Cows with a Sweet Tooth: Mayfield, Ky. The price of corn is too high for many farmers. To combat the cost, Joseph Watson of United Livestock Commodities has decided to feed his 1,400 cattle chocolate in an effort to help them gain weight. Watson gets second-hand candy at a discounted rate and gives it to the animals with a nutrient mix. In related news, the price of chocolate milk has suddenly decreased.Virginia Asks for Acorns: Richmond, Va. Good people of the Commonwealth, your Department of Forestry needs a favor. Officials are asking residents around Virginia to collect acorns in an effort to preserve native trees. Early October is an optimal time to the pick up ‘corns of the 11 needed species, including Allegheny Chinkapin, White Oak, Northern Red Oak, and Chinese Walnut. Requests of those willing to help include not storing the acorns in plastic bags and not storing the same species together. Collected acorns can be dropped off at the nearest DOF office.Supersized South: Jackson, Miss. The South continued its dominance in the waistline wars. When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released its state rankings for the country’s highest obesity rates, Mississippi took the top spot for the sixth straight year. West Virginia, Alabama, and Kentucky also cracked the top 10.Make a Grown Man Cry: Gastonia, N.C.First the good news: no one was seriously injured when a car smashed into a tractor trailer on I-85 in late August. The bad news: the truck was carrying 43,000 pounds of beer, which spilled all over the highway.Food to Trash: Washington, D.C.Forty percent of the food in America ends up in the trash. The astounding figure was released in a late August report by the Natural Resources Defense Council that shines a light on domestic food waste. Food has now overtaken paper as the biggest occupier of our landfills. Edibles being tossed by farms, restaurants, households, manufacturers, and grocery stores adds up to $165 billion a year.Beyond the Blue RidgeRUI: Rafting Under the Influence: Fairbanks, AlaskaNext time you float down your favorite backyard river with a cooler full of suds, think of William Modene. The 32-year-old was arrested for DUI after floating down Alaska’s Chena River with a hearty buzz. Authorities responded to calls about a rafter acting intoxicated, and when they pulled Modene from his raft, his breathalizer test spiked to .313—four times the legal limit.MTB Worlds Cancelled: Alberta, CanadaThe 24-hour Mountain Bike World Championships, which was supposed to take place in mid-September, was cancelled due to an insufficient number of entrants. The race, which propelled regional hero and mountain biking endurance pioneer Chris Eatough to fame, was initially scheduled to make a debut in Canmore, Alberta. Eatough won six straight championships at the event that dates back to 1998. His just-short attempt at a seventh was documented in the gritty independent documentary Go Solo.Glacier National Park Needs a New Name: West Glacier, MontanaIs Glacier on your park bucket list? You should probably get there sooner than later. Scientists are predicting the park’s namesake could be gone by 2020 at the rate they are disappearing, thanks to climate change. The park even earned a place on Frommer’s “500 Places to See Before They Disappear.”
The Appalachian Trail is one of the best-known long distance trails in the world—and also one of the most social. The A.T. brings together people of all ages, backgrounds, social circles, religious beliefs, and political persuasions. Amazingly, most of these folks actually get along. They eat together, swap trail stories, and sometimes even sleep inches apart when shelters are crowded. This immediate community is made possible—if not unavoidable—due to the 254 shelters along the trail.Shelters are the primary congregating spots on the Appalachian Trail. They are three-sided wooden lean-tos that range from shack-like to downright swanky. The A.T. shelters provide refuge in bad weather, they give exhausted backpackers a place to sleep without having to set up their tents, and they are a popular place for day hikers to enjoy a snack. These shelters usually come equipped with a fire ring, picnic table, and hooks or cables for hanging food at night. Most of the time they are conveniently placed beside a water source, and most are stocked with an entertainment device known as the trail register. This hiker journal provides a collection of intriguing and informative narratives from dozens of previous visitors.When thru-hikers reflect back upon their 2,178-mile journey, some of their most vivid, interesting, scary, and encouraging memories come from just off the trail under the cover of an intimate lean-to. I remember the first night of my thru-hike in 2005. It was freezing outside and the shelter I stayed at was packed past capacity. In the middle of the night the young guy snoring next to me rolled over in his sleep and landed on top of me. He stayed there for the next few hours, and I was actually thankful for the extra body warmth. A week later, I was kept up all night by the chainsaw snoring of a hiker inside the shelter. And here’s the kicker—I was actually tenting 20 yards away. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to sleep next to that man. The wooden floorboards must have been vibrating.In early April, I was staying at Tri-Corner Knob Shelter in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The structure is located nearly 6,000 feet above sea level, and 18 miles away from the A.T.’s nearest road crossing. The next morning I awoke and sat up with a rush of fear and adrenaline when I saw a blizzard raging outside. Thankfully, I lived to see another shelter at a lower elevation with less snow on the ground. A few nights later I was sleeping at No Business Knob Shelter, when the only two other inhabitants made me feel extremely out of place with their obscene PDA. Let’s just say, on a scale of affection ranging from hand holding to adult films, it fell closer to the latter.I had one of my scariest nights on the trail at a lean-to near Damascus, Va., where my fellow inhabitants decided to share ghost stories and tales of A.T. murders as bedtime stories. One hiker decided to repeat the same phrase over and over again, “No, seriously a young female hiker traveling by herself was killed right here.” Way to be sensitive, buddy.However, tolerating trail stories and sensational hiker lore was far better than spending the night alone in the shelter. When I spent the night alone, that was when my mind took over and I worried all night about a bear coming to find me—or another hiker appearing in the middle of the night.I was never truly alone in the shelters. I always had plenty of mice to keep me company. I frequently heard them scurry across the rafters and occasionally saw them run across the floorboards. Once they even got into my food bag that was hung beneath the shelter canopy, but that was better than what happened to my trail friend. After a particularly sticky dinner of peanut butter and honey my hiking partner went to sleep and was awakened by a sharp pain in the middle of the night and the teeth of a small gray rodent attached to his finger.Shelters—for all their downfalls, their dirty hard floorboards, and their unpredictable inhabitants—are still one of the best parts of the Appalachian Trail. They have been part of the footpath’s vision and history since the completion of the trail in 1937. In fact, many of the shelters now rest in wilderness areas that do not allow formal structures, but because the buildings often preceded the wilderness designation, they are exempt and allowed to remain. Some of the oldest shelters were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and constructed with beams of American chestnut. Most qualify for the National Register of Historic Places.Shelters reduce the environmental impact of hikers by offering a place to rest other than the lush forest beside the trail. There is also, usually, a well-defined trail leading away from the shelter to a common restroom known as a privy. And if you don’t immediately see the outhouse, or the path leading to it, then follow your nose and you will probably find it. The privies don’t smell good, and sleeping downwind can be an unpleasant experience, but they substantially cut down on the TP flowers and “surprises” around campsites.The lean-tos also provide a safe refuge with unpredictable weather strikes—literally, they are one of the best places to hunker down in an electrical storm. But beyond providing a haven, and reducing the human impact on the trail, shelters also promote an exchange of ideas. Hikers crossing in opposite directions will tell stories of tough climbs, gorgeous views, dry springs, active bees, and “all you can eat” buffets in an upcoming town. But the discussions at trail shelters often delve deeper than hiking details. Marriages, friendships, and business deals have all been cultivated by the interactions at trail shelters. Strangers become friends and closed minds begin to open, because at an Appalachian Trail shelter you will hear what it is truly like to walk in someone else’s shoes.10 Unforgettable Shelters:Blood MountainLocated 4,458 feet above sea level, Blood Mountain may take its name from a savage battle between the resident Creek and Cherokee peoples, or from the bright red lichen and colorful rhododendron that adorn the mountain. Blood Mountain Shelter is located directly on top of the mountain and is the highest A.T. lean-to in Georgia. The original structure was built out of rock in 1934. It is one of the oldest shelters on the trail. In recent months the structure received a necessary facelift, and no longer shows its age the way it once did. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the shelter’s awesome view.Fontana Dam Shelter (aka The Fontana Hilton)Located near the highest dam east of the Rockies and near the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the “Fontana Hilton” reveals awesome views of Fontana Lake and the surrounding peaks. However, the legacy of this structure is not tied to the location, as much to the highly appreciated amenities. Located 0.3 miles from the Fontana Dam Visitor Center, hikers who stay at this lean-to make use of the hot showers and running water available at the Visitor Center and seasonal shuttles to Fontana Village for food and resupplies.Tri-Corner KnobTri-Corner Knob Shelter sits high on a ridge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This lean-to is located approximately 16 miles from both Davenport Gap and Newfound Gap. The location gives this structure the honor of being the shelter located farthest from a road. But be prepared: the high altitude of this shelter makes it especially prone to late spring snowstorms.Roan High KnobIt is Christmas year-round on top of Roan Mountain. The sweet smell of balsam and fir trees that crown this mountain fill the air with a pleasant holiday scent. Located at 6,285 feet above sea level, this is the highest shelter on the entire Appalachian Trail. The ecosystem and climate at this shelter is rare in the southern Appalachian Mountains and will remind southbound thru-hikers of the peaks in New Hampshire and Maine.Thomas KnobIf you spend the night at this shelter you may encounter a large, hungry, animal—but it probably will not be a bear. Built on the edge of Grayson Highlands State Park, Thomas Knob Shelter is often frequented by neighboring wild ponies. These hoofed animals have acquired a taste for hiker food. However, they are wild animals and should be observed and respected—not fed. If you have trouble restraining yourself and your snacks, then take your food bag with you and enjoy a walk up the nearby slope of Mount Rogers, the tallest mountain in Virginia.Partnership ShelterHikers know better than to pass up a public restroom with running water. When the employees and guests at the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area Visitor Center finally grew tired of seeing hikers bathing themselves with paper towels and mucking up the clean facilities at the visitor center, they decided to build the hikers their own shelter and restroom with running water. Partnership Shelter is known for its spacious digs, running water, and the ability to order delivery pizza from nearby Marion, Va. However, if you are looking for solitude, look elsewhere. The luxuries of this lean-to, and its proximity to VA 16, make it a popular spot for partiers.Punchbowl Mountain ShelterIn 1891, a four-year old boy named Ottie Cline Powell became lost while gathering firewood for his schoolhouse. Six months later, little Ottie’s body was found a distant seven miles away near the summit of Bluff Mountain. One reason it took so long to find the young boy’s body is that search teams never imagined a young boy could scale such a difficult and distant mountain. Although the structure did not exist when Ottie went missing, several hikers who have stayed at the nearby Punchbowl Mountain Shelter have reported waking up in the middle of the night and seeing a small boy dressed in colonial garb and crying.Brown Mountain Creek ShelterThis lean-to is located along the historic Brown Mountain Creek near the remains of a small nineteenth century village occupied by freed African Americans. Freedmen made a living by growing tobacco and corn, and by operating a gristmill along the creek. Descendants remained in this area for the first half of the twentieth century. The heavy underbrush of the late spring and summer make it more difficult to decipher the remains of this settlement, but in the winter it is possible to view the stone ruins of the gristmill and the remains of farming terraces built into the hillside that once made this a vibrant community.Toms Run SheltersThe first 80 miles of trail in Pennsylvania are some of the most beautiful and level miles on the 2,181-mile path. In the middle of this scenic stretch, the Toms Run Shelters offer two lean-tos for tired hikers. It is rare to have two shelters in the same location. The double shelter prevents overcrowding and preserves the feeling of wilderness in the backcountry. These two shelters are also very close to the ever-shifting halfway point on the trail.Pa. 501 ShelterA pleasant respite amid the miles of rocky tread in the middle of Pennsylvania, this is one of a handful of shelters along the Appalachian Trail that is fully enclosed. Not only does this building have four walls, it also has a skylight in the roof—which can provide a memorable display during an electrical storm. Retained by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and National Park Service when the land was acquired, this shelter also comes complete with a caretaker and a solar-powered shower.Shelter EtiquetteAccording to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy• Shelters are to be filled on a first-come, first-served basis until the shelter is full—so no saving places for your slower hiking partners.