Trail Mix – Uncle Lucius

first_imgAustin roots rockers Uncle Lucius forge their own path on their latest release.It didn’t take long for me to figure out that the guys in Uncle Lucius were all right.A few years back, I was involved with booking the band for the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. While the band was in town, they agreed to play an extra show at a local auditorium . . . . full of elementary school students. Now, being an elementary teacher myself, anyone who reaches out to kids gets a special nod from me, particularly when hanging out with school age children might be out of that person’s comfort zone. These fellas were up early and ready to perform at a time that usually doesn’t register on a rock band’s clock. By all accounts, the students and the band had an excellent time and I have been following the band ever since.Uncle Lucius returns this month with a brand new record and a new approach to recording. Having gotten shut of their record label, the band ventured out on their own limb and produced what is, in my mind, their best collection of tunes to date.I recently caught up with band members Jon Grossman and Kevin Galloway to chat about the new record, the freedom of recording without a label, and who exactly Uncle Lucius is.And, down below, Trail Mix is happy to be offering the premiere of a brand new track from The Light.BRO – No record label, no problem. How’s it feel to be out there doing things your own way and calling your own shots?JG – A little like I imagine a skydiver feels – exhilaration and joy mixed in with primal terror. Freedom has its perks, but the big catch to working without a net is the very real chance of falling. As an artist, I feel more authentic taking the risk on personally. Record labels have a parental vibe about them – they make the tough decisions for you, they provide you with whatever they think you need. They’re a buffer between you and the real world. Doing it ourselves feels like a teenager who’s moving out on his own for the first time, ready to take on the slings and arrows.BRO – All the guys in your band write songs. How do you make sure that all of the best ideas rise to the top without stepping on anyone’s toes?JG – It’s delicate business, a ballet of sorts. The key is remembering that the band has a vision and aesthetic that’s distinct from any of our individual selves. Though it’s not exactly inscribed in stone, we all have a sense of our collective identity, and we strive to serve that in lieu of our personal agendas. I usually know pretty quickly if a song I’m working on is worthy of the band. There are no quotas or guidelines, though. The best song wins, regardless of who wrote it.BRO – Who are some of your favorite Texas bands right now?JG – So many great musicians down here, so in particular order . . . Quaker City Nigh Hawks, a real rock ‘n roll outfit from Fort Worth. Blue Healer, out of Austin, has a great mix of modern synthy sounds with the kind of songwriting country music is rightfully lauded for. Unfaithful Servants, also out of Austin, are also terrific. Midnight River Choir hold it down, as do The Bigsbys from Palestine. Look out for The New Offenders, out of Houston. You said bands, but you can’t forget songwriters like Jonathan Terrell, Lew Card, and Carson McHone, just to name a few.BRO – We are featuring “The Light” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?KG – This song began as a rhetorical question into the source of who I am. Its answer is in line with my own opinions about the nature of things. It is inquiry into motivation, reaction and intention, and a realization that conditioning and tradition run our lives, as we are creatures of habit. It a bit of a mantra that asserts the possibility of evolving beyond our current state of comfort and limitation by acting intentionally rather than reacting according to learned behaviors. It’s a belief that the power lies with the individual and a call to take personal responsibility, to not rely on someone else’s answers.BRO – Uncle Lucius . . . would he be more like the cool uncle that might give me a nip of moonshine at the family reunion or the creepy uncle that I really don’t want to sit next to a Thanksgiving dinner?JG – Those sound like the same guy! He might seem creepy at first, but that’s just the kind of prejudice a moonshine packing uncle has come to expect. I like to think of him as a kind of optical illusion. From one angle, he appears to be a jolly old sage, frothing over with wisdom and insight. In another light, he’s just a babbling drunk, laughing at imaginary conversations and drooling on himself. Spinal Tap would have you believe there’s a fine line between stupid and clever, but I find the two states are really the same. Lucius is the uncle that would impart great wisdom on his nieces and nephews,  but for the fact that none of their parents would trust him alone with their kids.Uncle Lucius is out on the road now to celebrate the release of The Light. Fans out in Texas can catch them in Wichita Falls on June 18th, Lubbock on June 19th, and Amarillo on June 20th. More Texas dates follow, and you can find out when the band hits a stage near you right here.This week, Trail Mix is also excited to offer you a brand new tune from the brand new record. Premiering right here is “End of 118.” Enjoy, and make sure to take a listen to “The Light” on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more

