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Air Canada launches daily yearround MontrealShanghai flights

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Posted by Friday, September 23, 2016 Tags: Air Canada, Chinacenter_img Air Canada launches daily year-round Montreal-Shanghai flights MONTREAL — Air Canada is introducing B787-8 Dreamliner service out of Montreal with new Shanghai flights starting Feb. 16.The daily, year-round flights also mark Air Canada’s first direct service to China from Montreal. Tickets are available for purchase starting Sept. 28.“Building on Air Canada’s success in the rapidly growing Chinese market, we are delighted to announce Air Canada’s first direct flights between Montreal and China with the launch of Montreal-Shanghai service next year,” said Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu.With the new flights Air Canada will have increased its international capacity from Montreal by 133% since 2009, with direct service to 13 cities in Europe, North Africa and China, he added.China is Canada’s second largest trading partner and Air Canada has invested more than $1 billion in aircraft and equipment allocated specifically to serve the Chinese market from its Canadian hubs. With an elapsed time of 14.5 hours, the new route will be the longest flight ever operated by any carrier from Montréal-Trudeau airport. “Together with our Star Alliance partners, Air China and Shenzhen Airlines, and partner Juneyao Airlines, a Shanghai-based airline operating to more than 30 destinations in China, we will offer the growing number of travellers between Montreal and China even more convenient travel options to Chinese destinations,” said Rovinescu.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Air Canada is expected to launch an interline agreement with Juneyao Airlines in the coming weeks. Air China, Shenzhen Airlines and Juneyao Airlines offer connections to domestic China destinations such as Chengdu, Chongqing and Shenzhen. Sharelast_img read more

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Sandals celebrates top performing agents at 17th annual STAR Awards

first_imgSandals celebrates top performing agents at 17th annual STAR Awards Travelweek Group Tags: Events, Sandals Resorts Monday, December 3, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img OCHO RIOS — Sandals hosted top-selling agents from around the globe for the 17th annual STAR Awards at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort with all the glitz, glam and luxury-included to be expected at Sandals.“We thank the travel agent community for your partnership and for continuing to inspire us to create the best resorts in the world for our mutual clients,” said Maureen Barnes-Smith, Director of Sales & Marketing, Canada, Unique Vacations Inc. “You are a cornerstone of our business and we thank you for all you do. We value the partnership and commit to delivering at the highest level all that it takes to be the worlds best.”Big Canadian winners for the evening represented the spectrum of agencies including: Travel Professionals International (TPI), Carlson Wagonlit, RedTag.ca, Vision Travel, Flight Centre, TripCentral.ca and TravelOnly.Lois Barbour of Travel Time TPI and recipient of the Best of the Best and Chairman’s Award 2017 said: “It’s a real honour to be a winner, but takes a lot of hard work to producing enough bookings. It certainly makes sense to put your effort into booking what makes you money, and Sandals rewards agents with a good percentage, which enables me to serve my clients with one of the best options in the marketplace.”More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaThe STAR Awards recognized winners over a dozen different categories, including Best of the Best, Top Butler Elite Travel Agency, Chairman’s Award and more. Winners were picked from around the globe with strong representations from the U.S., Canada, the UK and Latin America.“Redefining the Sandals luxury experience for our mutual customers, we continue to innovate and provide more commission opportunities like expanded offerings at Sandals Royal Barbados and Sandals Halcyon with the newest Crystal Lagoon walkout rooms,” said Barnes-Smith.The brand continues to evolve with innovative new resort features such as over-the-water bars and chapels, brand new resorts like the new Sandals Royal Barbados, and exotic destinations like Tobago which will soon be home to both a Sandals and Beaches Resort, on their very own luxury-included peninsula.“Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart started this journey with nothing more than a genuine desire to outperform, and to provide customers an unforgettable experience,” added Barnes-Smith. “From humble beginnings, to one of the top 500 brands in the world and the Caribbean’s only all-inclusive super-brand.”More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upFor more information, visit taportal.sandals.com Posted by Sharelast_img read more

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Sandals latest groups incentive is just for Canadian agents

first_imgSandals’ latest groups incentive is just for Canadian agents Tags: Agent Incentives, Sandals Resorts Wednesday, April 10, 2019 Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Share TORONTO — With Sandals Resorts’ new groups incentive, agents who book any type of group – social, wedding or corporate – of five rooms or more (for a minimum three-night stay) at any Sandals or Beaches resort now through June 30, 2019 will automatically be entered for a chance to win a three-night stay of their own.The contest is valid for all contract groups booked with either a tour operator partner (Air Canada Vacations, WestJet Vacations, TravelBrands or Transat) or Unique Vacations, Inc.Each new group booked immediately earns one contest entry, plus groups booked to Sandals or Beaches in Jamaica receive a bonus entry.There are no contest forms for the agent to complete.  There are also no limits, so the more groups booked translate into more contest entries.  Restrictions apply and the incentive is not available for agents in Quebec.“Sandals Resorts offers incredible value for groups of all sizes with a host of luxury concessions from free rooms to a free private cocktail reception and dinner,” says Grant Lawlor, National Group Manager, Unique Vacations Canada, Inc. “We believe that group travel is one of the fastest ways for agents to grow their Sandals business. This booking incentive is just another opportunity for us to thank agents for their support.”More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterFor more information, agents can contact their local Sandals Business Development Manager or Inside Sales at 1-800-545-8283. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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United Airlines trims growth plan for 2019