• Shelters are not intended for big groups—troop leaders take note.• Don’t cut trees or limbs for firewood or vandalize shelter facilities, do carry out all trash—practice Leave No Trace.• Keep dogs leashed at the shelter and ask the other hikers before allowing Fido inside—yes, I know your dog is special, but this still applies to you.According to Hikers • If you snore loudly, carry your tent and set it up away from shelters. Just because you can sleep through the noise doesn’t mean that everyone else will.• Do not set up your tents inside the shelter. If you want to sleep inside your tent, then camp outside.• Do not use excessive alcohol or drugs. It can ruin the experience of other hikers.• Do not talk on your cell phone at a shelter.• If you want to make out with your significant other, get a tent. And if you are going to sleep naked, stay in your sleeping bag.• Do not feed the mice (it makes more mice); do not use the trail register as a fire starter; use the privy when provided. Educate yourself about Leave No Trace and practice what you learned.• Shelters may look like a supersized dog house, but unless your four-legged friend has the ability to stay completely silent and still from dusk to dawn, then do not sleep together inside the shelter.Shelter “Creep”Yes, it is possible for there to be a creep at a shelter—and the potential for a shelter to feel creepy—but “shelter creep” is something entirely different. Shelter creep refers to the long-term trend of building larger shelters with more ameni- ties (and often built out of less primitive materials). The Fontana Hilton, Partnership Shelter, and 501 Shelter are good examples of overdeveloped structures.The occasional shower and pizza delivery are a highlight for any backpacker, especially a thru-hiker, but what if every shelter had running water, porch swings, windows, solar lights on the privy trail and direct access to a road? What if every shelter accommodated 30 people or had that fourth wall and a door? Do such shelters detract from a hiker’s interaction with nature?Jeff Marion, a professor at Virginia Tech, specializes in the study of recreation use in natural areas. He has also spent many years backpacking, studying, and consulting on the management of the Appalachian Trail. He points to an incremental but inexorable “creep” towards ever-larger and more amenity-laden shelters that increasingly promote creature comforts over natural environments. He has worked closely with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to develop new shelter guidelines, which halt the trend towards larger shelters and promote the use of rustic building designs and materials.
You’ll only find “True Summertime” in Tucker County, West Virginia, the ultimate high-mountain paradise.Witness the Blackwater River crash nearly six stories over the iconic falls at Blackwater Falls State Park. Take in the breathtaking views at Lindy Point, home of one of West Virginia’s most famous views. Hike the unspoiled backcountry of the Dolly Sods Wilderness. Explore some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the east by hiking or biking.A cyclist’s dream, Tucker County is home to some legendary biking events including the Blackwater Classic Mountain Bike Race, May 29th. Take in the countryside and the famed “Moon Rocks” on this cross country race. The 8th annual Canaan Mountain Bike Festival, June 16th –19th, will be a great way to enjoy the best of Davis and Thomas during the Summer Solstice. If you’re not bringing your bike, bring your blanket and lawn chair and enjoy a free outdoor concert at the Celebration of the Arts, July 5th, at the Canaan Valley ski area.You can catch live music anytime at the always-happening, always family-friendly Purple Fiddle. Enjoy the music, raise your mug and toast the “Tucker Truth” at one of the area’s three microbreweries—Mountain State Brewing Company, Blackwater Falls Brewery and the newest addition, Stumptown Ales.Keep the good times flowing with the rushing excitement and gentle pools of the Cheat, Dry Fork and Laurel Rivers. Make your best summer memories rafting, tubing, canoeing, kayaking or standup paddleboarding. Or cast your line and reel in a lively smallmouth or mountain trout. Angling opportunities of all sorts abound along Tucker County’s pristine rivers and streams.When it’s time to call it a night, you’ll find uniquely hospitable overnight accommodations. Rustic cabins, luxurious lodges, cozy Bed & Breakfasts and entire rental homes warmly await your arrival. Or just pitch a tent, relax by crackling fire and let the heavens dazzle you.Treat yourself to the genuine, one and only, Tucker County, West Virginia and discover the meaning of “True Summertime” for yourself. Begin your adventure at CanaanValley.org.