11 Must-Do Hikes in the Southeastern National Parks

first_imgTo celebrate America’s unparalleled national park system, we’re highlighting the best of our three iconic national parks here in Appalachia: Shenandoah, the Smokies, and the iconic parkway that connects them.Shenandoah National Park, VirginiaEstablished: December 26, 1935Size: 197,438 acresPeak: Hawksbill Mountain—4,049’Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley has long attracted human interest. Its plethora of natural resources like water, minerals, and fertile soil nurtured early Native American populations. Unsurprisingly, when 18th century European trappers first laid eyes on the valley’s rolling ridges and open meadows, they saw opportunity. Though Shenandoah’s 300 square-miles would later see decades of logging and mines, it was that bounty of natural beauty that eventually secured the valley’s national park status in 1935.Now, visitors can experience Shenandoah’s storied past by way of the park’s 500-plus miles of hiking trails, 101 of which include the Appalachian Trail (another National Park unit under the National Scenic Trail designation). Amid the fields of wildflowers and rhododendron tunnels runs Skyline Drive, the 105-mile backbone of Shenandoah National Park. The only public road through the park, Skyline’s paved route is popular among Sunday drivers and road cyclists, especially during peak fall colors.Top Treks in Shenandoah 1. Old Rag, Nethers, VirginiaLikely the most popular hike in Shenandoah, the vistas atop Old Rag draw a crowd every weekend, regardless of the season. The circuit itself is certainly no walk in the park—it’s about eight miles round-trip with a steep section of rock scrambling that becomes even more heinous in wet and wintry conditions. Yet for those of us seeking solace in the woods, the trail will be the least of your problems. If you can bare the fraternity groups and middle school field trips you’ll likely find on any given weekend, the textbook Blue Ridge views at the summit are entirely worth the sweat. Avoid weekends and holidays, get up early, or play hooky to beat the crowds. Parking at the Old Rag trailhead is limited, so consider carpooling or hitchhiking (we encourage both). Camping is prohibited above 2,800 feet, and all backcountry campers are required to obtain a permit.2. White Oak Canyon, Syria, VirginiaShenandoah’s steep terrain certainly lends itself to rocks, on the one hand, but also tight and twisting streams, gentle cascades, and pounding waterfalls. Whiteoak Canyon is a little bit of all of that. With a total of six waterfalls ranging in height from 35 to 86 feet, the canyon is a mecca for swimming holes, but don’t expect to have the place to yourself. Though not as popular as nearby Dark Hollow Falls, Whiteoak Canyon is rarely empty on a hot summer’s day, and with good reason—the large pool at the bottom of the lower falls is deep, easily accessible, and the perfect place to cool off mid-hike. Climb the trail to the upper falls for a scenic view from above and an extra mile or two to your trip. This out-and-back hike is 4.9 miles round-trip from the parking lot off Skyline Drive at milepost 42.6 to the upper falls and back. The trail can be tricky at times, but is well-maintained and family friendly.3. Austin Mountain—Furnace Mountain Loop, Crozet, VirginiaWith challenging climbs, panoramic scenes, and creek crossings, this 13.3-mile hike embodies all that we love about Shenandoah National Park. Starting from Browns Gap parking lot off Skyline Drive at milepost 82.9, the climb begins gradually as you saunter up Madison Run Fire Road but quickly steepens once you cross Madison Run Creek (a wild brook trout haven, for all you anglers out there). Serious hikers can knock this trip out in a long day, completing the loop by way of the Appalachian Trail. For those looking to break the trip up over the course of two days, there’s a killer campsite big enough for a tent and some hammocks at the summit of Furnace Mountain. During peak thru-hiker season, you may encounter a few scraggly thru-hikers making their way along the white blaze, but for the most part, the difficulty and distance of this hike keep the crowds at bay.4. Overall Run Falls, Bentonville, VirginiaAt 93 feet, Overall Run Falls is the tallest waterfall in the park. Couple that with a hike that takes you through an area with pristine swimming holes and the highest concentration of black bears, and and you’ve got your new weekend go-to. Make a loop out of the normal 4.7-mile out-and-back by connecting Beecher Ridge, where you’re likely to sight that black bear we mentioned. The Beecher Ridge-Overall Run loop is only 8.5 miles total, but you’ll want to leave plenty of time to soak in the sights of Massanutten Mountain and Page Valley. Keep an eye out for side trails that lead to small campsites—you can extend your trip into a short overnighter by parking off Chrisman Road and following Heiskell Hollow Trail to its intersection with Mathews Arm Trail and the Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail. This 12.7-mile alternative hides homestead ruins in its undergrowth for those interested in the park’s history. Visit in early spring, or even winter, when heavy rains and snowmelt make the falls surge!Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn., N.C.Established: June 15, 1934Size: 522,427 acresPeak: Clingmans Dome— 6,643’Of the country’s 59 national parks, Great Smoky Mountains sees the highest annual visitation. In 2013 alone, more than 9.4 million visitors came to the park—that’s twice that of Grand Canyon National Park, which comes in with the second highest visitation at 4.6 million. Despite its popularity, the 800 square-miles of rugged land between North Carolina and Tennessee are some of the wildest areas east of the Mississippi. Finding solitude amid the Smokies’ 16 6,000-plus-foot peaks (and 850 miles of trail) is hardly a challenge, if you’re willing to work for it.These high-elevation summits shelter more than great adventure. Some 1,600 species of flowering plants have made the Smokies their home, and from mid-June through mid-July, the mountainsides are covered in brilliant displays of mountain laurel, rhododendron, and azalea in bloom. The symbol of the Smokies, the American black bear serves as yet another example of the park’s inherent remoteness. With more than 1,500 bears patrolling the park’s interior, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the largest protected bear habitat in the East.Like a cherry on an adventurously decadent sundae, the park and all of its natural glory are free to the public. It’s one of the few parks in the country that does not charge an entrance fee.Top Treks in the Smokies1. Charlies Bunion, Gatlinburg, TennesseeStand atop Charlies Bunion and experience the wonder that inspired Bryson City writer Horace Kephart to advocate for the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Roughly 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail run through the Smokies, and it’s the A.T.’s white blazes you’ll follow to reach the dramatic rock outcropping that is Charlies Bunion. Begin at Newfound Gap parking lot, the site of President Franklin Roosevelt’s park dedication ceremony in 1934. From there, you’ll climb 1,600 feet over the course of four miles. It’s a butt-buster, so take your time. You’ll know you’ve arrived at Charlies Bunion when you spy a spur trail forking off to the left. The trail dead-ends into a sheer drop-off that will drop your jaw. Watch your footing when you’re posing for a selfie.2. Abrams Falls, Tallassee, TennesseeSaunter beneath pine-oak forests before descending into a lush world of hemlock groves and rhododendron thickets on this five-mile round-trip hike to Abrams Falls. The falls are only 20 feet in height, but their power is real. Naturally dammed by deadfall and rock, the otherwise idle Abrams Creek surges to life here. The pool below the falls looks appealing to swim in, and it is, but be forewarned—many injuries have occurred in the area surrounding the falls due to slick rock and hidden roots. Anglers will enjoy the wide, lazy bends in the creek around 1.6 miles in, so pack a rod. Though there are no designated camping sites in the immediate areas surrounding the Abrams Falls Trail, there are a few options on nearby Rabbit Creek Trail and Hannah Mountain Trail.3. Mount Cammerer, Cosby, TennesseeRising above the northeastern fringe of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mount Cammerer practically straddles the North Carolina and Tennessee border. Named for Arno Cammerer, who served as Director for the National Park Service from 1933 until 1940, Mount Cammerer is two parts beauty, one part history. At the height of this 4,928-foot mountain looms a lookout tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s. Hikers can access the summit and tower by way of Low Gap Trail, which eventually links up to the A.T. A short spur trail leads to the mountain’s proper summit as well as 360-degree views of neighboring peaks like Mount Sterling, Snowbird Mountain, and below, the Pigeon River Gorge. Plan for a long day on the trail, as the out-and-back trek totals 11 miles.4. Ramsey Cascades, Gatlinburg, TennesseeThe 100-foot Ramsey Cascades, the tallest waterfall in the park, is certainly a sight worth seeing, but it’s the stands of old-growth forest that really make this hike spectacular. It’s an eight-mile out-and-back hike and it’s tough, steadily climbing 2,200 feet to the base of the falls. During the last two miles before you reach Ramsey Cascades, giant tulip trees, basswoods, silverbells, and yellow birches emerge from the forest. Be on the lookout for red maple, white oak, and black cherry trees of substantial size, too—some of the park’s tallest trees will be all around you. Use the Greenbrier entrance to the Smokies to access this special gem.Joe and Kelly Spencer hike black balsam on the blue ridge parkway.Blue Ridge Parkway, Va., N.C.Established: June 30, 1936, completed 1987Size: 469 milesPeak: Richland Balsam Overlook, N.C.