Beyond the Blue Ridge | Outdoors in the Big Easy

first_imgNOLA. The Big Easy. Home of the cities of the dead. Birthplace of Creole cuisine. New Orleans is known for being a lot of things, but a destination for outdoor recreation isn’t typically one of them. In the home of powdered sugar-draped friend dough, potent rum-filled hurricanes, late nights on Bourbon Street, and an all-around colorful nightlife, it’s easy to get caught up in the giant celebration that is NOLA. But if you look a little deeper, through the purple, green, and gold-colored veil that engulfs the city, you’ll find that New Orleans is a little slice of paradise for travelers looking for a balanced vacation filled with not only an indulgent and entertaining nightlife, but an active daytime, too.Walk/Run:Don’t bother renting a car if you’re staying in downtown New Orleans. The majority of the locations that you’ll want to visit inside of the city are within walking distance of each other, and if you happen to hit the city on a stormy day, an abundance of street cars will get you to where you want to go. But walking is one of the best ways to discover this vibrant place. Stroll through the French Quarter and admire the ornate historical architecture influenced by both the French and the Spanish, resulting in rows of beautiful buildings bearing stories upon stories from the past.If you’re up for some cardio after a long night out, start your morning with a run along the Mississippi River Trail, a paved path that hugs the river which is still filled with old-timey steamboats that provide a glimpse back in time. And don’t forget to pay your respects to the founding residents of New Orleans that reside in the city’s unique cemeteries. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is only about a ten minute walk from the French Quarter, and is said to be the final resting place of Marie Laveau, New Orleans’ famed Vodoo Queen, who you can learn all about on one of the cemetery’s required guided tours. A tour of this cemetery will run you $25 per person, but a short walk beyond the cemetery’s gates will take you to St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, which dates back to 1823 and is free to the public.NOLA3Bike:New Orleans now boasts over 100 miles of bike and pedestrian paths—thanks to the recent addition of the Lafitte Greenway—a 2.6 mile path that connects six different neighborhoods including the French Quarter, the Bayou St. John, and Mid-City. Bike rentals are abundant throughout NOLA, and although the maze of streets that make up the French Quarter and Bourbon Street areas are a cluster of cars, pedestrians, marching bands, and revelers, biking is one of the best ways to see the city and burn off the hearty helping of jambalaya and the boudin balls you dined on the night before. Renting bikes is also a great way to get beyond the downtown area and visit neighborhoods beyond walking distance of the French Quarter, like the Garden District. The Garden District is worth the visit even if only to grab a pint at NOLA Brewing—a craft brewery located along the Mississippi River that has increasingly been gaining national recognition since their inception in 2008.NOLA1The brewery offers up a pretty wide selection of craft beers, including several sour beers and a NOLA Crab Boil Blonde, which is made with seasoning used in crab boils and brewed in homage to the hurricane season which can often wipe out power in parts of the city, forcing New Orleanians to boil their drinking water for periods of time. For a guided biking tour of the city, check out Buzz Nola Bike Tours & Rentals which offers tours that tap into the historical, architectural, musical, and cultural components that make up the city. {Buzz Nola bike rentals start at $10 per hour. All Buzz Nola bike tours are $50 per person.} Kayak:Kayaking might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to things to do in New Orleans, but thanks to a few small kayaking tour companies in the city, it’s becoming a pretty popular way to tour a different side of New Orleans—all while getting in an excellent arm workout. Kayak-Iti-Yat is a family-run company that operates kayaking tours around New Orleans. Run by New Orleans natives, the tours are moving storybook of NOLA—a look into the past, modern day, and hopeful future of a city still on the mend. Three types of tours are offered and are based on experience level. Beginners can take the two-hour Big Easy Bayou Tour on the waters of the Bayou St. John, the city’s original shipping portage. The tour weaves in and along charming neighborhoods made up of elegant NOLA-style homes. {Big Easy Bayou Tour; $40 per person.} The Pontchartrain Paddle Tour is geared towards more active and experienced kayakers and includes a walk along the banks of Lake Pontchartrain. {Pontchartrain Paddle Tour; $65 per person.} The Bayou Bienvenue Tour is three-hour tour of Bayou Bienvenue, which has a rich ecosystem, plenty of plant-life, and occasional views of alligators. This tour offers a look at the challenges that the city still faces due to the loss of land and damage done at the hands of Hurricane Katrina. $5 from each Bayou Bienvenue Tour is donated to the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement. {The Bayou Beinvenue Tour; $70 per person.} This tour is also a great way to bypass the tourists traps and get a local’s scoop on the best dining and live music joints in New Orleans.last_img read more

