-billed curassow and harpy eagle.The dreams for the aviary haven’t stopped. Martín returned home to continue working with the birds after finishing his architecture studies at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá. “Next year my goal will be to gain experience and apply what I learn in the second stage of the aviary construction,” he says, adding that he sees his life revolving around caring for the birds.His father, meanwhile, has dedicated himself to another project, the Oceanarium Rosario Islands, a site he also founded with the aim of exhibiting, protecting and breeding the marine fauna and flora of the Colombian Caribbean.Back at the aviary, the tour isn’t over yet. Just as visitors start to feel they’ve seen everything, a team of caretakers, veterinarians and zootechnicians puts on the “Birds on the Fly” show: a half-hour spectacle in which 32 species show the public how high they can fly. The workers use this opportunity to teach visitors about the importance of each species.At the end of the exhibition and continuing down the road, a lake appears in the distance, a pit stop for free-flying migratory birds. The aviary ends at the lake, with a huge showcase of macaws and parrots in search of food. Even though they’re free to come and go, they don’t leave.This is their home now.Banner: An Andean condor. Image by Nathan Rupert/Flickr.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

President Sirleaf Commends The Gambia’s Role in ECOMOG

first_imgPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has commended The Gambia for its role and invaluable contribution towards the ECOMOG initiative aimed at the search for lasting peace in Liberia during the height of the civil conflict coupled with the country’s solidarity in hosting Liberian political parties and interest groups that determined the formation of the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) in 1990. According to an Executive Mansion release, the President made the remarks recently when Mrs. Fatou Ndeye Gaye, Ambassador-Designate, Republic of the Gambia, with residence in Freetown, Sierra Leone, presented her Letters of Credence in the Cabinet Room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.In welcoming Madam Gaye President Sirleaf hoped that the relations between Liberia and The Gambia will continue to be cemented in the years ahead. She thanked The Gambia for playing host to scores of Liberian refugees who sought refuge in the sisterly nation during years of conflict and acknowledged the hospitality extended to them. The President noted The Gambia’s progress in the tourism sector and how it was impacting that country’s economy. “Liberia is ready at all times to benefit from the expertise and experiences of The Gambia,” said the President.Ambassador Gaye conveyed President Yaya Jammeh’s commendation for the kind of leadership demonstrated by President Sirleaf‘s administration. Ambassador Gaye called for private partnerships between Liberian and Gambian entrepreneurs in areas of common interests and the exploration of new horizons for economic cooperation.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun earns 900th career win