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> DALLAS — The grounding of its Boeing 737 Max jets is causing United Airlines to trim growth plans for this year, and the carrier expects to discuss potential compensation with Boeing.United claims to be managing the grounding relatively well by pressing spare jets into duty and delaying discretionary maintenance work on other planes.That approach, however, comes with extra costs – sometimes the airline uses bigger and less fuel-efficient two-aisle jets to replace the missing single-aisle Max on domestic routes.United has 14 Max planes in its fleet, and airline executives said Wednesday they don’t expect those jets back before July. They said some of the 16 additional Max jets they expected to get this year might be delayed.“Obviously there are some costs that we have been incurring and continue to incur,” Chief Financial Officer Gerry Laderman said on a call with analysts and reporters. “We’ll have a conversation with Boeing and I expect, like we always do, to resolve whatever that conversation is in a way that works for both of us.”United declined to give a figure for its extra costs.More news:  GLP Worldwide introduces first-ever Wellness programsThe Boeing jetliner has been grounded around the world since mid-March after two crashes killed 346 people. Investigators are focusing on anti-stall software that pushed the planes’ noses down based on erroneous sensor readings.Boeing is working on a software update and training program for pilots that will highlight differences between the Max and previous versions of the 737, the bestselling airliner in history.The company reported Wednesday that its first quarter profit doubled to $292 million on more passenger traffic and strong cost controls. Shares climbed $4.07, or 4.8 per cent, to close at $89.24.United said it expects to cancel 130 flights in April because of the parked Boeing planes.That is far less than Southwest Airlines, which has 34 Max planes, and American Airlines, which has 24. Those two airlines say they are scrapping about 90 flights a day.Still, the missing Max planes account for 1.4% of United’s passenger-carrying capacity. Uncertain how long the planes will be lost, United cut its planned 2019 growth from about 5% to 4.5% heading into the crucial summer travel season.More news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youthExecutives said they are covering most Max flights by using spare jets and deferring maintenance jobs such as WiFi installations and paint jobs on other planes – not safety-related items, they said.United has no plans to require pilots to train in Max flight simulators. No U.S. airline yet owns one of the scarce machines.Chief Operations Officer Gregory Hart said United has long trained its Boeing pilots how to respond to the type of nose-down pitch that led to the October crash in Indonesia and the March crash in Ethiopia.“That is why we have consistently reiterated our confidence in the ability of United pilots to safely operate United Max aircraft,” he said.A group of technical experts appointed by the Federal Aviation Administration has said pilots should get more training about the anti-stall system on the Max, but that training does not need to be done in flight simulators – it could be done on computers or in classrooms. By: The Associated Press Thursday, April 18, 2019 United Airlines trims growth plan for 2019 Share Tags: Statistics, United Airlineslast_img read more

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Lawmakers hear farmers demands

first_imgFrom the print editionWaking up before the sun rises is a farmer’s way of life. They work long hours and fight tough climate conditions to earn what some would call meager wages.On Tuesday, an estimated 15,000 producers representing different agricultural organizations and cooperatives from around Costa Rica – many as far as the northwestern province of Guanacaste and the Southern Zone – traveled by bus to the country’s capital to demand from legislators a decrease in property taxes.Coffee farmer William Víquez, a member of CoopeAlajuela, a farm cooperative, attended the march. “Right now, we’re paying too many taxes at too high of a rate. It’s very difficult to work the land, let alone deal with these taxes,” said Víquez, who grows coffee with three members of his family north of San José. Víquez does not own the two-hectare plot of land where he and his family work for up to 16 hours a day, but he pays a monthly fee, along with the cost of seeds, fertilizers and other monthly expenses, leaving him with little money at the end of the day.“I grow my coffee, and I sell what I can to survive,” he said, wearing a striped shirt and green oversized fishing hat in San José’s Central Park. Víquez produces about seven fanegas a year depending on weather conditions. A fanega is the equivalent of about 568 pounds of the cherry-like coffee fruit. Depending on the market, each fanega pays farmers about {100,000 ($200).Many producers trade their crops with other farmers to waive food expenses.Nevertheless, $1,400 a year is “barely enough to make ends meet,” Víquez said.At the center of the dispute is a 2007 property tax reform that reappraised land values at a higher tax rate, including farms. Farmers say the new rates are too high, and have proposed a reform bill to exempt agricultural lands from paying up to 80 percent of property taxes.Although some municipalities have implemented the 2007 tax reform incrementally, Víquez said his municipality has already put into practice the full force of the law. During the last trimester, he paid {50,000 ($100) in property taxes – half of what he earned for a fanega of coffee during the last crop season.Along with Víquez, thousands of Costa Rican farmers marched from Central Park to the Legislative Assembly, wearing traditional cowboy and fedora hats and holding homemade signs requesting lawmakers to discuss and approve bill 18,070, which calls for an 80 percent tax exemption on farmland.“We are here because the current property taxes that are in place today represent a negative and unnecessary burden on farmers, and it is impossible to maintain in the long term,” said Adrián Hernández, board member at CoopeLibertad, a coffee cooperative representing more than 2,000 coffee producers in the Heredia province, north of the capital. “We are not asking to be fully tax-exempt. However, we want to pay what is fair within the agricultural sector.”Rain did not deter those present at the march. Many huddled together, shared umbrellas and listened to some of their sector’s national leaders speak from a stage built in front of the assembly. Among them was Guido Vargas, president of UPA Nacional, an organization of small- and medium-sized producers.Vargas, one of the main organizers of the march, said he hoped not to have to return to San José, as previous marches against the 2007 tax reform ended unsuccessfully. “The spirit among [agricultural] producers is a spirit that will not negotiate,” Vargas said on Wednesday. “An intelligent society should not think it is OK to have rich municipalities and an impoverished countryside.”Also present at the march was legislator José María Villalta, from the Broad Front Party, who said that the current tax reform is drowning a sector that has been battered for the past 30 years.“The towns in this country have shot up property values and not because the agricultural sector is doing well,” Villalta said. “But due to the development of other types of businesses, such as the real-state boom and the development of tourism, land values have increased tremendously.”As a result, Villalta said, this puts small and medium-sized producers in a tight spot by having to pay taxes they can’t afford.Villalta said that several of his colleagues in the assembly support the farmers. Following the daylong demonstration, President Laura Chinchilla called on legislators to hold a special session and prioritize discussion of bill 18,070.Lawmakers agreed to open debate on the bill on Monday.“We will keep fighting from everywhere in the country if bill 18,070 is not passed,” Vargas said. “We have the muscle to fight.” Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Gringa brings floor loom to the Borucas

