PDF, 988KB, 28 pages This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Commissioning to eradicate county lines seminar slide pack (Jan 2019) If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need aversion of this document in a more accessible format, please email [email protected] tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use. Tuesday, 15 January, 2019featuredEvan JonesHead of Community Services │ St Giles TrustAbi BillinghurstFounder and CEO │ AbiandaCounty Lines – the criminal exploitation of children and young peopleUntil recently the burgeoning ‘County Lines’ phenomenon was not recognised, but many now believe it could be the ‘next Rotherham’.The 2017 MOPAC Co-Commissioning round led to the setting up of a pan London project addressing county lines and was supported by all London boroughs. It is a complex and forward looking project that has brought together many of the significant thinkers and delivery agencies in the field, who are working in largely uncharted territory to address an emerging and constantly changing issue.In this free seminar Abi and Evan discussed how the commissioning process has both helped and hindered the development of this project and reflected on how more flexible commissioning structures can be the ideal vehicle for bringing forward a service that is needed, but due to its newness, a service that is both hard to define and to traditionally commission for.Please see the attached slide pack for further information Request an accessible format.
Harvard researchers, probing the mystery of how some bacteria move across surfaces, have discovered a kind of rotary motor in the bacterium Flavobacterium johnsoniae. The finding came as Abhishek Shrivastava, a postdoctoral fellow working in the lab of Howard Berg, the Herchel Smith Professor of Physics and a professor of molecular and cellular biology, was investigating how many types of bacteria, including F. johnsoniae, are able to move without the aid of flagella or pili. The discovery is described in a recently published paper in Current Biology.“If you look at the diversity of the bacterial world, there are many bacteria — including F. johnsoniae — that do not have flagella or pili, yet they move quite easily over surfaces, and travel long distances. This movement is called ‘bacterial gliding,’” Shrivastava said. “To move by this process, bacteria require a constant influx of energy. We wanted to find out how bacterial gliding takes place and what could be a motor for gliding.”Though researchers had long observed bacterial gliding, the precise mechanics underlying the behavior remained a mystery.The first clues came a few years ago, Shrivastava said, when researchers discovered that the rod-shaped Flavobacteria are actually bristling with tiny filaments, made up of a protein called SprB. These filaments are required for motility.Shrivastava and others used an antibody “glue” to pin one of the filaments down to a glass plate and found that when they are held down, the cells pinwheel around the point of attachment. If a small, plastic bead were attached to the filament, they found that it would also rotate. The torque generated by the gliding motor was calculated to be large, and comparable to torque generated by motors that drive flagellar filaments.Though not the only one found in nature — a similar motor powers the flagella found on bacteria like E. coli — the rotary motor discovered by Shrivastava and colleagues appears to be distinct from others. “If you look at the genome sequence of this bacterium, it does not have the genes that make the proteins used to build the flagellar motor,” Shrivastava said. “It could be that some of the components are similar, but we are probably looking at some novel proteins. So we want to understand what makes up the nuts and bolts of this motor.”Going forward, Berg said, researchers still have many questions to answer. “The flagellar motor has about 20 different kinds of parts, from a drive shaft to a rotary bearing and a universal joint — that kind of machinery is in this bug, but we have no idea what that is. What we need to do now is somehow pull it out and understand the architecture of this motor.”
