Partner Nations Step Up Drug Seizures

first_imgBy Yolima Dussán/Diálogo May 15, 2020 Colombian, Costa Rican, and Panamanian authorities, with intelligence support from the U.S. military, fight against narcotrafficking in combined operations.Costa Rica on alertAccording to Michael Soto, Costa Rican minister of Public Security, on April 15, the Costa Rican Air Vigilance Service and the U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron intercepted a vessel in international waters in the Pacific Ocean, carrying 771 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated value of $29 million.Units of the Vulcano Task Force, with support from the 1st Counternarcotics Brigade and the Colombian Army Aviation, found a cocaine hydrochloride processing lab consisting of six facilities and a warehouse in Tibú, Norte de Santander department. (Photo: Colombian Army)Moreover, said Soto, in cooperation with the United States, Costa Rica seized 35.45 metric tons of cocaine and marijuana combined in 2018 and 45.7 metric tons of cocaine and marijuana in 2019, making his country one of the most efficient at illicit drug interdiction in the region.Panama counters narcotrafficking In Panama, National Police General Director Jorge Miranda provided the results of operations in March: 80 small-scale counternarcotics operations, 306 raids, and 16,000 ecstasy pills seized.In addition, on April 13, the Panamanian Air and Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish) conducted an operation, with support from the U.S. Coast Guard, and seized one metric ton of cocaine on a speedboat near Tiger Island, in the Guna Yala indigenous community, northeast of Panama City, off Panama’s Caribbean coast.According to Panama’s National Police Anti-Drug Directorate, from January 2019 to April 19, 2020, Panamanian authorities seized 86 metric tons of cocaine and 22 metric tons of marijuana, and detained 56 people linked to narcotrafficking, 10 percent of whom were foreigners.Colombia hits hardOn April 15, the Colombian Army’s Vulcano Task Force, the 1st Counternarcotics Brigade, and the Colombian Army Aviation found 1 metric ton of cocaine in a cocaine hydrochloride-processing lab consisting of six buildings and a warehouse in the municipality of Tibú, Norte de Santander department.“This affects the financial framework of the 33rd Organized Armed Group [GAO, in Spanish], remnants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia,” Colombian Army Brigadier General Olveiro Pérez Mahecha, commander of the Vulcano Task Force, told Diálogo.On April 12, in other operations conducted in the Tibú and Teorama municipalities, the Army reported that one of its Second Division’s brigades found three buildings used by the National Liberation Army GAO, a United States-designated terrorist organization, to process coca base paste and hide stolen oil. In March, service members dismantled 14 illegal labs in Guaviare department. Authorities have destroyed 66 labs in the country in 2020, says the Army in a report.The Army has also strengthened operations against illegal mining. On April 14, the Army’s Seventh Division dismantled an illicit mining site belonging to the Clan del Golfo GAO, located in Dabeiba municipality, Antioquia department. At the site, service members destroyed two dredges, five engines, and an excavator, the Military Forces reported.last_img read more