Soft coolers are becoming increasingly popular these days as adventurers look for ways to take coolers, and all the benefits they provide, along on more types outdoor excursions in increasingly remote locations.I recently had the opportunity to test one of these coolers during an overnight adventure on the banks of the Chattooga River. Here are 5 takeaways from a day in the woods with the new-to-market Quest Soft Cooler from Canyon Coolers.1. DurabilityThese types of coolers are expected to hold up to the riggers of the elements. I supplied the riggers and the mountains, woods, and waters of Upstate South Carolina supplied the elements. All the while, the Canyon Quest met and exceeded my expectations. Constructed form raft-grade tarpaulin inside and out, the sample sustained a few falls on the slippery trail that led the river and emerged unscathed from an intentional 12 ft. drop off of a boulder located in the vicinity of the pictured Long Creek Falls. Most importantly, the beer inside remained intact and unharmed.2. ComfortOne of the first things I look for in a soft cooler is comfort. How does it ride during a steep three mile hike to your favorite swimming hole? In the case of the Canyon Quest, like a cadillac. The built-in chest and waist straps offer optimum stability while the adequate back padding keeps your back comfortable and chafe free even during extended hikes in the back county.3. WeightThe cooler itself is relatively light, coming in at what I would estimate as just under two pounds. This is increasingly important on a trip like mine which required several miles of hiking on steep, slippery terrain. Beer and ice are heavy enough without the added weight of a bulky insulator.4. InsulationThis thing was designed with raft guides in mind and is consequently tasked with holding ice for days and even weeks on end. Sadly, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to tote this baby along on a three to four day canoe-camping trip, but I did keep it out in the field for more than 24-hours. During said trip I noted that the ice, while partially melted, did remain intact and, most importantly, the beverages remained ice cold and the food fresh.5. Size The quest comes in two, sizes the 22 L and the 32 L. I opted to test the smaller model, known as the Canyon Quest Trek 22. It proved perfect for my needs with plenty of room for a six pack and a few snacks.Related:
Years of experience and a pocket full of cash are no longer necessary for taking and sharing stellar photos and videos of your outdoor moments. For those looking to branch out a bit from the generic selfies and snapchats on smartphones, here are a few different ways to get quality images to commemorate memories made outside.With smartphones being a widely owned product, cameras as well as their features have improved, making it possible to shoot sweet nature pictures and even action shots. There is much more that can be achieved with simple and inexpensive phone add ons.Cell phone tripods can secure your phone in one spot for an extended amount of time. Doing this in just the right spot could capture gorgeous time lapses from start to finish sunsets to inches of snow appearing to fall in just seconds. Beyond time lapses, certain mini tripods are made from a flexible material that gives you the versatility to attach it to hanging tree limbs and other non flat surfaces. This way, you can set it up in nearly any environment, set a timer, and get in position for a masterpiece. When hiking, biking, or doing any other recreational activity, there is no guarantee that you will have someone else passing through when the perfect photo op occurs. For just $5-10, you can take one of these lightweight, small to pack tripods along with you to ensure you have a way to capture any moment in any environment.External smartphone lenses are small, yet effective in advancing the capabilities of your tiny smartphone camera. Additional lenses come in a variety of effects such as wide angle, magna, and fish-eye lenses. With a small plastic clip-on, these lenses get positioned right on top of your existing camera lens to make your photos more dynamic, close up, or zoomed even farther out to perhaps get a photo of a larger landscape. Waterproof cameras are a great resource to have if you want to take underwater footage or if you plan on taking photos while out paddling and you don’t want to risk your cell phone getting wet. Waterproof cameras range from convenient store disposable ones around $10 to the more expensive options of a handheld digital camera or GoPro. GoPros can seem daunting to buy when you are looking at their retail price in-store and for the latest model. Luckily, there are plenty of apps and online avenues to buy used or older generations of the camera. With newest generations costing around $400, it is possible to find one for $100 or just under if you search for used options. Don’t be too intimidated by putting a little money into your photography experience as waterproof cameras will prove to be worth it as they take incredible shots in any type of environment or weather conditions, are lightweight, and like with GoPro, you have the ability to use mounts to attach it to the front of a SUP board, a whitewater kayak, on top of a snowboard, on helmets of climbers, and many more options.DSLR Cameras are on the pricier end of the photography spectrum, but yield some of the best results in the field. Made from well-known brands like Nikon, Cannon, and Sony these cameras are a bit heavier to cary, don’t have a waterproof capacity, but give photo enthusiasts a platform to line up the perfect shot from a variety of zoom lenses to snap quick and high definition photos on a wide variety of adventures. Experienced photographers tend to shoot with DSLRs as they have many different adjustments such lighting, focus, and shutter speed.From the lens of a smartphone to the twisting of a monster zoom lens, outdoor photography does not have to be complicated or past your price point to be better and more advanced. Next time you plan an adventure, think about the scenery and environment and what equipment could maximize the potential of your photography.
