In Search of Bigfoot

first_imgOriginal story ran in the August 2008 issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors.Blue Ridge Outdoors goes in search of Bigfoot.“Can all these people be crazy?” asks William Dranginis as we scan the forest with night vision goggles.“Thousands of people have seen them. How can they all be nuts?”It’s midnight and the black veil of darkness that pervades the woods has been transformed into varying shades of green, thanks to the night vision goggles we’re using. It’s as if we’ve stepped out of reality and into a video game.We’re looking for Bigfoot in a wildlife management area on the edge of the Rappahannock River, about an hour from Washington D.C. It’s a strange thing to be doing on a Sunday night in the woods of Eastern Virginia, because A) Bigfoot does not exist according to mainstream scientists, and B) if he does exist, it’s hard to imagine the creature living here, half an hour from the nearest D.C. Metro stop.But Dranginis claims to have seen a Bigfoot creature not far from here several years ago, and a number of sightings have been reported in this general vicinity dating back to the 1950s. Even though the Pacific Northwest is widely recognized as Bigfoot country, the Southeast has a long history of Bigfoot sightings, from the pre-colonial Native American tribes, to the first settlers in Virginia, to the Dranginises of today. Even more shocking than the prevalence of Bigfoot sightings below the Mason Dixon is the fact that a number of well-respected scientists are starting to warm up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, there’s something to all this Bigfoot business. Dranginis is on the forefront of Bigfoot field research, supplying some of these scientists with the data they need to prove to the world that Bigfoot is not just a mythical creature that exists in the imaginations of a few overzealous believers, but an actual living species of primate that should be recognized by the scientific community.So here we are, sitting in the dark on a Sunday night, searching the woods with night vision technology, looking for a seven-foot-tall ape-like creature who walks on two legs and is not supposed to exist.———-BIGFOOT 101Bigfoot is not alone. Most people assume Bigfoot is a single creature, but researchers believe there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of these man-like apes roaming the forests of the world. Eyewitnesses put the creature anywhere between six and ten feet tall. Reports vary, but they all say it is at least 500 pounds. It runs approximately 40 miles per hour. It is extremely agile, quiet, and curious but suspicious at the same time. Its eyes will sometimes glow red or yellow.In 1967, two Bigfoot hunters caught on video a large, ape-like creature in Northern California near the Oregon border. For 16 seconds of shaky film, you can watch Bigfoot walk on two legs through a sandy creek bed, swinging its arms with each big stride it takes before disappearing into the dense forest. It’s called the Patterson-Gimlin Film (named after the two hunters who captured the footage), and depending on whom you ask, it is either a glaring hoax or the most convincing evidence of Bigfoot’s existence. Doubters say the film captures nothing more than a man in an ape suit walking through the woods, but some experts in anatomy and motion say there is no way a man in a suit could pull off the locomotive nuances captured on film. To this day, the 16 seconds of film have never been definitively discredited, though many have tried.Fact or fiction, that film turned the Pacific Northwest into ground zero for Bigfoot encounters, while also inspiring hundreds of amateur “researchers” to hit the woods in hopes of catching a glimpse of the creature for themselves. Sightings have been reported all across America, from Florida to Washington State—eyewitness reports that have fueled a small army of Bigfoot hunters to scour the woods for enough tangible evidence to prove Bigfoot’s existence.Some say Bigfoot is the missing link, a distant cousin of man on the evolutionary tree. Others say the creatures are simply an undiscovered species of ape. The majority of mainstream scientists refuse to entertain either theory.“How do you research a creature that the scientific community says does not exist?” Dranginis asks as we sit in a field listening to bullfrogs bellow from a nearby pond. “Intelligence and superior technology. That’s how.”There are three other Bigfoot researchers with us in the forest, most of whom are decked out in camouflage and safari khaki, and they’re all packing serious technological hardware. Billy Willard is a researcher with his own weekly radio show about Sasquatch hunting who’s filming everything with an infrared digital video recorder. D.B. is a stay-at-home dad and the unofficial “sound guy” of the group. He’s hidden a digital audio recorder in the woods, a few hundred yards from our location, and he has dragged a massive speaker system into the forest on a red Radio Flyer wagon. He’s going to blast Bigfoot calls into the trees, hoping for a response. Then there’s Tom, a large man who refuses to take his Ray Bans off, even indoors, who records and listens to every sound in the forest through a parabolic microphone—a small satellite-looking device that amplifies even the smallest creak in the woods into clear, high-definition sound. Dranginis rolls onto the scene with an infrared digital video recorder, night vision goggles, and the holy grail of Sasquatch hunting: a thermal camera, which translates the landscape into varying heat signatures. The trees and bushes become ghost-white, while humans and animals become shapes of red, orange, and yellow.The price tag of all this high tech equipment? Over $20,000. And this is just Dranginis’ off-the-shelf equipment. For his day job, he works for Northrup Grumman modifying video security systems for the Department of Defense.“I get paid to develop technology that helps find people who don’t want to be found,” Dranginis says. “The work I do there parallels the work I do with Bigfoot.”Case in point: Dranginis has invented a remote camera system called the Eyegotcha that puts off no ultraviolet light or ultrasonic sound. It is the first camera system of its kind, and he hopes that it will be the key ingredient in catching these creatures on film, a feat that has not been accomplished since the original Bigfoot footage in 1967—at least, not to a degree that would satisfy skeptics.“There’s research that shows animals hear ultrasonic and see in ultraviolet,” Dranginis says, showing me his EyeGotcha system, which looks a lot like the black box of a commercial jet. “I think that’s why we haven’t caught one of these creatures on a trail camera yet. They know the cameras are there, and they avoid them.”Hundreds of people search for Bigfoot on a regular basis—there are active research groups in all 50 states—but none use the sort of high-tech equipment that Dranginis and his cohorts carry. For several years, Dranginis drove around Virginia and West Virginia in a converted RV stocked with the latest digital video and thermal imaging equipment available. Recently, he’s sold the RV and cashed in a chunk of his 401K to purchase a cabin in West Virginia—a permanent research station in a habitat that’s ripe with Bigfoot sightings.