—6,047’The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than just a road. It’s a park, a ribbon of adventure, a physical map of times long past. It does more than provide access to the mountains it connects— it protects them, too. Winding for 469 miles from central Virginia to western North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway seamlessly joins Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With nearly 300 overlooks and hundreds more trail access points, the parkway is a never-ending source for inspiration, recreation, and even education. Along the way, drivers will see prehistoric and early settlement infrastructure as well as traces of industries that once fueled Appalachia. Drive, bike, or hike through the decades and along the parkway that pays homage to the mountains we hold so dear.Top Treks Along the Blue Ridge Parkway1. Rough Ridge, Boone, North CarolinaShort on time? Need a new leaf peeping spot? The Rough Ridge Overlook is your answer. Just a short, but steep, trek from the parking lot reveals a sprawl of mountain ranges filing one behind the other as far as the eye can see. It’s enough of a scene to make you feel small and insignificant. Even the Linn Cove Viaduct, visible from the summit of Rough Ridge, is dwarfed in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain. The boardwalks and stairs seem unnatural, but are meant to protect the fragile mountain-heather ecosystem that carpets the hillside. The path is part of the 13-mile Tanawha Trail, which parallels the parkway between Julian Price Park and Beacon Heights. If you have a second vehicle, you can extend your hike up Rough Ridge to include more of the Tanawha system.2. Apple Orchard Falls, Buchanan, VirginiaThis 5.6-mile loop around Apple Orchard Falls is a cure-all for even the worst of hot summer days. The trail is cool and shady from the canopy above, with multiple creek crossings and opportunities to splash your face. The falls themselves, which tumble some 200 feet down house-sized rocks, usually always have water, regardless of the amount of recent rainfall. This particular loop is easily doable in a day, but why rush it? There are ample amount of campsites sprinkled throughout the forest, and with such ready access to water, you can easily set up a base camp and explore other sections on Cornelius Creek and the Appalachian Trail.Best of the RestBOOGERMAN TRAIL, situated in Cataloochee Valley, is named not for the Boogeyman but, rather, Robert Palmer, one of the few locals who refused to allow timber companies to log on his property during the early 1900s. Thanks to Palmer, whose childhood nickname “Boogerman” carried into adulthood, this trail shelters some of the tallest trees in the Cataloochee Valley.BIG BUTT Mountain and Trail rises above Buncombe and Haywood counties in North Carolina. In geographic lingo, “butt” refers to an abrupt end of a ridge or mountain. Consequently, the landscape here is craggy with rock fins and abutments around every corner.CHARLIES BUNION is a rock outcropping from which you can view Mount Le Conte on a clear day. Horace Kephart supposedly penned the name in 1929 during a hike with Swain County native Charlie Conner, photographer George Masa, and others. During a break, Conner removed his boots and exposed a bunion that, to Kephart, looked every bit as impressive as the surrounding rock features. Kephart reportedly told Conner, “Charlie, I’m going to get this place put on a government map for you.”STANDING INDIAN looms nearly 5,500 feet above the southern Nantahala Forest. Its summit is the tallest peak south of the Smokies. Legend has it that the mountain takes its name from a sentinel, a Cherokee Indian warrior sent to the summit to keep watch for the winged monster that had stolen a child. The watchman turned to stone when a lightning storm struck the mountain, killing the monster and creating the treeless summit for which Standing Indian is known.PEAKS OF OTTER in Virginia would, you think, reference a native river otter population residing in the 24-acre Abbott Lake, yet there are no known otters in the area. The most commonly accepted explanation for the name stems back to Charles and Robert Ewing, two brothers who came to the area from Scotland around 1700. Supposedly, the Ewing brothers named a number of streams and hills after destinations in their home country. “Otter” is used quite frequently in Scotland place names.GRAVEYARD FIELDS in North Carolina is just that—a haunting reminder of times long past. Once a seemingly impenetrable evergreen forest, a freak windstorm several hundred years ago uprooted the spruce forest leaving only stumps in its wake. With two detrimental fires in 1925 and again in the 1940s, as well as the presence of logging in the area, the present-day open expanse is the result of natural and manmade forces alike.OLD RAG is anything but a decrepit piece of cloth. Sometimes called “Old Ragged Top,” Old Rag Mountain received its name due to the irregular ridgeline and unusually rocky nature.STONY MAN is, you guessed it, a mountain with a lot of stones that looks a little bit like a bearded man. No one knows who first dubbed the summit “Stony Man,” but by 1895, the name was commonplace.MCAFEE KNOB is well known among hikers for its stunning, panoramic views of the surrounding Catawba Valley, Roanoke Valley, Tinker Cliffs, and North Mountain, but did you know that the summit itself takes its name from James McAfee? McAfee was a Scots-Irish immigrant who settled in the Catawba Valley in the late 1730s.THE PRIEST is certainly holy in its grandeur. It stands some 4,000 feet above Nelson County, Va. While some theories suggest The Priest was named after the DuPriest family that lived in the area, many others believe a local minister saw the nearby mountain peaks like a church away from church. The Cardinal and The Friar are neighboring peaks to The Priest, and together, these summits form the Religious Range.last_img read more