first_img Alberto Font Growing up in southern California, Atkinson became interested in arts and crafts at a young age. She worked in her mother’s flower shop for a while, and ran a silk screen-printing business. At 28, she got the travel itch and moved to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and then to Singapore, where she began working on private yachts. She eventually became a yacht captain and sailed the world for 10 years, visiting countries all over Asia and Africa and crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. During her travels, she fell hard for indigenous art, and began collecting it. But until November of last year, she had no experience with weaving or looms of any kind. So the initial plan was to simply buy the Borucas a floor loom. Atkinson Googled the name of one of the weaving organizations she had come across in Guatemala, and got in touch to ask how much a floor loom would cost her. The answer: $2,000. “So I kept researching,” she said. “And then I realized there was no reason I couldn’t build it myself.”She purchased a book written in 1910 on Amazon that explained how to build a floor loom, and called over Marina Lázaro, a leader in the Borucan community whom Atkinson considers “like a sister.” Lázaro liked what she saw, only the loom seemed huge. Was there a small one, perhaps, that could be easily transported to the village? Atkinson went back to her research, and found the website of a German engineer with instructions on how to build a collapsible, medium-sized floor loom. When Lázaro saw that one, she gave the go-ahead, and Atkinson purchased the supplies. Beginning in Jaunary, she worked three to four hours a day, oftentimes finding the directions tough to follow, and in one instance, simply wrong. She even had to start from scratch a few times, mainly because she was determined to build that thing exactly right. “I knew nothing,” she said. “It was definitely a puzzle.” Atkinson completed the loom in April, and then it was time to teach the Borucas to use it.  Learning Sometimes a storm comes, and the Boruca women can’t leave their village. Other times, there’s simply not enough hours in the day. A taxi driver must also agree to make the five-hour round trip, which isn’t cheap. But eventually, one way or another, the Borucas make it to Dominicalito for their weaving lessons.On a Sunday afternoon in early June, two of Lázaro’s daughters show up in a taxi. Cindy, 26, and Cuca, 33, have come without their mother, they explain, because she is not feeling well. They greet Atkinson with kisses on the cheek, and begin unloading the contents – unique, new Borucan masks – out of several cloth bags and onto a table. Most of these are for sale, and Atkinson will buy then resell them out of her hotel. But one of the masks is a gift. “This is beautiful,” Atkinson said.  After the exchange, the women retreat to the hotel office, where the loom stands in the middle of the floor. The first lesson will be for Cuca, who has come with her mother before and has a basic idea of how the thing works. Last week’s lesson concerned placing the yarn on the loom. This week, the women will learn how to weave patterns.“Este rojo es número uno,” Atkinson explained. This red is number one. She points at a floor pedal on the loom, which controls some of the 200 strings threaded through the loom. Cuca looks down at the pedal then at the book Atkinson has presented her with, which shows a sequence of colors that correspond with the pedals. She holds the shuttle in her hand, which she will weave by hand through the strung-up yarn. If it sounds complicated, it is. When Cuca notices that the ends of the pattern are coming out a bit sloppy, she realizes she must start over. That’s okay for today – after all, it’s only practice. After Cuca gets the hang of things, Cindy takes a turn, and seems to pick up the skill pretty fast. “Es una machina bonita,” she says. It’s a pretty machine. The women work together for the better part of an hour, examining the book, pushing down on the pedals, and passing the shuttle through the yarn. When Atkinson is satisfied that they have mastered today’s lesson (which Atkinson herself only mastered days before, she admits), she tells them she has a surprise. Atkinson has been planning a trip to Guatemala for herself, a few American friends and two Borucan women, so that they can learn weaving directly from the Mayans. As it turns out, one of the friends had to drop out. “Hay espacio para una más Boruca,” Atkinson says. There is space for one more Boruca. The women don’t react immediately, perhaps because they don’t understand that one of them has just scored a free trip to Guatemala. Or maybe a big reaction just isn’t their way. It doesn’t seem to matter to Atkinson. She knows that over time, gratefulness comes in many forms.Idea exchangeIn July, eight women traveled to Guatemala, a country with a rich Mayan textile heritage. The point was to empower the Borucas in an idea exchange with Mayans, and to connect them with weaving lessons from experts in San Juan, a small town on Lake Atitlán. Atkinson wanted to expose them to other indigenous groups with skills they could bring back to their own village. Here, they would learn to weave faster, create wider fabrics and produce more quickly. No related posts. Atkinson, three U.S. expats, a reporter, plus master weaver Lázaro and her two daughters, Adriana and Cuca, all took part in the adventure. As they headed for Lake Atitlan, butterflies filled the Borucas’ stomachs. They were terrified from the plane flight, nervous for the unexpected, yet excited for the opportunities to come. It wasn’t until the group reached Artesanos de San Juan, in beautiful San Juan de la Laguna, that their anxiety began to diminish. Easy smiles emerged, as they felt at home with yarn in their hands, and