JLL unveils the city of the future

first_imgInput from the UK’s leading real-estate owners, occupiers, developers and investors has helped JLL envisage the ideal city as it may appear in the future.Co-working and living spaces, smart and healthy buildings, wi-fi trees, reverse vending machines, driverless transport and multi-generation housing should all feature, say leading property stakeholders. Their thoughts were brought together and used in tandem with JLL’s own trends to predict what will influence real estate and infrastructure over the next 20 years.JLL says tech innovation, urbanisation, land and resource scarcity, a low carbon economy, demographic workplace change, health and wellness, and transparency and social values are important factors in the future cityscape – an environment that will be a distinct departure from what agents see today. “To succeed and thrive in a world that is continuously changing, radical thinking is needed.”The inevitability of radical change prompted JLL to also create a Transformation Framework, designed to help property businesses identify and meet the challenges presented by a constantly evolving sector. The framework will not only help agents advise clients moving forwards but also help them shape their own company, especially in light of rapid prop tech advances and disruptive strategies.As detailed in PropTech 3.0: the future of real estate by the highly respected expert Professor Andrew Baum, published in 2017 by the University of Oxford, agents should be mindful of virtual and augmented reality viewing software, intelligent AI algorithms that give accurate and instant appraisals, blockchain tech and open source banking.Emma Hoskyn, Director, Upstream Sustainability Services at JLL, says property professionals need to alter their forward thinking: “To succeed and thrive in a world that is continuously changing, radical thinking is needed. Rather than tackling each real estate trend individually to accomplish objectives in the short or medium term, companies need to incorporate the trends into every step of their business decisions, long-term vision and structure.”JLL’s Transformation Framework is available online, along with a special section covering prop tech.ideal city JLL low carbon economy Professor Andrew Baum planning real-estate Andrew Baum PropTech 3.0 tech innovation Transformation Framework Emma Hoskyn Upstream Sustainability Services March 20, 2018Chris SmedleyWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021 Home » News » Land & New Homes » JLL unveils the city of the future previous nextLand & New HomesJLL unveils the city of the futureAgents and property professionals should consider how they will thrive in an increasingly tech-led world, as JLL shows what cities may look like in 2040.The Negotiator20th March 201802,123 Viewslast_img read more