first_imgSaint Joseph coach Jim Calhoun smiles and waves to fans after the team’s win in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in West Hartford, Conn. Now coaching Division III basketball with the same fire he stalked the sidelines at UConn, Calhoun reached his 900th win as a college coach. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Jim Calhoun’s 900th win looked like so many others during a Hall of Fame coaching career.He stomped. He screamed. He slammed objects.ADVERTISEMENT Air quality in NCR now improving after Taal ashfall The 77-year-old coached just like the guy who took UConn from the Big East basement to the top of the nation, with NCAA titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.Now he’s trying to build another program from the ground up.His return to coaching in 2018 came the same year the former all-women’s school became fully coeducational, with Calhoun’s hiring bringing not only attention, but needed funds for improvements.He has led fundraising for a new gymnasium that’s expected to open next year and replace the 500-seat O’Connell Center. And his players, all from New England, love that the guy they watched win national championships on TV is now working with them.“Now seeing him every day, it’s really a blessing,” junior Jordan Powell said. “And he doesn’t make it about him. He helps us on the court and off the court.”ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Pagasa sees cloudy skies, scattered rain showers in volcanic eruption-hit areas Calhoun improved to 900-394 in a 42-year career that appeared over in 2012. He had battled problems with his health and the NCAA, suspended three games in his final season in Storrs for recruiting violations. It seemed the right time to walk away.But he didn’t stay away.After working as a TV analyst and watching former player and assistant Kevin Ollie guide the Huskies to a fourth title in 2014, Calhoun welcomed the chance to lead his own team again, even one that’s close to home geographically but miles away from where he coached under the brightest lights in college basketball.“They fill a void that was missing,” Calhoun said of his players. “Even though I did those ESPN games and that was fun, it’s not the same.”He’s now in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, with no NBA lottery picks like Ray Allen, Kemba Walker or Donyell Marshall — who was at the game — on his roster. No. 900 showed how much of a turn Calhoun’s career has taken toward the end, as No. 800 was in one of those Big East showdowns in which he so often took part. His second-ranked Huskies beat No. 8 Marquette 93-82 in February 2009, the only season in which Calhoun would reach the Final Four but not win the championship.This one came in a gym whose wooden bleachers weren’t fully filled, and with the parking lot outside closed for the construction on the Blue Jays’ future home.Calhoun emerged about five minutes before the game and slowly walked toward his bench — specifically, to his higher chair next to the bench from where it’s easier to sit down and get back up.And he did, often.Like when the Blue Jays allowed a layup on a back cut that tied it at 8 after a little more than four minutes. Or any other time he needed to scream at someone, whether a player, referee or both.He clutched a bottle of water in his hands for the first five-plus minutes, until angrily slamming it to the ground behind him and leaping off his chair after a turnover in transition. Calhoun finally calmed down at the end, with a wave to the cheering crowd when his milestone was announced as he walked off the court.His team came in second in Division III in field goal percentage defense and plays like his early squads after arriving at UConn in 1986, utilizing full-court pressure to wear down and eventually pull away from its opponent. That style sent him on his way to 625 wins in Storrs, after winning 248 in 14 seasons at Northeastern to begin his career.And now 27 at Saint Joseph, where a career that once looked finished is still going strong. And one, he says, that’s more about the relationships he’s made than the games he’s won.“As long as I coach — the day I lose that, I don’t care about the Xs and Os, then I won’t coach,” Calhoun said. “It’s got to be about them. It’s got to be about all of us.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next More wind at Sony, but no Thomas or Reed Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. No need to wear face masks in Metro Manila, says scientist Lava gushes out of Taal Volcano as villagers flee US stocks climb ahead of trade deal, sending S&P 500 to record high ‘People evacuated on their own’ Poor visibility, nakaapekto sa maraming lugar sa Batangas PLAY LIST 01:05Poor visibility, nakaapekto sa maraming lugar sa Batangas03:028,000 pulis sa Region 4-A, tuloy ang trabaho03:57Phivolcs, nahihirapan sa komunikasyon sa Taal01:04Sold-out: Stores run out of face masks after Taal spews ash01:45Iran police shoot at those protesting plane shootdown01:54MMDA deploys rescue team to Batangas following Taal eruption More than 40 quakes hound areas reeling from Taal Volcano’s eruption MOST READ The only real difference is the sideline he now controls.The longtime Connecticut coach added another milestone Friday night when the University of Saint Joseph beat Pratt Institute 105-61, two years after he returned to his passion he couldn’t stay away from any longer.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSAndray Blatche has high praise for teammate Kai SottoSPORTSBig differenceSPORTSAlmazan status stays uncertain ahead of Game 4“I do love it,” Calhoun said. “I know it doesn’t appear that way all the time.”Now in his second season coaching in Division III, Calhoun joined Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bob Knight — all former rivals and national champions at college basketball’s highest level — as the only coaches to coach at least 10 seasons in Division I and reach 900 victories. Those Hall of Famers all became good friends, which he said made this achievement more meaningful. ‘People evacuated on their own’ View commentslast_img read more

Russian drills send message to U.S.

