Evansville Rescue Mission is proud to announce the Grand Re-Opening of its Washington Avenue ERM Thrift Store, which is located at 2420 Washington Avenue, Evansville, IN 47714.Here are the details:What: Washington Avenue ERM Thrift Store Grand Re-OpeningWhere: 2420 Washington Avenue, Evansville, IN 47714When: Monday, February 1st-Friday, February 5thHours: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each dayERM will unveil its Washington Avenue Thrift Store’s new and improved sales floor where the general public will choose from a variety of deeply discounted and gently used clothing, furniture, and other items that directly benefit the Evansville Rescue Mission. FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail This entire week, the general public will enjoy $10 off their $30 purchase of gently used clothes, household items furniture and more!ERM staff will be on hand to greet incoming customers and to answer any questions they may have. Additionally, ERM’s culinary team will be serving refreshments on Monday (2/1) and Thursday (2/4) between 1 and 3 p.m.
Krispy Kreme UK is continuing to expand its store numbers and is to launch a new patisserie doughnut range in time for Easter.The doughnut specialist is adding three “luxurious” doughnuts to the range, which will be available from 30 March to 10 May, 2009, in all Krispy Kreme stores and Tesco in-store cabinets. The new Coffee Swirl doughnut is filled with smooth coffee crème and iced and decorated with a chocolate spiral and mocha bean; the Belgian Chocolate variety is filled with Belgian chocolate, hand dipped in chocolate icing and topped with a white chocolate fan; and the Black Forest doughnut has a cherry filling and is topped with a maraschino cherry and chocolate shavings.The firm is also opening two new stores in April and is currently planning a big marketing campaign for the summer.
We welcome this important report. The inspection shows that children of all backgrounds can be forced into criminal and sexual exploitation. What is also clear is that agencies and professionals need to do more to recognise the extent of the problem and intervene early. Youth offending teams are well placed to spot the signs of exploitation and we were pleased to see some good work recognised in this report. However it is clear that more needs to be done to make sure that all agencies are working together to protect children. Tackling child criminal exploitation, including county lines, is a big challenge for agencies and professionals nationally and locally. It can be done, but agencies must make sure that they have the building blocks in place to work quickly and effectively. Children who are being exploited cannot wait for agencies that are lagging behind or failing to recognise this issue. In responding to this dangerous situation, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past, where some partners were too slow to recognise the risk of child sexual exploitation in their areas, or somehow felt that it ‘doesn’t happen here’. Read ‘Protecting children from criminal exploitation, human trafficking and modern slavery’ – this is an addendum to the 2016 report ‘Time to listen’. Summary: The in-depth inspections scrutinised practice in children’s social care, education, health services, the police, youth offending services and probation services across 3 local authority areas.Today’s report illustrates the nationwide scale of criminal exploitation, with all areas – urban, rural, affluent as well as deprived – affected. Child victims come from a wide range of backgrounds. And while the most vulnerable are obvious targets for gangs, there are examples of private school children being groomed too.Much has been done by many local partnerships across the country to deal with child sexual exploitation in their areas, the report recognises. But this success must be built upon and shared so that other forms of exploitation, like county lines drug running, can be dealt with effectively.Inspectors found that some partners do not have a grip on the scale of criminal exploitation in their area. Poor intelligence-sharing sometimes hampers wider recognition and understanding of criminal exploitation, and, in turn, the ability to effectively respond to children. This includes missing the risks to some children, or identifying them too late.The report calls on all agencies to get the basics right. Making sure that there are clear systems in place at the ‘front door’ of services that first come into contact with children is essential, so that children at risk are identified and receive a prompt and appropriate response.Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, will also raise her concerns about the scale of criminal exploitation at the National Children and Adults Services conference in Manchester today.Ms Spielman is expected to say: Local agencies must learn lessons from past sexual exploitation cases if they are to effectively respond to ‘county lines’ drug running and other forms of child criminal exploitation, a new report finds.The thematic report, from inspectorates Ofsted, HMI Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and HMI Probation, also calls on agencies not to underestimate the risk of child criminal exploitation in their areas. The inspectorates call for a ‘culture shift’, so that front line staff both recognise the signs of criminal exploitation, and see children as victims despite their apparent offending behaviour.Better training for all agencies, but especially the police, is vital, the report argues. In the areas inspected, police had made some progress in recognising the context of criminal exploitation when dealing with children in possession of drugs. However, all police forces admitted that it was still possible that children could be prosecuted, despite clear evidence that they were being exploited.The report calls for a whole system approach to address the perpetrators, to protect and support victims, as well as preventing exploitation by raising awareness in the community and disrupting criminal activity. In one of the areas visited, inspectors saw examples of innovative work to disrupt criminal exploitation from some agencies.Agencies and professionals must work together with parents and children to alert them to the signs of grooming, exploitation and county lines. The report shows that children are often being groomed or tricked into working before they recognise the dangers, and often before parents or professionals realise what is happening. Inspectors saw clear efforts to raise awareness in the local community in the areas visited.Schools and colleges are also essential partners in the whole-system approach. Some schools are working hard to understand, reduce and prevent the risks of county lines. However, this awareness needs to be developed and supported across the country.Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care said: Local partners must be quick to learn and quick to act. But not all agencies fully understand the scale of the problem in their area. And regional and national networks of exploitation of children are even less well understood. It is also a concern that some agencies are still not looking past the behaviour of grooming victims to the root cause. If we have learnt anything from past exploitation cases, it should be to ‘see the child, not the problem’. Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said: Professor Ursula Gallagher, Deputy Chief Inspector at the Care Quality Commission and lead for children’s health and safeguarding, said: lessons must be learned from past sexual exploitation cases all children, not just the most vulnerable, are at risk of criminal exploitation agencies should not underestimate the risk of criminal exploitation in their areas children should be seen as victims, not perpetrators awareness-raising is crucial in preventing criminal exploitation Healthcare professionals and anyone working with children have a responsibility to look for the signs of exploitation, to use their curiosity and compassion, and not judge a child for their behaviour or the situation they are in. This is why we work with other regulators to test how well individual parts of a system are working together to protect children and young people and to make clear what we expect of a high-performing area. But it doesn’t stop there. Services and systems as a whole need to consider how they share what they know with people working beyond their own locality, because people exploiting children do not limit their activity by geographical boundaries, and important safeguarding information must be able to follow children in order to protect them. Criminally exploited children can only get the help they need when they’ve been recognised as a victim. We’ve found that when frontline officers handle cases involving children suspected of a criminal offence, they can be too quick to accept what they see at face value. Instead of seeing a vulnerable child in desperate need, they can see a criminal in the making. When officers ask the right questions – is this child being exploited? Are they at risk? – they can take the right steps to keep children safe and bring the real perpetrators to justice. Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, said: The inspectorates’ findings are published today [14 November 2018] as an addendum to the 2016 report: ‘Time to listen – a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children’.
Health officials are poised to eradicate guinea worm disease, a plague that once afflicted millions and which would be just the second human disease wiped from the face of the earth, Donald Hopkins, vice president of health programs for The Carter Center, said Tuesday (Feb. 1).As recently as 1986, guinea worm disease affected 3.5 million people annually in 20 nations. After decades of effort, last year there were just 1,800 cases in four nations, the vast majority in Sudan.“We should be able to stop transmission of the disease by 2012 or soon thereafter,” Hopkins said. “To that prospect, I say good riddance.”Little known in the developed world, guinea worm disease is caused by drinking water containing a small crustacean infected by the worm larvae. Once inside a human host, the worm reproduces and grows. About a year after infection, female worms burrow under the skin and emerge from a painful blister, usually in the lower extremities.The resulting burning pain, which earned the parasite the moniker the “fiery serpent,” causes those afflicted to immerse the blister in water, whereupon the female releases many larvae, repeating the cycle. Removing the worm, which can reach a meter in length, is a painful process that can take weeks, coiling the parasite around a stick until it fully emerges.Hopkins described progress against the disease during the Yerby Diversity Lecture in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). He was introduced by HSPH Dean Julio Frenk.The Carter Center has played a leading role in fighting the affliction, supporting national eradication programs and spearheading the international campaign. Hopkins said the surge in funding from major donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has also been critical. One remarkable facet of the effort, Hopkins said, is that it has been accomplished with no vaccine and no effective treatment for the disease. (Those infected develop no natural immunities, meaning they can be infected again and again.)Instead, interventions included reaching out to communities afflicted by it, discussing how to ensure that drinking water is clean, and emphasizing the importance of keeping infected people out of the water. The effort exploded the myth that poor people won’t play an active role in improving their own health, Hopkins said. The progress made would have been impossible without the cooperation of those afflicted.“Outsiders cannot save people suffering from problems such as these without the participation of the people suffering from the disease,” Hopkins said.Effectively utilizing key statistics was important in mobilizing decision makers in countries where guinea worm was still found. And, once progress was made in one place in eradicating the disease, other people wanted the same relief.“People will put up with a lot, until they see their neighbors are suffering no longer,” Hopkins said. “Then they will demand action.”Because the worm’s life cycle is dependent on a human host, there should be no natural reservoir for the parasite once it is eliminated in humans, and it should join smallpox —the last natural case of which was in 1977 — in the history books.Eradicating the disease will bring many benefits, Hopkins said, not least of which will be releasing resources to other health priorities. Agricultural productivity is likely to increase, since farmers free from the disease will be able to tend their fields. In addition, the lessons learned and the infrastructure created can inform and support future health efforts.Hopkins said many resources are still needed to battle other tropical diseases. A major international effort is already focused on malaria, and Hopkins said lymphatic filariasis, which causes elephantiasis, and measles are likely candidates for the next extermination campaign.“I am gratified but not satisfied. We can and should do more for our own sake and for that of others,” Hopkins said.