first_imgState Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville) today highlighted the victories and missed opportunities from the 2019 legislative session of the Indiana General Assembly.  Hatfield authored three bills that have now been signed by the Governor and will become law by July 1, 2019.Teacher Pay and Education Funding“There is no doubt that the Legislature missed opportunities to increase teacher pay and invest more dollars in our traditional public schools,” Hatfield said.Hatfield introduced a bill that would have set the base salary for teachers in Indiana at $50,000, but the bill never received a hearing. The average starting salary for an Indiana teacher was $35,241 for the 2016-2017 school year, according to the National Education Association.“However, I am proud that a number of my bipartisan proposals that will benefit the people of Southwest Indiana are now law,” Hatfield said.Bullying and Harassment Protections“Governor Holcomb signed into law my bill that will allow victims of bullying or harassment to file a protective order against the violator,” Hatfield said.Under current law, protective orders are available only victims of domestic, family violence, stalking or a sex offense. Hatfield’s bill will add harassment to that list.“The goal is to help students who are being bullied in school, after school, and on various social media platforms,” he continued. “Teen depression and suicides are on the rise because of the constant and continuous access bullies have to their victims. Social media platforms and other technological advances have given bullies a more public platform to harass and bully their victims.“This law will help protect young Hoosiers who are being bullied, and hopefully discourage bullying and curb the rate of teen suicide.”According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than one out of every five students report being bullied. The Center for Disease Control reports that among high school students, 15.5% are cyberbullied and 20.2% are bullied on school property, and students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression.University of Evansville Health and Wellness Center Legislation authored by Hatfield that removes restrictions on selling land previously traded with the state was also signed into law. The university can now sell over 40 acres of land to help finance a new wellness and recreation facility on campus for staff and students.“This new law empowers the University of Evansville to build a new health and wellness center, which will help transform the campus with a 70,000 sq. ft. the multi-purpose recreation center,” Hatfield said.Animal Cruelty Crackdown “My bill to protect animals from harm will broaden the definition of animal cruelty and ensure animal shelters use humane euthanasia,” Hatfield said. “HEA 1615 provides prosecutors better tools to prosecute animal cruelty. It will also prevent shelters from using gas chambers or freezing animals, which unfortunately are practices we’ve seen happen frequently in the Evansville-area.”The bill also calls on the Legislature to study increasing animal cruelty penalties. Governor Holcomb signed Hatfield’s bill into law and it goes into effect July 1.Gaming Hatfield led the fight to protect Evansville in a bill that expands gaming in Indiana. The bill authorizes sports wagering both online and inside a gaming facility, allows the Gary riverboat to move inland to Gary and to expand to Vigo County, and requires supplemental payments to be made to East Chicago, Hammond, Michigan City, and Evansville.  This payment to Evansville for losses incurred with the expansion to Vigo County was the key for Hatfield’s support. Hatfield was the lone Evansville-area lawmaker that withheld his support until Evansville was fully protected.“I am pleased that we were able to negotiate hold harmless language that will protect Evansville’s interest,” Hatfield said  “This language will result in about four million dollars for the city of Evansville. This is a huge win for Evansville residents. While it was a fight to the end, my support was contingent upon this provision and I’m proud to have worked with my caucus and Senate Republicans to negotiate a better deal for Evansville.”Renewable Energy and Predatory LendingOther victories from the 2019 legislative session included defeating two separate measures that would have had a disastrous effect on the quality of life for Hoosiers in Southwest Indiana and across the state.Hatfield played a key role in eliminating language that would have halted the construction of new, more efficient power generating plants in Indiana. The moratorium placed a ban on investment in natural gas and renewable energy as a means to protect coal interests, a move led by former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director, turned coal lobbyist, Scott Pruitt. The language was removed after successful efforts on the House floor by Rep. Hatfield and Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington).“This moratorium was a big government in the most extreme way imaginable. Essentially, it would have handcuffed our entire utility regulatory body, freezing Indiana with fuel choices and plant designs made decades ago, and halting utility planning needed to meet future power needs for ratepayers. This measure also would have stunted the growth of an industry that is developing new and efficient ways for Hoosiers to receive energy while lowering utility costs,” Hatfield said. “Removal of the moratorium was imperative to keep Indiana progressing toward the use of green and efficient energy. The final version of the bill calls for the creation of an energy task force that will examine these issues, which is a sensible and responsible step forward for Hoosier ratepayers.”Hatfield also led the fight to defeat legislation that would have increased interest rates on unsecured loans — often used by seniors, veterans, and low-income Hoosiers – to more than 167 percent. The measure was defeated on the House floor after Hatfield prosecuted the bill in a speech where he described the measure as “loan-sharking.”“If we allowed this bill to become law, it would have skyrocketed interest rates on unsecured loans well above Indiana’s felony loan sharking threshold of 72 percent,” Hatfield said. “This bill would have only benefited out-of-state lenders, who would have made their money off the backs of some of our most vulnerable Hoosiers – including veterans, seniors, and low-income families. More than 60 consumer advocacy groups spoke out against this bill, and I was proud to stand with them to help prevent loan sharking in our state.” FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Press release: Rosewell Inquiry Review – Update

