President Donald Trump announced in a tweet Friday he is nominating Notre Dame alumnus Congressman John Ratcliffe, a Republican from Texas, to be Director of National Intelligence (DNI).“Would have completed process earlier, but John wanted to wait until after IG Report was finished. John is an outstanding man of great talent!” Trump said in the tweet.If successfully confirmed by the Senate, Ratcliffe will replace acting DNI Richard Grenell. Trump had previously indicated he wished to nominate Ratcliffe to the DNI post — vacant after former Indiana senator Dan Coates resigned from the role — last July. However, Ratcliffe withdrew from the nomination process after Republicans and Democrats alike voiced their concerns about his qualifications for the role.Ratcliffe graduated from Notre Dame in 1987, earning a bachelor’s degree in Government and International Studies and the Arts and Letters Program for Administrators.Tags: Director of National Intelligence, Donald Trump, John Ratcliffe, U.S. Senate
In this month’s issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors, guidebook author and North Carolina climbing advocate Mike Reardon relays the December 1966 first ascent of the Nose at Looking Glass, a benchmark achievement in the history of North Carolina climbing. First ascentionists Steve Longenecker, Robert John Gillespie, and Bob Watts met last month for the first time in over a decade to revisit Looking Glass and their landmark ascent. Both humble and charming, the three talked to Blue Ridge Outdoors on camera about their climb, their relationship, and the present-day climbing community in North Carolina.Join us this Saturday, December 10th from 6—8pm, at Black Dome Mountain Sports for the showing of these interviews. Steve, Robert John, and Bob will all be present and available for a Q&A session. Beer proceeds from Oskar Blues and Wicked Weed, as well as sales from Mike Fischesser’s long-awaited book, “Forbidden Fruit – The History and Exploration of Laurel Knob,” will benefit the Carolina Climbers Coalition. The event also marks the opening of North Carolina’s very own climbing history museum. Attendees are asked to bring gear, topos, or images of climbing relevance from decades past to contribute to the museum.Stay up-to-date on the event at the Facebook page here. Help us celebrate these living legends and support climbing initiatives in North Carolina for decades to come.Have questions? Email email@example.com with any inquiries.
By Gonzalo Abarca and Nathaly Salas Guaithero / Voice of America December 16, 2019 The tentacles of narcotrafficking in South America have reached into all sectors of society and in some cases, have defeated entire governments that now sponsor the activity and attempt to destabilize the region, analysts interviewed by Voice of America say.Martín Rodíl, a specialist in organized crime and narcotrafficking, says that Venezuela went from being a country with the presence of narcotrafficking groups to a “narcostate” under former President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013).“What’s new is the role of Venezuela as a state and not as a country with criminal organizations, but as a state sponsoring them,” said Rodíl in VOA’s program Inter-American Forum.Analysts agreed that the Venezuelan and Cuban governments sponsor cocaine trafficking to finance destabilizing operations in countries of the region and undermine the continent’s democratic institutions.Hugo Chávez, the ghostFor Leandro Coutinho, writer and investigative journalist who specializes in transnational crime and hemispheric security, Venezuela is more than a narcostate.“In Venezuela, the destructions come from narcotraffickers. The Venezuelan state carries out narcotrafficking,” Coutinho added.Coutinho insists that Chávez was the main architect behind the new narcotrafficking routes, while the current regime of Nicolás Maduro continues to operate them.“Chávez has created a very important cocaine route toward the Northern Triangle, toward Central America and Mexico. He did so jointly with Cuba, as a way to destabilize the region and affect the United States,” the expert said.Coutinho warned that narcotrafficking causes instability and chaos, undermining the institutional foundations of democracies. “Narcotrafficking is a war weapon. That’s how Fidel [Castro] won Hugo Chávez over.”New mix: State, narcotrafficking, invasionsVíctor Amram, retired commissioner of Venezuela’s Scientific, Criminal and Forensic Investigations Corps, said Chávez created what is known today as a “modern narcostate.”“What Chávez did was to take advantage of Venezuela’s corruption, the deterioration that already existed, and then polished and improved it. Chávez was the instigator of this mix of networks: drugs, narcotrafficking, corruption, and political and military invasions,” said Amram.Everybody’s fightThe experts agreed that the fight against drugs led by the United States, is the responsibility of the entire continent.The moral imperative, they said, is a unified fight with all countries working side by side against a common enemy: narcotrafficking.“We need to stop saying that the United States is losing the war against narcotrafficking,” Rodíl said. “We are all losing it.”Rodíl added that the narcotrafficking issue cannot be left to the United States alone.“Venezuela lost the day it let someone like Hugo Chávez take office and turn the Venezuelan state into a sponsor for criminal activity, such as narcotrafficking,” he concluded.