were relieved in knowing that they had reached their destination.The group stayed in San Juan for three days and the women worked long hours, taking full advantage of the time they had with their Guatemalan teachers. They familiarized themselves with a counterbalance loom, learned how to dress the loom with the warp, thread the heddles, slay the reed and weave. After the first day of playing with the treadles and harnesses, they felt more comfortable with the loom, and realized the potential for new and unlimited patterns that could be produced with this modern piece of equipment. By the end of their second day, they had already made two meters of fabric. When the girls finished weaving, they cut it off the loom and presented it to Atkinson, who deeply appreciated the gesture. “It made me cry,” she said. “Adriana gave me a big hug and it was overwhelming to see my completed dream of uniting the Borucans with the Mayans.”Aside from spending time at the Artesanos de San Juan workshop, the women squeezed short trips to Santiago, Panajachel and Chichicastenango, which is home to one of Central America’s most colorful markets. The Borucas looked closely at the array of textiles, bought gifts to bring back to their families and spent hours chatting about the herbs, seeds, cottons, leaves, barks, ash, and shells they used to make their dyes. “This was the most exciting and emotional event for us,” Lázaro said.Atkinson added, “The women were able to talk about the natural dyes, and they simply related to one another. They talked about their grandmothers, and were surprised to see someone else in the world still preparing some natural dyes the same way as they do.” Within hours of Atkinson’s arrival back home, she was already planning the next step: delivering the floor loom to the village. ArrivalIn her truck, with the floor loom folded up in the back, Atkinson approaches the village, which runs along the Río Grande de Terraba and contains about 2,100 residents. The roads are unpaved and dusty, but surrounded by lush green fields and trees. There are a few other cars and a couple of convenience stores, and doors of family homes swing wide to reveal children playing and women cooking. The Lázaro household is right at the center of it all. As Atkinson pulls up, she is greeted by happy shouts from Lázaro and her daughters. With their help, Atkinson unloads the loom and some of its extras, including a yarn winder to simplify making yarn balls.Lázaro is clearly pumped for the arrival of the loom, but she’s also approaching the situation with cautious optimism. Some of them women have made comments about it being too complicated, and others have said that it seems to be deviating from their tradition. But Lázaro also knows that many women are very interested, her own daughters included.As the floor loom is being set up, neighbors gather to admire it. “It will be nice to be able to make some different things,” one woman says.Most Borucas are aware that 80 percent of their income comes from the crafts they produce, so they understand the potential of the gift. If they can expand their product line and increase their sales, the extra money could go toward any number of things. More food. More equipment. A car. Then they could drive around selling their products, without the need for taxis or other outside assistance. With the upcoming busy season (November through April), Lázaro says the loom has arrived right on time. Tourists will be coming by, and the Borucans will be ready with new bedspreads, table runners and plenty more.  Meanwhile, Atkinson plans to build two more floor looms for the Borucan women in the next few months. She also has been brainstorming new designs and filling out applications to attend next year’s Santa Fe International Folk Art Market in the U.S. state of New Mexico. She wants to get those fine Boruca products to the world.To purchase these crafts, you can visit the Boruca Indigenous Reserve, or Pacific Edge www.pacificedge.info in Dominical, or shop online at www.borucacrafts.com Facebook Comments By Ashley Harrell, Annie Waterman and Rebecca Aguilar | Specials to The Tico TimesOn the afternoon of Aug. 22, a pick-up truck bounced up a dirt road, headed for one of the indigenous villages of the Boruca tribe, on the southern Pacific coast. In the driver’s seat, a Gringa woman wearing a pink dress and a side ponytail gripped the wheel. She had been waiting a long time for this day. For 18 years, Susie Atkinson had been working with the Borucas, selling and promoting their woven products and hand-carved masks out of her eco-lodge, two hours north of the reservation in Dominicalito. An enthusiast of indigenous culture and art, she had traveled over the years to the villages along Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán. There, she noticed that the Mayans used very different looms than those of the Boruca. The Borucan looms were relatively small and supported by a back strap, which causes tension and pain in the women’s arms, necks and backs. The Mayans’ looms supported themselves on the floor, are were operated mainly by foot pedals. They were also considerably larger, enabling the creation of more elaborate products like fine bedspreads and intricate table runners. Atkinson became obsessed with the idea of introducing the bigger, better loom – the floor loom – to the Boruca people. On this day, in the back of Atkinson’s truck, lay a brand new, collapsible floor loom. She built it with her own hands. “It’s like introducing the tractor to a farmer who has only used horse-drawn plows,” she said. “The potential is enormous, what they will now be able to weave. This will help the prosperity of the Borucan village.” Building  Marina Lázaro watches two Mayan women work with yarn. Annie Waterman | Tico Times Marina Lazaro using the old loom.last_img read more