For students looking to make serious dough through investments, one financial expert will give his advice today: in the Internet era, you need to go against the grain. Steve Cortes, a frequent on-air contributor for CNBC’s “Fast Money,” is speaking today in the Mendoza Jordan Auditorium at 6 p.m. He will discuss his new book, “Against The Herd — Six Contrarian Investment Strategies You Should Follow.” “I think in this digital age, the dangers of group-think are more prevalent than ever, particularly in financial markets,” Cortes said. “I think social media in particular has fostered a greater susceptibility to false notions quickly becoming accepted as conventional wisdom.” Cortes said the guiding principle behind his book is to not hold steadfast to commonly accepted financial wisdom. “The book is a tutorial in contrarian thinking in markets,” he said. “By contrarian, I mean being willing to buck conventional wisdom as espoused by Wall Street and the financial media.” Cortes also recommended against investing in China, despite the popular notion that the country will become a world superpower. “My most provocative theme, what I lead with in the book, is I believe China, which most of the world thinks is the next great emerging power and will soon eclipse the United States in many ways, is a false notion,” he said. “I believe if anything China is a very dangerous place to invest, it is a very unstable country, and I am very bearish from an investing standpoint.” For young investors, Cortes said steering away from these seemingly promising markets is an advisable move. “I think that academia, like Wall Street, is incredibly assured that emerging markets … in the world are going to be growth stories in coming years and coming decades,” he said. “It is almost this accepted truth.” Additionally, Cortes said young investors are often exposed to the misconception that heavily investing in stocks is a sure-fire method for financial success. “From an investing standpoint, I believe Wall Street has also [emphasized] too high a percentage in stocks. It is too volatile for most people. It’s particularly sold to young people,” he said. “Wall Street has oversold to the investing public, especially young investors. The grave exposure to equity stock should be relatively small.” For undergraduates looking to enter the business world, Cortes said the ability to learn is more important than field of study. “I think the most important thing is it’s not what you are learning as an undergrad, whether it’s art history or you’re a business major,” he said. “It’s far more about learning how to learn.” Additionally, Cortes said entering into a business-related career is challenging due to the government’s increased regulation of Wall Street. “I wouldn’t dissuade anyone who has a passion, because you are going to do it anyways,” he said. “If you are interested in Wall Street for what it was, it is going to be a very different and a much tougher place going forward.” A self-proclaimed “subway alum” with many family members who have attended the University, Cortes he nearly attended Notre Dame, but chose Georgetown University. “I would have gone to Notre Dame if I had been better at football,” he said. “It broke my mother’s heart that I didn’t go there.” After attending a Jesuit-affiliated university, Cortes said Catholic business principles are important to him. While his book is not written from a moral or political perspective, he said applying these principles to investing strategies is one of the ways he recognizes investing in China as an area of risk. “I do believe one of the reasons China is a dangerous place economically in terms of markets is because of the incredibly unethical way the government treats the people,” he said. “It has not has become a force of innovation and invention. I think one of the reasons, to tie it all in a grand way to Catholic principles, is because the government is so limiting on thought and expression.” A Chicago native, Cortes said through interacting with Notre Dame alumni, he recognizes Notre Dame produces graduates unlike any other school. “Notre Dame takes [its Catholic identity seriously] other great institutions don’t have the faith aspect and they don’t have the sports aspect,” he said. “I think because they don’t have those, they don’t have the kind of life-long identity and spirit and cohesiveness that is certainly evident among Notre Dame grads.”
Saint Mary’s Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex has had the same dress code for the past 15 years — yet most students don’t even know about it. Earlier in the year, there was a poster in Angela describing the dress code, but it has since been taken down. A notice at the front desk describes proper Angela dress code, but it is not openly on display. Director of athletics Julie Schroeder-Biek said in an email the dress code stipulates those who use Angela’s facilities are not allowed to wear shirts that have been modified, clothing that shows an exposed torso, shirts with rivets, bare feet, open-toed shoes, sandals, dress shoes or jeans while working out or using gym equipment. The main purpose of the dress code is to promote community health and safety, she said.