“It’s on the edge of a steep mountain with banks of old growth that loggers couldn’t get to,” Dranginis says. “I think that area supplied Sasquatch with a safety net, a place where they could live for generations without being harassed.”At the cabin, Dranginis is setting “curiosity traps” (glowing basketballs, jars of peanut butter, and TV screens that emit blue light into the woods) that trigger security cameras and homing beacons. It’s a project that has cost Dranginis over $100,000— money that he says is perfectly well spent. “Something’s gonna happen at the cabin. This is what’s gonna get me video.”Dranginis is an even-keeled, professional, middle-aged man with a family and steady job who just happens to be cashing in his retirement fund to hunt for a mythical creature. It’s a quest that Dranginis probably wouldn’t be on if he hadn’t gone metal detecting 13 years ago. That’s when he saw a seven-foot ape standing in the woods on the edge of Washington D.C. Dranginis and two FBI agents were looking for Civil War artifacts in a privately owned forest near Prince William Forest and Quantico. One of the agents dropped his metal detector and pointed toward the woods.“I look over and a big black head pops out from behind the tree,” Dranginis says. “Both the agents grabbed their weapons and the thing starts running. It was something right out of a book of mythology. Much bigger than human. Muscles flexing, hair blowing in the wind. The shoulders were four feet wide. No way was it a guy in a suit. It was big and bulky, but agile. We had a clear view of it. I looked down at one of my friend’s hands, and his knuckles were white around the gun.”The craziest thing about Dranginis’ account isn’t that he saw a giant bipedal ape that isn’t supposed to exist, it’s that he saw a giant bipedal ape in Eastern Virginia, thousands of miles away from the misty woods of the Pacific Northwest. If he would have said he saw Bigfoot in a mall outside Richmond, it wouldn’t sound any more unlikely. Dranginis contacted some Bigfoot researchers in California and Oregon at the time of his sighting, but they all told him the same thing: There are no Bigfoot in the Eastern United States.While most Bigfoot sightings come from the Pacific Northwest, Eastern states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida have a high frequency of sightings as well. There’s actually a long history of Bigfoot sightings throughout the Southeast. The first settlers to push west into Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia told stories of large apes throwing rocks at their settlements. The Cherokee Indians supposedly had two names for Bigfoot-like creatures: “Nun Yunu Wi” (Stone Man) and “Kecleh-Kudleh” (Hairy Savage). Loggers in the early part of the 20th century described apes along the mountains that divide Virginia and West Virginia. In 1960, a bread truck driver crossed a bridge in West Virginia when a seven-foot-tall ape-man walked in front of him. That particular sighting got picked up by several newspapers. Reports have been frequent in North Carolina’s Madison County since the first homesteaders set up permanent residence in the hollows. Dranginis is currently investigating three farms in Virginia that have repetitive Bigfoot activity.Bigfoot sightings in the Southeast are common. But then, so are Elvis sightings.“Anyone who says they’ve seen a Bigfoot is branded as a kook,” Dranginis says. “But this is not a crackpot scheme. There is physical evidence. I know what I saw.”———-ALSO KNOWN ASLarge, bipedal apes pop up in the folklore of native people across the globe. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most famous Bigfoot-like creatures.SASQUATCH“Sasquatch” is a derivative of “Sesquac,” which means “wild man” in a British Columbian Native American language.YETIStalking the high elevations of the Himalayas, the Yeti has captured the interest of the western world since climbers began tackling peaks like Everest. Local tribes consider the Yeti to be a fact of life, no more strange than the black bears of Appalachia. Reports from Western climbers are frequent throughout the last hundred years, so frequent that even Sir Edmund Hillary himself mounted an expedition in search of the massive man-ape.ALMASAnother variety of Bigfoot, this creature lives in the mountainous terrain on the border of Mongolia and China. It’s more human-like than our Bigfoot; some scientists believe it’s more of a Neanderthal than a primate.SISIMITEThis is the ape-man of Central America. The shaggy-haired creature is said to have supernatural powers, which it uses to protect the wilderness. According to legend, the Sisimite will attack hunters in order to protect wildlife.SKUNK APEThe Southernmost Bigfoot to occupy North America, the Skunk Ape is a resident of Florida’s extensive Everglades. Some say it is a cousin to Bigfoot, while others say it’s the same species. The number of sightings of the Skunk Ape in Florida rival the number sightings of Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. The animal earned its name because of its unique smell.———-THE SCIENCE OF BIGFOOT“I get accused of believing in Bigfoot, but belief has nothing to do with it,” says Dr. Jeff Meldrum, an anthropologist and professor at Idaho State University as well as a curator at the Idaho Museum of Natural History. “One of my goals is to establish a base of what we know about Bigfoot and determine if there is enough evidence to warrant serious scientific study. My conclusion, as well as the conclusion of other academics and professionals, is yes, there is something to this. Something is leaving footprints, shedding hair, and vocalizing.”More and more legitimate scientists are starting to open their minds to the notion that there may be an unknown species living in the mountains of North America. George Shaller, one of the pioneers of primate research and the director of the Wildlife Conservation Society, has called for a serious scientific inquiry into the Sasquatch phenomenon. Famous primatologist Jane Goodall (inspiration for the movie Gorillas in the Mist) has spoken at Sasquatch seminars and came out on National Public Radio as a Bigfoot believer, telling the reporter, “You’ll be amazed when I tell you I’m sure they exist. I’ve talked to so many Native Americans who all described the same sounds. Two who have seen them…”The most outspoken Sasquatch scientist, however, is Meldrum, who specializes in primate locomotion and evolution. Meldrum has a collection of legitimate evidence that could intrigue even the staunchest skeptic: dozens of hair samples that scientists have not been able to classify as any known mammal, a cornucopia of sighting reports from credible witnesses like Dranginis, and hundreds of footprint casts which, according to Meldrum, are the most convincing pieces of evidence that Bigfoot exists.“There are some questionable casts, as well as some glaring hoaxes, but a heck of a lot of these casts are suggestive of consistent, distinct anatomy,” Meldrum says. “In these footprints, we see a flexible-footed primate, elegantly suited to the environment it finds itself in. It is overwhelmingly the foot of a primate that appears to have evolved and adapted to its environment.”Among the thousands of footprint casts that Meldrum studies, hundreds display the same unique characteristics. They come from all over the country, but have subtle similarities that Meldrum maintains could not be forged. The legitimate Bigfoot footprints all display dermal ridges (similar to a fingerprint, but on the bottom of a primate’s foot), as well as the mid-tarsal break, which suggests a flexible foot. Minute details like these that only a primate anthropologist would recognize have Meldrum convinced that there is a natural, living species behind the footprints.