The February Issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors is Live!

first_imgQUICK HITSAnother red wolf shot • Repair is radical • 9-year-old sets running record • Lost cat found 700 miles awayTHE DIRTTrump and the outdoors • Conservative outdoor caucus • Craig Dodson leads Richmond’s urban cycling squad • Hatfield-McCoy Marathon celebrates the region’s oldest family feudFLASHPOINTThe South’s most iconic tree species—including ash, sycamore, and dogwood—are besieged by pests and disease. What does the future hold for our forests?EPILEPTIC THRU-HIKERIn the spring of 2014, 28-year-old Alex Newlon headed for Springer Mountain determined to complete a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.LOCALS ONLYHow to glean the best adventure beta from resident experts who keep it secret. WHAT’S NEW AT THE NEW?The New River Gorge Area in southern West Virginia has long been recognized for its outstanding whitewater and climbing scene. But what does the future hold for this recreation hub?BLACK METAL IN THE BLUE RIDGEFor today’s Appalachian black metal artists, the link between nature and their music is real and authentic.THE GOODSGeorgia running badass Erick White dishes his favorite trail gear.TRAIL MIXRaw and Sync—a double dose of Fredericksburg native Keller Williams.DIRTY DOZENThese twelve tough events should be on everyone’s bucket list for 2017. Do you have what it takes to tackle these challenges?WHY I RUNWhat drives record-chasers and elite athletes to go faster and farther? Four elite ultrarunners from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic share their secrets.PLAY TOGETHER, STAY TOGETHERChris Olson and his wife lived in a tent together for an entire summer—and they’re still married. Here is their field-tested advice for outdoor couples.last_img read more

The Wild President: Jimmy Carter and the Chattooga River

first_imgIn the year 1974 former President Jimmy Carter was the Governor of Georgia. That same year, he took a trip down the Chattooga River in an open-faced aluminum canoe with American Rivers founder Claude Terry that culminated in the first-ever tandem canoe descent of the infamous Bull Sluice rapid.Shortly after this run, Carter used his status as governor to push through legislation that would ultimately designate all 57 miles of the the Chattooga River as Wild and Scenic, permanently preventing any dam building or development along the wild river’s scenic banks.To this day, thanks in large part to Carter’s efforts, the Chattooga River remains the crown jewell of the entire Southeastern river system. As president, Carter would go on to protect many more rivers throughout the U.S and veto sixteen different dam projects across the country.This short but powerful film from NRS recounts that infamous day in 1974 when a sitting governor took on the some of the most intense rapids in his state and lived to tell the tale.last_img read more

Colombian Rebels Say 8 Indigenous Killed As Informers

first_imgBy Dialogo February 18, 2009 Colombia’s main leftist rebel group said Tuesday that it “executed” eight Indians in the country’s remote southwest, accusing them of acting as paid informants for Colombia’s military. The communique posted on a Web site sympathetic to the rebels followed widespread but unconfirmed reports that as many as 27 Awa Indians had been killed — allegations that prompted denunciations by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch. The development was a major blow to efforts by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to promote a prisoner swap with the government and to be removed from the European Union’s list of terror organizations. President Alvaro Uribe said offensive operations would be stepped up against the FARC. “Our decision today is to accentuate our anti-terrorism policies,” he said in Brazil, where he was on a state visit. Colombia’s military challenged the rebel justification for the killings, denying the slain Indians had been informants, and alleging the FARC was pushing the Awa off their lands so it could plant drug crops. There are about 20,000 Awa, and like many indigenous groups, they have often become enmeshed in a conflict in which far-right militias and drug traffickers frequently exact violence on civilians they accuse of collaborating with their foes. The FARC said the eight were detained on Feb. 6 in a rural district of Barbacoas, Narino state, and all confessed to having worked with the army for two years. “Given the pressure of the operation, their responsibility in the death of numerous guerrillas and their irrefutable active participation in the conflict, they were executed,” the statement on the ANNCOL site said. The country’s armed forces chief called the guerrilla claim false. “Not a single peso has been paid” to the Awa — nor were the Indians used as informants about rebel movements, Gen. Freddy Padilla told The Associated Press by telephone. In a separate communique, the army division that operates in the area accused the FARC of forcing the Awa off their reserve so it can plant coca, the basis for cocaine. Fighting over coca crops is a key reason behind the forced displacement of more than 2.8 million Colombians — an internal refugee problem second only to that of Sudan. The FARC has tried to improve its international image and recently released six hostages, an act peace activists saw as a hopeful indication that a dialogue with Uribe’s government might be opened. The opposition senator who brokered the release, Piedad Cordoba, on Tuesday called the FARC’s killing of the Indians “a major snag” for efforts to obtain new releases or a prisoner swap. She said she feared it would radicalize both sides of the conflict. The U.N. says Colombia has 87 indigenous groups, more than a third of which are at risk of extinction due largely to the conflict and forced displacement.last_img read more

Peruvian Navy Holds 5th International Warships & Offshore Patrol Vessels Conference