“In our new facility, we want to reduce the chances of damaging our equipment and keep our equipment as clean as possible,” Schroeder-Biek said in the email. “Keeping minimal skin contact with the upholstery benefits the longevity of equipment; clothing absorbs sweat and keeps it off the upholstery. Inappropriate attire can damage our equipment and pose safety hazards to those using the equipment. Ultimately, our number-one priority is ensuring that our community is safe and healthy in our facility. ”Schroeder-Biek also said the dress code will reduce the amount of bacterial contamination. “There will be less skin contact with the fitness equipment, which minimizes the risk of disease-causing germs” she said.Sophomore Elizabeth Schulte, a student desk worker in Angela, said violations of the dress code aren’t common in Angela. “It’s never really happened to me,” Schulte said. “I don’t think there’s really a set protocol for what [we’re] supposed to do if someone breaks the dress code. If it did happen, it would be left up to the directors to take care of it. I’d probably just go get one of them and let them decide about what to do. I wouldn’t openly confront the person breaking dress code.”Several Saint Mary’s students had mixed reactions to learning about the dress code. First-year Grace Dennis said she feels the College’s policy is just enforcing a “standard workout outfit.”“I’m not mad about it,” Dennis said.However, other students were more upset about some of the limitations the dress code presents. Sophomore Cecelia Klimek said the policy is policing student wardrobes.“I think the ban on crop tops and sports bras in workout areas is honestly kind of stupid,” Klimek said. “It perpetuates the culture where women are sexualized based on what they wear — or rather, in this case, what they don’t wear.”Klimek said she disagreed with Schroeder-Biek’s arguments in support of the dress code.“They wipe down all of the equipment after workouts and people sweat anyway,” she said. “If you’re wearing a t-shirt, you still sweat — that won’t change if you wear something different or more open.”Some workout clothing can be constricting and can prevent a high-performance workout, she added.“It honestly might just be better to wear a sports bra or crop top when doing certain workouts,” she said. “When you’re doing yoga and are in ‘downward dog’ or one of the other positions, it’s a lot easier to do knowing your shirt’s not going to fall over your head.” Klimek said she ultimately believes the women of Saint Mary’s should have the freedom to choose what they want to wear when working out. “I think people should just wear what they find comfortable,” she said. “If you’re more comfortable in a sports bra, why is that a problem?” Tags: Angela Athletic and Wellness Facility, dress code, Julie Schroeder-Biek, saint mary’s
Saint Mary’s Chinese Culture Club is preparing to host its annual Mid-Autumn Festival on Thursday evening. Senior Shiyi Wang, president of the club, said celebration of the festival is not just confined to China.“Countries that were influenced by China, including Korea and Japan, also hold mid-autumn festivals,” Wang said. The celebrations will take place Thursday from 5-8 p.m. During the celebrations, friends and family gather to enjoy moon cakes, music, poetry, games and dancing. A welcoming atmosphere, much like the one experienced at Thanksgiving, is promoted by the emphasis on enjoying traditional food with family members. Siqin Yang, the assistant director for global education at Saint Mary’s and one of the advisors of the Chinese Culture Club, said the festival is meant to be welcoming to all.“The meal often takes place at a round table to promote inclusivity,” she said.Like Thanksgiving, the mid-autumn festival also began as a harvest celebration. The community’s good fortune was celebrated and stories were retold.This theme of spending time with family and friends emphasizes community; the core value of learning that Saint Mary’s College is focusing on this year. “I feel like we should keep our curiosity for different cultures … and appreciate the beauty in human beings,” Yang said. “This will lead to more joy.”Unlike other events put on by the Chinese Culture Club, such as China Night, a Chinese New Year celebration, the mid-autumn festival is geared specifically toward the students of Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross. The event is being held in Spes Unica in the hope that the study space will draw people and promote awareness. In addition, the atrium will provide plenty of room for activities that will be part of the festival. Senior Mia Washington, along with a local high school student and several friends, will be performing the song “The Moon Represents my Heart.” A guest performer from South Bend will introduce students to a traditional instrument called the genzheng. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to participate in yoga, a game of telephone with Chinese phrases and a game of musical chairs to Chinese music. There will be moon cakes and other snacks.Senior Yijie Ren, a member of the Chinese Culture Club, said club members hope the event leads to a sense of inclusion.“[We want] to enhance diversity and integration, and to celebrate this special day with both Chinese international students and local students,” she said.Tags: Chinese Culture Club, Diversity, inclusion, saint mary’s