“It’s more incredible to suggest that all of this is the result of an elaborate hoax that spans decades and thousands of miles than it is to suggest there is an unknown species leaving these footprints,” Meldrum says. “Today, you never know if these eyewitnesses are just pulling the descriptions off the web. But stories that leave footprints and shed hair? If these are all fake, if all these people through the decades, across continents, are partaking in a hoax based on remarkably subtle consistencies that only an anthropologist would recognize, then who’s passing out the instruction manual? Who’s telling these people exactly what to do over the last 50 years?”———-BIG FOOT ON MYSPACE“Would you rather have the brain squeeze or the heart punch?” D.B. asks as we huddle together on a gravel forest road, waiting for Bigfoot to come charging through the woods, or scream at the top of his lungs, or throw a rock in our direction.He’s referring to a cheesy “Bigfoot Attacks” horror movie where Sasquatch goes on a killing rampage, squeezing brains and punching people in the heart. There’s a lot of schlock surrounding the Bigfoot phenomenon. For instance, Bigfoot has his own Myspace page. It says Sasquatch likes “breaking sticks, facial hair, and ‘Will and Grace.’”Some Bigfoot enthusiasts believe the creature has mind control and telepathic powers. Others think Bigfoot can walk through portals of time and space. There’s a popular theory that involves an alien race who used the Bigfoot creatures as the building block for a genetic modification project which led to the human race. Others suggest Bigfoot is an offshoot of humanity, a pit stop along the evolutionary journey to our current state.All of this is peripheral static that clouds the true science of Bigfoot research, according to Meldrum.“Bigfoot is not a close relative to people. This species does not rewrite history or evolution—it is simply another great ape,” Meldrum says. “There’s an automatic lumping of Sasquatch with the paranormal, the otherworldly or alien. There’s a stigma involved with this research. Part of the problem is that there is a void in the field left because of the rejection of Bigfoot from the scientific establishment. Into that void steps the amateur investigator. There are a lot of people who are just too enthusiastic, who see Bigfoot everywhere.”Eyewitness reports are usually treated with skepticism because of the “enthusiasm factor,” but the quantity of sightings can’t be ignored. Neither can the locations.“In Idaho, 99 percent of the reported sightings exist in an area of the state that gets 16 inches or more of rain annually,” Meldrum says. “The majority of reports across North America come from similar ecosystems. We’re not seeing reports by certain types of people, but by people who venture into certain types of ecosystems. We don’t get sightings from the deserts of Nevada. The sightings aren’t demographic, but geographic.”The geographic similarities in the sightings help support the leading scientific theory regarding Bigfoot, which involves an ancient species of giant primate who migrated across the Bering land bridge. Gigantopithecus was the largest ape ever to roam the earth. Projections based on molars and partial skeletons recovered in Chinese medicine shops put the primate at 10 feet tall and 1,200 pounds. Researchers believe that climate change and resource competition from early humans either killed off Gigantopithecus, or forced it to migrate into friendlier ecosystems. Several species alive during the same time period migrated across the land bridge between Asia and North America, including certain species of the brown bear.“Gigantopithecus was the right size, in the right location, and lived at the right time to migrate across the land bridge,” Meldrum says. “If the Gigantopithecus was a ground ape of a large size, as it is believed to be, it makes sense that it would have wanted to migrate into these forests.”Certain Native American mythology and artifacts support this theory. Most North American tribes refer to Bigfoot-like creatures. The Sioux called Bigfoot their “elder brother.” The Hopi considered Bigfoot a messenger who appeared in evil times as a warning from the creator. The Anasazi painted petroglyphs of demi-god figures with enlarged hands and feet. Masks created by the Tsimshia Tribes near British Columbia depict monkey faces. Stone heads were carved by Native Americans in the Columbia River Basin that resemble the face of an ape. The heads and masks date from 1500 BCE to 200 AD. If there was never a species of primate living in North America, where did these tribes find primate faces to base their artwork from?In light of the cultural and physical evidence that’s being gathered, there is a thawing in the scientific community in regards to Bigfoot, according to Meldrum. “When you have the likes of Jane Goodall and others taking a “let’s see” attitude, it certainly lends an amount of credibility.”———-A BIG FOOT ENCOUNTERJason Valenti studied to be a minister at Oral Roberts University. He was taught to believe that evolution was just a thin theory and that humans were put on this earth by God’s hand several thousand years ago. He believed these things without question until the night he saw a Bigfoot creature on the side of the road in northern Florida.“I was driving outside of Tallahassee with a friend,” Valenti says. “We got lost and took a wrong road through the national forest. It was about 4am, but both of us were wide awake. When I saw the creature first, I thought it was an Irish Setter chasing its tail on the side of the road. So I put my brights on. Then the thing stood up. She was 6’8”, maybe 7’. Her hip came to the top of the door jamb of the truck. It was a big creature, hair on its chest. It stumbled backwards, mouth open, hands covering its face. You could see the muscles in her arms, the tendons. She had incredibly wide shoulders, no neck, and sort of an hourglass figure. Primates are incredibly furry, but in places, you could see patches of skin, like the palms of her hands. She had such human-looking hands, it made me wonder what this thing was. She dropped down, bringing her fists to the ground, and she did a standing broad jump, twisting in the air and jumping 30 feet away. She hit the ground and immediately jumped again, and she was gone. Humans just don’t have any comprehension about how fast these things can move. They move like lightning.“My friend and I sat in complete silence the whole way home. We didn’t talk about it for another year, until I got to the point where I was beginning to doubt it ever happened. Eventually, I told everyone at church and they all thought I was possessed by a demon. I couldn’t stop obsessing about it.”The sighting made Valenti question everything he had been taught to believe within his church—if evolution was not true, then what was this thing that was so human-like, yet so animal-like as well? Valenti left the church and moved to Oregon to study Bigfoot full-time.