Colombia Debuts Scientific Research Ship

first_imgBy Myriam Ortega/Diálogo March 10, 2017 The incorporation of the ARC Roncador vessel into the Colombian Navy’s Caribbean Fleet marks the initial implementation of an infrastructure plan that the General Maritime Directorate (DIMAR, per its Spanish acronym) has had in the works since 2014; a plan that included overhauling and modernizing the Colombian Navy’s scientific research vessels. The ARC Roncador, Colombia’s most modern multipurpose hydrographic vessel, is in service performing scientific research for the Colombian Navy. The ship, named after an island in the San Andrés y Providencia archipelago, “is outfitted with state-of-the-art scientific research equipment for oceanography, hydrography, and marine geology, making it the first Colombian ship with dynamic positioning,” according to a Colombian Navy press release. The vessel also has complementary capabilities for search and rescue, ship and naval equipment salvage, humanitarian aid transport, underwater operations, and the study of species. It can also serve as a platform for launching Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). “This ship was developed in line with our need to begin upgrading DIMAR’s fleet of research vessels. To do so, technical specifications were made to meet what DIMAR really needs until 2030, which is the strategic development plan according to the vision of our directorate,” Commander Jorge Enrique Urocoechea Pérez told Diálogo. He has captained the ship since November 21, 2016. Its predecessor lies at the bottom of the sea The ARC Roncador was added to the Navy’s Caribbean Fleet to replace the ARC Quindío, a ship that served the Colombian Navy for 51 years as a research vessel on important projects. That veteran vessel is now an artificial reef, following its controlled sinking in 2013. “ARC Quindío was decommissioned, a ceremony was held, and it was sunk at Ciénaga de los Vásquez under contract with a commercial firm that also sank a cement ship in the form of a paper boat, as well as some fiberglass powerboats, in order to create a coral reef. They are at [a depth of] around 18 to 20 meters and they serve to give open water divers — which is level one scuba diving — an opportunity to visit this underwater attraction,” Cmdr. Uricoechea added. ARC Roncador’s duties In ARC Roncador’s first operation, its machinery and equipment were put to the test. A second operation has the goal of “a deployment to the islands of the San Andrés y Providencia archipelago to do a bathymetric survey that consists of exploring the ocean depths and the geo forms that make up that island chain, in order to decode its secrets using our large multibeam bathymetric survey instruments, which are state of the art,” Commander Hermann León, director of the National Geographic Service for the Caribbean Oceanographic and Geographic Research Center, told Diálogo. Cmdr. León was on the team with DIMAR and its Maritime Development sub-directorate during the first phases of the ship’s design and acquisition. “We will be able to make out details on the ocean floor with a maximum resolution up to a depth of 4,000 meters, meaning that the seabed geography along Colombia’s continental plate will be seen in greater detail than ever before,” he added. Using ARC Roncador’s unique capabilities, “we will be able to send down devices to sample the water at the bottom of the ocean to a depth of 4,000 meters. If filming is needed, we can send ROVs and reveal the ocean’s secrets through video images and photography. And we can deploy scientific equipment on board, which can do on-site analysis and reveal the samples we’re studying,” Cmdr. León detailed. The ship will also participate “in a series of missions that are going to be carried out this year with various research centers, the highlight being the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve project, which is an expedition to each of the islands that will be done during the month of September, near Isla de Serranilla.” The ship will also continue providing support to the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History, in its search for ancient artifacts in Colombia’s Caribbean waters, such as the discovery of the galleon San José, that are part of the nation’s cultural heritage. Thus, ARC Roncador is following DIMAR’s guidelines for supporting the enhancement of Colombia’s maritime development and security.last_img read more