Photo: Jim Bowen / CC BY 2.0ALBANY — New York could see at least $700 million in extra tax revenue through March 2021, but the state’s economic outlook is nonetheless uncertain because of the new coronavirus outbreak.The state’s latest economic forecast says the spread of the disease could end up severely restraining global and domestic growth and hurting global supply chains. But forecasters say a quick resolution to the outbreak could make the economic outlook less bleak.The governor and Legislature’s annual consensus forecast was released Sunday — the same day that the state confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in a woman who had recently returned from Iran.Amid worries about how the outbreak might affect the state’s economy, there was some good news: The forecast estimated that the state could have at least $700 million in extra revenue over the next year, and two separate reports by the state Senate and Assembly say New York could see even more money, predicting over $1 billion more in additional tax revenues through March 2021. Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are currently discussing how to use any extra revenues in the state budget, which is due by April 1.The state’s Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and fiscal watchdog groups are calling for more money in the state rainy day fund in case the economy worsens. Liberal advocacy groups want the state to direct more spending to education and the state’s increasingly costly Medicaid system serving 3 million low-income New Yorkers.The consensus forecast says the national economy will keep growing but at a slower pace due to declining global growth, a tight labor market and the waning impact of 2017 corporate tax cuts.The report estimates that personal income and wage growth will increase over the next two years but also at a slowing pace. Any increase to interest rates could also hit New York particularly hard, forecasters warn. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
Whatever the yields, market prices are dropping, said Don Shurley, a CAES extensioneconomist. “The rain the weekend of Oct. 25-26 adversely affected the Georgia cotton crop,” said SteveM. Brown, an Extension Service cotton scientist with the UGA College of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences. Brown said drought through August and September, then heavy rain in late September,brought the estimates down. “At this point, we’ll be fortunate to average close to 700 poundsper acre,” he said. Rains totaling 5 inches to 8 inches fell on most of the Georgia cotton belt through the lastOctober weekend. Brown said some farmers reported 60 mph winds, too. Almost half of Georgia’s 1.4 million acres of cotton remain unharvested. The U.S.Department of Agriculture’s Oct. 1 yield estimate has cotton at 702 pounds per acre, downfrom 736 pounds earlier in the season. The potential for more losses grows every day. Soggy fields make farmers unable to pickcotton and raise the risk of further weather damage. “If we had gotten this rain in August,” he said, “we could have seen a $100 million increase invalue, instead of these continuing losses.” Farmers face further losses in the hidden second cotton crop: the seeds. Last year, cottonseedearned the state’s farmers $77 million, adding 10 percent to the overall value of Georgiacotton. Processors must treat rain-stained fibers to make them white again before the fiber can be spuninto threads for clothing. That extra step adds to their costs. So the price farmers get isdiscounted based on the extra processing costs. “We’re estimating a $30 to $50 quality loss per 480-pound bale,” he said. Adding to thoselosses, cotton already picked and waiting in modules to be picked up could sustain waterdamage, too — about $600 per 15-bale module. “Those two factors combined with the normal pattern of price decline through the season areall contributing to a slight price drop,” Shurley said. Rainwater damages cotton fibers and turns them grayish, cutting their value. When cottonbolls first open, the fibers are a brilliant white — its most valuable color. Unstained cottonfetches the highest price. Wet weather can cause seeds to sprout, dropping their feed value for livestock. “So really,”Brown said, “farmers lose money on two counts in a situation like this.” Georgia cotton farmers have lost another $40 million to $50 million to excess late-seasonrains, says a University of Georgia agricultural scientist. Worldwide stock markets affect cotton prices, too. The recent wild fluctuations rooted insoutheast Asian markets indicate their economies are weakening. As economies in that regionlose strength, so does their ability to buy U.S. cotton. The hard rain and wind did knock some cotton off the stalk, Brown said. He said the biggestcotton loss, though, was to quality. Other factors contribute to the price drop. “The yield declines in the Southeast are being offsetby yield increases elsewhere in the cotton belt,” Shurley said. “So the national yield is stable.” Brown tells farmers to get wet modules ginned as quickly as possible to avoid further losses.The value of each module, he said, is at least $5,000. The combination of soggy fields, humid, foggy mornings and shortened days is pushingharvest back. “I expect we’ll see farmers harvesting cotton well past Thanksgiving,” Brownsaid. Brown said many modules, the densely packed cotton stored in the fields, got wet during theheavy rains. Others are soaking up water from the saturated ground around them. No matterhow the lint gets wet, cotton can rot quickly. Prices for December cotton entered November at 70 cents to 72 cents per pound. Shurley saidcontracting cotton for later sale and paying storage costs could prove profitable for farmers.