The FBI Built a Database That Can Catch Rapists—Almost Nobody Uses It

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York This story was co-published with The Atlantic.QUANTICO, Va. — More than 30 years ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a revolutionary computer system in a bomb shelter two floors beneath the cafeteria of its national academy. Dubbed the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or ViCAP, it was a database designed to help catch the nation’s most violent offenders by linking together unsolved crimes. A serial rapist wielding a favorite knife in one attack might be identified when he used the same knife elsewhere. The system was rooted in the belief that some criminals’ methods were unique enough to serve as a kind of behavioral DNA — allowing identification based on how a person acted, rather than their genetic make-up.Equally as important was the idea that local law enforcement agencies needed a way to better communicate with each other. Savvy killers had attacked in different jurisdictions to exploit gaping holes in police cooperation. ViCAP’s “implementation could mean the prevention of countless murders and the prompt apprehension of violent criminals,” the late Sen. Arlen Specter wrote in a letter to the Justice Department endorsing the program’s creation.In the years since ViCAP was first conceived, data-mining has grown vastly more sophisticated, and computing power has become cheaper and more readily available. Corporations can link the food you purchase, the clothes you buy, and the websites you browse. The FBI can parse your emails, cellphone records and airline itineraries. In a world where everything is measured, data is ubiquitous —from the number of pieces of candy that a Marine hands out on patrol in Kandahar, to your heart rate as you walk up the stairs at work.That’s what’s striking about ViCAP today: the paucity of information it contains. Only about 1,400 police agencies in the U.S., out of roughly 18,000, participate in the system. The database receives reports from far less than 1 percent of the violent crimes committed annually. It’s not even clear how many crimes the database has helped solve. The FBI does not release any figures. A review in the 1990s found it had linked only 33 crimes in 12 years.Canadian authorities built on the original ViCAP framework to develop a modern and sophisticated system capable of identifying patterns and linking crimes. It has proven particularly successful at analyzing sexual-assault cases. But three decades and an estimated $30 million later, the FBI’s system remains stuck in the past, the John Henry of data mining. ViCAP was supposed to revolutionize American law enforcement. That revolution never came.Few law enforcement officials dispute the potential of a system like ViCAP to help solve crimes. But the FBI has never delivered on its promise. In an agency with an $8.2 billion yearly budget, ViCAP receives around $800,000 a year to keep the system going. The ViCAP program has a staff of 12. Travel and training have been cut back in recent years. Last year, the program provided analytical assistance to local cops just 220 times. As a result, the program has done little to close the gap that prompted Congress to create it. Police agencies still don’t talk to each other on many occasions. Killers and rapists continue to escape arrest by exploiting that weakness. “The need is vital,” said Ritchie Martinez, the former president of the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts. “But ViCAP is not filling it.”Local cops say the system is confusing and cumbersome. Entering a single case into the database can take an hour and hits — where an unsolved crime is connected to a prior incident — are rare. False positives are common. Many also said the FBI does little to teach cops how to use the system. Training has dropped from a high of about 5,500 officers in 2012 to 1,200 last year.“We don’t really use ViCAP,” said Jeff Jensen, a criminal analyst for the Phoenix Police Department with 15 years of experience. “It really is quite a chore.”The FBI has contributed to the confusion by misrepresenting the system. On its website, the FBI says cases in its database are “continually compared” for matches as new cases are entered. But in an interview, program officials said that does not happen. “We have plans for that in the future,” said Nathan Graham, a crime analyst for the program. The agency said it would update the information on its website.The agency’s indifference to the database is particularly noteworthy at a time when emerging research suggests that such a tool could be especially useful in rape investigations.For years, politicians and women’s advocates have focused on testing the DNA evidence in rape kits, which are administered to sexual assault victims after an attack. Such evidence can be compared against a nationwide database of DNA samples to find possible suspects. Backlogs at police departments across the country have left tens of thousands of kits untested.But DNA is collected in only about half of rape cases, according to recent studies. A nationwide clearinghouse of the unique behaviors, methods, or marks of rapists could help solve those cases lacking genetic evidence, criminal experts said. Other research has shown that rapists are far more likely than killers to be serial offenders. Different studies have found that between one-fourth to two-thirds of rapists have committed multiple sexual assaults. Only about 1 percent of murderers are considered serial killers.Studies have questioned the assumptions behind behavioral analysis tools like ViCAP. Violent criminals don’t always commit attacks the same way and different analysts can have remarkably different interpretations on whether crimes are linked. And a system that looks for criminal suspects on the basis of how a person acts is bound to raise alarms about Orwellian overreach. But many cops say any help is welcome in the difficult task of solving crimes like rape. A recent investigation by ProPublica and The New Orleans Advocate found that police in four states repeatedly missed chances to arrest the former NFL football star and convicted serial rapist Darren Sharper after failing to contact each other. “We’re always looking for tools,” said Joanne Archambault, the director of