MOSCOW (AP) — The Moscow police plan to stifle an opposition protest by clamping down on the center of the city has backfired. Not only did the massive demonstration demanding freedom for jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny take place Sunday, but it was spread throughout a wide swath of the city. By making a long trek through Moscow’s icy streets, the protesters got a chance to spread their message across much of central Moscow, attracting considerable attention along the way with their chants against President Vladimir Putin.
View Comments The Dresser follows a revered and aging Shakespearean actor-manager (Hopkins) and his assistant (McKellen) during World War II. The play premiered in the West End in 1980 before coming to Broadway the following year. It was adapted into a film in 1983. Now that’s a power couple! Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins will join forces in a BBC film adaptation of the 1980 drama The Dresser. According to The Telegraph, Richard Eyre will direct, with original playwright Ronald Harwood penning the screenplay. A timeline for the film has yet to be announced. McKellen earned a Tony Award for his performance in Amadeus and a nomination for Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare. The X-Men and Lord of the Rings star most recently appeared on Broadway in the repertory productions of No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot. An Oscar winner for The Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins appeared on the Great White Way in Equus. His additional theater credits include Pravda and Antony and Cleopatra with the U.K.’s National Theatre.
When shoppers reach for the butter for their holiday cooking this fall, they won’t see any good news in the butterfat shortage that has sent prices soaring. But dairy farmers will, said a University of Georgia economist. “This is really having a positive effect on butterfat, and therefore milk, prices,” said Bill Thomas, a dairy economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “When I say positive, I mean for the farmers.” In 1997, farmers essentially paid their processors so they could produce milk. “Georgia dairies have been losing about $1.86 for every 100 pounds of milk they produce,” Thomas said. Each hundredweight equals about 11 gallons of milk. But as butterfat has become more dear, farmers are finally getting paid more for their milk. “As we go into the holiday baking and party season, people will buy more dairy products that are rich in butterfat: sour cream, butter, cream, rich cheeses,” Thomas said. Americans use more butter and butterfat-rich products during the winter holidays. In-home baking, restaurant meals and packaged baking mixes will use lots of butter and other rich dairy products. “And that will keep the demand high, supporting prices to farmers,” Thomas said. Dairy farmers’ payments for milk are based on the butterfat content. The standard is 3.5 percent butterfat per hundredweight of milk. They receive a premium for every one-tenth percent over that. Thomas said the premium now is about three times what it was last year — 32.5 cents now from 10.6 cents in September 1997. “They’re still not making much,” Thomas said of Georgia dairies. “They are making money but have not recovered from the losses they had over the past several years.” And as the holidays approach, the weather cools off. That’s more good news for dairy farmers. During hot weather, cows give less milk that’s less rich. With a carefully planned diet, farmers can get more and richer milk from their cows. Thomas said the feeds that can increase butterfat content were in short supply and were costly through the summer. “But as prices come down and availability goes up for that feed,” he said, “farmers can increase the butterfat content of their cows’ milk and increase their income accordingly.” The breed of dairy cows affects butterfat supplies, too. The Dairy Herd Improvement Association has records on about 60 percent of Georgia’s dairy herd. They test the milk from members’ herds and keep records on the cows. Holsteins’ milk has about 3.5 percent butterfat. Jerseys, only 4 percent of Georgia’s herd, produce milk with about 4.3 percent — almost a quarter again as much butterfat. “This butterfat shortage might make farmers decide to buy a few Jerseys and increase the overall butterfat content of their milk,” Thomas said. “There is a tradeoff, though. Jerseys produce less milk volume.” But that decision could pay off in the long run. “Americans are switching back to butter and butter products,” said Connie Crawley, an Extension Service nutrition and health specialist with the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Sometimes people go back to butter for the taste. And sometimes they switch because of concerns about trans-fatty acids, which can be high in stick margarine. Crawley said trans-fatty acids may be as likely to raise blood cholesterol levels as saturated fat. “Really, the question people need to ask when choosing fats is ‘how often do I use this product?'” Crawley said. If you use margarine or butter fairly often, you may want to choose soft or liquid margarine. These products are lower in trans-fatty acids and have no cholesterol. If you use butter or margarine rarely or for special holiday recipes, Crawley said she wouldn’t be too worried about using real butter. “The key here is moderation,” she said.