“I had to start a whole new life because of my sighting. It blew my belief system into pieces,” Valenti says.“I’m using Bigfoot as a springboard into something so fantastic and amazing. I’m looking for answers as to why the human race has appeared out of nowhere like it has. I’m interested in Bigfoot because of where it leads us theologically. I want to prove the existence of Bigfoot so we can move on to the bigger questions.”———-THE LION EATERVillagers in a remote corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo tell stories of a giant ape that kills lions. Legend has it, the apes are seven feet tall with large black faces. They catch fish and howl at the moon, walk on two feet, and hunt in packs. Aside from a few footprints and some questionable first-person accounts, these legends were all primatologists had to go on when they embarked on a massive search of the Congo for these giant apes in 2003. A massive primate species in the Congo intrigued scientists, since no known species of chimpanzee had reached the epic size described, and the nearest gorilla population in Africa was thousands of miles away.Researchers descended upon the Congo in droves, armed with the latest technology and hundreds of thousands of dollars in research grants. Several months later, they discovered the Bili Ape, a giant chimpanzee, larger than any other chimp or gorilla, that has developed a completely new chimpanzee culture due to their isolated habitat. The Bili Ape isn’t a relative of Bigfoot or Gigantopithecus, but it proves two things: Large primates like Bigfoot do still exist, and sometimes, legends are more than just stories.The massive chimps (chimps are the closest evolutionary relative to humans) occasionally walk on two feet, sleep on the ground, and use rocks to smash the shells of turtles and snails to gain access to meat. Scientists believe these chimps have developed a completely different culture, departing from chimpanzee norms. Given the Bili Ape’s distinct and highly developed “smashing culture,” some even believe they are catching evolution in the act.“What’s interesting about the Bili Ape is the evidence the researchers had on hand,” Meldrum says. “Oversized footprints, nests, local lore. This is the same kind of evidence we have for the existence of the Sasquatch, only in the case of the Bili Ape, there was much less of it. Still, the evidence warranted huge grants and interest from mainstream anthropologists.”What will it take to send mainstream anthropologists into the forests of North America looking for a similar species of giant ape? Considering there has never been a record of an ape species living in North America, it’s going to take a dead body. The fact that no hunter has ever shot a Bigfoot and strapped it to the hood of his truck is the most damning piece of evidence against the theory of an unknown species of ape lurking in North America’s forests.“Where’s the body?” Dranginis asks as we watch the woods through his thermal camera. There are no heat signatures on the screen—nothing but white trees and bushes. “I honestly don’t know why we’ve never come across a dead Sasquatch. I’m working with a statistician to examine this. Assuming there are a certain number of Sasquatch out there, assuming a certain number will get struck by lightning or have a tree fall on them, or get shot and crawl off to die, what is the probability of coming across one in the woods? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”Based on eyewitness reports and legitimate footprint casts, Meldrum puts the entire Sasquatch population at about 500 for all of North America, which he believes is large enough to sustain reproduction without inbreeding, given the numbers of other species of ape. Factor in the low number of the animals, the expanse of North America’s wildlands, and the 35-50-year life expectancy of an ape species in that size range, and Meldrum doesn’t see the lack of a body to be that damning of a feature.“When you’ve only got one or two Sasquatch dying in a given year in all of North America, what are the odds of finding a carcass?” Meldrum asks. “We’re looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.”———-THE FINAL FRONTIERDranginis and I sit in our camping chairs on the edge of the Rappahannock and listen to Bigfoot’s howl pierce the woods in front of us. It sounds like a coyote, or a werewolf howling at the moon. The noise comes from D.B.’s speaker blast, and the sound quality is excellent.A number of Bigfoot calls have been recorded over the years, and “vocalizations” are one of the more puzzling pieces of evidence that Bigfoot exists. The call D.B. is blasting is known as the “Illinois Howl.” The most famous Bigfoot vocalization is actually a series of recordings known as “Sierra Sounds,” which is periodical Bigfoot chatter recorded over a period of years in the Sierra Nevadas. The chatter has been tested by a number of linguists, sound engineers, and wildlife experts, all of whom have determined that the vocalizations did not match any known animal and could not be human because of the vocal range.We sit, quiet and still, and wait for a response. Nothing. No repeated howl. No scream in response. No call back.“Tonight, there are maybe ten other people in the entire United States doing this exact same thing,” Dranginis says, filling the night with his voice. “When I first got the thermal camera, I thought I’d see the creatures everywhere, but nothing. It’s been 13 years and I’ve never had another sighting.”The skeptic would say that Dranginis never had a sighting in the first place. What he and the two FBI agents saw 13 years ago was a psychological event, or a massive bear, or a man in a suit—anything but a seven-foot-tall ape that walks on two feet. The reluctance to believe these Bigfoot sightings, hair samples, footprints, local legends, and legitimate scientists is understandable given the well-traveled terrain of North America. Our highway systems are expansive, our suburbs are sprawling. Only 5% of America’s old growth forest remains intact—we’ve cut down the rest. How could a species of giant ape go undetected during the systematic clearing of our forests over the last 100 years?“The attitude that every nook and cranny of North America has been explored is frustrating,” Meldrum says. “A lot of people don’t have a sense of the vastness of our forests. There are a lot of places that I’m quite sure have not seen a human footprint.”In the Southeast, more old growth is being discovered every year. More importantly, species that were previously driven out of our region are returning, like the coyote, cougar, and red wolf. Perhaps Bigfoot is undergoing a similar migration. Perhaps the great apes have hidden in the small pockets of untouched forests for decades and are only now coming back home.For fun, I pick up the thermal camera and train it on the forest in front of us. The trees register a stone white. The pond has cooled down in the few hours we’ve been staking out the area, shifting from a warm pink to a cool gray. Everything on the thermal screen is now a cold, white hue. There is no Sasquatch in front of us, but according to Meldrum and others, that doesn’t mean there is no Sasquatch.last_img read more