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that the State of Vermont is being awarded a $250,000 grant to produce new affordable, energy efficient, green housing. Vermont will use its grant to support a local community-based affordable housing developer to create these new homes which will feature a sustainable site design, water-conserving fixtures, energy-efficient appliances/lighting, and environmentally friendly building materials.The funding announced today is awarded through HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), the nation’s largest block grant program to support the production of affordable housing.”This grant will help to create a new generation of housing that will offer residents more than just an affordable home,” said Mercedes MÃ¡rquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development. “Working with our partners at the local level, our goal is to produce more, smarter, and certainly greener affordable housing for future generations of families.”The State of Vermont, through the Vermont Housing Conservation Board (VHCB), will use its grant award to fund a local Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) to construct ENERGY STAR-qualified affordable housing. Upon completion, all assisted units will be certified by an independent HOME Energy Rater (HER) as meeting the ENERGY STAR criteria. VHCB will ensure that its CHDO uses a sustainable site design; installs water conserving fixtures, energy-efficient appliances and lighting; uses a renewable energy source; uses environmentally beneficial materials and practices; implements a construction waste-management plan; uses low VOC paints and sealants and formaldehyde-free composite wood; uses mold prevention techniques; and gives residents an instruction manual that provides information on how to maintain the Green features of their homes.Source: HUD. 4.6.2010###HUD is the nation’s housing agency committed to sustaining homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development ad enforces the nation’s fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet atwww.hud.gov(link is external) and espanol.hud.gov.
Legal alternatives provide opportunities for the civilian population These shifts in production have crucially disrupted the cocaine trade in recent years. Peru was listed as the world’s largest producer of coca leaves, with a total of 49,800 hectares under cultivation, in the 2013 Coca Crop Monitoring Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and DEVIDA. But in 2014, the country eliminated 240 metric tons worth of illegal cocaine crops, which would have generated up to $7 billion in sales in the United States and Europe, according to DEVIDA. The government’s goal is to eradicate 35,000 hectares of illegal coca crops this year — an escalation from 2014’s record, when Peruvian law enforcement authorities eliminated 31,205 hectares of illegal crops. They dedicated about 53,000 hectares to alternative crops that year, which are expected to directly benefit about 43,000 families throughout the country. To put those figures in perspective, just 13,200 hectares were dedicated to harvesting alternative crops in 2011, according to the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA)’s Promotion and Monitoring Director José Chuquipul. “The drug problem requires a comprehensive solution,” he said. “The negative trend of growth has been broken,” said Rubén Vargas, a Peruvian security analyst. “This is the expression of a political decision to not allow an expansion of these crops. It’s a breaking point in the fight against drugs.” “With the coca crop eradication figures that have been achieved in 2014, Peru is no longer the leading producer of the drug, nor the country with the most territory devoted to coca crops,” said Alberto Otárola, DEVIDA’s executive president. While the Armed Forces work to create a safe environment for farmers to cultivate alternative crops, the government is contributing other forms of aid. Preventing the illegal cultivation of coca “The drug problem requires a comprehensive solution,” he said. Other government institutions are contributing to the effort, said security analyst Roberto Chiabra: for example, Peru’s National Customs and Tax Administration (SUNAT), which is responsible for monitoring the precursor chemicals that illegally enter the coca-growing regions. Despite their recent victories, however, Peruvian authorities have to remain vigilant, he said: “They still can’t let their guard down. There are new areas that are starting to replant coca crops.” These shifts in production have crucially disrupted the cocaine trade in recent years. Peru was listed as the world’s largest producer of coca leaves, with a total of 49,800 hectares under cultivation, in the 2013 Coca Crop Monitoring Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and DEVIDA. But in 2014, the country eliminated 240 metric tons worth of illegal cocaine crops, which would have generated up to $7 billion in sales in the United States and Europe, according to DEVIDA. “Technical assistance and training is being provided to the population in order to improve the cultivation and production of these products,” said Luis Rojas Merino, executive secretary of the Multisectoral Commission for the Pacification and Socioeconomic Development of the VRAEM (CODEVRAEM). Other government institutions are