Growing plants from seed can save gardeners money and vastly increase the varieties that can be grown in a backyard garden. Gardeners can grow several transplants for the price of a few, store-bought plants, and the selection of varieties for sale is often limited. Seed should be started six to eight weeks prior to transplant time. For example, if the average last frost date in your area is April 15, sow tomato seed inside in late February or early March. To grow transplants, start with good quality seed from a reliable source. Quality seed is true to a cultivar or variety name and does not contain weed seed, insect casings, soil particles or plant pulp. Choose seed varieties that will mature before frost, survive heat and tolerate present growing conditions in your area. Purchase just enough seed for this season. (Seed can be stored from year to year, but germination and seedling vigor will decline with age and improper storage conditions.) Read the seed package closely and make sure the seed was packed this season. The packet will also provide information on how to space seed within a row, how deep to sow the seed, how many days it will take for the seed to germinate and more.Water is critical for germination, or the process of the embryo emerging from the seed. Without water, the seed will remain dormant. The amount of water is also critical; too much will cause seeds to rot and too little will cause them to die. Plant seed in a growing media that is fine, not chunky or lumpy. Growing media could be soil, sand, a soil-less mix or a commercial potting soil. Fine growing media helps the seed have good contact with the media. The growing media also needs to drain well enough to meet the seed’s oxygen needs. If the media is too heavy or too wet, the seed will not have the oxygen it requires, and germination may slow down or stop.Water seed with a mist nozzle or a hand-held spray bottle to provide light, even, gentle moisture without disruption. The seed can be covered with a thin layer of vermiculite or peat moss to help ensure good seed-to-media contact and to help prevent the embryo from drying out. Keep humidity high by covering your pots or flats with a clear humidity dome or plastic wrap, or enclosing plants in clear, plastic bags. Remove plastic when seedlings emerge. Some seed types require light to germinate, others require darkness and some have no preference. If a seed requires light, sow the seed on the soil surface. If a seed requires darkness, cover the seeds lightly with a layer of fine peat moss or vermiculite. Temperature affects the number of seeds that germinate as well as how fast the seed germinates. Some seed have a very specific temperature range for germination, while others will germinate over a broad range of temperatures. A good rule of thumb is to plant in soil that is 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a thermometer probe in the middle of the container or flat to measure the soil temperature. Any container can be used for starting seed as long as it drains, is deep enough for good root development and is sanitized prior to use. Plastic inserts, flats and trays with clear, fitted dome covers can be purchased at garden stores.Growing seedlings in individual cells or containers reduces damage to roots and shock to the seedlings when they are later transplanted in the garden. Place seed in a warm location that provides bright, indirect light and good air circulation. Most home gardeners don’t have a greenhouse, so once the seed germinates, supplemental light from a light stand positioned 2 to 3 inches above the seedlings must be provided. As the seedlings grow, raise the lights, keeping them 2 to 3 inches above the seedlings. Keep the lights on 16 hours a day. Without supplemental light, plants will grow weak and spindly and stretch toward a window or other light source. As they grow, seedlings will need to be thinned, leaving the remaining plants enough space to grow and develop. Crowded plants will compete for water, light and nutrients. Weak or unwanted seedlings can be snipped off with scissors or pinched off at the media level. After the first true leaves develop, the new transplants need to be prepared for their new home in the garden. This preparation process is called “hardening off.”Move the transplants outside to a shady location and gradually increase the amount of sunlight they receive over a period of several days. Repeat daily, extending the length of time by an hour that plants remain outside, until the plants have acclimated to the brighter, drier outdoor conditions. Start this process one to two weeks prior to planting the new plants in the garden. Transition plants gradually, as extreme changes can slow their growth or kill them.For more information, see UGA Extension Bulletin 1432, “Starting Plants from Seed for the Home Gardener,” at extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=B1432.