first_imgThe Planning Inspectorate is continuing to make good progress with taking forward the recommendations in the Independent Review of Planning Appeal Inquiries and have now begun increasing the number of inquiry appeals being placed into this new way of working. There are clear benefits in progressing with implementing some of the recommendations and we thought it would be helpful to all concerned to explain our reasons.To begin with, there can be little doubt that the principal thrust of the Review – to significantly shorten the time between receipt of an inquiry appeal and its final decision – is a significant improvement. To this end, we have been able to appoint more Inspector resource to inquiry appeals, than was envisaged in March when we announced the “pilot”, which has enabled us to bring most of these appeals into the process.Some parties to the appeals have questioned why we have imposed inquiry dates when informing them of the ‘Start’ of the appeal and the name of the appointed Inspector. These letters are sent to the appeal parties as soon as possible after receipt of an inquiry appeal and have generally set the inquiry date to be between 13-16 weeks of the ‘Start’ date. This has been a significant innovation of the new process and provides the parties with clarity as to timescales from the outset.To implement the recommendations of the Rosewell Review we must move away from our “bespoke” arrangements which gave specific provision for the parties to agree an inquiry date after an appeal had been submitted. Instead, now we are taking the lead in setting an inquiry date at the earliest opportunity, and this has led some parties to ask if there could be a degree of flexibility after the date had been fixed, or whether they could be given time to negotiate a new date.We appreciate that this new procedure, for affected appeals, is very different to the way inquiry appeals were managed previously, and that some of the recommendations may be challenging, for everyone involved in the appeal. But it would be difficult to deny the significant advantages that an early inquiry date – and thus an early decision date – will bring to all concerned with the process. We will of course consider whether wholly exceptional circumstances are demonstrated by the parties to explain the unreasonableness of the inquiry date that has been set, but at the same time momentum must be maintained if the Review is to pay the dividends it promises.The inquiry dates that are now being set give confidence to expect that those appeals will be decided in accordance with the timescales set out in Recommendation 21 of the Rosewell Report.last_img read more

Greenhalgh’s links with brewer for new pie

first_imgGreenhalgh’s Bakery has teamed up with Bolton’s largest-capacity brewery to create a new savoury pie.The craft bakery firm, based in Lostock, has developed a new steak and ale pie using Dunscar Bridge Brewery’s newest dark ale, created by head brewer Doug Baxendale.The recipe for the new pie was developed by Greenhalgh’s research and development manager David Edwards, and will be promoted for the first time at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival during the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend. The steak and Dunscar ale pie will be baked at Greenhalgh’s Bolton town centre retail outlet.David Smart, production director at Greenhalgh’s, said: “The steak and ale pie is a great British classic, so when the team at Dunscar mentioned they were brewing a new dark ale, it seemed the perfect time to create a special Bolton version of it.“We’ve adapted our traditional recipe to bring out and complement the flavours of the beer. Working with the brewery to craft this new recipe has been a brilliant experience – we’ve had no shortage of willing volunteers to conduct taste tests. We are excited to see what the public thinks when the pie gets its first tasting at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival.”Pat Kitchen, managing director at Dunscar Bridge Brewery, said: “It’s great to have two local companies that are both passionate about quality and have collaborated to create this wonderful steak and Dunscar Ale pie.“Greenhalgh’s is known throughout Bolton and the north west as a quality craft bakery with a reputation built up over more than 50 years, and we are a brewery that is developing a reputation for brewing a range of high-quality cask beers.”last_img read more

Seasonal bakery helps boost 2 Sisters’ figures

first_imgChristmas puddings and festive biscuits helped boost 2 Sisters Food Group’s second-quarter results for the 13 weeks to 26 January 2013.Total sales were up 9.6% from £571.8m to £626.5m, announced Boparan Holdings, the holding company for 2 Sisters, this week.Like-for-like sales increased 5.4% to £597.4m, while operating profit rose £0.4m to £26.1m.The company said Christmas business was solid, but that it was driven by higher promotional activity.Within its branded arm, like-for-like sales were up 6.2%. But while the recovery of its frozen business progressed well, this was offset by a tough biscuit market, which reflected the consumer trend for trading into own-label, as well as higher promotional activity, said the firm.While its seasonal biscuit business managed to deliver “on plan”, the firm said Fox’s Biscuits’ new managing director Colin Smith was now in place to drive the Fox’s biscuit brand forward.Ranjit Singh, chief executive, 2 Sisters Food Group, said: “We delivered a solid performance in Q2, despite the tough and competitive market conditions.“Every one of our 18,000 colleagues helped to ensure our seasonal Christmas business – which served meal occasions, including ready meal accompaniments, festive sandwiches, Christmas biscuits and Christmas puddings – delivered on plan for our customers.”last_img read more