Brazil’s Economic Prosperity Attracts Bolivian Cocaine

first_img More than 50 percent of the cocaine processed in Bolivia is destined for Brazil, where the number of consumers has noticeably increased due to the economic prosperity of recent years, according to an investigation by the daily Valor, published on December 12. “In the last ten years, Brazil has moved from being a transit country to being a consumption country” for cocaine, said Murilo Vieira, a diplomatic official at the Brazilian embassy in La Paz. The country is suffering “the collateral effects” of having raised 30 million people out of poverty who became middle-class consumers over the last decade, Vieira added. “The so-called new middle class acquired access to cocaine and to a relatively cheap drug, crack” (a cocaine product), the diplomat stated. As a consequence of the increased consumption in Brazil, “Colombian, Mexican, Peruvian, and Brazilian mafias began to establish themselves in Bolivia in order to export those drugs” to Brazilian territory, according to Valor. “Between around 60 and 80 percent of Bolivian cocaine is destined for the Brazilian market, estimated at around 900,000 users,” which would make the country the third-largest consumer of the drug, behind the United States and the European Union, the newspaper said. Control of drug-trafficking routes has unleashed a struggle among mafia groups in Bolivia, “at times violent, at times not so violent, but involving all” the organizations, Douglas Farah, a researcher at the International Assessment and Strategy Center in the United States said. Bolivia, the world’s third-largest cocaine producer after Peru and Colombia, according to the UN, signed an agreement with Brazil at the beginning of the year to fight drug trafficking using Brazilian unmanned planes. Early in December, the Brazilian government acknowledged that it is facing a “crack epidemic” due to the increased consumption of the substance and announced an offensive combining medical care for users and a hard line against trafficking at the borders. In 2010, the Brazilian Federal Police seized almost 28 tons of cocaine (paste, hydrochloride, and crack) and 154 tons of marijuana. In 2011, they had seized 15 tons of cocaine and 87 of marijuana as of August, a Federal Police spokesperson told AFP. By Dialogo December 13, 2011last_img read more

NCUA adopts two rules on appraisals

first_img continue reading » At its April 16, 2020 meeting, the NCUA Board adopted two rules relative to the requirement to obtain an appraisal on certain real-estate related transactions. First, the Board amended the appraisal rule to increase the threshold where a formal appraisal may be required from $250,000 to $400,000. Second, the Board adopted an interim final rule defers the requirement for obtaining an appraisal or valuation requirement for up to 120 days after closing. These changes went into effect on April 21, 2020 and are effective through December 31, 2020.As background, NCUA’s appraisal requirements in Part 722 depend on the risk posed by the loan. The requirements defines two different levels of appraiser credentials: a state licensed appraiser or a state certified appraiser. NCUA’s appraisal regulation requires an appraisal performed by a state certified or state licensed appraiser for real-estate related financial transactions that are not complex, involves residential real estate, and the transaction value not guaranteed under a government agency or government sponsored agency is under the threshold in the rule. An appraisal by a state certified appraiser is required for all transactions of $1,000,000 or more; and “complex” residential real estate transactions where the transaction value not guaranteed under a government agency or government sponsored agency is over the threshold in the rule. For some additional background, check out this NAFCU Compliance Blog post.Many may recall that a few months ago, federal banking regulators increased the threshold for when certain real estate transactions would require a formal appraisal from $250,000 to $400,00 back in September 2019. In contrast, NCUA still kept the threshold for credit unions at $250,000. NAFCU advocated for parity for credit unions, and NCUA’s final rule does this. This rule will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register. In Letter to Credit Unions 20-CU-10, released yesterday evening, NCUA summarized this change accordingly: ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