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo August 17, 2016 The Peruvian Navy coordinated the fifth edition of the Warships & Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Conference Latin America 2016. The international conference helps create business opportunities and investment agreements for fleet modernization to confront probable threats. For three days, officers from the navies of Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, and Canada met in the city of Lima, Peru, to exchange knowledge on vessel acquisition and operational communications, as well as the development of combat-support, patrol, and surveillance vessels. Representatives from shipyards, defense companies and producers, as well as officers from the Peruvian Armed Forces, the National Police, and officers from the navies and naval projects from the navies of Peru, Mexico, Uruguay, and Honduras, among others, attended. OPV Latin America allowed for direct interaction between manufacturers and their end-users. The annual event was an initiative of Defence IQ, a British organization, and Peru’s Naval Association of Surface Officers in coordination with the Peruvian Navy. Previous editions were held in Brazil in 2012 and 2013, Colombia in 2014, and Ecuador last year. European and U.S. defense firms learned requirements for building new vessels. Naval engineers, who participate in the design and construction process for several projects, saw current technologies for surface platforms, both for frigates and OPVs. Admiral Jorge Montoya Manrique, former commander of the Joint Command of the Peruvian Armed Forces and president of Peru’s Naval Association of Surface Officers told Diálogo: “it is in every country’s national interest to have a naval industry that is vigorous, self-sustaining, and sustainable over time. Countries require a fleet with deterrence capability, which is efficient, and which has the relevant speed to protect the exclusive economic zones of each country, as well as to combat drug trafficking and illegal fishing, and using OPVs for these functions is more economic.” For Peru, modernizing its squadron is important because its fleet is more than 30 years old. The Peruvian Navy plans to acquire six frigates and four OPVs to combat drug trafficking organizations and confront future challenges. “Peru is in the process of defining the surface platform that will replace the frigates and corvettes. The modernization program, which is projected to be developed over the next 10 to 15 years, includes the acquisition of OPV units, small patrol boats, and frigates, so that Peru’s Navy can successfully complete its defense missions,” Adm. Montoya said. During the event, according to the Peruvian Navy, Latin American officers dealt with topics such as “How Technology Transfers its Support to Plans and Modernization of the Peruvian Navy;” “Challenges and Prospects for the Construction of Mexican Naval Vessels;” and “Honduran OPV Fleet and High-Security Boats.” “Among new technologies, we need to select robust propulsion systems that require long periods of time between scheduled maintenance; the latest technology in arms systems; medium and long-range radars; anti-aircraft missiles; and rocket-assisted cannons for future vessels,” Adm. Montoya continued. As reported in the TV program Noti Naval on June 30th, Rear Admiral (r) Carlos de Izcue Arnillas, commercial manager of Peru’s state-run shipyard Marine Industrial Services (SIMA, for its Spanish acronym), said, “We need to transfer technology, knowledge, and experiences so that we can be up to the challenge, which is no longer just national but also regional and global.” The Peruvian Navy is committed to an important fleet modernization program that will be developed over the next 10 to 15 years. It is building four to 10 small patrol-type units with 500 metric tons of displacement. These units are useful for operations close to the coast. The Navy also plans to modernize and modify its corvettes as patrol boats. “Honduras, like us and all the countries of the region, has a problem controlling illicit activity related to drug trafficking. The Honduran Navy (FNH, for its Spanish acronym) is looking to build lighter patrol boats, not very big and with less tonnage,” Adm. Montoya explained. “Mexico has a project to construct 60 vessels of this type.” The Honduran Government plans to acquire an OPV-80 to patrol its exclusive economic zone. In April, the FNH announced the acquisition of a BAL-C Short Range Logistic Support Ship from Colombia’s state-run shipyard, Science and Technology Corporation for the Development of the Naval, Maritime, and Riverine Industry. Through phases I and II of Plan Orion, Colombia has modernized its FS-1500 Padilla Class frigates and has begun a program to construct OPVs. Brazil’s Plan Propuser has not yet started due to budgetary problems. Chile has acquired used frigates and modernized them, according to a report from the Infodefensa website. The international conference attendees took a tour through the SIMA shipyard facilities and observed a maritime interdiction exercise that the Peruvian Navy organized exclusively for the participants. “This type of event [Warships & OPV Conference Latin America] allows us to share and understand issues, and that is fundamental for countries like ours, which is trying to grow its state-run naval industry SIMA,” said Rear Admiral Silvio Alva Villamón, executive director of SIMA. “And this discussion is doubly important in Peru because there is an opportunity for other members of the national industry’s productive apparatus to participate in and understand the importance of the naval industry.” Peru has undertaken various naval construction projects in the past five years. Notable among them is the manufacture of various riverine combat units; maritime and coastal patrol boats; Itinerant Social Action Platforms (PIAS, for its Spanish acronym), which provide medical assistance and social programs to residents of the Amazon jungle; the Navy’s first multipurpose vessel, called Varayoc; and the Unión training ship, the largest vessel of its kind in Latin America.last_img read more