US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced Monday that House and Senate negotiators have agreed to include in a final transportation budget bill for the coming year his provision to replenish the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Fund and provide important cost waivers that Governor Shumlin and others consider to be crucial to repairing and rebuilding roads and bridges damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.The bill also includes Leahy’s truck weight provisions for Vermont, to move heavy trucks from smaller state roads, including roads crossing through the downtowns of several Vermont communities, onto the state’s interstate highways. Leahy is number two on the Senate Appropriations Committee and also a senior member of its Transportation Subcommittee, which handled the writing of the bill.Governor Shumlin has called the Leahy waivers a top priority for Vermont among many disaster-relief steps that are now pending before Congress. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) both support Leahy’s provision, and Welch played a critical role in pushing the Leahy-authored waivers among leadership in the House of Representatives.Following is a summary of the Leahy provisions in the final bill ‘· Leahy worked to add $1.662 billion to the depleted Federal Highway Administration emergency fund, upon which Vermont will depend for help in repairing and rebuilding roads washed away or damaged by Irene-related flooding. The emergency highway account today is almost empty. Also vital to Vermont are several cost-waiver provisions Leahy added to the bill, which would save Vermont millions of state tax dollars by allowing Vermont to:o Be reimbursed for more than the current $100 million per-state limit on federal emergency highway repair funds, which is especially critical as Vermont’s repair costs are expected to exceed the current cap;o Be reimbursed 100 percent for emergency repairs beyond the current limit of 180 days.· The bill also includes another high priority for Vermont: Leahy’s legislation to move heavy trucks off state secondary roads and onto the state’s Interstate highways for the next 20 years. Leahy’s provision will help Vermont businesses and communities struggling due to the large number of state and local roads heavily damaged during the flooding disaster. Leahy’s Vermont provision is paired with a similar change for Maine, authored by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). Leahy will speak on the Senate floor tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 15, at approximately 11:45 a.m. about the legislation, and how it will help in Vermont. Leahy’d office. WASHINGTON (MONDAY, Nov. 14, 2011)
By Geraldine Cook/ Diálogo February 19, 2019 Commodore Tellis Bethel, chief of Defence Staff of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), recognizes the importance of providing security and stability in his country. Thousands of tourists flock yearly to the crystal, white sand and blue waters of the country’s tropical beaches, but the country also serves as a transshipment point for international criminal networks’ illicit activities. Cdre. Bethel participated at the 16th Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, December 4-6, 2018, to share his perspective on regional integration to defeat common security threats. The officer spoke with Diálogo about the security concerns his country faces and the importance of working together to counter the effect of illegal networks in the Caribbean region. Diálogo: What is the significance of Bahamas’s participation at CANSEC 2018? Commodore Tellis Bethel, chief of Defence Staff, Royal Bahamas Defence Force: Although The Bahamas is geographically located at the northwestern end of the Caribbean region, its threats and challenges are very much the same as its counterparts. CANSEC 2018 was most relevant to the region and The Bahamas, in particular. The outcomes of multilateral dialogue among a highly experienced and diverse group of security experts, provide a much-needed opportunity for The Bahamas to glean from the past experiences and the solutions proposed by other partners, as well as to share its own experiences and lessons learned for the overall enhancement of regional security. Diálogo: One of CANSEC’s main topics was to enhance the framework to counter regional threats. What does The Bahamas bring to the regional effort to counter security threats? Cdre. Bethel: The Bahamas had deployed troops to Haiti, as part of the CARICOM Battalion during the United Nation’s Peacekeeping Mission to Haiti from 1994-1996. In 2009, The Bahamas contributed to the security efforts of both the Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting providing both events with troops and planning staff. Furthermore, The Bahamas plays a vital role through information sharing with regional intelligence agencies for a safer and more secured region. Today, the Defence Force stands ready as a predominantly small-island naval force to assist with peacekeeping, disaster relief, security operations for major regional events, maritime security and training. Diálogo: The regional crisis-response mechanism was part of CANSEC’s agenda. How does The Bahamas contribute to the regional crisis-response effort? Cdre. Bethel: The Bahamas’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is