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A posh getaway in the Caribbean

first_imgAlthough many development plans around Puerto Viejo are on hold due to the recent maritime zoning fiasco, Brownlee is in expansion mode. On a quick tour of the property, he shows off a nursery next door, Jardines Paraíso, where plant specialist Rick Hibbitts has been selling a wide variety of rare and stunning bromeliads. Approaching the hotel on a gravel road that snakes past a dive bar and a few modest homes, a visitor may not expect much. But upon reaching the well-constructed Banana Azul, with its hardwoods gleaming and bromeliads rampant, it becomes clear that the place is a hidden oasis.Tucked away from Puerto Viejo’s riffraff, Banana Azul rents bikes for the 1.5-kilometer trek to all the shops, restaurants and culture that define the area. But those who don’t want to leave the premises certainly don’t have to.The 14 units run the gamut from a spacious two-bedroom apartment, which the owner originally constructed for himself in 2004, to charming suites and cabinas, some with ocean views, private dipping pools and Jacuzzi tubs. Many of the accommodations also feature balconies (some more private than others) and art depicting local flora and fauna. Hammocks abound.The two-story main building includes a downstairs bar and restaurant, which perches alongside a winding koi pond and serves up mouthwatering dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is ever changing, with special nights for Caribbean style fare, fajitas, garlic jumbo shrimp and more.Beside the restaurant, a recently installed pool system is dotted with lounge chairs and palapa-topped cabanas, which are also a prominent fixture on Playa Negra. The chocolate-sand beach is just a short walk down a wooden pathway surrounded by lush tropical foliage.Brownlee, a Canadian expat and community leader, originally conceived of the hotel with backpackers in mind. But from the time it was constructed, Banana Azul began attracting a well-heeled set, due in part to Brownlee’s prowess with Internet marketing. His visitors wanted high quality rooms, amenities and services, and Brownlee complied.“Already over budget and broke, I liquidated another Canadian rental property and started to upgrade the facility immediately,” he said. “We have never stopped.”Brownlee’s expertise with Internet marketing, and particularly TripAdvisor and online travel agencies, is something he’s eager to share with neighbors. That’s why he began a series of seminars to teach fellow business owners in the Caribbean some tricks of the trade. The first one, entitled “TripAdvisor for Dummies,” took place last month. More than 30 people showed up, and they are already adopting some of the tactics, such as asking directly for guests to post reviews.“My motives are not entirely altruistic,” Brownlee said. “If we have a small army of people out there doing good marketing, the combined efforts really magnify and everyone benefits.”  During the high season, Banana Azul routinely fills up, and Brownlee says that’s because he goes out of his way to make sure people get what they came for. People are trusting him with time out of the one of two weeks a year they are given to enjoy themselves, he said.  “I take that responsibility very seriously.” Related posts:Service, food disappoint at Costa Rica’s pricey Andaz Papagayo Room2Board gives hostels a good name PHOTOS: A walk in Cahuita National Park October in Costa Rica: when the Caribbean comes a’callin’ A koi pond that is home to fish and turtles winds by the Banana Azul restaurant.center_img Brownlee continues the tour through an undeveloped area of his property, for which he has big plans. Next year, he says, this will become the site of Banana Verde, a collection of about 20 glass-fronted bungalows scattered along a man-made river system. The finished product will look and feel like a resort in the Arenal area, Brownlee said.In other words, super-slothy.Going there:To get from San José to the Caribbean coast, take Highway 32 through Braulio Carrillo National Park; when you hit Limón, you will see a sign (at the Colono gas station) to turn right for Puerto Viejo. Turn and follow the coast all the way down, and after about an hour, you will come to Hone Creek, 5 kilometers from the turn-off to Banana Azul. After passing a hardware store called San Francisco you’ll see a bus stop with a roof on it, (right across the street from corner store Pulpería Violetta). Take a left and follow along beach. After you pass Perla Negra Hotel, the wooden gate and sign for Banana Azul comes up in 200 meters.Accommodations range from $69-$194 with a two-night minimum. Children under 16 are not permitted. For more info, visit Banana Azul’s website. Facebook Comments Banana Azul co-owner Colin Brownlee recently conducted a survey to better understand what people want from the Costa Rica’s Caribbean side. Was it adventure activities? Romance? Amazing food?As it turned out, all of those were in the running. But by far the most popular reason that people came to the Caribbean was simply to relax. They wanted to lounge on the beach, sip cocktails, and do nothing, channeling the attitude of Costa Rica’s all-knowing spokescreature, the sloth.To be sure, slothy Rastas and backpackers dot the beaches of the sleepy hamlets scattered up and down the southern Caribbean. But nearly 10 years ago, when Brownlee constructed his property just steps from the tranquil Playa Negra and began marketing it on the Internet, he figured something out. The wealthy wanted to come to the Caribbean and be sloths, too.last_img read more

