World Bank Bets on Renewables Boom in India

first_imgWorld Bank Bets on Renewables Boom in India FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Global Trade Review:The World Bank is to provide US$100mn in funding for renewable energy projects in India’s booming market.The development bank will provide US$98mn in debt to the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), which will on-lend the money to states in India for solar projects. A further US$2mn will be available in grants.IREDA has already earmarked 750MW and 250MW solar parks in the Madhya Pradesh region, as it looks to move towards India’s national renewable energy target of 175GW of output by 2022.India’s renewables market is viewed as one of the world’s most promising. A recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) predicted a dramatic market share gain by renewable energy, with a sustained deflation in renewable tariffs.Over the past two years tariffs have fallen by 50%, with a record low solar energy tariff of the equivalent of US$38 per MWh being reached this year. This, the institute finds, will result in peak coal being reached by 2027, at no more than 10% above current levels.“A combination of India’s ambitious energy policy and ongoing solar and wind energy tariff deflation will enable India to catalyse US$200-US$300bn of investment in renewable energy infrastructure over the coming decade. Improvements in energy efficiency and reduction in technical and commercial losses will deliver better electricity production per coal tonnage. To conclude, the transformation will ensure India to support its economic growth while keeping greenhouse gas emissions in check,” says Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the IEEFA.World Bank to fund Indian renewable energylast_img read more

Australian pension fund Cbus targets carbon-heavy coal and gas investments

first_imgAustralian pension fund Cbus targets carbon-heavy coal and gas investments FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Construction and mining industry super fund Cbus says it will slash emissions from its investments by 45% within the next 10 years, putting carbon-intensive companies on notice that they will need to demonstrate how they will cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to stay within the fund’s $54bn portfolio. Cbus has also expanded an existing pledge to hit the Paris agreement target of zero emissions by 2050 in its property and infrastructure investments to cover its entire portfolio.Its chief investment officer, Kristian Fok, stopped short of ruling out any investment in new thermal coalmining but said any such business would face an extremely high hurdle to attract Cbus’s money.“I’m not going to rule out anything, but the hurdles are going to be so high for these things, because the way we would see it is that it would have to be highly competitive against the alternatives,” he said. “Basically, we now have a [carbon] budget in our portfolio, so it would have to be more compelling than something else.”Institutional investors such as pension and superannuation funds have been ratcheting up the pressure on big emitters, such as mining companies, to slash their carbon output.In April, Norway’s US$1.1tn Government Pension Fund Global, one of the world’s biggest investors, put BHP on notice that it needed to get out of thermal coal or the fund would dump its stock in the company. At the same time, it announced it had sold its stake in Australian energy company AGL, which owns coal-fired power stations including the carbon-intensive Liddell plant in New South Wales.Asked if Cbus would be willing to take shares in a BHP coal spin-off, Fok said the new framework wouldn’t stop the fund from doing so. “But what it does make us look very carefully at is what price we’re paying for it,” he said. “In relation to thermal coal, we would look at it in relation to the global economy. But it’s quite clear the lifecycle of thermal coal is shorter than the next fossil fuel, which is gas – but the lifecycle of gas is shorter than what it used to be as well.”[Ben Butler]More: Construction and mining industry super fund puts carbon-intensive companies on noticelast_img read more