contributing to the effort, said security analyst Roberto Chiabra: for example, Peru’s National Customs and Tax Administration (SUNAT), which is responsible for monitoring the precursor chemicals that illegally enter the coca-growing regions. The main alternative crop farmers cultivate is cacao, which presently accounts for 38,052 hectares of land; they also grow coffee in 12,801 hectares, and palm oil in 2.74 hectares. Such alternative products generated $250 million of revenue for Peru in 2014. The main alternative crop farmers cultivate is cacao, which presently accounts for 38,052 hectares of land; they also grow coffee in 12,801 hectares, and palm oil in 2.74 hectares. Such alternative products generated $250 million of revenue for Peru in 2014. Peruvian authorities plan to invest $47.5 million in 2015 on alternative development projects in areas where illegal coca crops have been eliminated. “Technical assistance and training is being provided to the population in order to improve the cultivation and production of these products,” said Luis Rojas Merino, executive secretary of the Multisectoral Commission for the Pacification and Socioeconomic Development of the VRAEM (CODEVRAEM). Preventing the illegal cultivation of coca To put those figures in perspective, just 13,200 hectares were dedicated to harvesting alternative crops in 2011, according to the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA)’s Promotion and Monitoring Director José Chuquipul. That solution, implemented by the Armed Forces and other government agencies, is providing local residents the chance to change their lives. “The farmers who are currently harvesting coca now have the opportunity to exit this illegal activity with tools for their own development that will improve their quality of life,” Chuquipul said. That solution, implemented by the Armed Forces and other government agencies, is providing local residents the chance to change their lives. Everything that’s going on with the country is incredible. I really don’t know if this is the webpage my teacher gave me as homework, which I’m supposed to put into English, the author, what happened etc. 🙂 Well, anyway, I am surprised by what’s going on now. Thank you it’s better than anything else that’s happened in this world. The government needs more support and courage I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to reflect on what is happening in Latin America. The truth is that many of the presidents want to take over countries following the Cuban model. That is why they don’t attack Venezuela, because they want to do the same thing. The truth is that this is not a sustainable model and they are just doing damage by not allowing their countries to develop. Cool. I had never seen a cocoa tree with fruit that big. nacional I really enjoyed it because I never imagined a cocoa tree was so short. Change is necessary for humanity: cacao instead of coca, what a good decision by the government Peruvian authorities plan to invest $47.5 million in 2015 on alternative development projects in areas where illegal coca crops have been eliminated. Despite their recent victories, however, Peruvian authorities have to remain vigilant, he said: “They still can’t let their guard down. There are new areas that are starting to replant coca crops.” The Military plays a key role in this effort by providing security in regions where farmers have grown illegal coca crops. For example, the Armed Forces of Peru are pacifying the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM), which is the country’s main area for coca production; in 2014, they reduced the areas where terrorist groups like the Shining Path operate from 120,000 square kilometers to 5,000 square kilometers. “The negative trend of growth has been broken,” said Rubén Vargas, a Peruvian security analyst. “This is the expression of a political decision to not allow an expansion of these crops. It’s a breaking point in the fight against drugs.” “The farmers who are currently harvesting coca now have the opportunity to exit this illegal activity with tools for their own development that will improve their quality of life,” Chuquipul said. Legal alternatives provide opportunities for the civilian population “With the coca crop eradication figures that have been achieved in 2014, Peru is no longer the leading producer of the drug, nor the country with the most territory devoted to coca crops,” said Alberto Otárola, DEVIDA’s executive president. By Dialogo March 27, 2015 While the Armed Forces work to create a safe environment for farmers to cultivate alternative crops, the government is contributing other forms of aid. The government’s goal is to eradicate 35,000 hectares of illegal coca crops this year — an escalation from 2014’s record, when Peruvian law enforcement authorities eliminated 31,205 hectares of illegal crops. They dedicated about 53,000 hectares to alternative crops that year, which are expected to directly benefit about 43,000 families throughout the country. The Military plays a key role in this effort by providing security in regions where farmers have grown illegal coca crops. For example, the Armed Forces of Peru are pacifying the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM), which is the country’s main area for coca production; in 2014, they reduced the areas where terrorist groups like the Shining Path operate from 120,000 square kilometers to 5,000 square kilometers.