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Malnourished kids sue Guatemalan state and win but not much has changed

first_imgRelated posts:Guatemala has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Latin America, and it’s getting worse Guatemala Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz battles to serve out her term For Guatemalan Q’eqchi’ community, accessing health care depends on finding someone to speak their language Guatemalans bury victims of 1982 civil war massacre CHIQUIMULA, Guatemala – The mountainous town of Camotán, 200 kilometers northeast of Guatemala City, is synonymous with hunger: 89 percent of the municipality’s population lives in poverty, water resources are scarce and infant mortality is the highest in the country.In November 2011, a local nongovernmental organization filed a lawsuit on behalf of five children against the state of Guatemala for failing to protect them against malnutrition.A judge found the government guilty in what was a landmark ruling in Latin America, but nothing much has changed.Six-year-old Bryan still lives in a straw hut, with a mud floor, high up in the mountains. He gets tired easily, doesn’t speak much and suffers from a rare growth disorder that doctors say might be a result of a genetic condition or a lifetime of poor nutrition.“I felt content when they said the judge had resolved the case,” said Bryan’s mother, Santos Floridalma. “I thought, ‘oh great,’ and they said that soon [the government] would have to do things. But now we’re some time on and we haven’t seen anything. The institutions take the word of a judge as a joke.” Six-year-old Bryan was one of five children who sued the Guatemalan government because of malnutrition. Although the children won the case, not much has changed in their villages. (Courtesy of Jacobo Blijdenstein)According to the World Food Program, Guatemala’s malnutrition rate is the highest in the region and the fourth highest globally. In 2012, the government launched its flagship program to end poverty, called Hambre Cero, but it has yet to reach all areas of the country.During the court case, Mayra, 4, received a hip operation enabling her to walk properly for the first time in her life, and medication to combat the diarrhea that doctors feared would kill her.“My daughter was really bad. She had diarrhea and she didn’t get better, just diarrhea every day and every night. I took her to the doctor and he told me it was from birth and that she had little time. We couldn’t continue in this condition,” said Angelina Raymundo, Mayra’s mother.The judge ruled that the state had violated the children’s human rights to nourishment, an adequate life, health, housing and education, and ordered it to implement 28 actions in order to reduce malnutrition in the area and improve living conditions.However, the Guatemalan government’s reaction has been slow and poorly executed. The Labor Ministry created textile workshops for about 75 local women, but because there is no market in Camotán for the products they produce, the women who learned to weave are yet to capitalize on their new skill.“For agricultural workers and small producers, the right to food – recognized worldwide – is linked to the access of land and water. Hunger can no longer be addressed just by assistance policies during period crises. It is urgent to address and bring solutions to the structural issue of land, which is concentrated in very few hands,” said Laura Hurtado, country director of ActionAid Guatemala, which supported the NGO Nuevo Día during the trial. Mayra had a hip operation during the trial, enabling her to walk properly for the first time in her life. (Courtesy of Jacobo Blijdenstein)While the effects of the trial on the families have been small – the most significant change is that each now receives a few extra monthly food rations, such as another bag of rice or a packet of beans – they have been almost nonexistent on the surrounding villages.“That the judges stated there were violations is of course a result, but the goal right now is that these teachings reach more Guatemalans,” said José Castillo, program coordinator at Nuevo Día, which took the cases to court. “We are facing a government whose public policies don’t respond to Guatemala’s reality. This process, what it wants to do is tell the state to modify its policies. This is the only way to stop poverty and malnutrition.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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An end to Colombias war seems close – except in rebel territory