The spotlight found Virginia-born singer/songwriter Wes Charlton early.Barely a twenty-something, Charlton’s debut solo record, 2005’s American Bittersweet, led to licensing agreements with film and television companies and his music spread to the masses. A move to Nashville followed and Charlton made his mark in the Music City before Virginia called him back home.Now a dad – Wes and his wife have three kids – Charlton returns with third long player, Morning Stars. Charlton extends his streak of well crafted Americana rock and roll on this latest collection of songs.I am not surprised that Charlton’s songcraft resonates with me. I have spent the morning preparing this post and digging into his early catalog, cruising through both American Bittersweet and his second record, World On Fire, and his writing distinctly reminds me of so many of Charlton’s contemporaries that played the Eastern Virginia college circuit between the mid-1990s and early 2000s.I always appreciate an artist that brings to mind my younger days.I recently caught up with Wes to chat about the new record, the morning stars, and raising kids up right in a musical household.BRO – Considering the title of the record, are you a stargazer?WC – I live in rural Virginia, so there’s less light pollution and stars are bright. This also creates a sense of yearning for home, as well as a way to find your way back to what really matters.BRO – Which transition brought more trepidation – Virginia to Nashville or vice versa?WC – I don’t think there was any trepidation either time. I loved, and still love, Nashville and consider it a second home. Virginia, though, will always be part of me.BRO – We are featuring “Comeback Kid” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?WC – This is a song that sort of wrote itself and the story just kind of came to me. In short, it’s about two childhood friends growing up together and them one of them disappears, leaving the other friend wondering where he went and what he’s doing. The missing friend then returns as a suicide bomber.BRO – I know you are a father of three. How do you go about sharing music – yours and that of others – with your kids?WC – My house is littered with instruments, both regular and “kids” instruments. My oldest daughter, five year old Nora, has already started writing songs with me. I think she’s the better lyricist. It’s just in the air in our house. I also try out new songs on them. If they dance or bop their heads, I know I’m on to something. A while ago, they were really into The Wiggles, specifically a song called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Preschool” that sounded just like The Ramones’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.” I tried to slip “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” on the car stereo, but they didn’t go for it.BRO – For better or worse, got a kids’ song that you can’t get our of your head?WC – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Preschool.”Listeners beware . . . . . That Wiggles’ tune is a legit ear worm. Share with your children at your own peril!Late September and October find Wes Charlton on the road with shows in NYC and around Virginia and Tennessee. For more information on Morning Stars or when Wes will take to a stage near you, please check out his website.In the meantime, be sure to check out “Comeback Kid,” along with brand new tracks from Sammy Brue, Mandy Barnett, and Benjamin Jason Douglas on this month’s Trail Mix.
The agreement for preventing and combating terrorism and organized crime was signed after a meeting between the U.S. cabinet secretary and the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Amado; Minister of Justice, Alberto Costa; and Minister of Internal Administration, Rui Pereira. The Portuguese Justice Minister emphasized the “excellent relations between Portugal and the United States” and declared that this “new agreement” unites them “more closely in working together in the fight against cross-border organized crime.” In addition, due to the new legal framework, investigators “will be able to share information across borders” in order to fight against crime, she added. In this way, “the two countries will be more prepared to confront terrorism,” he added. In a press conference after the signing of the document, Napolitano affirmed that the agreement is an “advance in U.S.-Portuguese bilateral relations for combating organized crime and confronting global threats.” A team of lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and the British NGO Reprieve, representing more than 40 of the 229 Guantánamo detainees, also visited Portugal this week and said that there were eight prisoners who wanted to start a new life in Portugal. The possibility that Portugal will accept detainees from the American base in Cuba has been the subject of anticipation in Portugal since the American special envoy for the closure of the prison, Daniel Fried, visited Lisbon two weeks ago, and the Portuguese government announced that it could accept “two or three” prisoners. The lawyers affirmed that these detainees wanted to come to Portugal because it was the first European country to offer asylum to help the United States close the prison. By Dialogo July 01, 2009 “This agreement protects matters that are very critical for society, like security, but does so while respecting citizens’ rights and protecting their privacy,” the U.S. cabinet secretary, who is on a trip to several European countries, emphasized. Lisbon, June 30 (EFE).- Today Portugal and the United States signed an agreement to collaborate against terrorism and organized crime, during a visit to the Portuguese capital by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. Although the agenda released by the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had indicated that today’s meeting would include discussion of cooperation on closing the prison at Guantánamo, Napolitano affirmed that the issue had not been specifically discussed.