first_imgMILITARY: Saying its security has weakened, nation also resumes bomber patrols for the first time since Soviet collapse. By Ivan Sekretarev THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CHEBARKUL TESTING RANGE, Russia – President Vladimir Putin placed strategic bombers back on long-range patrol for the first time since the Soviet breakup, sending a tough message to the United States on Friday hours after a major Russian military exercise with China. Putin reviewed the first Russian-Chinese joint exercise on Russian soil before announcing that 20 strategic bombers had been sent far over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans – showing off Moscow’s muscular new posture and its growing military ties with Beijing. “Starting today, such tours of duty will be conducted regularly and on the strategic scale,” Putin said. “Our pilots have been grounded for too long. They are happy to start a new life.” Putin said halting long-range bombers after the Soviet collapse had hurt Russia’s security because other nations – an oblique reference to the United States – had continued such missions. “I have made a decision to resume regular flights of Russian strategic aviation,” Putin said in nationally televised remarks. “We proceed from the assumption that our partners will view the resumption of flights of Russia’s strategic aviation with understanding.” U.S.-Russian relations have been strained over Washington’s criticism of Russia’s democracy record, Moscow’s objections to U.S. missile defense plans and differences over crises such as the Iraq war. But the Bush administration downplayed the significance of the renewed patrols. “We certainly are not in the kind of posture we were with what used to be the Soviet Union. It’s a different era,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. “If Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that’s their decision.” Soviet bombers routinely flew missions to areas where nuclear-tipped cruise missiles could be launched at the United States. They stopped in the post-Soviet economic meltdown. Booming oil prices have allowed Russia to sharply increase its military spending. Russian Air Force spokesman Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky said that Friday’s exercise involved Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M bombers, tanker aircraft and air radars. NATO jets were scrambled to escort the Russian aircraft over the oceans, he said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. Eleven Russian military planes – including strategic bombers and fighter jets – carried out maneuvers west of NATO member Norway on Friday, a military official said. Norway sent F-16 fighter jets to observe and photograph the Russian planes, which rounded the northern tip of Norway and flew south over the Norwegian Sea toward the Faeroe Islands before turning back, said Brig. Gen. Ole Asak, chief of the Norwegian Joint Air Operations Center. A pair of Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers approached the Pacific Island of Guam – home to a major U.S. military base – this month for the first time since the Cold War. “This is a significant change of posture of Russian strategic forces,” said Alexander Pikayev, a senior military analyst with the Moscow-based Institute for World Economy and International Relations. “It’s a response to the relocation of NATO forces closer to Russia’s western border.” NATO has expanded in recent years to include the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as well as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Friday’s war games with China near the Urals Mountain city of Chelyabinsk involved some 6,000 troops from both countries, along with soldiers from four ex-Soviet Central Asian nations that are part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional group dominated by Moscow and Beijing. The former Cold War rivals share a heightening distrust of what they see as the United States’ outsized role in global politics, and they have forged a “strategic partnership” aimed at counterbalancing Washington’s policies.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Aston Villa stalwart returns as Sherwood’s number two

first_img Kevin MacDonald Kevin MacDonald has returned to Aston Villa to become Tim Sherwood’s assistant.The 54-year-old has left his role as professional development phase coach at Nottingham Forest to take on the job at Villa Park.MacDonald previously spent 17 years at the Midlands club, serving as a youth coach, reserve team manager and briefly as caretaker boss in 2010, following the exit of Martin O’Neill.His appointment comes after the additions of Mark Robson as first-team coach and Seamus Brady as perfomance analyst.Sherwood, appointed Paul Lambert’s successor last week, will bid to get his Villa reign off to a winning start at home to Stoke on Saturday with the aid of his new backroom team. 1last_img

Westside seeks to set up charter school

first_imgBut Sunny Day Early Primary School will not open this upcoming school year as originally planned because it could not secure the necessary financing, trustees said. Some of the staff involved in the Sunny Day school helped develop the district’s proposal for a charter school, Rossall said. The district increased class sizes in 2005 in kindergarten through the third grade due to budget cuts. In the face of parent opposition, the board voted 3-2 to increase class sizes from 20 to up to 30 pupils. The bigger classes freed classroom space for sixth-graders, who were moved back to elementary school campuses. (661) 267-5744160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LANCASTER – Westside Union School District wants to establish its own charter school that will provide smaller class sizes and help students in the primary grades who are struggling academically. The school also would partner with California State University, Bakersfield, which will help train teachers as part of an early childhood education program. “This charter school is primarly for kindergarten, first and second grades,” Superintendent Regina Rossall said. “Our program is to help primary(-grade) students avoid school failure from the beginning.” The board at Tuesday’s meeting approved applying for a $400,000 grant to start up the school. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2“There will be varying degrees on what their needs are,” board President Gwen Farrell said. “There will be smaller classrooms for students who have disciplinary problems and not doing well in school and need that extra attention.” The school will be on several campuses and have class sizes of 20 students. “We will be trying to target kids who for whatever reason are not being successful in regular school or that might have certain kinds of factors where they might be less successful,” Rossall said. For example, many kindergartners recommended to be held back have birth dates in the second half of the year, Rossall said. The board in March approved the district’s first charter school, a teacher-run kindergarten-through-second-grade school that would have offered class sizes of 20 students to each teacher. last_img read more

