On August 31, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos gave high praise and recognition to the performance of the outgoing defense minister, Rodrigo Rivera, who submitted his resignation from the post he had held since August 7, 2010. Speaking to the press, the head of state stressed that Rivera’s devotion, complete dedication, and sense of responsibility as defense minister have borne great fruit for the country. “You, Dr. Rodrigo Rivera, can say and can tell your grandchildren that you were the defense minister who brought down someone who was perhaps one of those who have been most wanted and most hated in our entire history, that symbol of terrorism, alias ‘Mono Jojoy.’ “During your term as minister, someone who at that time symbolized the terror of criminal gangs was also brought down, the so-called ‘murderer of murderers,’ alias ‘Cuchillo’ [‘Knife’],” President Santos recalled. He likewise highlighted the fact that Government forces have obtained powerful results in the fight against terrorist and criminal groups during Rivera’s time in office. “In the case of the FARC, more than 3,411 neutralized; in the case of the ELN, more than 500, 502 to be precise. In the case of the criminal gangs, 3,726,” the president revealed, noting that since Rivera took up his post, the chief crime statistics have maintained a downward trend. After thanking him for his work at the Defense Ministry, the head of state asked Rivera to continue collaborating with the Colombian Government as ambassador to the European Union. “I’m going to request that you agree to be my ambassador to the European Union. That embassy is one of the most important embassies the country has, and you’re not only ambassador to the entire European Union, but also to the Kingdom of Belgium, and you also represent Colombia to NATO,” the head of state declared. By Dialogo September 02, 2011
PSC Golf from The Growling SwanMonday, August 5, Mountain Shadow – StablefordAfter a late withdrawal due to sickness we ended up with a small field of thirteen golfers ready to tackle one of our favourites, Mountain Shadow. We assembled at the Growling Swan and handed out a very hearty welcome back to Eric “Judge” Black from Geelong in Victoria and newcomer Tioziano Dal Pastro (what a great name) from Italy. After the usual 45 minute drive we arrived at the course where there was some activity but not too much. Upon arriving at the first tee we found four Thai golfers chatting away merrily but after a subtle “prompt” from yours truly they finally teed off, from the black tees mind you! After observing their drives it was apparent that these guys could play, in fact the starter mentioned to me that one of them was actually a professional golfer so we were fairly sure there would be no hold ups for us and that was indeed the case.Mike Allidi, Vince Romero & Russell Calcutt. We managed to get our first three-ball out 15 minutes ahead of schedule at 9.45 am and proceeded in perfect weather conditions with a slight cooling breeze. We played off the blue tees for a change as there were no “Growling Swan Delinquents” with us on the day and as expected this did keep the scores a bit lower on the day.The golf course was in super “nick” with the lush fairways and firm & true greens although someone did remark that some of the pin positions could have been the result of the head greenkeeper having an argument with his “missus” early that morning, the result being many three-putts (at least four from me).It was a quick and enjoyable round of golf with the company also being great and we completed the round in three hours & forty seven minutes. With the smaller field we had just the one grade with four places and also rewards for nearest the pin on the four par threes.Sal Brizzi & Tioziano Dal Pastro.Sal Brizzi was the winner on the day with a steady 36 points, just 1 point ahead of second place-getter Mike Allidi. In third place came your writer, Peter “Blacky” Blackburn with 33 points and Takeshi Hakozaki was fourth on 31 points.1st Sal Brizzi (7) 36pts2nd Mike Allidi (2) 35pts3rd Peter Blackburn (11) 33pts4th Takeshi Hakozaki (11) 31ptsNear Pins: 5th – Peter Blackburn, 8th – Kevin Waycott, 15th – Mike Allidi, 17th – Sal BrizziThe Growling Swan NAGA Award, (awarded to the golfer who has the worst score on the day and discreetly their score is not made public) was well won by newcomer Tioziano Dal Pastro who immediately donned the cap and wore it with pride for a short while.Thursday, August 8, Crystal Bay A & B – StablefordThey