European Parliament censures IFRS accounting rules

first_imgA plenary session of the European Parliament has passed a potentially damaging report on the activities of the IFRS Foundation and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).The own-initiative report of the Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) lends weight to criticisms made by leading investors of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).Although the report is non-binding and lacks legislative force, it comes at a difficult time for the IASB as leading UK investors challenge the legality and financial-stability impact of its new financial-instruments accounting rules.Tim Bush, head of governance and financial analysis at Pensions & Investment Research Consultants in London, welcomed the report’s findings, which in the UK could pile further political pressure on the IASB and its supporters. “The Motion of the Parliament sets out the correct endorsement criteria, which, like the written answer from Lord [Jonathan] Hill, demonstrates that EFRAG (European Financial Reporting Advisory Group) and some member states of the Accounting Regulatory Committee have used the wrong criteria due to writing the law down wrongly.“Each link in the endorsement chain seems to have involved the UK Financial Reporting Council, its immediate alumni, or its secondees.”The ECON report also lends weight to the argument advanced by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) in the UK that the so-called true and fair view requirement for accounts under EU law applies to specific components of the accounts and not just to the accounts as a whole.Specifically, in accord with the LAPFF’s view, the ECON report states: “The annual financial statements shall give a true and fair view of the undertaking’s assets, liabilities, financial position and profit or loss.”The report further notes that “this purpose relates to the capital adequacy function of accounts … that both creditors and shareholders use … as the basis for determining whether a company is ‘net asset’ solvent and for determining dividend payments.”More damagingly for the IASB, the ECON report finds that the IASB’s understanding of the principles of prudence and stewardship is at odds with the legal position under European case law and the Accounting Directive.Major long-term investors have argued that the concept of prudence, or caution, plays an important role in ensuring that a distribution to shareholders is lawful and backed by real profits.These investors believe defective IFRS accounting rules, particularly IAS 39, which deals with financial instruments accounting, enabled major banks to book illusory profits in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008.But, having distributed these profits, the banks were then forced to take a major hit to shareholder equity when losses suddenly mounted on impaired financial assets.The IASB has now finalised IFRS 9, a replacement standard for IAS 39, which it argues will force banks to set aside greater provisions against future losses.Meanwhile, contrary to the Parliament’s position that the principle of prudence “should be accompanied by the principle of reliability”, the IASB has recently tentatively voted to reject the reintroduction of prudence as a bias toward conservatism.The board, however, has yet to commit to paper its understanding of the relationship between prudence and its preferred accounting concept of neutrality as part of its conceptual framework project.Elsewhere in the report, the European Parliament calls on the IASB and EFRAG “to strengthen their impact analyses.”More action is needed, the MEPs warn, “notably in the field of macroeconomics, and to assess the different needs of the wide variety of stakeholders, including long-term investors and companies, as well as the general public.”The issue of macro-prudential impact of accounting standards was recently brought into sharp focus when it emerged that the European Systemic Risk Board had yet to carry out a stability assessment of IFRS 9.This picture emerged despite the production of a series of studies by academics at the University of Mannheim supporting the endorsement of IFRS 9 for use across the European Union by major banks.The ECON report now calls on the Commission “to remind EFRAG to strengthen its capacity to assess the impact of new accounting standards on financial stability”.In September last year, the LAPFF argued that EFRAG misapplied EU law in its endorsement advice on IFRS 9.Then, in December, both the LAPFF and EFRAG wrote to the EU’s internal market commissioner, Jonathan Hill, to clarify their position on IFRS 9.last_img read more