Spring Fever

first_imgSpring is upon us. Maybe the official date is still a couple of weeks away, but the blooming daffodils, flirtatious robins, and warm breeze in the air tell me that I’ve survived another long dark winter (not that this was one to complain about). Shedding the gloves and taking advantage of the increasing daylight hours, I find my thoughts drifting ahead to the upcoming race season. What will 2012 bring?Developing a race schedule can be a challenge. Flipping through the race calendars in magazines and online, I realize that the possibilities are endless. How will I ever choose where to focus my dreams and goals? I must find some way to narrow it down.There are many factors to consider – will there be one big goal race or lots of smaller challenges? Do I want to focus on pavement or dirt? Go for endurance or work on my speed? Fortunately, I’m not a multisport athlete like so many of my friends – I don’t have to choose between bi’s and tri’s – biking or running – not to mention kayaks and swimming.How about travel? Do I want to stick with local events or go big and mix it up with West Coast competition? Would it be fun to pick an event and train with a group of friends? Do I want to shoot for PRs at events I’ve already run, or expand my horizons with brand new adventures? And speaking of adventures, maybe an organized event isn’t in the cards this year. How about a solo run across the Smokies or returning to take care of unfinished business in Shenandoah National Park?Then there are the quirky goals: finally get up the courage to run a naked 5k, or maybe attempt another open-water swimming event, this time without experiencing a panic attack in the middle of the lake.Here in the Southeast, we’re blessed with more opportunities for outdoor challenges and adventures than one can squeeze into one season – or one lifetime. We’re only limited by our imagination. What does this spring season hold in store for you? Aim high and dream big!last_img read more