first_imgLA ESPERANZA, Colombia – Maybe someday, if the truce holds, the covered soccer pitch in this mountain town will become something of a memorial, the precise hilltop spot where Colombian rebels launched their last major attack in a half-century of civil war.For now, it’s Hugo Rendón’s job to make the world forget. So the foreman is pouring concrete where 11 Colombian soldiers were slaughtered as they bivouacked that rainy night in April. He will be replacing the sheet-metal roof that has so many bullet holes it looks like a planetarium. There will be new bathrooms and a snack bar.The government is paying for the renovation, but that’s not enough to win the villagers’ trust. Government here means spotty electricity, a poorly equipped health clinic, airplanes spraying chemicals on coca fields. Hanging proudly along the main road that the government hasn’t paved is the tricolor flag of one of the world’s oldest rebel groups – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.“They have better ideas than the government, no?” Rendón said.After three years of discussions in Havana, negotiators for the Colombian government and the rebels have arrived at a place tantalizingly close to peace. By March, President Juan Manuel Santos has pledged, there will be a final accord.But in the southwestern cordilleras of Cauca province, where thousands have been killed or driven from their homes, the distance to peace seems far greater. Along this rugged Pacific coast, the FARC guerrillas have at times functioned as a shadow state, orchestrating public works projects and demanding loyalty by force.The insurgency has fed on rural anger at a distant government seen as ruling for the few. In that sense, the toughest fight is yet to come: building a lasting bond between the people and their government.“We’ve had 50 years of war,” said José Nifer Díaz, a former mayor of Buenos Aires, the municipality that encompasses La Esperanza. “What they’re signing in Cuba is not peace. Each and every one of us has to build our own peace.” A construction worker repairs the soccer pitch in Esperanza, a village in the town of Buenos Aires, Colombia, on Oct. 1. Joshua Paltrow/The Washington Post‘A tense calm’The residents of Buenos Aires, a sleepy farming town shaded by acacia trees, have stepped gingerly into the truce. The cease-fire began last December, broke down after the soccer-field attack, then resumed in the summer. But the guerrillas have not laid down their weapons, nor have soldiers abandoned their posts.“It’s a tense calm,” said a police officer in town. “They are still armed and hidden and waiting for orders.”Earlier this year, the United Nations listed 125 municipalities, about 10 percent of the country, with the greatest need for post-conflict rebuilding. One was Buenos Aires. Out of 30,000 people here, nearly one-third have registered as victims of the war. The federal government seems far away, and residents are more accustomed to the rhythms of the guerrillas. Sometimes people get called by the insurgents to clear debris from a road or to listen to a talk by FARC leaders.“These communities have been abandoned by the state,” said Franklin Ramírez, a municipal employee.Ramírez hosts community meetings for residents who have lost something in the war. He hands out literature explaining the peace negotiations. Before the truce, bombardments and gun battles rattled the highlands. In town, police would walk in groups. Things have calmed, but risks remain. A young girl leaving school was killed recently after she stepped on a land mine. Gunmen shot at the police station despite the cease-fire.“The people are scared,” said María Yuli Gómez, a 44-year-old resident forced from her home by the violence. “We haven’t overcome everything that has happened. One still lives with that fear.”Even if peace holds, the inequalities of rural life will remain. There are few prospects for honest work besides peasant farming on lands of the rich. The guerrillas’ Marxist-inspired ideology still resonates.“What they’ve always said is they want to help the campesinos,” said Alejandro Ruiz, 42, a coca farmer. “Obviously, we would vote for them.”But there is also anger that the FARC might suddenly be welcomed as a normal political party, as if the damage it has caused might be forgotten. Resident Vicente Sandoval, 60, laughed bitterly at the prospect of FARC candidates. After the demobilization, he said, the rebels will get health care, jobs, training and housing, “while someone who was peaceful will have nothing.”Town officials say the federal government must do more to help heal such resentments if the guerrillas are to live openly among the people again.“If they agree to something in Havana, but we haven’t done the work at the community level, it won’t be worth a thing,” said the municipality’s No. 2 official, Vianey Palacios Carabali.FARC: A dwindled forceThe FARC, as a military threat, is a shadow of its former self. Founded in 1964 as the armed wing of the Communist party in Colombia, its insurgency spread to include tens of thousands of men under arms who controlled wide swaths of the south and east.In the mid-1980s, the FARC established a political party, the Patriotic Union, with other leftist groups and won hundreds of local government seats and legislative posts. But paramilitary fighters killed more than 2,000 members of the party, including two presidential candidates. In the late 1990s, then-President Andrés Pastrana held peace talks with the guerrillas, but the war raged on.Santos’ predecessor in the presidency, Álvaro Uribe, launched an aggressive military offensive against the FARC. But the insurgents persisted with sabotage and hit-and-run attacks, blowing up roads, bridges and police stations. Such violence has left them widely unpopular in Colombia, and the FARC has dwindled to about 8,000 fighters. It no longer openly controls territory but operates secretly from rural areas.The guerrilla group’s greatest challenge is converting itself into a viable political party, said Angelika Rettberg Beil, a political scientist at the University of the Andes in Bogota. “The public is very skeptical about the FARC’s sincerity and desire for peace.”The peace talks in Havana have cleared many hurdles, but the path forward is daunting. Under the agreement, the government must set up special tribunals to hear combatants’ confessions of their crimes, along with a separate truth commission to take testimony. There are programs to design on crop substitution for the coca plant, rural development and land-mine removal. It is unclear whether the FARC will end up paying reparations to its victims.Guerrilla foot soldiers not accused of a specific crime are expected to receive amnesty. But the leaders and those facing accusations of serious offenses such as murder or kidnapping will be asked to confess in return for sentences of five to eight years in some type of halfway house or work camp. Prison time is expected to be reserved for those who do not come clean about the past.“Ending the war is much more than just the laying down of weapons. It’s really accounting for responsibility for the crimes on all sides,” said Bernard Aronson, the U.S. State Department’s representative to the peace talks.Given their history with the Patriotic Union, the FARC’s leaders are worried about their physical safety as they transition to peaceful politics. Some of the right-wing paramilitary groups formed to battle the rebels have become criminal gangs that the FARC still considers a threat. The guerrillas “want the forces that they believe are their enemies to be dismantled by the government,” Aronson said.‘Inside a conflict you have nothing to do with’Ramiro Almendra sat silently in the front row of the victims’ meeting in the Buenos Aires hall of justice. He attends these sessions, riding the bus for an hour from his little hilltop shack, but his hopes of real reparations have dwindled.Orphaned as a child, he grew up working in coca fields. When right-wing paramilitary fighters swept through the mountain town of Naya in April 2001, intent on emptying villages the guerrillas had moved through, Almendra walked for eight days through the jungle to escape. The massacre was one of the most barbaric of the war; paramilitary troops used chain saws and machetes to slaughter dozens of farmers.Almendra settled on a chilly ridge with a view of the Pacific. With his wife, Rosa Delia Fernández, he started selling coffee and fritters to mule-drivers trekking through. Over the next decade, they built a crude wood house, which doubled as a restaurant and inn, that they named the Mirador. But FARC rebels used the area, too. When Colombian soldiers entered the town, they accused him of harboring terrorists in his hotel.“You feed the guerrillas, then you’re an accomplice. You sell a juice to the soldiers, then you’re collaborating with the army,” Delia said. “You find yourself inside a conflict you have nothing to do with.”By the summer of 2012, the Colombian military was bombarding the forested hills around their house. One night, with a helicopter hovering above their roof and the children sobbing, they decided to flee. It has been three years, and they don’t feel safe enough to return.Almendra is not yet betting on peace.“The government has to apologize to the campesinos, to the people, because they’ve done a lot of damage,” he said. “And the guerrillas have to do the same. They have to say they are sorry to all those they have harmed.”© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:Colombian Embassy attaché tells of harrowing 13-year ordeal as a FARC captive Colombia suspends peace talks with FARC after general kidnapped Colombia is again the world’s top coca producer. 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Leftist AMLO sweeps to Mexican presidency