End Violence Against Women International, one of the leading police training organizations for the investigation of sexual assaults. “I just don’t think ViCAP was ever promoted enough as being one of them.”The U.S. need only look north for an example of how such a system can play an important role in solving crimes. Not long after ViCAP was developed in the United States, Canadian law enforcement officials used it as a model to build their own tool, known as the Violent Criminal Linkage Analysis System, or ViCLAS. Today, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police maintains a database containing more than 500,000 criminal case profiles. The agency credits it with linking together some 7,000 unsolved crimes since 1995 — though not all of those linkages resulted in an arrest. If the FBI collected information as consistently as the Mounties, its database would contain more than 4.4 million cases, based on the greater U.S. population.Instead, the FBI has about 89,000 cases on file.Over the years, Canada has poured funding and staff into its program, resulting in a powerful analytical tool, said Sgt. Tony Lawlor, a senior ViCLAS analyst. One critical difference: in the U.S., reporting to the system is largely voluntary. In Canada, legislators have made it mandatory. Cops on the street still grumble about the system, which resembles the American version in the time and effort to complete. But “it has information which assists police officers, which is catching bad guys,” Lawlor said. “When police realize there’s a value associated with it, they use it.”The ViCAP program eventually emerged from the fallout shelter where it began. It set up shop in an unmarked two-story brick office building in a Virginia business park surrounded by a printer’s shop, a dental practice and a Baptist church.In a lengthy interview there, program officials offered a PowerPoint presentation with case studies of three serial killers who were captured in the past eight years with the help of the ViCAP program. They called the system “successful.”“We do as good a job as we possibly can given our resources and limitations,” said Timothy Burke, a white-haired, 29-year agency veteran who is the program manager for ViCAP. “As with anything, we could always do better.”Pierce Brooks was the father of the system.A legendary cop, he had a square jaw, high forehead and dead serious eyes. During 20 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, he helped send 10 men to death row. He inspired the fictional Sgt. Joe Friday character in Dragnet. And he became famous for tracking down a pair of cop killers, a hunt chronicled in Joseph Wambaugh’s 1973 non-fiction bestseller, “The Onion Field.” “Brooks’ imagination was admired, but his thoroughness was legend,” Wambaugh wrote.In the late 1950s, Brooks was investigating two murder cases. In each, a female model had been raped, slain and then trussed in rope in a manner that suggested skill with binding. Brooks intuited that the killer might commit other murders. For the next year, he leafed through out-of-town newspapers at a local library. When he read a story about a man arrested while trying to use rope to kidnap a woman, Brooks put the cases together. The man, Harvey Glatman, was sentenced to death, and executed a year later.The experience convinced Brooks that serial killers often had “signatures” — distinct ways of acting that could help identify them much like a fingerprint. An early adopter of data-driven policing, Brooks realized that a computer database could be populated with details of unsolved murder cases from across the country, then searched for behavioral matches.After Brooks spent years lobbying for such a system, Congress took interest. In July 1983, Brooks told a rapt Senate Judiciary Committee audience about serial killer Ted Bundy, who confessed to killing 30 women in seven states. The ViCAP system could have prevented many of those deaths, he said. “ViCAP, when implemented, would preclude the age-old, but still continuing problem of critically important information being missed, overlooked, or delayed when several police agencies, hundreds or even thousands of miles apart, are involved,” Brooks said in a written statement.By the end of the hearing, Brooks had a letter from the committee requesting $1 million for the program. Although the program was endorsed by then-FBI director William Webster, agency managers weren’t particularly thrilled with the new idea.The FBI grafted ViCAP into a new operation — the Behavioral Analysis Unit. The profilers, as they were known, were later made famous by Thomas Harris’ “The Silence of the Lambs” as brainy crime fighters who combined street smarts and psychology to nab the worst criminals. But at the time, the unproven unit was seen as a kind of skunk works. The FBI housed it in the former fallout shelter — “ten times deeper than dead people” as one agent later recalled. It was a warren of rooms, dark and dank. Others referred to the oddball collection of psychologists, cops and administrators as “rejects of the FBI” or the “leper colony,” according to “Into the Minds of Madmen,” a nonfiction account of the unit. Still, the new program captured the imagination of some. Murder mystery author Michael Newton penned a series of novels which, while not quite bestsellers, featured the heroic exploits of two ViCAP agents “accustomed to the grisly face of death and grueling hours on a job that has no end.”Brooks was the first manager for the ViCAP program. The agency purchased what was then the “Cadillac” of computers — a VAX 11/785 nicknamed the “Superstar.” It filled up much of the room in the basement headquarters and had 512KB of memory. (An average household computer today has about 4,000 times more memory.) Brooks was “ecstatic” when the system finally came online on May 29, 1985, according to the account. His enthusiasm was not to last.To get information into the database, local cops and deputies had to fill out by hand a form with 189 questions. The booklet was then sent to Quantico, where analysts hand-coded the information into the computer. It was a laborious process that flummoxed even Brooks. He had a hard time filling out the booklet, according to one account — as did officers in the field. Only a few hundred cases a year were being entered.Enter Patricia Cornwell, the bestselling crime author, famous for her novels featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta, medical examiner. In the early 1990s, she visited the subterranean unit during a tour of the academy. She recalled being distinctly unimpressed. An analyst told her that ViCAP didn’t contain much information. The police weren’t sending in many cases.