Aqueous Releases Wave 2 Of New Album, ‘Color Wheel’, Including Its Title Track [Listen]

first_imgBuffalo-based groove rock quartet Aqueous has released the Wave 2 EP, following their Wave 1 release earlier this month. Wave 2 includes the fourth, fifth, and sixth tracks off of their new album, Color Wheel: “Split The Difference”, “Color Wheel”, and “Good Enough”. One more “wave” is set to come out before the formal release of the band’s LP on October 12th, marking the band’s first full-length studio effort since 2014’s Cycles.You can listen to the second “wave” of tracks, Wave 2, off Aqueous’ Color Wheel below:Aqueous – Color Wheel – Wave 2 EPAqueous shared the following about the second “wave” of tracks off Color Wheel:“Split The Difference” is our first official excursion into a more hip-hop/electronic-based feel; the band has long been inspired by artists like Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Daft Punk, Gorillaz, etc, and this track felt like a natural and exciting step in that direction. “Color Wheel” was written as a way to address the growing disparity between having an authentic human experience vs. the idealized version people present themselves as on the internet, and how unfulfilling and dark it can be for a person’s psyche. Musically, it was inspired a bit more by indie-prog bands like Incubus, Minus The Bear, and Muse.“Good Enough” is a reflection of recognizing and accepting one’s flaws and eccentricities, and trying to come to terms with them while realizing that those very characteristics are the root of a lot of the struggle in one’s life. There’s a feeling of optimism about being honest with one’s self, but also a sense of forlorn, because it’s an isolating, lonely feeling, too. Musically speaking, it’s the band’s first ever “ballad” and was inspired by music like Wings, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Fleet Foxes, and George Harrison.As guitarist Mike Gantzer previously explained regarding the band’s decision to present the new album with three waves of batched releases,There’s a certain continuity to this entire album, and it unfolds in a way that makes the track order important for the experience – there’s an underlying narrative happening throughout the lyrics and themes, and the overarching theme of the story is a strong sense of optimism through the struggle of the realities of life. For this reason, we wanted to release the album in waves, ultimately, to give people a chance to settle into each section of the album and digest it thoroughly before diving into the next.You can pre-order for Color Wheel on vinyl now via the band’s Bandcamp page here. See below for a full track listing:Aqueous Color Wheel Tracklist:1. Second Sight2. How High You Fly3. Realize Your Light4. Split The Difference5. Color Wheel6. Good Enough7. Half In, Half out8. Weight Of The Word (feat. Turkuaz Horns)9. Mandela Effect10. In It (For Me)View TracklistingIn support of the new record, Aqueous will embark on their most extensive headlining tour to date. The band has also announced two new tour dates in December including a play in Covington, KY at Madison Live! on the 14th and at Woodlands Tavern in Columbus, OH on the 15th. Tickets for these newly announced dates are on sale now.Find a full list of dates below with more information available via the band’s website. You can check out a list of Aqueous’ upcoming tour dates below:Aqueous Upcoming Tour Dates:10/6 – Roaring Ranch, PA – Liberty Pumpkin Ball10/19 & 10/20 – St. Paul, MN – The Palace Theater >10/24 – Hamden, CT – Space Ballroom ^10/25 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground Showcase Lounge ^10/26 – Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair ^10/27 – Albany, NY – The Hollow ^10/31 – Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory ^11/1 – Asbury Park, NJ – Wonder Bar ^11/2 – Washington D.C. – Union Stage ^11/3 – Philadelphia, PA – The Foundry at The Fillmore ^11/4 – Richmond, VA – The Broadberry #11/6 – Raleigh, NC – The Pour House Music Hall #11/7 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Pour House #11/8 – Orlando, FL – The Social #11/9 – Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits #11/10 – Tampa, FL – The Crowbar #11/14 – Birmingham, AL – Zydeco #11/15 – Atlanta, GA – Aisle 5 #11/16 – Asheville, NC – Asheville Music Hall #11/17 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In #11/28 – Ann Arbor, MI – Blind Pig +11/29 – Chicago, IL – Chop Shop11/30 – Milwaukee, WI – The Miramar Theatre +12/5 – Ft. Collins, CO – Hodi’s Halfnote ^12/6 – Frisco, CO – 10 Mile Music Hall ^12/7 – Steamboat Springs, CO – Old Town Pub ^12/8 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre ^12/11 – Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room $12/12 – St. Louis, MO – The Bootleg at Atomic Cowboy $12/13 – Indianapolis, IN – The Hi-Fi $12/14 – Covington, KY – Madison Live!12/15 – Columbus, OH – Woodlands Tavern** w/ moe.* w/ ELM> w/ Umphrey’s McGee^ w/ Mungion+ w/ EGI# w/ The Heavy Pets$ w/ GooseView Upcoming Tour Dateslast_img read more

