A view of the rescue from the Coast Guard helicopter. By Tim KellyA leatherback sea turtle owes its life to an Ocean City man whose fast action freed the reptile. The turtle’s head and neck were ensnared in fishing line during the incident which took place on Thursday.Jeff Valentine, 50 years old, was working on a Towboat U.S. Shamrock Marine Towing vessel as it conducted a training exercise with a Coast Guard helicopter. The crews were in waters of the Great Egg Inlet, off Longport.Valentine and the other crew members from his boat and members of the helicopter crew spotted the massive beast floating on the ocean surface in obvious distress.“The turtle was stuck to a conch trap. The line was wrapped tightly around its head.”Jeff Valentine straddled the reptile and used his utility knife to free the sea turtle.The lined looped “at least five or six times,” around the turtle’s head, said Valentine, a resident of the Riviera section of town. “I’m a pretty good swimmer, so I thought I could jump in there and free him.”The retired 25-year veteran of the Coast Guard and former “cutter swimmer” donned a life jacket and swam out to the turtle.“There was no slack on the line and it was attached to the trap. The line went straight down to the (trap.) There was nowhere the turtle could go. All he could do was lift his head. He was gasping for air.”According to the National Geographic website, leatherback turtles are the largest turtles on the planet, eventually growing to seven feet in length and weighing more than 2,000 pounds.The leatherback sea turtle was ensnared in fishing line and tethered to a conch trap off Longport.In pictures taken from the Shamrock Towing boat, this particular animal appeared to be at least five feet in length, and Valentine estimated its weight to be in excess of 500 pounds.Leatherback sea turtles are classified by National Geographic as “rapidly declining” in population, and were at one time found in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic. They are also among the oldest species in the world, with evolutionary roots tracing back more than 100 million years, according to the website.As Valentine paddled toward the turtle, he approached from behind and straddled its shell. He took out his knife and was able to cut the multiple loops wrapped around the turtle’s head.When the turtle was finally freed from the line, “he kicked me off” his back and Valentine felt its foot push off as “I kind of eased back as he began to swim away,” Jeff said.Jeff Valentine displays the remnants of the conch trap after freeing the sea turtle.“It felt awesome,” to free the turtle, Valentine said. “I’m glad I was there and glad I could do it.” He was quick to credit the other members of the Shamrock Towing vessel crew, Bob Driscoll and David Pace. He said Driscoll and Pace maneuvered the boat, a 41-ft. former Coast Guard utility boat now owned by the Ocean City company, close enough for him to easily reach the trapped reptile.“I’m not sure if most people would have done what we did. I’m pretty sure if we hadn’t been there he would have died within a half hour.”The takeaway from the experience, he said, is that people need to be more careful when they dispose of seemingly innocent items that wind up killing marine life.“Most of those congratulatory balloons that are released on the beach end up in the ocean. That stuff ends up killing marine life all the time. It’s not that hard. Cut the plastic six-pack holders, and watch how you dispose things that could end up in the ocean. People need to learn to be more aware and more responsible for their actions.”Although Valentine referred to the turtle as “he,” the actual gender was undetermined.When asked if the crew members called the sea turtle by a name, Valentine laughed. “I would say his name should be Lucky S.O.B.”Valentine displays the knife he used to free the trapped sea turtle.
By Yuri Hernandez/Diálogo May 12, 2019 As the political and humanitarian calamity Venezuela continues, evidence of illicit activities conducted by Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in the country has become apparent, Nicolas Maduro has maintained a close relationship with Hezbollah and has empowered Hezbollah financially. According to Venezuela’s permanent representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), Gustavo Tarré, appointed by Interim President Juan Guaidó, Hezbollah is operating in Venezuelan territory and has become “an important center of global terrorism.” He warned that this “threat” of foreign interference “is not limited to Venezuelan borders, and is spreading across the American continent, and the Western Hemisphere.” During a session of the Permanent Council of the OAS, Tarré stated that Venezuela has become “a destabilizing factor for the peace of the entire region,” and the need to analyze “the role of external actors” in the South American country. He pointed out that Venezuela also “has become involved in external conflicts such as that of Syria, in activities against the existence of the State of Israel, and a very privileged relationship with Iran.” Tarré declared that “We also know of the existence of training and identity supply centers for Hezbollah terrorists, of the Islamic State, known by its acronym in English as ISIS, which have made Venezuela an important center of world terrorism.” Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, has been increasingly targeted by U.S. sanctions. In a recent interview with Fox Business Network, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said “People don’t recognize that Hezbollah has active cells — the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America. We have an obligation to take down that risk for America.” According to a an article published by the New York Times May 2nd, Tareck El Aissami, a former vice president of Venezuela, who is now Mr. Maduro’s industry minister and one of Mr. Maduro’s closest confidants, has also been the target of wide-ranging investigations by his own country’s intelligence agency into his ties to the criminal underworld. Moreover, the article says Mr. El Aissami and his father, Carlos Zaidan El Aissami, a Syrian immigrant who had worked with Hezbollah on return visits to his country, were involved in a plan to train Hezbollah members in Venezuela, “with the aim of expanding intelligence networks throughout Latin America and at the same time working in drug trafficking.” Phillip Smyth, a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Hezbollah’s financiers “have integrated themselves into [the Venezuelan] government in a variety of different ways.” “Everyone is kind of getting a cut from the apparatus. So, it wouldn’t shock me if there are reverberations down to Hezbollah’s finance network. The way [the U.S.] Treasury has done this is they’ve targeted certain individuals that are kind of key brokers of the Hezbollah money, so it will have its effect,” he told VOA. Smyth said “Ideologically speaking, [Maduro] has thrown his lot in with groups like Hezbollah and with the Iranians. They have the same motivations, which are anti-American.” U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services recently that Iran’s “proxy Lebanese Hezbollah maintains facilitation networks throughout the region that cache weapons and raise funds, often via drug trafficking and money laundering.”
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Isaac Asiamah, has revealed that the country budgeted Six Million, Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand, Thirty-Three Dollars and Eighty-Four Cents (US$6,365,033.84) for Ghana’s participation at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.Out of this amount, Four Million, Five Hundred and Sixty-Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty-Two Dollars (US$4, 564, 352.00) was expended from the training tour up until the team exited the AFCON at the round of 16 stage.The figures were revealed when the Minister met Parliament on Wednesday to discuss Ghana’s participation at the 24-team tournament in Egypt.The expenditure covered the following:The playing bodyTechnical teamMembers of Parliament’s Select Committee on Youth and SportsRepresentatives of GHALCARepresentatives of Old FootballersSome staff of the GFASome staff of the Ministry of Youth and SportsSome members of the Ghana Supporters UnionJournalistsA further breakdown of the expenditure is provided as follows:Airfare – $924,168Per diem, players – $187,050Per diem, technical staff – $129, 600Per diem, additional technical staff – $90,750Winning bonus, players – $965, 405Winning bonus, technical – $347,027Winning bonus, additional technical staff – $177,000Accommodation – $1,143,519Feeding – $419,300Match Tickets 0 $41,750Medicals – $44,574Visa Fees – $8,541Internal Transportation -$43,092Incidentals – $42,576Total; $4,564,352AnalysisDetails of the budget for every AFCON has always been controversial and this is no different.The most noticeable issue with this budget is the $965, 405 paid to the Black Stars players as winning bonuses.Considering Ghana only won one out of their 4 matches, simple division of that figure by the 23 players would mean that each player was paid nearly $42,000 each. For the one game won?Even if the players were paid a qualification bonus from the group stages, at $10,000 per match, that would amount to $30,000 which still leaves some almost $12,000 unaccounted for.