“I remember walking into a room at the FBI and there was one PC on a desk,” said Cornwell, who had once worked as a computer analyst. “That was ViCAP.” A senior FBI official had told Cornwell that the academy, of which ViCAP was a small part, was in a financial crunch. She contacted Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a friend, and told him of the academy’s troubles. In 1993, Hatch shepherded a measure through Congress to put more money into the academy — and ViCAP.As the money made its way to the bomb shelter, the FBI conducted a “business review.” It found that local cops were sending the agency only 3 to 7 percent of homicides nationwide. The miniscule staff — about 10 people — could not even handle that load, and was not entering the cases on a timely basis. Cops on the street saw the system as a “black hole,” according to “Cold Case Homicide,” a criminal investigation handbook.The FBI decided to kill the program. They picked Art Meister to be the hit man.Meister spent much of his career at the FBI busting organized crime, beginning at the New Jersey field office. He rose through the ranks to supervise a national squad of more than 30 agents, investigating mob activities at home and overseas. He had no real experience with behavioral analysis or databases. But he did have an analytical approach that his superiors admired. They gave him instructions: “If it doesn’t work, do away with it. Kill it,” recalled Meister, now a security consultant with the Halle Barry Group.Meister heard plenty of complaints. At one conference of police officers from across the country, a cop pulled Meister aside to talk about the program. “I’ve used it and all it gives me is bullshit leads,” the officer told him. “The general perception was by and large that the program didn’t work,” Meister said.But instead of killing ViCAP, Meister became the system’s unlikely champion. Even with its small staff, the program was connecting far-flung law-enforcement agencies. The 189 questions had been slimmed to 95 — making it easier to fill out the form. Meister used the new funding from Hatch’s bill to reach out to 10 large jurisdictions to persuade them to install terminals that could connect with the database. By 1997, the system was receiving 1,500 or so cases per year — a record, though still a fraction of the violent crimes committed.Meister saw the potential for the database to help solve sexual-assault crimes. He pushed the development of new questions specifically for sexual-assault cases. They weren’t added to the system until after his departure in 2001. “I felt it would really pay off dividends,” Meister said. “There are a lot more serial rapists than serial killers.”But he found it difficult to make headway. Top officials showed no real interest in the program. After all, it was designed to help local law enforcement, not the agency. Meister called ViCAP “the furthest planet from the sun” — the last in line to get funds from the FBI. His efforts to improve it “were met with skepticism and bureaucratic politics. That’s what drove me nuts,” he said.By the time he left, the program was muddling along. “ViCAP never got the support that it needs and deserves.” Meister said. “It’s unfortunate.”On July 13, 2007, at 4 in the morning, a 15-year-old girl was sleeping in her bedroom in Chelmsford, a former factory town in northeastern Massachusetts bisected by Interstate 495.She was startled awake when a man dressed in black with a ninja mask pressed his hand against her face. He placed a knife to her throat and told her “If you make any noise, I’ll fucking kill you.”The girl screamed, rousing her mother and father. The parents rushed in, fighting with the man until they subdued him. Adam Leroy Lane, a truck driver from North Carolina, was arrested. In his truck, Massachusetts police found knives, cord and a DVD of “Hunting Humans,” a 2002 horror film.Analysts for ViCAP, which has a special initiative to track killings along the nation’s highways, determined that the Massachusetts attack was similar to an earlier murder that had been committed in New Jersey. Acting on the tip, New Jersey state police detectives interviewed Lane in his jail cell. Lane confessed to killing Monica Massaro, a 38-year-old woman, in her home in the town of Bloomsbury — just a few blocks off Interstate 78. Lane, dubbed the Highway Killer, was connected via DNA samples to a killing and a violent attack in Pennsylvania; both women lived near interstates. Lane is now serving a life sentence in Pennsylvania.New Jersey State Police Detective Geoff Noble said his case had been stalled. But once ViCAP connected Noble to Massachusetts police officers, they provided him a receipt that placed Lane at the truck stop in the small town where Massaro was killed. And when Noble confronted Lane, the killer started talking. Under a state attorney general’s directive, all New Jersey law enforcement agencies are supposed to report serial crimes to ViCAP. “The information provided by ViCAP was absolutely critical,” Noble said. “Without ViCAP, that case may have not ever been solved.”FBI officials said the case, one of three success stories provided to ProPublica, showed the critical role of the database. (The other two: The case of Israel Keyes, a murderer who committed suicide after his arrest in Alaska in 2012 and has been linked to 11 killings; and that of Bruce Mendenhall, a trucker now serving a life sentence in Tennessee who was linked to the murder of four women in 2007.) “Given what we have, it’s a very successful program,” Burke said.But in a dozen interviews with current and former police investigators and analysts across the country, most said they had not heard of ViCAP, or had seen little benefit from using it. Among sex-crimes detectives, none reported having been rewarded with a result from the system. “I’m not sending stuff off to ViCAP because I don’t even know what that is,” said Sgt. Peter Mahuna of the Portland, Oregon, Police Department. “I have never used ViCAP,” said Sgt. Elizabeth Donegan of Austin, Texas. “We’re not trained on it. I don’t know what it entails of whether it would be useful for us.”Even Joanne Archambault, the director of the police training organization who sees the potential of ViCAP, didn’t use it when she ran the sex-crimes unit at the San Diego Police Department: “In all the years I worked these crimes, we never submitted information to ViCAP,” she said. “As a sex-crime supervisor, we invested time in effort that had a payout.”Local authorities’ skepticism is reflected in the FBI’s statistics. In 2013, police submitted 240 cases involving sexual assault to the system. The FBI recorded 79,770 forcible rapes that year. Local agencies entered information on 232 homicides. The FBI recorded 14,196 murders.