Hand to Hand Combat with a Bear

first_imgI had a new experience today. I fought for my life.I got to Portage Chute, shortly after noon. It had been a splendid morning with plenty of current to speed me along. This stretch of the Churchill is wide, shallow, fast and studded with gardens of large, dark, looming rock. I maneuvered amidst these monoliths all morning, playing and dodging and showing off to myself, pretending I had nitroglycerin on board which would explode with the slightest jar, and seeing how close I could pass by or over an obstacle without hitting it. I was enjoying myself.Pewter SunMy GPS didn’t think I was quite to Portage Chute. It’s still 1.11 miles downstream, it was telling me but I knew better. This was Portage Chute, beyond all doubt. Narrow defile? Check. Increased grade and velocity? Check. Check. Flecks of foam popping up downstream? Sure ‘nuff. Deafening roar? That’s a big 10-4. I was there.mountain-gazette-bear1I took out on river left where the Churchill broadens into a small bight, beached the canoe and headed downriver to scout. There were boulders scattered all over, like a toddler’s toys. Portaging would be hell. Two hundred yards in, I came to a major obstacle, a scarp, only eight feet high, but sheer. Getting the canoe and gear up and over it would take some doing, the kind of doing I didn’t want to do. I scaled the wall and emerged onto a broad bench, blanketed with low shrubs and clumped with slips of cottonwood.I recognized some of the shrubs as buffalo berry, adorned with clusters of small red fruits. Across the bench, fifty feet away, the Churchill pounded through Portage Chute and I headed over to check it out, hoping it wouldn’t look as bad as it sounded. A rim of pale red rock stood twenty feet above the river and lined it up and down, giving me a great view of the rapid.I had already pretty much made up my mind to run it, even before scouting, because the portage was going to be a Bitch (note capital ‘B’), but there wasn’t a great line. Getting through without swimming would be iffy because of several large breaking waves strewn pell-mell across the river that could swamp or roll the boat. There was no way to miss them alI. And there were rocks aplenty too, which I’d have to miss, but I took comfort in seeing that the river below deepened and slowed, providing a reasonably good recovery area, so, in the event of a water landing, all the flotsam, including the canoe, any unsecured gear, and I could be reunited in calmer water and, after some sputtering, bailing and sponging, returned to a fully upright and undamaged state. I studied the rapid a bit more, picked a line, ran it a couple of times in my mind’s eye, and started back.I was crossing the bench through the buffalo berry and almost to the lip of the scarp when I noticed movement in my periphery. The bear that almost ate meSomething big and black and blurry. I turned to look and was incredulous to see a large black bear, only forty feet away, approaching with obvious ill intent. It was moving with deliberation, mouth open, head low, black eyes unwavering—locked on mine.I had been dreaming of a true wilderness experience and here it was: Mother Nature, telling me, So you want real wilderness? Here you go, sonny. For what could be more real or more wild than an animal coming to eat you? I was prey, calories, for a large omnivore that was sick and tired of grass and berries and roots. My shotgun and bear spray were in the canoe, 200 yards away. I would have to stand and fight with the only weapons I had, my bare hands.There was no time to be afraid. The bear was closing in. Only seconds remained. Some long dormant survival instinct took over and I transformed from mild mannered Nature Boy into Conan the Barbarian in a nanosecond (ok, exaggeration). A klaxon blared in my brain. Every cell in my body scrambled to battle stations. I was not aware of wind or cold. The crash of water through the nearby rapid drew silent. Every fiber of my being was focused on the bear.It approached with a dispassionate malevolence, as if to say, Hey. This isn’t personal, just business. Some things are killed and eaten so that other things can live to kill and eat another day. But predators don’t always get their prey. Sometimes, the prey gets away. Sometimes the predator gets hurt. We quarry are not completely helpless. We can kick, maybe break a jaw, butt, gouge and bite, put a hurtin on ya, even inflict mortal wounds, so the prudent predator will approach cautiously, especially with unfamiliar, larger prey, to assess the risks, prior to going in for the kill.That’s exactly what my bear was doing, coming on slowly to take my measure, ponder the risks verses rewards, and then decide whether to attack or withdraw. I doubt this animal had ever seen a human before. We were in the most remote portion of the Churchill, no roads or villages anywhere close, no trails, fish camps or cabins, and inaccessible to motorboats and float planes because of all the rocks and shallows. The bear could not know, what exactly was I, and just how dangerous might I be?My only hope lay in exploiting this uncertainty, make the bear think I was some psycho in search of a rug. I couldn’t run. He’d shag me down in a heartbeat, swat me to the ground, rake and bite me while I screamed, shake me like a rag doll while I whimpered, and then begin to tug and tear off chunks of flesh while I quietly moaned. If I played dead, I’d last only slightly longer than if I ran, and it wouldn’t be quality time. My only play was to be aggressive, fool the bear into thinking that I was biggest badass this side of Fidler Lake.“Get away you Mother Fucker!”, I screamed, but there was no discernible reaction. Nothing. On it came, walking, watching, not making a sound. Only twenty feet away now. I charged it with arms held high, trying to look bigger, and snarling invective through barred teeth. “COCKSUCKER!” I yelled. “MOTHER FUCKER!”No change in attitude.The bear was right next to me now, close enough to touch. It began to circle, close in, from right to left. I began to hit it, punching it in the head and face with neoprene gloved hands. “Good God!” I thought, “I just hit a bear. Is this really happening?”It was. I was really fighting a bear. As it turned, I turned with it to keep its head to my front, constantly throwing punches. My left jabs were weak, ineffectual, glancing blows, but I landed a couple of hard rights to the side of its enormous head which caused a momentary pause before the circling resumed. Near the end of its circumnavigation, I hauled off and kicked it in the ribs just behind the left leg. I was only wearing soft rubber boating booties, hardly more than slippers, but I kicked as hard as I could.This seemed to surprise the bear and it stopped circling and rose up, apparently indignant over such boorish behavior. I’m 6’4” and 185 pounds. The bear was half a head taller, but on the lean side. I doubt it weighed more than 250 pounds, but skinny meant hungry and hungry meant dangerous. Its paws were held high, claws outstretched and I expected to be cuffed at any moment, but the bear just stood there, as if newly uncrated from the taxidermist.We stood, facing each other like dancers, unsure, waiting for the music to start. Then it suddenly dawned on me. I had a knife. Holy shit! It hung inverted from a sheath affixed to my life jacket. I’d forgotten all about it. It was only a four inch blade and the only thing it had ever cut was cheese, but I drew it forth with a flourish and brandished it at the bear.