By Dialogo September 20, 2010 What I am saying, Mr President, is that we, Chileans, Colombians, Ecuadorians and other countries with democracy, are all willing to tell the world that we love freedom and peace. And that democracy should be extended to other countries. Regards During the Peru-Colombia Roundtable 2010 on September 16 in Lima, President Alan García proposed a process to regionally integrate countries that believe in globalization, investment and economic freedom with a democratic society. In his speech to inaugurate the event, the Peruvian leader suggested that this proposal “should include the free circulation of goods, services, capitals and people” among member countries, according to Andina news agency. “What I’m suggesting is an integration of countries that do believe in globalization, investment, economic freedom and also in democracy, because all that is easy to have without democracy, but we Colombians, Peruvians, Chileans, Ecuadorians believe in democracy,” pointed out García, according to the same report. The roundtable included members of the textile industry, including Colombian clothing and manufacturing sectors, which have an attractive market in Peru. Attendee María Claudia Lacouture, president of Colombian export, tourism and foreign investment promoter Proexport Colombia said, “Peru is one of the countries with greater dynamism in Latin America for Colombian exports.”
By Dialogo September 30, 2010 During a clash in the early morning of September 24, Paraguayan authorities brought down Nimio Cardozo Caceres, head of the rebel group Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP in Spanish). Paraguayan Interior Minister Rafael Filizzola confirmed Cardozo’s death during a press conference in Asuncion, adding that police seized guns, grenades and close to US$1,000 in cash from the small guerrilla camp in the hills near Hugua Ñandu where the confrontation took place, according to EFE news agency. Filizzola told the press that Cardozo, known as “Homero” and “Anibal”, had been sought in connection with several high-profile kidnappings that date back to 2001, reported Xinhua news agency. One such high-profile case was the kidnapping and murder of former Paraguayan President Raul Cubas’ daughter, Cecilia, who was found dead outside Asuncion in February 2005, after her family paid a $300,000 ransom. Cardozo’s death came close to three weeks after Gabriel Zarate Cardozo, another high-ranking member of the rebel army and the former Cardozo’s cousin, was killed in another confrontation with authorities in the town of Sidepar, reported EFE. Chief of the second police zone Cristobal Jara Sosa, stated that the operation continues in Concepcion department, where police are in pursuit of some ten other members the rebel EPP, who fled when they were surprised by authorities. “The clashes continue,” said Jara Sosa, adding that Cardozo was part of the EPP’s first ring and that they are pursuing members of the group’s main ring, according to Xinhua.