an active partner within the regional crisis response framework under the umbrella of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. NEMA is also the lead agency for local crisis response and therefore coordinates or participates in regular regional training, planning, and strategizing for regional crisis response. In addition to providing primary support for NEMA, the RBDF provides assistance to the Caribbean Disaster Relief Unit at both the managerial and tactical levels. In the wake of Hurricane Maria (October 2017), The Bahamas assisted Dominica with the deployment of an RBDF auxiliary vessel, HMBS Lawrence Major, with hurricane relief supplies. In route, the 187-foot landing craft also collected and transported supplies from Jamaica to Dominica on behalf of Jamaica’s government. In Dominica, the ship’s company prepared hundreds of meals daily, assisted with basic repairs to public facilities, and provided much needed water. The Bahamian government deployed a small medical corps to assist with medical care. Diálogo: What is the focus of your military efforts as chief of Defence Staff? Cdre. Bethel: The Bahamas’s maritime domain is challenged by a host of illicit activities including the potential for terrorism. If left unchecked, these activities could threaten the stability of the region. RBDF primarily operates from its main base at Coral Harbour on the island of New Providence, in central Bahamas. This makes it very difficult for timely response to threats or to provide humanitarian assistance throughout our chain of islands. A major objective of mine over the next five years is to unfold RBDF’s decentralization program. It’s a three-part program consisting of the acquisition of patrol craft and the dredging of harbors, the expansion and development of bases, and the acquisition and installation of detection and tracking technologies within the northern, central, and southern Bahamas. Already, The Bahamian government has invested USD $232 million for the acquisition of nine patrol craft ranging in lengths from 100 feet to 187 feet, as well as the dredging of three harbors in central and southern Bahamas. As part of the second phase, plans are already unfolding for the expansion and development of bases on islands in central and southern Bahamas, near strategic choke points where much of the illicit activities originate. The third phase is also simultaneously underway with the acquisition and installation of communications systems, and detection, and tracking technologies with the assistance of the U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. Detection and tracking systems will include a network of coastal radars along our chain of islands. The first in a series of coastal radars was recently installed on our southernmost island with the assistance of FMF. The Bahamas has recently approved plans for the development and implementation of a multi-agency drone program to be coordinated by RBDF. The ultimate aim is to develop a multi-layered maritime security framework that would significantly improve RBDF’s C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capabilities within The Bahamas’s maritime domain. Diálogo: The Commonwealth of The Bahamas comprises 700 islands and 2,000 rocks and cays, which offer a paradise for tourists and a maritime haven for international criminal networks. What interagency initiatives has RBDF adopted to counter transnational criminal organizations? Cdre. Bethel: With over 700 islands to patrol and a myriad challenges, it is incumbent upon RBDF to network with its local and regional law enforcement and military partner agencies as force multipliers. The Defence Act, which also governs RBDF, makes provisions for RBDF to assist with law enforcement for the maintenance of law and order, or to be employed as directed by the National Security Council. In addition to assigning RBDF personnel to law enforcement agencies, RBDF has engaged in multiple, joint law enforcement operations with the Police Force, Customs, Immigration and the Marine Resources Unit, resulting in numerous arrests and, most recently, a significant reduction in serious crime on the streets of our capital city. Regionally, RBDF conducts joint operations with local police, the Turks and Caicos Police and U.S. law enforcement partners under Operations Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT). Additionally, The Bahamas and the U.S. have entered into a bilateral comprehensive maritime agreement that allows RBDF to engage in a ship-rider program where RBDF personnel are stationed as law-enforcement personnel aboard U.S. Coast Guard vessels. RBDF has also provided logistical and tactical support for several major joint combined operations with the police and U.S. partners. Diálogo: RBDF and the United States partnered on Operation Marlin Spike in January 2017. What was the objective and what successes did the operation report? Why was it important for The Bahamas and the U.S. to conduct it jointly? Cdre. Bethel: Operation Marlin Spike is a Joint Military Information Operations initiative between U.S. Northern Command and RBDF, to assist with the deterrence, prevention, or interdiction of drug, weapons, and human smuggling as well as poaching and potential terrorist activities within The Bahamas’s maritime domain through Information Operations (IO). We use IO as a mechanism to