This year marks the 20th anniversary of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine. What started as a quarterly insert in a Charlottesville-based alt-weekly has grown into the largest regional outdoor magazine in the country with over 350,000 readers from Maryland to Georgia. We’ve expanded from a part-time staff of three sorting slides and faxing proofs from a windowless basement office to a multimedia team of 15 generating print, web and video content.I’ve been editor of the magazine for 14 of those years, and I’ve seen a lot of changes. New adventures like stand-up paddleboarding, zip-lining, and obstacle course racing have emerged. The South added Congaree National Park, three state parks in North Carolina, and new wilderness in Virginia. Microbrew madness has swept the South, and several mountain towns have become craft beer capitals. Over 11,000 thru-hikers have completed end-to-end journeys of the Appalachian Trail, including a five-year-old (with his parents) and an 81-year-old. The 1,000-mile Mountains to Sea Trail was just a dream twenty years ago; today it stretches from the Smokies to the Outer Banks. Tourism and recreation have rescued many mountain towns and revitalized regional economies.As the voice of the mountains, Blue Ridge Outdoors has rallied readers to help protect the places where we play. With your help, we’ve been instrumental in safeguarding rivers, clean air, and public lands.We’ll officially celebrate our 20th anniversary in our March issue, but beginning this month, we’re introducing a Then and Now department that reflects on the evolution of outdoor adventure in Southern Appalachia over the last two decades.Blue Ridge Outdoors continues to evolve with our readers, but one thing will always remain the same: authentic storytelling about the people, places, and issues that matter most.Some of those stories may be your own. In 2015, we’re hoping to include even more reader voices in our pages. We’ll also be regularly featuring your photos and video. So strap on your helmet cams and start planning big, bold adventures for the new year.
By Dialogo April 01, 2012 Transnational organized crime disguises itself as a government in places where state presence is weak, tramples on moral values and brings mourning to Latin American families. The resulting climate of insecurity poisons the ground for economic and social development to take root. To outline strategies and unite efforts against this adversary, which lacks scruples and is rich in resources to finance misdeeds, information operations officers from Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and the United States met at U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) headquarters in Miami, Florida, in early March 2012. Organized by SOUTHCOM’s Information Operations Division, the event promoted the exchange of ideas and lessons learned among countries that share similar challenges, despite experiencing distinct political, economic, cultural and social situations. Brigadier General Steve Arthur, deputy director of SOUTHCOM’s operations division, emphasized the need to work together. “It’s very important that some of us unite and make use of our resources, our material assets and our budgets focused on specific objectives, and your presence here, the fact that you’re meeting here and talking about these issues, is essential in order to move forward in our region,” he said in his welcoming address. During two days of presentations and debates, participants insisted that information operations are a high-caliber weapon for regional military and security forces. Colombia’s expertise in the area stood out. Colonel Javier Molina Calero, director of Information Operations Planning of the Joint Integrated Action Bureau of the South American country’s Armed Forces General Command, spoke about the success of the Integrated Action program in the battle to win Colombians’ hearts and minds. Based on the idea that today’s wars are won with intelligence, more than with force, the program offers a combination of security and the presence of the state in areas that have been at the mercy of guerrillas and drug traffickers for decades. The aim is to permanently uproot irregular groups and contribute to promoting social development with a holistic approach. Representatives of Ecuador said that their country’s Armed Forces organize courses for journalists working for the domestic press. This provides the journalists with a revealing look into the life of Ecuadorean Military personnel, they explained. In Ecuador, information operations directly support the military objectives of the Armed Forces Joint Command (COMACO) and the five operational commands distributed in different areas of the nation. In Ecuador’s northern operational command, which protects 700 kilometers of border with Colombia, information operations are essential to counteract the messages of Voz de la Resistencia (Voice of the Resistance), the broadcast operated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Villalba, COMACO’s information operations director, highlighted the equipment and training they have received from the U.S. Embassy’s Military Support Group. In addition, the Ecuadorean Army War College already has an information operations course from which several Ecuadorean officers and a Brazilian Army major have just graduated, Lt. Col. Villalba added. Beyond the Borders Protecting the borders is also on the agenda of the Panamanian security forces. Since Panama is an entry point to Central America from the south, the task of the National Border Service (SENAFRONT) is to prevent the nation from being used by organized crime and drug traffickers. Major Eduardo Araúz, a SENAFRONT information operations officer, explained that his work concentrates on neutralizing the illegal activity of criminal organizations and working with the population to protect it from the influence of those groups. Part of this task concentrates on remote towns where the Colombian flag flew until recently. “We’re beginning to bring our tactical, humanitarian aid, and civil operations there, and information operations so that they feel Panamanian,” Araúz commented. “It’s important that they see for themselves that the state is present in each community, in each hamlet, and that we’re bringing them security,” he added. Borders, on the other hand, sometimes inhibit the free flow of experiences among regional military personnel and security forces. Following two days of dialogue, the information officers who participated in the event committed