“I have a knife!” I bellowed, to myself in surprise, to the bear in warning. The tables had turned, whatever that means. Still, the thought of stabbing this creature with the little blade was cold comfort. I did not want to hurt it, or aggravate it, and feared that once the stabbing started, this fight was going to get ugly for real. So there we stood, two statues cast in enmity, knife out, claws up, a Mexican standoff if ever there was one. I ended it, taking several quick steps backwards to the lip of the ledge, then whirled and bounded down the wall with the speed of a mountain goat, but not the agility.Halfway down I slipped and had to jump the final four feet to the basin below. I landed hard, tried to catch myself with lunging steps, but fell, sprawled out on hands and knees. My right hand, still gripping the knife, lit almost directly upon a fist sized hunk of rock, smooth, near round, granite. A gift. I transferred the knife to my left hand, snatched up rock in my right, and sprang to my feet with improbable dexterity for someone of my age and decrepitude, then I spun around to see if the bear had given chase.There it was, just ten feet away. The motherfucking thing had followed me down the wall. It stopped when I turned, looked at me, not directly this time, but obliquely and with menace. I faced it, edgewise, like a fencer, knife extended, and the rock, locked and loaded behind. This was it. The moment of truth.“Look bear” I implored, “I don’t want to stab you with this knife or hit you with this rock, but you have to leave right now.” The words were barely out of my mouth when the bear made up his mind, and it wasn’t to leave. The big head swung up and he came at me. I let him have it, heaving the rock with all my might.Funny. Ever since dislocating my right shoulder in a kayaking mishap twenty years ago, I haven’t been able to put any umph into an overhand throw. Before the injury I could hurl hard, be it baseball, football or rock, but, ever since, I throw like a girl, all arm and no shoulder. Not this time. Adrenaline is a miracle drug and with a surfeit of it coursing through my veins, I unloosed the rock. It sailed, trailing flame, and smacked into the bear’s skull right between the ears. It landed with a loud crunch, rock scraping bone, an awful noise normally but sweet music under the circumstances.The bear vanished in a blur, hunger pangs replaced by headache. I ran in the opposite direction, hotfooting it to the canoe, where I quickly hoisted the shotgun in one hand and bear spray in the other.“Hey asshole!” I bellowed. “You want a piece of me? Well come on you chicken shit and I’ll spray you right in the kisser.” I heard nothing but the hiss of wind and water, and blood pounding in my ears. Then I started laughing like a lunatic.Once I returned to a semblance of normal, I decided not to tempt the fates further by running Portage Chute. I figured all my lucky charms were cashed in for the day. What if I dumped and ended up on the left side of the river? The bear’s side. I had no desire for round two with the bruin so I pushed off and clawed my way upstream a couple of hundred yards, far enough up so I wouldn’t be swept down into the rapid, and ferried to the right shore. There was no channel on this side, just a jumble of huge rocks through which the river poured over, around or through. I dragged the canoe past the obstacles, abusing it in myriad ways, but I got down. Then I returned to the canoe for lunch, my favorite, peanut butter on rye crisp with turkey jerky. As I smacked down these delectables, thinking about my improbable victory and narrow escape from the literal jaws of death, I glanced across the river and saw a hairy hump moving through the vegetation opposite.“Hey bear!” I shouted and the hump stopped, turned, and the bear emerged onto the rim where I had scouted the rapid a lifetime ago. It peered across at me with a puzzled expression, then turned and walked out of sight. “Good luck to you bear” I called after it, and meant it.Hanging in the wildsLater at camp, I poured myself a big 151 rum and sipped it thoughtfully. I was in a contemplative mood, totally drained, and numbed, but euphoric. mountain-gazette-bear3I marveled at the days events. I fought a bear and I won. I knew it was mostly luck, that I was lucky to be alive. I have always been lucky. Lucky in my parents, my friends, health, choices. Lucky in love.I have learned to trust in luck, but this was more luck than anyone deserved. I was lucky the bear wasn’t bigger. Lucky he wasn’t more confident. Lucky he didn’t swat or bite me. Lucky, I walked away without a scratch save for a small scrape on my knee sustained when I crash-landed below the ledge. But that was lucky too, because if I hadn’t fallen I would not have found that rock. It was the rock that saved me.Strange, but there are almost no loose rocks along this portion of the Churchill River. I wasn’t even looking for a rock, it just materialized, found me. Now, I am not in any way suggesting divine intervention. As far as I’m concerned Jesus would have been more inclined to send the bear than provide the rock. Luck gave me the rock and luck guided the throw that nailed the bear right where I needed to bean him. A shot to the shoulder wouldn’t have done it. And it was luck that the bear didn’t think, “Ouch, my head hurts, but fuck it, I’m going to eat him anyway.”So I drank my rum and thought about the day, August 3, 2012, the day I had to fight a bear. I kicked its ass and lived. I love living.—This article, an excerpt from Jonathan Klein’s upcoming book on wilderness, was originally featured in the Mountain Gazette. Klein worked as a wilderness ranger and manager in Montana’s Lee Metcalf Wilderness for 27 years before retiring in 2012. Three days after leaving the Forest Service, he departed on a 700-mile solo canoe trip on Canada’s Churchill River, seeking a purer strain of wilderness than can be found in the lower 48—where the furthest one can get from a Micky D’s is 104 miles and the farthest from a road, a mere 30. Klein lives in Ennis, Mont., where he spends his time pedaling, paddling, and planning his next adventure to wild places.last_img read more