build support for our efforts among key sectors of the general public, in addition to disrupting or discouraging those who seek to violate The Bahamas’s maritime laws. A significant area of success, thus far, has been the constructive feedback from the community on how RBDF may better serve it. Although a Tips Telephone Line and Facebook page have been established as a part of this program, there has been a greater degree of success in receiving information concerning illicit activities born out of personal contacts made with the general public. Consequently, there is a gradual building of trust within the various communities. Our partnerships with the U.S., as neighbors with shared borders that are challenged with common threats, are important because they act as a force multiplier that enables The Bahamas and the U.S. to share vital expertise, resources, and information, as well as engage in joint operations with regional partners in combating common threats to regional safety and security, especially in the northern sector of the Caribbean region. Diálogo: What combined efforts does RBDF conduct with the United States? Cdre. Bethel: RBDF is a member of the Caribbean Region Information Operations Council, which fosters regional partnerships, networking, collaboration, and sharing of information for the promotion of regional stability and security through various IO programs in the region. We also have OPBAT, which consists primarily of U.S. Coast Guard rotor-wing assets that coordinate joint operations with the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, RBDF, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other U.S. law-enforcement agencies. RBDF also participates in three training exercises involving its Northern Command and/or Southern Command partners: Coral Cays, the Marlin Shield, and Tradewinds. RBPF and other local Bahamian law-enforcement partners, such as Immigration and Customs, are invited to participate when relevant. Coral Cays is a table-top planning and preparedness exercise that examines possible threat scenarios and the roles and responsibilities of those assigned to prevent, deter, detect, disrupt, eliminate or mitigate them. Marlin Shield is a joint combined counter-terrorism training exercise conducted every two years in The Bahamas. Principal agencies are Marine Forces North, Special Operations Command North, and RBDF. The exercise involves surface, air, and ground assets. The last exercise was held in 2017 and involved the tracking and apprehension of terrorists transiting The Bahamas in route to the U.S. southern border. Diálogo: Why is it important for RBDF to participate in multinational interagency exercises such as Tradewinds? Cdre. Bethel: All regional forces have their limitations in capacity and capabilities and therefore need to share their knowledge and expertise. This shared experience also helps to establish common procedures and protocols for interoperability, especially in the event regional partners are called upon to assist each other. Tradewinds provides tactical and operational training in areas of interoperability, collaboration, information sharing, and partnership building for the purpose of countering illicit smuggling activities like narcotics and weapons, terrorism, as well as mitigating natural disasters and providing humanitarian assistance at the regional level. Diálogo: RBDF has a strong partnership with the Rhode Island Army National Guard through the U.S. National Guard’s State Partnership Program. What kind of exchanges do you conduct together? Cdre. Bethel: The Rhode Island Army National Guard has provided extensive specialized training for RBDF, both in The Bahamas and in the United States since 2005. The training programs provided to RBDF over the years have included military policing, cyber and communications, logistics, force protection, detention center operations, non-lethal weapons training and weapons training, and K-9 training. These programs are typically one to three weeks in length. They are also complementary to other law-enforcement training programs conducted by RBDF, which will continue during 2019. Diálogo: What would you say were the most important achievements of RBDF in 2018? Cdre. Bethel: The RBDF has made a number of significant accomplishments during 2018. Among them were the apprehension of almost 200 poachers from the Dominican Republic, along with the confiscation of five steel-hulled fishing vessels with over 160,000 pounds of fisheries products on board, resulting in fines by the courts of over USD $8 million. RBDF also contributed to the reduction of serious crime on the streets of New Providence, where over 75 percent of Bahamians live, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in murders, the lowest in a decade. RBDF has apprehended or assisted in apprehending approximately 1,600 undocumented migrants being smuggled into The Bahamas. Additionally, RBDF provided logistical and tactical support for two major combined anti-drug operations with Bahamian police and U.S. law-enforcement agencies. With regard to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, RBDF continues to provide security for local residents on one of The Bahamas’s remote islands, which is still recovering from the devastation from Hurricane Matthew, in 2017. During 2018, more than 80 lives were rescued or assisted at sea.