came out of the woodwork for this one as after a late withdrawal we had a great low season number of 33 golfers ready to take the journey to the ever popular Crystal Bay Golf Course.The weather was great as we assembled at The Growling Swan and we were happy to hand out welcomes to Bill Hewitt and his lady Samorn Tanamsri, Gerd Riedler, Peter Rooke & Alex Field – all from Pattaya. It was also good to have with us once more Paul Sharples from Oman.Departing the GS a couple of minutes earlier than our scheduled 8.30 departing time we headed north up Sukhumvit and after a good run arrived at Crystal Bay 44 minutes later to find the golf course practically deserted. Naturally we were invited to tee off as soon as we were ready and after a brief preparation our first four-ball set off on A1 10 minutes ahead of schedule at 9.50 am.As mentioned earlier the weather was excellent and there was a fairly stiff breeze to cool things down a touch but also make the golf a bit tricky at times. The golf course was in excellent condition with well maintained fairways and greens, which at times were quite quick and posed a few problems for some but all in all the course was presented beautifully.With no-one ahead of us we maintained a steady pace and managed to complete our full round in four hours & fifteen minutes after enjoying the quality company and the very good golf course.We had 2 Grades – A Grade for handicaps 0 to 22 and B Grade for handicaps 23 & over with 6 places in each grade. There were also rewards for nearest the pins on the four par threes and longest first putts on the 9th & 18th greens.With a gross score of 69, which equated to 41 stableford points, it was once again Mike Allidi who showed his class and won the A Grade section. Two golfers were tied on 39 points so a count back was necessary for second & third places and it was Gerd Riedler (22 point back nine) who just pipped Stu “Heineken” Rifkin (21 point back nine. In fourth place came Paul Sharples with 36 points and another count back was required to determine fifth & sixth places with Alain “Inspector Clouseau” Taddei (17 point back nine, 11 points on the last 6 holes and 6 points on the last 3 holes) prevailing ahead of Peter “Blacky” Blackburn (17 point back nine, 11 points on the last 6 holes and 4 points on the last 3 holes) with both having 35 points.Russell Calcutt was victorious in the B Grade with 40 points and last start NAGA winner Tiziano Dal Pastro finished in second place with 38 points and Shane “Jockey” Young was third with 37 points. In fourth place on a count back with 35 points was Alex Field (18 point back nine, 12 points on the last 6 holes and 6 points on the last 3 holes) with regular NAGA winner Nolan Wise (18 point back nine, 12 points on the last 6 holes and 4 points on the last 3 holes) finishing fifth. Yet another count back was needed to decide sixth place with 2 on 34 points and it was Fred Dinely (15 point back nine) who shaded Mark Stapleton (13 point back nine).A Flight (0-22)1st Mike Allidi (2) 41pts2nd Gerd Riedler (6) 39pts3rd Stu Rifkin (15) 39pts4th Paul Sharples (10) 36pts5th Alain Taddei (17) 35pts6th Peter Blackburn (11) 35ptsB Flight (23+)1st Russell Calcutt (36) 40pts2nd Tiziano Dal Pastro (25) 38pts3rd Shane Young (30) 37pts4th Alex Field (27) 35pts5th Nolan Wise (36) 35pts6th Fred Dineley (26) 34ptsNear Pins: A5 – Ken Hole, A8 – Peter Rooke, B4 – Paul Moloney, B6 – Mike AllidiLong Putts: A9 – Andrew Allen, B9 – Alain TaddeiThe Growling Swan NAGA Award was won by good sport Vince Romero and he accepted and wore the award with pride for a long time back at the bar. Toddy then read out the fines, of which there were many and then Max was kind enough to parade Deefa the Dog and of course collected many donations for the needy in Pattaya from our generous Growling Swan Golfers.Note: Growling Swan Golf welcomes golfers of any persuasion – low & high handicappers alike, female golfers and beginners. We generally play Mondays & Thursdays, meeting at The Growling Swan (formerly The Bunker Bar) in Soi Chaiyapoon at 8.00 am with transport departing at 8.30 am. For bookings or more information please contact Peter on 0806 351 386 or email to petermalcolmblackburn @gmail.com.We also play bowls out of the Growling Swan every Wednesday and Sunday. Sunday is Lawn Bowls and Wednesday is Indoor Bowls. All are welcome and for anyone that is interested the transport leaves The Growling Swan at 10.00am on each of those mornings. For more information please contact Paul Rennison on 0843 454 005.