Into the Woods Festival Ticket and Camping Giveaway!

first_imgFirst Name: Last Name: Email*: Phone Number: Address*: City*: State*: ALAKAZARCACOCTDCDEFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNJNMNYNCNDOHOKORPARISCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYZip Code*: I certify that I am over the age of 18.* denotes required field Legendary music venue, Charleston Pour House, presents Into the Woods Music Festival on October 4-6, 2019. Discover a new world in the 6,000 acre Charleston, SC live oak forest with lakeside camping, 20+ bands, kayaks, SUPs, yoga, craft beer, local food & more.Enter below for 2 free tickets and camping passes!last_img

Let the Open Road Lead You to Clarksville

first_imgIt’s no surprise that Virginia’s Lake Region is a natural choice for camping: the lakefront scenery and water activities draw visitors from across the country every year. The many public parks in the area make camping easy, safe and affordable for everyone. Whether you’re interested in fishing, hiking, boating, horseback riding, canoeing or just relaxing and enjoying the view, there’s a campsite with your name on it. Beyond the shores of Buggs Island Lake there are many opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast, including golfing, hiking, hunting, visitor/educational centers and picnicking. Not much for the outdoors? Than explore the abundance of history our town & area has to tell, visit the area museums, plantations & walking tour. Or stop & shop the many one-of-a-kind stores in our great town. Clarksville is at the heart of it all. Camping Ready for a road trip? Need to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life or just need to find your next getaway? Let your sense and Love of Wander drive you to discover Clarksville on the Lake. Virginia’s Lake Region is blessed with a great climate for golf: temperate weather with an average temperature of 65° allows for golfing 9-10 months out of the year. The region is also blessed with great terrain: the same geological processes that created the rivers in the area smoothed out the land, but didn’t completely flatten it. The result is one golf-friendly region, with some of the state’s finest courses. Kerr Lake is an incredibly popular fishing spot: anglers spend an estimated 900,000 hours fishing at Kerr Lake each year (for reference, 900,000 hours is more than 103 years!). The 48,900-acre lake is known for the number and size of its fish: striped and largemouth bass, blue, channel and flathead catfish, crappie and perch are plentiful. Buggs Island Lake is also one of Virginia’s best places to catch crappie. center_img Cover photo by Justin Eubank The lake offers some of the best fishing on the East Coast and is a haven for outdoor recreation including boating, sailing, skiing, and swimming. Wildlife is plentiful along the 800 miles of wooded shoreline, where you might see a Bald Eagle, heron, or other migratory waterfowl. Golfing Virginia’s Lake Region is a paradise for outdoor and sports enthusiasts. With more than 800 miles of beautiful shoreline, Lake Kerr is home to two Virginia State Parks and more than a dozen parks. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, horseback riding, canoeing, or motorsports, there’s lots of options for you, within a short driving distance or right here in the heart of Clarksville! Fishinglast_img read more