Kudzu genetics

first_imgGenetics is the science of genes and heredity. It can link a person to a crime scene, a father to a child and — in the case of the kudzu bug — a pest to its home country.University of Georgia genetic entomologist Tracie Jenkins has used population genetics to track the kudzu bug that was discovered in Georgia three years ago, to its home country of Japan.Found in Georgia firstThe kudzu bug was first spotted in Georgia in the fall of 2009 when insect were sent to the UGA Homeowner Insect and Weed Diagnostic Laboratory in Griffin, Ga., from UGA Cooperative Extension agents in Barrow, Gwinnett and Jackson counties.The insect feeds on kudzu, soybeans and other legumes. It has become a nuisance to homeowners and a threat to international trade as it hitchhikes in shipping containers and on passenger jets.So why do scientists like Jenkins in the United States need to know the kudzu bug is from Japan?“In order to control the pest, we first have to know what we are up against,” said Jenkins, a researcher with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “The morphology of the kudzu bug varies depending on when you collect it, early or late. Are these different strains of the bug? Do they come from different maternal types?” Using genetics to track pestsShe and her UGA colleagues are working to answer these questions in their on-going search for ways to control the bug. “It’s an Eastern Hemisphere bug that found its way to the U.S. in 2009,” she said. “Since then it has traveled to countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.” This isn’t the first time Jenkins has tracked an insect’s path using genetics. She has tracked termites in Germany back to their original home in France, termites in England back to nursery plants in Portugal and termites in Atlanta, Ga., back to railroad ties from New Orleans, La. Lots of bugs, same motherDNA helped Jenkins determine that the kudzu bugs in Georgia are all related, maternally. “Mitochondrial DNA comes from the mother; it’s inherited from the mother, and all of our kudzu bugs are the same across all collections to date,” Jenkins said. “We now know the female ancestry of our bug can be traced back to one female line that came from Asia.”Knowing exactly where in Asia the pest originated will help “stop the gap where it’s coming into the country,” according to Jenkins. “After all, Asia is a really big place,” she said. To put branches on the kudzu bug’s family tree, Jenkins first had to build a DNA database of kudzu bugs. Seven collection sites in Asia sent samples to her laboratory on the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga.“Now I can compare the haplotype of our bug with the other female haplotypes from Asia,” she said. Jenkins found the kudzu bugs now calling the southern U.S. “home” are more closely related to samples from Japan. The samples from China did not match the kudzu bug now munching its way through the Southeast.“Knowing the bug’s genetic diversity will tell me how fast it can adapt here,” she said. “Our weather in Georgia is comparable to the weather in Japan and South Korea, so the bugs feel at home here.”UGA CAES scientists are searching for ways to control the pest, including introducing an egg parasite from Japan.last_img read more