2017: A truly transformative year for CO-OP Financial Services

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr At the beginning of 2017, we set a goal to deliver more seamless, more secure payment experiences to more credit union members. That theme took on even deeper meaning as we began to apply that same promise to the ways our credit union clients could expect to interact with CO-OP.Digital transformation became the foundation for delivering on these promises fully and quickly. As more challengers entered the marketplace with agile, digital-centric, customer-focused models, it became clear the time for credit unions to transform was now.We committed to moving fast, but we also recognized such a meaningful and all-encompassing transformation would be a journey – one we would travel right alongside our clients.We assured you we would move swiftly to bring new solutions that would help the movement compete in an increasingly competitive environment. The journey is far from over, yet together we’ve accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time. continue reading »last_img read more

How trips to the nurse’s office will be different in Windsor this school year

first_imgWINDSOR (WBNG) — One of the many things changing in schools is what your child’s visit to the nurse’s office will look like this year. If they go to the nurse’s office for any reason, each student will go through a second, more extensive screening. “It’s allergy time, so it could be seasonal allergies, but we’ll do a head to toe assessment of them,” said school nurse Roberta Vendetti. “Make sure their temperature is not above 100 and if it is they’ll have to go home even if it is just not feeling well and be afebrile for 24 hours without any medication.” “Student comes in, we wipe it down,” Vendetti said. “It has to be done between each student and each class period, so I think the cleanliness between the building itself and the child will be a strong, strong assistance for not getting sick.” The district said it’s following the medical guidance of Lourdes Hospital as it determines the proper procedures to take place as it prepares for this fall. She said one factor above all others will be a major key in keeping everyone healthy and safe. Staff at Windsor Central High School said they are taking extra precautions this fall for routine visits. Every student’s temperature is checked before they enter the building.last_img read more

What you need to know about Indonesia’s vaccine development

first_imgAs Indonesia struggles to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, the country, like many others, is pinning its hopes on vaccine development.Indonesia is looking to secure access to candidate vaccines, with its diplomats and local companies seeking cooperation with producers such as Sinovac Biotech of China and Genexine Inc. of South Korea, as well as the Bill Gates-backed Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).Meanwhile, for a longer-term, self-sufficient strategy, a national consortium under the Research and Technology Ministry is working on developing its own vaccine, helmed by the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology. The vaccine will be named after Indonesia’s flag colors, Merah Putih, or red and white. Kusnandi said the previous first two stages of trials showed a few minor side effects, such as swelling and pain in the injection area as well as fever. All volunteers in the phase III trials, therefore, would be insured so that they could receive free treatment if they were to develop complaints, he said. Kusnandi said the vaccine would be gradually given to all the subjects, estimating 25 subjects per day for five days a week at each of the six trial centers.Read also: Indonesian COVID-19 vaccines to undergo strict human, animal testingBio Farma said it was expecting the preliminary results of the clinical trials to be submitted for emergency use authorization by the Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) by the first quarter of 2021. Topics : He was referring to the process of producing recombinant proteins by isolating genes of the spike protein and nucleocapsid protein and inserting them into mammalian cells. The team, comprising around 10 young researchers, is now waiting for the cells to reproduce the recombinant proteins, which might take two months, before isolating, purifying and testing the proteins on animals. The Merah Putih vaccine, meanwhile, is a recombinant vaccine. It is a type that “includes only the components, or antigens, that best stimulate the immune system” that can make vaccines safer and minimize side effects, according to the United States’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The clinical trial research team leader, Unpad professor Kusnandi Rusmil, told The Jakarta Post that about 500 people had applied for the trials, which involve at least 30 doctors and 20 specialist doctors. The vaccines under development mentioned fall into different types. The Merah Putih vaccine, Amin said, was expected to cover at least 50 percent of Indonesia’s vaccine needs, given the country’s large population. The Sinovac vaccine is an inactivated virus vaccine, a traditional category of vaccines which consists of entire pathogens that have been killed with chemicals, heat or radiation. Hence, this type cannot cause diseases but still has antigens to elicit an immune response, experts said. Should the applicants pass the administrative and other preliminary procedures, the team will administer them with the first dose of the experimental vaccine or a placebo, and then a second dose of the vaccine 14 days later. What vaccine types will be offered? Bio Farma and Unpad are now recruiting 1,620 volunteers — all of whom must be healthy adults between the age of 18 and 59 years old with no history of having contracted COVID-19 — to participate in the clinical trials. The team is making a vaccine specifically for the virus strain spread in Indonesia, which, according to Amin, has similarities to the strain circulating around Asia. The company said it would produce 40 million doses for the first batch of vaccine, but the number would increase gradually as the company aims to see its production capacity reach 250 million doses per year by the end of this year. Indonesia is launching the phase III trials — the last stage of clinical testing in humans during which the vaccine is given to thousands of people to confirm and expand results on safety and efficacy from phase I and II trials — along with several countries like Brazil and Bangladesh. The Genexine vaccine is a DNA vaccine which will also be administered twice. According to the WHO, this type of vaccine is a rather new invention that offers “potential advantages over traditional approaches”, such as improved vaccine stability and the absence of any infectious agents. The Sinovac phase III clinical trials in Bandung are to run for six months. As for the Merah Putih vaccine, Eijkman director Amin Soebandrio said his team was now entering the “critical” process that would “determine the success of the vaccine in the future”. All of these attempts are progressing at different paces, while also offering various timelines, production targets and types of vaccines. But they are expected to complement each other, given the broad need to cover Indonesia’s large population of some 270 million people.How is the progress so far?State-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma has partnered with Sinovac, with the former soon to be launching phase III clinical trials in humans of a Sinovac vaccine alongside Padjadjaran University (Unpad) in Bandung, West Java.It is one of 26 candidate vaccines that are in clinical evaluation according to a compilation made by the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 31. There are 139 candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation. Bio Farma is also deliberating a contract with the Bill Gates-backed CEPI, with no decision yet made on the number of vaccines that it would “fill and finish” during the manufacturing process, Bio Farma’s R&D project integration manager Neni Nurainy told the Post.Read also: Indonesia teams up with global manufacturers in vaccine huntMeanwhile, homegrown health giant Kalbe Farma is cooperating with Genexine for the trials of Genexine’s DNA vaccine GX-19. Indonesia is expected to run phase II clinical trials for the potential vaccine in September or October, continuing from the phase I trials underway in South Korea until August. What are the timelines and production targets? This vaccine must be injected twice to develop immunity. The government, meanwhile, has given Eijkman 12 months starting from April to develop vaccine prototypes that have been tested on animals, to be given to Bio Farma for clinical trials. Bio Farma aims to mass-produce the vaccine by 2022 after earning approval from the BPOM.last_img read more