Colombia: Army destroys six cocaine laboratories By Dialogo November 03, 2010 SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Bachata singer Jimmy Bauer was detained after attempting to board a flight at a Dominican Republic airport bound for the United States on Nov. 1, officials said. Bauer, whose real name is Jaime Vargas, became ill at the city’s international airport when a couple of pellets of cocaine he had swallowed are suspected of rupturing, Ramón Alcides Rodríguez, spokesman of the country’s drug control agency, said, according to The Associated Press. Bauer was stopped during the boarding practice because he was “acting strange,” and an X-ray of his abdomen showed dozens of capsules in his stomach, Rodríguez said. Bauer was taken to the hospital, where 88 capsules of cocaine were allegedly discovered in his stomach, Rodríguez said, adding two of them had burst. Bauer’s medical status wasn’t immediately available. He’s being guarded by three officers from the counter-narcotics agency. TIJUANA, Mexico – The Mexican army said it has confiscated about 13 tons of marijuana in the border city on Nov. 1, close to where authorities seized a record 134 tons of the narcotic about two weeks ago. The seizure was made near a rehabilitation center where gunmen fatally shot 13 recovering addicts on Oct. 24, an army spokesman said, according to The Associated Press. Officials said the shootings at the rehabilitation center could be linked to the record bust and may have involved suspected members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, whose massive amount of marijuana was seized on Oct. 18. More than 28,000 have been killed in drug-related attacks nationwide since 2006, according to government data. Dominican Republic: Bachata singer Jimmy Bauer detained on drug charges Argentine, Chilean officials make major marijuana bust The marijuana, which had a street value of US$2 million, was found hidden in a truck’s tires, according to the Chilean website Emol.com. The bust culminated a two-month operation in which authorities arrested three in Chile and five in Argentina. The seizure was made at Paso Los Libertadores, an Andean mountain pass connecting the two nations, according to the Argentine website Elsolonline.com. Peru: Police capture suspected Shining Path’s Leader BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Army troops have dismantled six cocaine laboratories suspected of belonging to organized crime groups this past weekend in the departments of Chocó, Nariño and Putumayo, officials said. The first raid in the municipality of Linares, department of Nariño, ended with the destruction of three laboratories suspected of belonging to the criminal gang Los Rastrojos. The military also eradicated 455 gallons of coca leaves, 170 gallons of sulfuric acid, 120 gallons of gasoline, 332 kilograms of chopped coca leaf and 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of ammonium sulfate, according to the Colombian website Caracol Radio.com. The second raid in the municipality of Puerto Asís, department of Putumayo, occurred at a facility suspected of belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC) 48th front. Soldiers discovered 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of coca leaves, 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of cement, three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of baking soda, 100 gallons of gasoline, two storage tanks, seven plastic containers, a metal press and a scale. In the municipality of Medio Atrato in the department of Chocó, the military raided a laboratory suspected of belonging to the FARC’s 57th front that contained plenty of materials used to produce cocaine, including 250 gallons of gasoline and 13 kilograms (28.6 pounds) of caustic soda, according to the Colombian website El Espectador.com. In the municipality of Orito, department of Putumayo, the army dismantled a complex allegedly belonging to an unidentified group of narcotics traffickers. Soldiers seized 120 kilograms (264 pounds) of coca leaves, several bins and a metal press. LIMA, Peru – Julio Váldez Loya, a suspected leader of the Shining Path, was apprehended this past weekend in the Upper Huallaga Valley, where he allegedly served on the terrorist group’s regional committee, Fernando Barrios, the country’s interior minister, said. Váldez, who goes by the alias “Comrade Franklin,” is the third suspected Shining Path member taken into custody in less than a month, Barrios said, according to the Peruvian website Peru21.pe. Barrios said Váldez was “one of the bloodiest” members of the terrorist group, and his arrest “certifies that the government has emphasized the fight against narco-terrorism,” according to the Peruvian website La Republica.com. TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Five gunmen broke into a military base at the La Mesa International Airport in San Pedro Sula on Nov. 1 and stole a twin-engine plane that officials confiscated during a counter-narcotics operation last year. The gunmen assaulted three security guards stationed at the entrance gate before proceeding to the military hangar near a runway. The men started the plane and soared away toward an unknown destination, Security Minister Oscar Álvarez said. The military had been given possession of the plane while the government decided whether to give it to a state agency, Álvarez said, according to The Associated Press. “It was really a temptation for organized crime or drug traffickers to have the plane there,” said Álvarez, adding the gunmen’s identities are unknown. The theft occurred at around 3 a.m., and military officials immediately launched an investigation into the crime. The base commander has been suspended indefinitely, Armando Calidonio, the vice minister of security, said. “We are fighting a struggle against organized crime and drug trafficking,” Álvarez said, according to the AP. SANTIAGO, Chile – An initiative involving Argentine and Chilean law enforcement officials seized 271 kilograms (596 pounds) of marijuana, a major blow to a network moving the narcotic across the two nations. Gunmen steal plane from Honduran military base