Frost Warnings

first_imgWith spring temperatures hitting Georgia in February this year, many gardeners may be itching to get their transplants in the ground or may have already planted some early crops.While nothing beats those first spring days in the garden, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences experts warn that planting too early could lead to heartache.The conventional wisdom in Georgia is to wait to plant late spring and summer crops – tomatoes, cucumbers and pole beans – until after Easter to avoid late frosts. Gardeners who can’t wait that long should at least wait until after the last average frost date. That can be as early as March 11 in southeast Georgia and as late as early May in the mountains.“Freaking out and planting too early tends to come back to bite you,” said Johannah Biang, farm manager at UGArden, UGA’s student-run farm in Athens, Georgia. “You could plant a few things early as an experiment, but I wouldn’t plant everything unless you were prepared to protect it with row cover.”Bob Westerfield, homeowner and vegetable horticulture specialist with UGA Extension, agrees, but after years of watching anxious gardeners file through vegetable gardening workshops each spring, he knows it’s hard to wait.People want to plant whenever they have a few weekends of warm weather in a row, but they need to wait for the soil temperatures to meet springtime norms before they transplant their seedlings, Westerfield said.“People need to pay attention to the soil temperatures more than the air temperatures,” Westerfield said. “Most veggies like it to be 65 to 70 degrees in the ground before being planted.”UGA offers up-to-date soil temperatures for most parts of the state at those who have already planted, or who are waiting but are worried about a rogue late-April frost, there are steps you can take to save your summer garden.The secret is to be prepared for a sudden cold snap, and to have a frost toolkit ready, said Paul Thomas, UGA Extension horticulturist.“Buying or collecting frost-reduction materials prior to the frost and positioning them close to the plants you want to protect is very important,” Thomas said.One of the most effective ways to shield plants from frost is to cover them with any of a variety of materials, from quality frost-reduction fabric to blankets and sheets, newspapers, baskets or straw.For small plants like vegetable transplants, lightweight materials like pine straw or dead leaves work great if enough is placed over the plants.Gardeners can completely bury their newly flowering shrubs or tender garden seedlings in either leaves or straw, and then uncover them after the weather warms back up. The flowers and seedlings will be fine, Thomas said.For sturdier plants, old comforters or heavy blankets – maybe purchased from a local thrift store – will allow you to protect your plants from that first frost without spending much money. Covering plants with a heavier blanket will protect them more than if they’re covered with a simple sheet, Thomas said.Never use plastic sheeting to cover plants because plastic can trap too much heat. When the day starts to warm up, the plants can actually cook or scorch under the covering.“By 10 a.m., you can have significant damage to grass and young plants due to how quickly it can heat up under that plastic,” Thomas said.It’s best to cover plants before sunset to retain some of the heat that is trapped in the soil. Remove the coverings in the morning just after sunrise to prevent the plants from being scorched.Thomas also recommends having a collection of wooden garden stakes on hand. Place the stakes throughout your vegetable patch in order to suspend blankets over tender seedlings or delicate flowers. The stakes will prevent snow- or rain-soaked blankets from crushing your plants, Thomas said.For information about protecting your spring and summer vegetable garden from cold snaps, visit read more

President Bill Clinton singles out Bennington College at inaguration of Clinton Global Initiative Universtiy

first_imgPresident Bill Clinton singles out Bennington College at inauguration of Clinton Global Initiative UniversityPresident Bill Clinton invited the President of Bennington College, Elizabeth Coleman, to join him at a March 15, 2008 press conference where he will inaugurate the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U). The University, part of the Clinton Global Initiative, is a new venture that will challenge college students and universities to tackle global problems with innovative solutions. Bennington College, specifically, plans to address six global challenges-economics and equity, the environment and sustainability, health, sustaining democratic governance, education, and the appropriate and inappropriate use of force. The institution will accomplish this by engaging a faculty that includes activists, politicians, scholars, scientists, and artists; building a major new green facility, and creating a curriculum that intellectually demands the diversity of perspectives required for students tackle these critical challenges.An Inagural CGI-U event was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, from March 15-18, 2008. Twenty-three institutions in addition to Benningtonincluding Brown, Cornell, Hobart and William Smith, Rice University, Tufts, Tulane, the University of Colorado, and the University of Vermontparticipated, and Tulane University hosted the event.last_img read more