Portuguese funds see returns fall as debt allocation struggles

first_imgPerformance figures were submitted by so-called ‘closed’ funds, which are generally pension plans for a single employer or group of companies, and which make up the vast bulk of occupational plans.The WTW universe covers around €13bn in assets, which is 80% of the closed pension fund market in Portugal. It incorporates more than 100 pension funds within the figures to end-December 2016, including the five biggest pension fund managers in Portugal.The figures are based on median performance over each timeframe.The final quarter of the year had produced returns which – at 0.6% – dipped below the previous quarter’s, of 1.4%.Guedes said: “The Portuguese pension fund market has a euro bond exposure of roughly 60%. The fourth quarter was poor for euro bonds in general, and slightly worse for eurozone government aggregate bonds. Another factor in these low returns was probably the high exposure to direct real estate and liquidity, giving a significant ‘cash drag’ effect.”He also highlighted the bias normally found in using local asset managers for local assets: “It’s probably worth noting that the PSI 20 [the top 20 stocks on the Lisbon Stock Exchange] had a painful performance, losing 12% over 2016.”According to regulator ASF, debt was still the single biggest asset in Portuguese pension fund portfolios, with 49% invested directly in the asset class as at end-December 2016. Of this, 31% was in public and 18% in private debt.Direct equity holdings were 8% of portfolios, while direct real estate made up 8%. A further 7% was in cash.In addition, investment funds formed 29% of portfolios, but the split between asset classes was not published.However, estimates from the Portuguese Association of Investment Funds, Pension Funds and Asset Management (APFIPP) broke down the investment fund figures to give an overall asset allocation of 57% in debt, 21% in equities and 13% in real estate.The APFIPP sample covered 87% of the Portuguese pension fund market.Guedes said: “The star of 2016 was definitely the US stock market, mostly due to the ‘Trump effect’ which pushed stock prices through the roof during the fourth quarter of 2016. Given the relatively conservative allocation of the closed pension funds market, the gains arising from the strong performers for 2016 (US, China and oil-driven commodities), were somewhat limited in Portuguese portfolios.” Occupational pension funds in Portugal made an average 1.8% investment return for the 2016 calendar year, down from 3.3% for 2015, according to Willis Towers Watson (WTW).The figures brought average annualised returns for the three years to 31 December 2016 to 4.3%, and for the five years to that date, to 5.8%.Gaudêncio Guedes, an investment consultant at WTW, said: “From the general performance indices, we would have expected around a 4% return overall – excluding real estate – for 2016, if we consider the actual asset allocation of the closed pension funds.“However, the first quarter of 2016 was a tough one for financial markets and it may well have triggered a number of difficult decisions by managers regarding the investment strategies to be adopted that set the path for the rest of the year.”last_img read more