What does the growth of antidepressant consumption in the world have to do with tourism?

first_imgAustralia is the second largest consumer of antidepressants, followed by Portugal, the UK, etc.… This is also a good example of how ideas are created or a plastic example of a creative process. Just one piece of information, a moment, a picture, a sentence is enough to get our attention to start a creative tornado in our head. That is why it is necessary to read, explore, look at the world with open eyes, and follow a wider range of topics. It all starts with one idea, and I hope that this article has provoked at least one positive reaction, so maybe with a good brainstorming a new tourist story will happen. PS The project will start soon “Let’s go to the country”In Zagreb County, so here is perhaps the first opportunity for a #nostress weekend without the city crowds and noise. NoStress as the main motive for communication would offer enjoyment on an island without a lot of people, in the pre- or postseason, or in Lika and Slavonia, and would certainly include active tourism, eno and gastronomic offer, Wellness, olive picking, Lika or Velebit (Via Dinarica ), cycling in the interior of Istria and visiting taverns, eco accommodation, picking truffles or lavender (making perfume or lavender soap), a tour that visits several islands, etc.… on the other hand physical work, as well as sports, is according to many studies a good stress channel . Can I imagine spending a weekend in Betina on Murter in the off-season at a small shipbuilding workshop? I certainly can. And if he managed to make a small boat that is functional in 7 days, that would be a great story. Imagine taking a ride on a boat you made yourself and throwing a hook and catching dinner with the host. By the way, last year in Resort 9 on Korčula, in cooperation with the masters of shipbuilding, they worked on a workshop with guests, and as part of the animation team worked with children on small wooden boats, which were functional and later driven by children at sea. I can only imagine the joy and facial expressions of the children as they boarded their wooden boat and sailed the sea. By the way, the consumption of antidepressants is growing in the world from year to year, and various studies show that. For example, as reported by Novi List, in a study published in the European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, it is stated that in the period from 2005 to 2012, the number of young people prescribed antidepressants by doctors in Germany increased by 49 percent, in the UK by 54 percent, and in Denmark by as much as 60 percent. In the same period, the United States recorded a 26 percent increase in the consumption of these drugs, and the Netherlands a 17 percent increase. Photo: Pixabay.com Can we offer a #nostress weekend or week in Croatia? We certainly can, from the islands, the inland along the coast and continental tourism. Also, we can thematically relate to the same philosophy, but through some additional motive / passion such as reading, (a week of literature by the sea, a week of French chanson) or some education in the context of sewing, brewing beer, etc.… These are all just different ideas that are currently spinning in my head, my brain is working in sixth gear, but with a little longer brainstorming you can certainly make a great story and a winning “nostress combination. Especially if there are more of us, because two heads are smarter than one. Source: Statista Looking at this table, the idea immediately came to my mind so that we could use this information well for tourism, in the context of a tourist offer that communicates and positions a destination as a #NoStres destination. So let me share the loud thinking with you. When we look at the bigger picture, stress is one of the main diseases of the modern age, and the growing focus is on exercise, a healthy and organic diet or a healthy lifestyle, and immediately away from the hustle and bustle of the city and work. What does the growth of antidepressant consumption in the world have to do with tourism? Opportunity to extend before and after the season? #nostress as a tourist product and smart positioning of a tourist destination would certainly be a smart move. The world is full of people who share the same passion, and who gather through various specified and niche portals, groups, etc.… let’s say one of the great passions are the fans of the spachki. Thus, Samobor hosted 23 participants from 9000 countries and about 40 visitors as part of the 3000rd World Meeting of Spaček in a few days. There is no #NoStress motive in this story, maybe it would be more of an international chess tournament on an island, but I’m just giving an example of how people connect through various passions, which can and are the motive for coming. (Chess grandmaster Gari Kasparov has Croatian citizenship and lives in Croatia, and I’m sure many chess lovers would like to have the opportunity to talk to him in person) Globally, the World Health Organization estimates, depression will become another health problem by 2020. #NoStress, healthy living, nature, ecology, organic food, with an additional motive for coming are certainly a great combination. Fifteen years ago, Iceland had the world’s highest rate of antidepressant consumption – 15 out of 71 people consumed antidepressants daily. Until 1.000, this trend did not change, unfortunately it only worsened, and according to the Statistics in 2015, the number of antidepressant consumption increased to 2015 out of 130 antidepressants consumed daily. #NoStress as the focus and positioning of a destination in the off-season. Why not, who will be the first to position itself in that segment? Of course, this is not about the mass of tourists, but about the philosophy of fewer tourists with higher consumption. One thing is for sure, but stress tours that offer a break from the hustle and bustle of the city with an invitation to get to know nature, hear the “sound of silence” and various other marketing messages packaged in a great NoStress tourist product could be a hit.last_img read more

HBOR has extended the moratorium for all tourism activities until 2021.

first_imgAll clients are allowed to use the moratorium for up to 7 months, ie until 30 September 9. For clients who have a positive COVID score according to the FINA methodology (or otherwise prove a drop in income) it is possible to use the moratorium for up to 2020 months , ie until 10 December 31. Clients engaged in tourism are allowed to use the moratorium for up to 12 months, ie until 2020 June 16. However, since the business of Croatian businessmen is still affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, HBOR has extended the moratorium, HBOR reports, pointing out that tourism activities allowed a moratorium of up to 16 months. “The use of the moratorium, which we made possible as a first measure, has so far been accepted by almost 1.500 HBOR clients. Since Croatian entrepreneurs are still suffering the economic consequences of the epidemic, and given the still difficult working conditions, it has been possible to extend the moratorium and introduce new conditions for the repayment of due obligations and reprograms.”Said Tamara Perko, President of the Management Board of HBOR. In addition to the moratorium, HBOR, with the introduced measure of rescheduling existing credit obligations, enabled entrepreneurs to extend the terms of use, waiting and repayment of loans. For reprogramming up to 6 months, entrepreneurs are exempted from paying the usual fees, and the new decision allows entrepreneurs from tourism activities to approve reprogramming for up to 16 months, also without paying fees.center_img In March, in order to mitigate the negative consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic, HBOR enabled its clients to reschedule loans and use the moratorium until 30 June 6, with the announced possibility of extension. HBOR will send a direct notification to the direct users of the loan on the conditions for extending the moratorium, as well as the consent form that the loan users will need to submit to HBOR, HBOR added.last_img read more