Mexico-Guatemala: The Invisible, Disturbing Border

first_imgBy Dialogo April 26, 2011 This border has always been that way. Smuggling has always existed, sometimes are the Mexicans other times are the Guatemalans. Authorities in both countries are corrupt and always demand something from the merchants. In these times of drug traffickers the situation has become tenser since they are always accompanied with violence. Now, I think the journalist exaggerated that Central America is one of the most violent regions in the world. Where does that come from? Who do we compare it to? They never talk about the benefits of a region that is rich in many things, of course that does not sell. Also it is the bulk of the population that is committed to walking hunchbacked for life to benefit the rest. Much of the violence has been imported from elsewhere, including European countries, mainly Spain. A few days ago I was surfing the Internet to look for information about my country’s (Guatemala) borders with Mexico, and I found there is a racist culture with violent tendencies toward us, Guatemalans especially. I would like to remind the journalist that wrote this article that, as the story goes, a portion of Mexico was part of Guatemala and that, when it comes down to it, we are all brothers in this world even if we do not share physical similarities, culture, education and many other things I could mention, we deserve respect. With the equivalent of a dollar and without any official documents, the border between Mexico and Guatemala can be crossed without any problem, a worrying fact in view of the trafficking of drugs and undocumented migrants and the fear of terrorist infiltration. On any ordinary day, smuggling proceeds at a frenetic pace at the so-called ‘Lemon Crossing’ (Paso Limón), one of the westernmost clandestine border crossing points, which links Ciudad Hidalgo (Mexico) and Tecún Umán (Guatemala) across the Suchiate River. On the Mexican side, men, women, and children load food, toilet paper, clothing, and other basic supplies onto rafts made from two tractor tires, which carry them to the other side of the river in exchange for ten Mexican pesos (eighty U.S. cents). They explain that all these items are cheaper in Mexico than in Guatemala, where they are sold as far away as the capital, 355 km distant. From Central America come vegetables, flowers, and dozens of migrants headed for the United States every day. From Paso Limón, another illegal crossing point can be seen, from which fuel is trafficked from Mexico to its neighbor. A few kilometers further on is an area known as Las Plataneras (‘The Banana Trees’), where few dare to tread. “Drugs, arms, everything passes through there. Last week, there was a quarrel there, and three men died in the firefight,” affirmed Nelson Ruiz, one of the ferrymen, speaking to AFP during a break. With the Mexican government concentrated on curbing drug-trafficking violence in the north, the United States is also alarmed by the lawless locations in the south. The State Department has reported that up to 80% of drugs arriving in the United States pass through Central America, while Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has warned of possible terrorist penetration along the porous Guatemalan-Mexican border. But the cartels’ money and criminal activities also reach Central America, considered one of the world’s most violent regions. According to the Guatemalan government, the Mexican Los Zetas cartel already controls a vast area in the northern part of the country, where the government had to impose a state of emergency in December. At the clandestine border crossing on the Suchiate, there was no sign of the authorities, but Ruiz, the ferryman, explained that certain norms and abuses exist behind the apparent anarchy. “Soldiers come every day. They don’t say anything to us about taking all this to Guatemala, but they don’t allow us to bring anything over from there. Those military personnel sometimes take things from us,” the ferryman, or ‘waiter,’ as they are called on this border, explained. The situation is worse when police officers are the ones who show up, Ruiz affirmed. “They come at night, in civilian clothes, and tell us that what we’re doing is illegal, and they demand up to 3,000 pesos (around 250 dollars) from us.” “And they have a point,” he admitted, “we deal with it as if it was paying taxes. Only that with this system, you risk them taking everything away from you,” he specified. In the regions of southern Mexico, trucks with cartel stickers do not travel the roads with impunity, nor do the firefights break out that have left thousands dead in the northern part of the country. What is disturbing about this border is what is not seen.last_img read more