“It’s disappointing and embarrassing,” said Greg Cooper, a retired FBI agent who directed the ViCAP unit before becoming the police chief in Provo, Utah. “The FBI has not adequately marketed the program and its services. And local law enforcement has not been committed to participating.”Not all rapes or murders involved serial offenders, of course. But with ViCAP receiving information on only about 0.5 percent of such violent crimes, it struggles to identify those that do.“Cops don’t want to do more paperwork,” said Jim Markey, a former Phoenix police detective and now a security consultant. “Anytime you ask for voluntary compliance, it won’t be a priority. It’s not going to happen.”But at some agencies where ViCAP has been incorporated into policing, commanders have become staunch defenders of its utility. Major J.R. Burton, the commander of special investigations for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, Florida, said detectives at his agency are mandated to enter information on violent crimes into the database. “I love ViCAP,” said Burton, who served on a board of local law enforcement officials that advises the FBI on the system. “There’s many cases where you don’t have DNA. How do you link them together?”Burton said he understood the frustration that other police experience when they get no results back from the system. When pressed, Burton could not cite any investigations in his jurisdiction that had benefitted from the database. But he said the time and effort to use the system was worth it. “It allows you to communicate across the nation, whether serial homicide or serial rapist,” Burton said. “That’s awesome in my book.”FBI officials said they had taken steps to address complaints. In July 2008, the program made the database accessible via the Web. Police can now enter their own searches, without having to rely on an FBI analyst, through any computer with an Internet connection. The program has also whittled down the number of questions. Graham says he tells police that it should take only about 30 minutes to enter the details of a case. “I tell them if they can fill out their taxes, they can fill out the ViCAP form,” Graham said.In November 1980, children began vanishing across Canada.Christine Weller, 12, was found dead by a river in British Columbia. A year later, Daryn Johnsrude, 16, was found bludgeoned to death. In July 1981, six children were killed in a month, ages six to 18. They were found strangled and beaten to death.The killer: Clifford Olson, a career criminal, who eluded capture in part because the different jurisdictions where he committed his crimes had never communicated.The murders prompted Canadian police officials to create a system to track and identify serial killers. After an initial effort failed, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sent investigators to study the ViCAP program. They returned troubled by some aspects. The FBI system was not being used by many police agencies. Nor did it track sexual assaults. The Mounties decided to improve on the U.S. system by developing their own behavioral crime analysis tool — ViCLAS.The ViCLAS system has three advantages over its American cousin: people, money and a legal mandate. More than a hundred officers and analysts work for the system, spread across the country. It’s funded at a reported cost of $14 million to $15 million per year. The most important development was that over the years, local legislative bodies passed laws making entry mandatory. All Canadian law enforcement agencies now file reports to the system.The agency also greatly expanded the list of crimes that can be entered. Any crime that is “behaviorally rich” — usually an incident involving a criminal and a victim — can be entered into the database. It also created stringent quality control. A Canadian analyst who uncovers a link between crimes must submit the findings to a panel for review. Only then can the case be released to local agencies — reducing the chances for bad leads.Today, Canada’s system has been repeatedly endorsed by senior police officials as an important tool in tracking down killers and rapists. The agency routinely publishes newsletters filled with stories about crimes that the system helped to solve. One study called ViCLAS the “gold standard” of such systems worldwide. The Mounties now license ViCLAS for an annual fee to police forces in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.The volume of information submitted has made the all the difference, Lawlor said. The system works when enough agencies enter cases to generate results. But agencies are reluctant to enter cases until they see results. “It’s a catch-22 situation,” Lawlor said. “If nothing goes in, then nothing can go out.”When Burke, ViCAP’s program manager, speaks at national law enforcement conferences, he asks how many people in the audience have heard of his program. Typically only about one-half to two-thirds of the hands go up. A smaller percentage say they actually use it.“We don’t have a club to force them to sign up with us,” Burke said.The program’s main goal now is to ensure that the 100 largest police agencies in the country are enrolled. About 80 are. The agency continues to slowly develop its software. Training occurs monthly to encourage more participation.The FBI doesn’t see the need for major changes to ViCAP, Burke explained. “It’s still supportive,” Burke said. “It’s still viable.”Ryan Gabrielson contributed to this report.ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.last_img read more