USNS Comfort Medical Teams Providing Treatments in Colombia

first_imgBy Dialogo June 11, 2009 TUMACO, Colombia – United States military and interagency personnel, non-governmental agency volunteers and partner nation representatives currently assigned to Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) are offering a variety of free medical, dental, veterinary, engineering and educational services here as part of Continuing Promise 2009 (CP09). CP09 is a four-month humanitarian and civic assistance mission through Latin America and the Caribbean. Comfort is scheduled to be in Tumaco until June 17 when it will travel to El Salvador and then Nicaragua. Comfort’s crew offers community members services such as teeth cleanings and extractions, eye exams and glasses and adult and pediatric medical exams. Surgical screenings have also been performed and more than 200 surgical procedures have been scheduled. Surgeries began today. Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Leslye Ruiz, a preventive medicine technician aboard Comfort, has been conducting health assessment questionnaires. “We’re trying to assess the needs of the people here in Tumaco so that we know exactly what they need on the next Continuing Promise mission,” she said. Most medical services are being performed at the temporary medical site at the Max Seidel school. However, the ship is equipped with five operating rooms, 250 patient beds, x-ray machines, a CAT scan unit and pharmacy among other services for those patients being treated on board. “I work in the intensive care on the ship performing post-surgical care for patients,” said Leading Seaman Robert Morgan, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces currently assigned aboard Comfort. “When I’m not working on the ship, I’m at the medical sites working with the public. My time in Tumaco has been very good. This has been a very different experience for me – I’ve never been out in this part of the world before. This has been a real eye-opening and rewarding experience for me,” she said.last_img read more

Operation Jaque Rescued Hostages Relive Their Return to Freedom a Year Later

first_imgBy Dialogo July 02, 2009 San José del Guaviare (Colombia), June 30 (EFE).- The eleven police and military personnel rescued from the hands of the FARC by the Colombian army in what is known as Jaque Operation returned today to the place from which they were flown to freedom a year ago. Today the seven members of the military and the four police officers who were rescued together with Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. contractors on 2 July 2008 went back in time on their route a year ago: a helicopter took them from the southern town of San José del Guaviare to the jungle that was once their prison. They landed in the jungle region known as Lisonda, the location of the successful conclusion of Jaque Operation, an undercover military operation that made it possible to deceive the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which had held them prisoner for years. The guerillas “had us in a cellar,” EFE was told by Sgt. Amaón Flórez, who like the rest of his fellow captives and their rebel captors thought that the two helicopters he saw on 2 July, 2008 belonged to a humanitarian mission. “First they told us that it was about medical attention; we thought that it was (to go) to a neighboring country,” Sgt. Erasmo Romero explained. “We had been hungry for days, without medicine, chained up all the time,” Romero added. “None of us thought that this would be the day on which we were going to recover our freedom,” Maj. Juan Carlos Bermeo told EFE, for whom the rescue operation “was a big surprise, something unexpected that makes you want to live again.” Sgt. José Ricardo Marulanda never dreamed of an operation of such magnitude. As a member of the military, he was thinking about a rescue “by land,” something by “guns and bloodshed.” A year ago, “we were locked in a cage and tied up,” Marulanda recalled today. They all got on the helicopter that took them to freedom unwillingly and with their hands tied, according to Flórez, who recalled in detail that “seven seconds” into the flight two of the members of the undercover military mission subdued their jailers “César” and “Gafas.” “That is unforgettable,” Flórez said today as he expressed his gratitude toward those who got them out of that jungle that was “consuming” them “little by little.” “I leave here relieved,” he added, because after today “what was bad will stay here,” in the jungle, and “the good impetus for moving forward” after years of being kidnapped will remain alive. Before their return to the jungle accompanied by several high-ranking military commanders, the eleven former hostages of the FARC visited the hangars where the army keeps one of the two helicopters used in Jaque Operation, in the town of Tolemaida. In those hangars the helicopters were painted white, and every detail was gone over to make sure they showed no sign of military origin, Maj. Carlos Arbeláez explained to the group of reporters who traveled to the settings of Jaque Operation along with the hostages today. It was in the same location that intelligence planning for the rescue operation took place and where it was determined how to neutralize the guerrillas in the helicopter, Arbeláez indicated. The first anniversary of the rescue, considered a masterpiece of military intelligence, takes place on Thursday, and according to military sources, the eleven former hostages will attend an official ceremony in Bogotá, at which neither Betancourt, nor Americans Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes are expected to participate. “It would be good to all be reunited,” Sergeant Flórez limited himself to commenting on the subject. While the three Americans have published a book about their experiences during more than five years of captivity, the former presidential candidate is preparing a publication expected to come out shortly.last_img read more