Chelsfield to take over Global Switch

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Indonesians opt for secondhand cars amid slowing economy: Report

first_img“More than half of the respondents said they were thinking about buying a car within the next year, signaling great potential for the used cars market to grow,” said OLX Autos Indonesia CEO Johnny Widodo in a statement on Tuesday.OLX Autos, which was formerly known as BeliMobilGue.co.id, announced their rebranding on Tuesday as part of its further partnership with OLX Indonesia since its initial relationship in 2018.The partnership was said to broaden OLX Autos’ market in its offline and online platforms.    The used car industry, Johnny went on to say, would likely need two to three months to bounce back as demand returned. The automotive industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and the social restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus, which have dampened consumer spending and affected business activities.According to Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers Association (Gaikindo) data, domestic car sales fell by more than 95 percent year-on-year to only 3,551 units in May, a continuation of the downward trend seen since March.Gaikindo chairman Yohannes Nangoi previously said the “rock bottom” for car sales was seen in May, expressing hope that sales could start to recover as large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) were relaxed in various cities nationwide.Automotive industry expert Bebin Djuana, meanwhile, observed that people in general were not thinking about buying cars because of the decreased need to travel, weaker purchasing power and the prioritization of other needs.However, he still saw opportunities for growth in the secondhand car market, as people did not want to be burdened with car loan payments during this time.Read also: RI auto industry remains attractive: Fitch Solutions“There is currently a downward trend in used car prices because automotive manufacturers are cutting their prices amid the pandemic-induced economic slowdown,” Bebin told Post on Wednesday.“But as showrooms are offering discounts and new cars come with insurance, there will still be competition between the used and new car markets.”He also observed that people were turning to online marketplaces to buy used cars, adding that such consumer behavior would become more common, especially during the physical distancing period.“However, used car sellers are sometimes reluctant to use online marketplaces as they want to get paid immediately. They do not want to deal with complex third-party payment gateways,” Bebin said. Topics : Editor’s note: This article has been revised to correctly state that the marketplace’s name is OLX Autos Indonesia. Indonesian consumers are opting to buy used cars instead of new ones as the COVID-19 pandemic dampens people’s spending power.Muhammad Rizqullah, who goes by Kiki, said he bought a used car last week after trying to find one since April. The 24-year old non-governmental organization (NGO) employee who lives in Jakarta admitted he also looked into buying a new car, but even with the discount offered by online marketplaces, new ones were still out of his budget.”I bought the car because used car prices have gone down due to lower demand,” he told The Jakarta Post via text message on Thursday. Private company employee Deka Komanda, 23, also chose a secondhand car because he could get a better model compared to a new car at the same price.Read also: Aftermarket auto companies weather pandemic through online sales”If you have the funds, it is time to buy a car as prices are going down during this pandemic,” he said.A study titled The “New Normal” of Indonesia Used Car Industry by classified advertisements website OLX Indonesia and its used car dealership OLX Autos Indonesia showed that 54 percent of survey respondents said they were considering buying a used car instead of a new one.last_img read more

Muslims begin downsized haj pilgrimage

first_imgWorkers, clutching brooms and disinfectant, were seen cleaning the area around the Kaaba, the structure at the center of the Grand Mosque draped in gold-embroidered cloth towards which Muslims around the world pray.Haj authorities have cordoned off the Kaaba this year, saying pilgrims will not be allowed to touch it, to limit the chances of infection.They also reported setting up multiple health facilities, mobile clinics and ambulances to cater to the pilgrims.The foreign press are barred from this year’s haj, usually a huge global media event, as the government tightens access to Mecca. “There are no security-related concerns in this pilgrimage, but [downsizing] is to protect pilgrims from the danger of the pandemic,” said Khalid bin Qarar Al-Harbi, Saudi Arabia’s director of public security.Pilgrims will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing during a series of religious rites that are completed over five days in the holy city of Mecca and its surroundings in western Saudi Arabia.Those selected to take part in the haj were subject to temperature checks and placed in quarantine as they began trickling into Mecca at the weekend.State media showed health workers sanitizing their luggage, and some pilgrims reported being given electronic wristbands to allow authorities to monitor their whereabouts. Topics : Muslim pilgrims on Wednesday begin the annual haj, dramatically downsized this year as the Saudi hosts strive to prevent a coronavirus outbreak during the five-day pilgrimage.The haj, one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, is usually one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.But this year only up to 10,000 people already residing in the kingdom will participate in the ritual, a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world that attended last year.center_img ‘Indescribable feeling’ Saudi authorities initially said only around 1,000 pilgrims residing in the kingdom would be permitted for the haj, but local media reports say as many as 10,000 will be allowed to take part.Some 70 percent of the pilgrims are foreigners residing in the kingdom, while the rest will be Saudi citizens, authorities said. All worshippers were required to be tested for coronavirus before arriving in Mecca and will also have to quarantine after the pilgrimage as the number of cases in the kingdom nears 270,000 — one of the largest outbreaks in the Middle East.They were given elaborate amenity kits that include sterilized pebbles for a stoning ritual, disinfectants, masks, a prayer rug and the ihram, a seamless white garment worn by pilgrims, according to a haj ministry program document.”I did not expect, among millions of Muslims, to be blessed with approval,” Emirati pilgrim Abdullah al-Kathiri said in a video released by the Saudi media ministry.”It is an indescribable feeling… especially since it is my first pilgrimage.”The haj ministry said non-Saudi residents of the kingdom from around 160 countries competed in the online selection process but it did not say how many people applied.Some disappointed applicants have complained that the government-run lottery was not clearly outlined and that no reason was given for their rejection. Economic slump The haj ministry has fielded a deluge of anguished queries on Twitter from rejected applicants.But Haj Minister Mohammad Benten insisted the process was transparent, telling the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television that “health determinants” formed the basis of selection.Despite the pandemic, many pilgrims consider it safer to participate in this year’s ritual without the usual colossal crowds cramming into tiny religious sites, which make it a logistical nightmare and a health hazard.Even in a regular year, the haj leaves pilgrims exposed to a host of illnesses.The government scaled back the pilgrimage as it could be a major source of contagion, but the move will deepen the kingdom’s economic slump, analysts say.Saudi Arabia is already facing a sharp downturn in oil prices due to a collapse in global demand driven by national lockdowns, which triggered austerity measures, including the tripling of a value added tax and cuts to civil servants’ allowances.The virus has also battered pilgrimage-reliant businesses that support hundreds of thousands of jobs in Mecca, from travel agents to street barbers and souvenir shops.The haj and the year-round umrah pilgrimages together rake in some $12 billion annually.last_img read more