Take your partners…

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Southwark’s planning a party…

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Two Indonesian finalists shortlisted for Young Champions of the Earth prize

first_imgJakarta-based sociopreneur Ranitya Nurlita, 28, created Wastehub, a technology-based integrated waste management system that connects local waste collectors and users wanting to buy or sell recyclable items.“We have worked with 1,222 scavengers in Jurang Mangu subdistrict in [South] Tangerang [Banten] and increased scavengers’ income at least by 100 percent,” Ranitya said in her pitching video, which is available on the Young Champions of the Earth’s website, Read also: Skyscraper of waste: Greater Jakarta drowningin mountains of trashEstablished in 2019, Wastehub has managed 2,437 kilograms of waste, as well as educated more than 23,000 visitors, including volunteers and scavengers, about waste management practices. Indonesian entrepreneurs Vania Santoso and Ranitya Nurlita have been shortlisted, along with 33 global finalists, for the 2020 Young Champions of the Earth award, the United Nation’s highest environmental honor for young people between 18 and 30 years of age.The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced 10 Asia-Pacific regional finalists on Monday, comprising the two finalists from Indonesia, as well as Jayeshkumar Mevada, Purav Desai, Vidyut Mohan and Nidhi Pant from India, Ann Adeline Dumelian from the Philippines, Zahin Rohan Razeen from Bangladesh, and Jiannan Zhu and Xiaoyuan Ren from China.The finalists were selected from more than 845 applicants for their fresh approach in tackling the world’s most critical environmental crises with innovative ideas. Meanwhile, 28-year-old Vania Santoso, through her start-up HeySTARTIC, attempts to accelerate corporate extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs by collecting used and rejected packaging in partnership with corporations, empowering underprivileged communities to turn the waste into high-selling products and sell the products back to the corporates as their merchandise.“This is our chance to redefine corporate ways, right here, right now,” said Vania, who hails from Surabaya, East Java. To date, HeySTARTIC has sold more than 5,000 products and art installations made of waste packaging, including turning cement sacks into artificial leather, sachet packaging into woven textile, milk cartons into lining material and plastic bags into crochet products.UNEP executive director Inger Andersen said that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cutting-edge solutions presented this year were remarkable.Read also: Plastic recycling company looks to expand as circular economy blooms“It is clear that this pandemic did not shut down the fight for a better world. Instead, it has reminded us of what’s at stake in our battle for the planet and highlights how building back better will help address the climate crisis,” Andersen said in a statement.UNEP, she added, was committed to providing young changemakers a platform and the opportunity to make their journey a success while inspiring millions more around the world.A global jury will select seven winners from each global region: Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and West Asia, and two from Asia and the Pacific.The winners will be announced in September and each will receive US$10,000 in seed funding and tailored support for their ideas, including attendance at a high-level UN meeting and other access to influential networks and mentors.Topics :last_img read more

BLOG: Governor Wolf’s Budget Supports Pennsylvania’s Workforce

first_img By: Dennis Davin, Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, and Kathy Manderino, Secretary of the Department of Labor & Industry You can find updates and behind-the-scenes content on the 2016-2017 budget announcement on our Facebook and Twitter.Read more posts about Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Budget News,  Jobs That Pay,  The Blog,  Workforce Development With a labor force of more than 6.4 million, Pennsylvania requires a budget that supports and strengthens our statewide workforce. We must continue to develop meaningful training programs and opportunities so businesses are assured qualified candidates to fill vacancies and have the ability to retrain their current employees when needed.There are two paths we can take in considering Pennsylvania’s economic future. We can work with the private sector to make targeted investments in job creation or we can continue down a path of financial devastation caused by budget gimmickry that will result in a $2.3 billion deficit that will stifle economic growth in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf has worked with businesses across Pennsylvania to help them grow and thrive, but inaction by the legislature has left us with a ballooning deficit. If we build on a bipartisan budget agreement and work to eliminate the deficit, we can take on the status quo and work with businesses to drive economic growth in Pennsylvania. If we fail to honestly address our deficit, we will see skyrocketing property taxes and an economic environment diminished by a lack of investment.Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget ensures that Pennsylvania businesses have the appropriate training resources. One way is by providing an increase to the Pennsylvania First program. Pennsylvania First supports WEDnetPA, which provides qualified employers with training dollars for new and existing employees through a unique partnership with community colleges, state system universities, and other institutions of higher education.The WEDnetPA program was created to ensure that companies across the commonwealth can remain competitive locally, nationally, and internationally by updating and improving the skills of their employees to meet specific business needs.Also, as a result of rapidly advancing technology, manufacturing jobs have changed dramatically in recent years. Manufacturers today expect employees to increase productivity and the demand for well-trained, knowledgeable workers continues to rise. To respond to all of the changes in the demand for skilled manufacturing workers, the supply factors for such talent need to expand as well.Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget includes funding for the ‘IRC Manufacturing Initiative’ to leverage the research and innovation capacities of Pennsylvania’s major engineering research universities to support growth of manufacturing in the state and forge important relationships between major organizations dedicated to strengthening Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry.This unprecedented collaboration between Pennsylvania’s top research universities and the Industrial Resource Center Network will help ensure that small- and medium-size manufacturers in every corner of the commonwealth will have full access to the research and innovation resources of our leading universities. It is anticipated that the state investment will be leveraged by a 3:1 ratio for federal and private investment and significantly increases Pennsylvania’s opportunities for job creation and business development through transformative developments in manufacturing.The governor’s budget also dedicates $10 million for Industry Partnerships (IPs), an established L&I workforce program that enables clusters of businesses in complementary industries to work together and identify common needs for local workforce skill sets and to develop training programs to meet those needs. IPs provide an avenue for industries and the state to team up and provide specialized training and a path for thousands of Pennsylvanians to great-paying, family-sustaining jobs.Finally, the governor’s 2016-17 proposed budget includes an additional $2 million for L&I’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), which provides vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment. This funding allows the state to maximize federal funding and greatly expand OVR’s employment and independent living services to benefit an even greater number of Pennsylvanians with disabilities.Together, our training programs and higher education institutions ensure manufacturers can find and employ talented, skilled Pennsylvanians who can offer complex problem solving and innovative thinking. Let’s respond to the needs of our employers and make a difference in our economy by supporting Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget. BLOG: Governor Wolf’s Budget Supports Pennsylvania’s Workforcecenter_img February 18, 2016 SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