Transfer Talk: Pedro wants Pena, Kouassi in demand

first_imgBrendan Rodgers intends to put him out on loan to further his development and there are a host of European clubs said to be interested in offering him a deal, including Werder Bremen.Kouassi’s teammate Liam Henderson has been left out of the first team picture at Celtic Park and Swedish side Ostersunds are keen on offering him a first team place.Over in the capital, Hearts had been keen on Wigan Athletic midfielder Jack Byrne but Craig Levein is setting his sights elsewhere.Dundee are acting quickly to replace Scott Bain after his departure, reportedly closing in on goalkeeper Jeremy Malherbe after he had a successful trial before Christmas. Wednesday may have brought the first trickle of new signings into the Premiership this January but today’s top stories are all about the exits.Rangers midfielder Carlos Pena may have been the flagship signing of Pedro Caixinha’s summer revamp but with the Portuguese manager gone it seems he’ll could be cutting his stay in Scotland short.Caixinha found a quick return to management with Cruz Azul and reports in Mexico claim a move to sign Pena again is among his top priorities.Celtic midfielder Eboue Kouassi is another who could be boarding a flight this month.  Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho has told Manchester United bosses that he wants to sign Danny Rose this month, the Liverpool-Coutinho-Barcelona saga rumbles on and Southampton are being linked with a move to sign Theo Walcott.last_img read more

Off-Road Vehicle Crash Results in Bodily Injury to Adult Operator

first_imgIndiana Conservation Officers are investigating an Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) crash earlier this afternoon that resulted in the operator being flown to the University of Cincinnati Hospital after sustaining a head injury.At approximately 3:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Officers were contacted about an ORV crash on private property in Dillsboro, Dearborn County, where the operator sustained a head injury. Indiana Conservation Officers, Dillsboro EMS, Dillsboro Fire Department, and Dearborn County Sherri’s Department were on scene of the crash. A 10 year old passenger from Lawrenceburg was uninjured in the ORV crash. Michelle Williams, 32, Dillsboro, was flown to the University of Cincinnati Hospital for medical treatment of injuries sustained after crashing her ORV. Michelle was operating her Polaris Razor ORV on private property in Dillsboro when she conducted unsafe movements and operations. The unsafe operations caused the ORV to be flipped onto its side.center_img Neither Michelle nor the 10 year old passenger were wearing a helmet or seatbelt at the time of the crash. A toxicology report will be conducted to determine if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash. A reminder that anyone under the age of 18 operating an ORV or being a passenger of an ORV is required by State Law to wear a DOT approved helmet on private and public property.last_img read more