Paul H. Suttmann

first_imgPaul H. Suttmann, age 81 of Batesville, died Sunday, June 26, 2016 at the Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. Born December 2, 1934 in Batesville, he is the son of Lillian (nee: Niese) and John Suttmann. Paul married Shirley Dickman April 15, 1961 at St. Louis Catholic Church in Batesville. He was a member of St. Louis Church and was a factory worker at the Hill-Rom Co. for 44 years before retiring.Paul enjoyed many things throughout his life. He loved nature and the outdoors, especially spending time working in his large garden. During his younger years, he was raised on his family’s farm and enjoyed farming with his family. He loved to go bowling and he could often be found at McDonald’s in the mornings having a cup of coffee and talking to the people that where there. He loved watching The Weather Channel and talking in general to people about the weather. Paul loved to eat food no matter what type of food it was. He was an avid card player with 7up and Solo among his favorites and according to his family, he “Hated to Lose”! Paul’s true passion though was his family. He could often be seen driving around town with his wife Shirley and attending his children’s, grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s events over the years.He is survived by his wife Shirley; daughters and sons-in-law Deborah and Terry Nobbe, Paula and Gerard Bosse and Beth and Mark Schutte, all of Batesville; son and daughter-in law Michael and Anne Suttmann of Batesville; sister Clarrisa “Chris” Adams of West Chester, Ohio; brothers Cletus Suttmann of Oldenburg and Albert Suttmann of Sacramento, California; 10 grandchildren, 3 step-grandchildren and 4 great- grandchildren. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his son-in-law Michael Werner; sisters Alvina Herbert, Sarah Jones and Martha Wilhelm; brother Wilbur Suttmann.Visitation is Wednesday, June 29th, from 4 – 7 p.m. at the Weigel Funeral Home in Batesville. Funeral services will be held Thursday, June 30th, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Louis Church in Batesville, with Rev. Stan Pondo officiating. The burial will follow in the church cemetery. The family requests memorials to the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation (CDLS) or the St. Louis Cemetery Fund. (Online condolences may be made at www.weigelfh.com)last_img read more

Victorious Jurgen Klopp sets Anfield departure date

first_img Promoted Content7 Black Hole Facts That Will Change Your View Of The UniverseThe Very Last Bitcoin Will Be Mined Around 2140. Read MoreA Guy Turns Gray Walls And Simple Bricks Into Works Of ArtEver Thought Of Sleeping Next To Celebs? This Guy Will Show You6 Interesting Ways To Make Money With A DroneBest & Worst Celebrity Endorsed Games Ever MadeOnly Those Who Live In 1980s Know What It Is6 Extreme Facts About Hurricanes5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme Parks7 Inventions Created To Start Saving The World10 Risky Jobs Some Women Do5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme Parks Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said he intends to leave the club at the end of his contract in 2024. Klopp became Liverpool boss in 2016 and has guided them to the Champions League and Premier League title in consecutive seasons. It is the first time the club has been English champions in 30 years and they also claimed their sixth European Cup win. Klopp signed a new deal in December but said he wants to return to Germany in four years’ time. When asked how long he plans to remain in England, he told SWR Sport: “Four years in Liverpool [and then] do nothing for a year.”But in five years, the world can look very different.” During his first season at Anfield, Klopp lost in the League Cup and Europa League finals before losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in 2018.Advertisement However, the club has bounced back from those setbacks to become the reigning English and European champions. Klopp also led Liverpool to the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup this season. Klopp has never spent more than seven years at a single club with his spells at German clubs Mainz and Borussia Dortmund. Read AlsoKlopp frustrated as Burnley end Liverpool’s home run Liverpool are still on course to set a new Premier League points record this season if they win their remaining three matches. The league champions travel to Arsenal on Wednesday before facing Chelsea next week at Anfield where they will lift the trophy. Klopp’s side finish the league campaign with a trip to Newcastle United. Loading… FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 last_img read more