Operator accuses Denmark of trying to delay Nord Stream 2 pipeline project

first_img‘Project delays to increase gas price levels’ Nord Stream 2 AG, a subsidiary of Russia’s Gazprom and operator of the Nord Stream 2 offshore gas pipeline, has submitted a third application for a route through Danish waters while accusing Denmark of making deliberate attempts to delay the project by asking for the third route option.The Pioneering Spirit vessel installing Nord Stream 2 in Swedish waters. Source: Nord Stream 2 AGThis third application for the pipeline route through Danish waters was submitted on Monday, April 15 more than two years after submitting the first application.The pipeline operator said on Monday that the third application, together with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), covers a route in the Danish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the waters south of Bornholm. This application and the EIA has been submitted in accordance with the decision made by the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) on March 26, 2019.According to the operator, the EEZ border between Poland and Denmark was previously disputed and therefore the area was not available for any project developer. An agreement has been reached between the two countries, which, however, has not yet been ratified by Poland, the pipeline operator explained.Nord Stream 2 already has two pending applications with the DEA.Namely, in January 2018, the amended Danish Continental Shelf Act entered into force with retroactive effect only for the Nord Stream 2 project. The law gives the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs the right to veto infrastructure projects running through territorial waters on political grounds. Such a judgement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now been pending for 16 months. Nord Stream 2 AG has not received any response at all.In August 2018, after 8 months without any indication of the timing of the Minister of Foreign Affairs recommendation, Nord Stream 2 was therefore forced to apply for a second, alternative route outside Danish territorial waters, north-west of Bornholm through the Danish EEZ.Nord Stream 2 AG claims that both permitting processes, which included consultations with the public and expert authorities, nationally and internationally (the so-called Espoo procedure), have shown that all technical and environmental prerequisites are fulfilled and a construction permit could be granted for either route. ‘Denmark’s actions hinder freedom’ In the statement on Monday, Nord Stream 2 AG said: “For a project developer like Nord Stream 2 AG, it is incomprehensible why there has still been no decision on the route through territorial waters after 16 months since entry into force of the amended Danish Continental Shelf Act, and why there has been no decision on the route north-west of Bornholm even though there have been and are no relevant environmental or safety objections against this route. Asking for a third route option to be developed, despite two fully processed, ready-to-be-permitted applications on the table, can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to delay the project’s completion.“Irrespective of its own starkly different legal assessment, Nord Stream 2 AG is now forced to submit this third application as a mitigation measure. Any project developer and investor on the whole depend on a predictable, stable and transparent regulatory framework and such actions from Denmark not only undermine fundamental Danish constitutional and European law principles of legitimate expectations and legal certainty but also hinder freedom of laying the submarine pipes in exclusive economic zones as set out in UNCLOS 1982 and as such is not compliant with the good faith principle required by UNCLOS 1982.”Gazprom as the shareholder as well as five major European energy companies as financial investors from Austria, France, Germany and the Netherlands back the project. Committed investments currently equal almost all of the project’s CAPEX. Globally, more than 670 companies from 25 countries are involved in the project.Nord Stream 2 gas project map; Source: Nord Stream 2 AG Nord Stream 2 AG emphasized that studies had shown that in the case of a delay of the project, lack of access to competitive gas supplies would increase price levels throughout Europe. European families and industries will foot the bill of at least 20 million euros – for every day of delay, the operator said.In accordance with the permits in four countries, work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is ongoing in Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany. More than 1,000 kilometers, approximately the distance from Copenhagen to Paris, of the two lines have been laid.Nord Stream 2 was designed as two parallel 48 inch lines, roughly 1,200 kilometers long, each starting from south-west of St Petersburg and ending at German coast, Greifswald. Nord Stream 2’s natural gas pipelines will have the capacity to transport 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas a year to the EU, for at least 50 years.Denmark is not the only country where the giant pipeline project has faced obstacles. Namely, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project has been under fire from the European Parliament as well as a number of U.S. senators last December who called for its cancellation due to security reason.The project has been seen by some as a threat to the EU energy security, making the union vulnerable to reliance on Russian gas, and it also bypasses Ukraine in moving Russian gas to Europe.In addition to opposition from the EP, over 40 U.S. senators have also called for the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.In more recent news, the U.S. political journal Politico reported last Thursday that the U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, had criticized the European Commission for not putting more effort into killing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.Furthermore, Reuters reported on Thursday that the construction of the pipeline was bound to face more delays, forcing Moscow to come to an agreement with Ukraine on future gas transits.Offshore Energy Today StaffSpotted a typo? Have something more to add to the story? Maybe a nice photo? Contact our editorial team via email. Offshore Energy Today, established in 2010, is read by over 10,000 industry professionals daily. We had nearly 9 million page views in 2018, with 2.4 million new users. This makes us one of the world’s most attractive online platforms in the space of offshore oil and gas and allows our partners to get maximum exposure for their online campaigns. If you’re interested in showcasing your company, product or technology on Offshore Energy Today contact our marketing manager Mirza Duran for advertising options.last_img read more