Haiti’s Preval pledges elections for 2010

first_imgBy Dialogo April 15, 2010 Haitian President Rene Preval pledged in an interview with AFP to hold elections this year despite the massive difficulties of organizing a successful poll in his quake-devastated country. Legislative polls, originally set for February and March, were postponed after the January 12 earthquake that demolished the capital Port-au-Prince, killing more than 220,000 people and leaving 1.3 million Haitians homeless. Preval, who also served as president from 1996 to 2001, is constitutionally barred from seeking a third mandate. His current term expires in February 2011 and presidential elections are expected in December, though no firm date has been announced. Preval told AFP on Monday that he asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “to send a technical team to evaluate the possibility to have elections with international standards in order for them to be credible.” Elections were important in order to “not leave a political vacuum” at the end of his mandate, he said. In the interview Preval urged Haitians to be patient during the reconstruction process. “This is the best way to help us help them,” he said.last_img read more

Security Gains Should Hinder Insurgent Ability To Regroup In Spring

first_img Insurgents will face a more difficult spring than in previous years as Afghan and coalition forces consolidate and expand on last year’s gains. Much progress has been made by Afghan and coalition forces in securing Afghanistan over the last several months, including dramatic changes in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, said Rear Adm. Greg Smith, communications director for the International Security Assistance Force. “Sixty to 80 percent of the improvised explosive devices they place are found before they explode,” said Smith. “Between 100 to 130 weapons caches are found every week in southern Afghanistan.” Security gains in the south are leading Afghan civilians to return to areas once controlled by the Taliban, said Smith. On 23 January, residents of Arghandab district, Kandahar province, returned to their homes after Afghan and coalition forces cleared the Taliban out of the area. “Helping the residents back into the village is a huge victory,” Capt. Walter Tompkins, commander, Company B, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, was quoted as saying in a 29 January news release from the ISAF Joint Command. Tompkins was among those assisting Afghans in their return to Arghandab. “Not only does it show huge gains in perception of security, but also presents a great opportunity to truly partner with the residents of the village,” Tompkins said. The partnership between ISAF and Afghan forces is one of many concerns the insurgents have as they continue to fight through the winter and into spring, according to Smith. Various intelligence sources and detained fighters indicate that the insurgency is feeling the pressure of the renewed southern offensive. Their finances are dwindling and munitions are becoming hard to acquire. Insurgent groups are also worried about the growth of Afghan forces and the development of Afghan local police. They have also lost access to areas they once occupied and are concerned they will not regain those areas in the spring, said Smith. “The fighting season in 2011 will not be like any previous fighting season for the insurgent group,” said Smith. “The insurgents will be facing 100,000 more Afghan and coalition security forces than they did the year before.” Afghan police will man more than 30 southern districts this spring, whereas there were no police in the same districts last spring. Some areas that were once insurgent strongholds are no longer welcoming the Taliban. These successes, while promising, do not suggest the war is won or victory is near, cautioned Smith. Afghan and coalition forces still need to secure some substantial parts of the country’s south. “Northern Helmand province continues to be the most dangerous area in Afghanistan,” said Smith. By Dialogo February 03, 2011last_img read more