themselves to maintaining an active exchange of knowledge and lessons learned. Visits, regional workshops and joint training were some of the options mentioned by the attendees. Colombia, for example, said that the doors of the International Missions and Integrated Action School are open to students from other nations, while Ecuador offered help in planning, implementation and the training of officers from Latin American countries that do not have information operations programs, as in the case of Mexico. Finally, Colonel Miguel Hobbs, chief of SOUTHCOM’s Information Operations Division, suggested using the All Partners Access Network (APAN), a social-networking tool, to solidify the ties created during the event and learn from one another. Pamphlets, radio stations and other traditional tools are not sufficient to counteract decades of influence by guerrillas and criminal gangs, Col. Molina said. His department develops information operations campaigns that are intertwined with civic support activities to benefit the affected populations and serve to reinforce the Integrated Action program. Among those efforts, he said, is the campaign Fe en la Causa (Faith in the Cause), which highlights the morale and prestige of Colombian Military personnel, as well as other campaigns that are aimed at promoting demobilization, restoring trust in the legal system and the state, and preventing the recruitment of children, adolescents and women. Say It Yourself As in the case of Colombia, it became clear to the other countries represented at the event that the challenge of getting people to trust military personnel is as important or more important now than ever. According to Colonel Rony Urízar, a spokesman for the Guatemalan Defense Ministry, his country’s Army enjoys a positive credibility rating among 81 percent of the population. This achievement, he said, is due to synchronizing words and deeds and by using transparency in handling information. Col. Urízar said that telling the story first, before others shape it as they see fit, is part of the mission of his work team. “Say it all, say it in time, say it yourself,” he stressed, repeating the words of Eduardo Ramírez, who spoke on behalf of SOUTHCOM’s Office of Strategic Communications.
Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ Gov’t in no rush to rescue animals in Taal MOST READ Indonesia’s Lalu Muhammad Zohri competes in a heat of the men’s 100m athletics event during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta on August 25, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD“I was so worried about my family — it was a little hard to sleep,” said 18-year-old sprinter Lalu Muhammad Zohri, who hails from the worst-affected northern part of the island.“They called me to tell me not to worry, to just focus on my race. I tried my best,” he added, after reaching the men’s 100m final, where he finished seventh.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSTim Cone still willing to coach Gilas but admits decision won’t be ‘simple yes or no’“Now I can’t wait to go to Lombok to see my family.”Bronze-winning beach volleyball duo Dhita Juliana and Putu Dini Jasita Utami, who are also from Lombok, have captured the hearts of the home fans cheering for them across the country and from the sidelines of Asia’s regional Olympics. View comments LATEST STORIES Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Peza offers relief to ecozone firms ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’: Trump impeachment trial begins (From L to R) Silver medallists Japan’s Megumi Murakami and Miki Ishii, gold medallists China’s Wang Fang and Xia Xinyi and bronze medallists Indonesia’s Dhita Juliana and Putu Dini Jasita Utami pose during the awards ceremony for the women’s beach volleyball final during the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang on August 27, 2018./ AFP PHOTO / Mohd RASFANBut everyone has been touched in some way on the island — and the aftershocks and tremors continue to terrorise an already fearful population.The duo hope they can help raise awareness — and cash — for the survivors.“We are going to spend some of the money we get as Asian Games athletes for the evacuees there,” Juliana said.The pair’s mid-table pool group finish was enough to launch them into the knockout stages. Their run was ended by a Chinese duo — including defending Asian Games champion Xia Xinyi — in the semi-finals, but they took third place in Monday’s bronze medal match.They are heading straight back home to see their loved ones and join in relief efforts however they can.“We hope Lombok will recover so it can become a beautiful place again, a beautiful tourism destination,” Juliana said.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Indonesia’s Dhita Juliana (L) and Putu Dini Jasita Utami (R) celebrate a point against Thailand in the women’s beach volleyball pool D during the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang on August 23, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mohd RASFANThey can barely walk a few metres in Palembang without being asked for a selfie yet always oblige, hoping their smiles and strength will resonate back home.“We hope all Lombok people are okay, and we are trying our best here to at least share some happiness with them when we win,” said Dhita Juliana, adding that they have been touched by the backing they have had from home throughout the competition.“There has been a lot of support from Lombok — from relatives, friends, everyone there. We’re just so grateful.”Some 555 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless on the beautiful island of Lombok, around 700 miles (1,100km) from Games host cities Jakarta and Palembang.Juliana, 25, and Utami, 24, said their friends and family all managed to get to safety in time when the two main quakes hit on July 29 and August 5.ADVERTISEMENT Palace OKs total deployment ban on Kuwait OFWs Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? Kenya to open its 1st WADA-approved drug-testing lab Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. DepEd’s Taal challenge: 30K students displaced For athletes from quake-hit Lombok competing at their own country’s Asian Games, the pressure is far greater than the usual quest for gold.Competitors from the picturesque island have anxiously followed news of deadly earthquakes that killed more than 500 people, hundreds of miles from Indonesia’s host cities Jakarta and Palembang — and hope their performances can bring a few smiles to faces back home.ADVERTISEMENT