Unemployment Up As Indiana Adds Jobs

first_imgThe Hoosier State gained 10,000 private sector jobs in June, with every major industry sector experiencing growth.Indiana’s private sector gains signified the largest June increase on record. Since July, 2009, the low point of employment in the state, Indiana’s private sector has expanded by 235,300 jobs.Manufacturing alone has accounted for 77,800 jobs, or one-third of the gains.Despite Indiana’s significant private sector gains, the unemployment rate in the Hoosier State inched up 0.2 percent to 5.9 percent, mainly due to 4,000 individuals returning to the labor force to look for work. Indiana’s labor force participation rate remains at 63.3 percent, exceeding the national rate for the third month in a row.“Indiana added more private sector jobs last month than any other June on record, which is quite significant,” said Scott B. Sanders, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. “The Hoosier labor force has also grown by more than 43,000 in 2014 alone. There is definitely more work to do, but it remains clear that Hoosiers are going back to work and good jobs are available.”Sanders also noted initial claims and continued claims for unemployment insurance benefits remain at levels not seen since 2000.last_img read more

Edelbrock rewards IMCA claim engine drivers in five divisions

first_imgTORRANCE, Calif. – A wealth of product and product certificate awards go to IMCA drivers in five divisions competing with claim engines this season, courtesy of Edelbrock. The Torrance, Calif., high performance parts manufacturer gives a 2975 Victor Jr. intake to the highest finish­ing eligible driver in each of the five regions for IMCA Xtreme Motor Sports Modifieds.Both IMCA Sunoco Stock Car regional champions get $100 product certificates. Highest finishing claim engine drivers in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock regions and in national Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod and Scog­gin-Dickey Parts Center Southern SportMod points receive 2701 intakes. Second through fifth place claim drivers in each Modified, Stock Car and Hobby Stock region, and in national Northern and Southern SportMod standings all receive $50 product certificates.Modified and Stock Car regional rookies of the year get $25 product certificates. New to the Edelbrock program is $100 product certificates for IMCA Late Model, IMCA Eagle Motorsports RaceSaver Sprint Car and Mach-1 Sport Compact national champions. Edelbrock is in its 16th season as a partner with IMCA. Awards will be presented during the national banquet in November or mailed the following week from the IMCA home office. Information about Edelbrock products is available by calling 310 781-2222 and at read more

West Florida Advance to GSC Finals

first_img Share West Florida Advance to GSC Finals Nov. 2, 2007Box ScorePENSACOLA, Fla. – Third-ranked West Florida moved one step closer to back-to-back Gulf South Conference championships, as they held on to a 1-0 lead for a majority of the match en route to the one goal victory over Harding in the semifinals Friday night at Brosnaham Park.Just nine minutes into the match Jimmy McHenry found the back of the net after receiving a pass from Jay Mainville, giving West Florida the early lead.The Argonauts continued to control the pace of the first half and had several good shots on goal but the Bisons goal keeper James Thurmond made several spectacular saves keep the lead at one going into the break.West Florida out shot Harding 17-1 in the first half, however, in the second half the Bisons increased the intensity and pushed more pressure on the Argonauts defense out shooting the top seed 7-4 in the second half.Similar to all season, West Florida’s defense stood strong and Juan Garcia came up with a few key saves as they held onto the lead for the eventual victory.Up next for the Argonauts is rival Montevallo in the HSC finals with kick off scheduled for 1:30 p.m. West Florida defeated the Falcons 3-2 in a close battle just one week ago. A Live broadcast will be available for the match by clicking on the Stretch Internet logo located on the Argos home page or the live audio link to the Men’s Soccer page all at Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more