By Dialogo February 04, 2020 U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), spoke before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on January 30, 2020, to provide lawmakers an assessment of SOUTHCOM’s concerns and initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean.Stressing that the Western Hemisphere is a shared home, Adm. Faller highlighted the connections the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean share. “In my first year in command, I have had the opportunity to visit our partners and see firsthand the opportunities and challenges that directly impact the security of our hemisphere,” Adm. Faller said.“I have come to describe the challenges as a vicious circle of threats that deliberately erodes stability and security in the region,”,Adm. Faller added, referring to countries with weak democracies which are plagued by poor governance and porous legal frameworks. Adm. Faller also remarked that, “this situation is exacerbated by a propensity toward corruption, which in turn leads to the spread of transnational criminal and violent extremist organizations along with external state actors — most notably China, Russia, and Iran — that exploit these countries at the expense of U.S. and partner nation security.”“This vicious circle continues to negatively impact our homeland, most acutely in the form of illegal immigration and illicit drug flows, but also in other, more harmful ways. Due to high levels of insecurity and corruption, democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean is shifting in a negative direction, providing further openings for China and Russia to increase their influence,” Adm. Faller added.Russian misinformationSenator Mike Rounds of North Dakota spoke of Russia’s presence in the region and asked about the disinformation campaigns Moscow continues to conduct. “The disinformation campaign that Russia has been on is truly about — in all instances — painting the United States in an inaccurate light,” Adm. Faller said.Venezuelan migrants wait to get a refugee application at the Binational Border Attention Center at the Peruvian border post in Tumbes, on June 14, 2019. (Photo: Cris Bouroncle / AFP)Adm. Faller provided the example of an occasion when Russia reported that he was on the border of Venezuela preparing to lead an invasion. In another instance, Russian disinformation campaigns attempted to sow discord by fabricating statements that Adm. Faller had said, which were contrary to what U.S. Vice President Mike Pence had previously stated. “Their largest effort by volume — in social media — is in Spanish and you have to ask: What’s the national interest of Russia of that disinformation here in this region,” Faller added.Crisis in VenezuelaRegarding the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro remains in power and is being propped up largely due to the help of China, Russia, and most notably Cuba, Adm. Faller said in his opening remarks.At the recent Defense Writers Group conference in Washington D.C. in October 2019, Adm. Faller said that “while Russia has hundreds of people in Venezuela, Cuba has thousands.” In fact, he told the writers, “100 percent of the Venezuelan ‘palace guards’ protecting Maduro are Cuban.”“What’s happening in Venezuela is a tragedy. The illegitimate Maduro regime is using food as a weapon,” he went on to say during his opening remarks before the Senate. “The human suffering in this once thriving democracy has driven five million people to flee to neighboring countries like Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, who are now having to provide health care, education, and other basic services to those millions of migrants.”While sanctions continue to be placed on Maduro’s regime, the remainder of the world and the United States look forward to the day when Venezuela reclaims its rightful place as a prosperous and democratic member of the community, Adm. Faller concluded.Growing presence of ChinaAdm. Faller also expressed concern over the presence of China in Latin America, which is “trying to achieve a positional advantage right here in the region,” through large infrastructure investments, multiple port deals, and a technological and cyber security structure. “The best way to outcompete China is through partnerships,” Adm. Faller said. “Our partners want to work with us. They want the advantage of the United States: education, training, exercises and military equipment — which is the best in the world, and it’s up to us to deliver.”