Free, expert, hands-on help for SMEs

first_img25 August 2008A Dutch organisation is offering to help small and medium enterprises in South Africa, by providing the free services of retired managers willing to transfer their knowledge and experience to local entrepreneurs.PUM Netherlands Senior Experts is an organisation funded by the Dutch government and Dutch employers’ organisation VNO-NCW to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises in some 80 countries around the world.PUM receives requests for assistance in every stage of the managerial process, from administration to finance, automation, production, marketing, technique and a wide variety of specialist fields.It has assigned experts to advise firms in just about every sector of industry, including construction, textile, metal and wood processing, chemicals and agriculture.“This organisation has about 4 000 retired ex-managers working unpaid for them, willing to transfer their knowledge and experience to smaller companies in development countries,” senior PUM expert Jan van der Vleuten told SAinfo last week.According to PUM, their experts do not receive a salary, but are driven by enthusiasm and a desire to make a contribution and meet the challenge of improving the lives of people in far-off countries.Long-term employment creationThe organisation gives particular attention to medium-sized companies in sectors that are experiencing growth, as they have the highest chances of creating employment in the long term.“Sustainable economic growth in developing countries cannot be achieved if it does not benefit the poor,” the organisation’s website states. “Because industrious small and medium-sized firms play the most significant role in creating new employment, PUM grants preference to local companies.”“These companies also make the greatest contribution towards improving socio-economic conditions.”Practical helpVan der Vleuten further explained that practical, on-site help would be given to those companies that displayed potential, but lacked business experience and also did not have enough capital to hire independent external advisors.“It may also be that they want to export their products and need good advice on European product rules and regulations,” he added.Visits by experts usually last between 10 to 15 working days, after which the PUM experts give entrepreneurs suggestions on what improvements they can make to their businesses.Most often, follow-up visits are necessary, during which the PUM expert returns to evaluate how plans have been proceeding. Sometimes plans are amended, and at other times new suggestions are made instead.“PUM promotes long-standing relationships and frequent contacts between experts and clients,” the organisation says. “Many PUM senior experts continue to advise their clients after their return to the Netherlands.”South African projectsPUM South Africa representative Laura van der Merwe told SAinfo that applicants for assistance would have to be small to medium-sized firms operating for at least two years, have between 10 and 1 000 employees, and have a turnover not exceeding R500-million per year.In addition, the participating client must agree to pay for the expert’s accommodation and food expenses during the duration of the project, as well as for transport to and from the business premises.PUM has offered advice in a wide variety of fields, including agriculture, transportation, hospitality and tourism, education and training, mining and manufacturing, business development and related services, waste removal and corporate cleaning, and the sale and distribution of medical devices.PUM experts oversaw a total of 56 projects in South Africa in 2007, including the following:The management of a glass factory estimated that its loses in glass waste were approximately 30%, while an out-dated product range led to declining exports to neighbouring countries.Two PUM experts analysed the entire manufacturing process and trained staff in the latest glass-blowing techniques. In a follow-up visit, the experts focused on refining the company’s product range, which resulted in an increase in exports.A group of farmers’ wives involved in agro-processing wanted their dried vegetable and soup products improved, and a PUM expert was brought in to make recommendations on improving the production process and making use of centrifuges to dry the produce.Together with the kitchen staff, a number of new products were developed, like new soup recipes, flower teas and several kinds of mixed vegetable chutneys. Staff were also trained to sell their produce to local schools as a meal soup, and to present their products on outdoor markets using the motto “From Garden to Table”.Since its start in 2003 as a black economic empowerment operation, a South African dairy farm and vineyard continued to book losses as both workers and management of the 116-acre farm lacked practical experience.An incoming PUM expert made recommendations regarding the reduction of feed cost, the production of own silage, better irrigation systems, pregnancy control among the herd, and breeding, all of which have been met with measurable results, including the doubling of milk production per cow.A South African bulk-transport company with 40 trucks felt the need for a more professional business approach and approached a PUM expert to help.The expert made recommendations about a framework to calculate costs per kilometre, about the reduction of damages, a system for managing the trucking fleet, and also prepared a drivers’ handbook.A South African micro-credit organisation experienced pressures owing to their expansion into other African countries with its micro-credit products, and approached PUM to help them out.To confront the growing pains experiences, two PUM experts first examined the organisation, and then proposed various changes to the management, as well as suggesting changes to streamline both lending operations and company management.Local small and medium sized enterprises that want more information on the PUM initiative, and to find out whether they can qualify for assistance from the organisation, can contact PUM South Africa representative Laura Van der Merwe at 011 674 2854, 083 427 5151 or by e-mail.SAinfo reporter Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

‘New broadband era’ as WACS lands

first_img20 April 2011The much-anticipated West Africa Cable System (WACS) linking southern Africa and Europe arrived at Yzerfontein in the Western Cape on Tuesday, promising to double South Africa’s broadband capacity.“The 14 000km long fibre optic submarine cable system will effectively raise South Africa’s current broadband capacity by over 500 Gigabits per second (Gbps),” Telkom said in a statement.“Spanning the west coast of Africa and terminating in the United Kingdom, WACS will enable seamless connectivity into the rest of Europe and America.”In addition to complementing existing high-bandwidth cable systems in the region, as well as supplying first-time fibre connectivity to several west African countries, WACS will provide much-needed diversity for large-volume broadband traffic from South Africa to Europe.The US$650-million submarine cable, which has been under construction since 2009, is an initiative of the WACS Consortium, whose South African members consist of Broadband Infraco, MTN, Telkom, Neotel and Vodacom.The cable also boasts 15 established terminal stations en route, and will reduce the cost to connect the west coast of Africa into the high-speed global telecommunications network for years to come.It is designed to support present and future internet, e-commerce, data, video and voice services while also making use of dense wavelengths division multiplexing (DWDM) technology, which enables bi-directional communications over one strand of fibre as well as multiplication of capacity.“Its design of 4 fibre pair and 128 wavelength technology make WACS the largest cable system to ever land in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Angus Hay of Neotel, co-chair of the WACS management committee. “WACS will meet the demand for capacity well into the first quarter of the 21st century.”Telkom’s Casper Chihaka said that various reasons had led to the choice of Yzerfontein as landing point for WACS and to allocating the responsibility to land the cable in South Africa to Telkom.“All submarine cables that enter South Africa are located at either Melkbosstrand or Mtunzini, thus effectively two international fibre gateways. Events such as earthquakes or even a large ship dragging its anchor have seen several cables being cut,” Chihaka said.“South Africa needs a third international fibre gateway to reduce the risk of complete isolation from the rest of the world.”Source: BuaNewslast_img read more