first_imgMEXICO CITY, Mexico – Anti-establishment leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador swept to victory in Mexico’s presidential election Sunday, in a political sea change driven by voters’ anger over endemic corruption and brutal violence.The sharp-tongued, silver-haired politician known as “AMLO” won 53 percent of the vote, according to an official projection of the results.It was the first time in Mexico’s modern history that a candidate won more than half the vote in a competitive election. It was a resounding rejection of the two parties that governed the country for nearly a century.“This is a historic day, and it will be a memorable night,” Lopez Obrador said in a victory speech in Mexico City’s Alameda Park. Thousands of ecstatic supporters flooded the capital’s central district, chanted “Yes we did!” and partied to mariachi music.Lopez Obrador, 64, sought to downplay fears of radicalism after critics branded him a “tropical Messiah,” who would install Venezuela-style policies that could wreck Latin America’s second-largest economy.“Our new national project seeks an authentic democracy. We are not looking to construct a dictatorship, either open or hidden,” he told cheering supporters. López Obrador also promised to safeguard freedoms, respect the private sector and work to reconcile a divided nation.He also vowed to pursue a relationship of “friendship and cooperation” with the United States, Mexico’s key trading partner — a change in tone from some comments during the campaign, when he said he would put U.S. President Donald Trump “in his place.”Trump, whose anti-trade and anti-immigration policies have infuriated Mexico, appeared ready to start off on the right foot.“I look very much forward to working with him,” Trump tweeted. “There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!”Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, echoed the congratulations while emphasizing his country’s work with Mexico to renegotiate the NAFTA trade pact — an effort that stalled over attempts to satisfy Trump’s demands.“Canada and Mexico are close friends and longtime partners. We share common goals, strong people to people ties, and a mutually beneficial trading relationship that is the envy of the world,” Trudeau said.Congressional majority in reachLópez Obrador successfully tapped voters’ anger over a seemingly never-ending series of corruption scandals and horrific violence that led to a record 25,000 murders last year—an orgy of bloodshed fueled by the country’s powerful drug cartels.His coalition — led by the Morena Party Lopez Obrador launched in 2014 — appeared to be on track for a strong showing in state and congressional races as well. The coalition won six of the day’s nine governor’s races, according to exit polls.That included Mexico City, where a woman was elected for the first time ever, the scientist and environmentalist Claudia Sheinbaum.Two other states were too close to call, according to polling firm Mitofsky.López Obrador’s coalition will have a majority in the lower house, and possibly in the Senate as well, according to the firm’s exit polls — a coup for a party contesting its first national elections.Runner-up Ricardo Anaya of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and third-place candidate Jose Antonio Meade of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) both congratulated Lopez Obrador and wished him success.It is a major shift in Mexican politics: the PRI and PAN have governed for nearly a century, and López Obrador will be the country’s first leftist president in recent history when he takes office on December 1. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador supporters celebrate at Zocalo Square in Mexico City after getting the preliminary results of the general elections on July 2, 2018. (AFP Photo / Mario Vazquez)Easier said than doneAfter a campaign of lofty but vague promises, Mexico is now keen to see what the change will actually look like. In his victory speech, López Obrador cited one overriding priority: eradicating the country’s festering corruption.“We are absolutely convinced that [corruption] is the cause of our social and economic inequalities, and corruption also unleashed the violence our country is suffering,” he said.It will not be easy, warned Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.“That will be one of his biggest challenges, given the power of the drug cartels and their connections to government and the armed forces,” he said. “There is a very entrenched, corrupt and powerful political class.”The incoming president’s fans were undeterred.“I’m here to celebrate López Obrador’s triumph, the new transformation in our country,” said one supporter, Omar Ibarra.Truce with big business?But Mexicans are deeply divided over López Obrador, who was making his third presidential bid.Seeking to soothe the country’s business community, he has recruited a team of market-friendly advisers and backpedaled on his most controversial proposals, including reversing outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto’s landmark energy reform, which privatized the oil sector.The Mexican peso was stable on international currency markets. The country’s Business Coordinating Council, one of its largest business groups, appeared ready to call a truce.“We will work with the president-elect’s team to build an agenda for stability, trust, and development,” its director, Juan Pablo Castanon, told a press conference. Facebook Comments Related posts:Absences, again, shine at Ibero-American summit Mexico’s Peña Nieto asks for investigation into his mansions Violence looms large over Mexico elections For Mexicans, the Donald Trump candidacy is getting scarierlast_img read more

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West avoiding action in Syria blaming Russia

first_img Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Comments   Share   The country is a geographical and political keystone in the heart of the Middle East, bordering five countries with which it shares religious and ethnic minorities and, in Israel’s case, a fragile truce. Its web of allegiances extends to Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement and Iran’s Shiite theocracy.Many fear a destabilized Syria could send unsettling ripples through the region or lead to a regional war pulling in Iran and Israel.Syria also has a volatile sectarian divide, making civil unrest one of the most dire scenarios. The Assad regime is dominated by the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, but the country is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim.Tensions over Syria have turned into a proxy confrontation between Washington and Moscow. Officials of the two countries traded harsh accusations last week, charging each other with providing military support to opposing sides of the conflict in Syria.President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement after meeting Monday in Mexico, affirming the right of the Syrian people to democratically determine their future, but without referring to Assad or his future.U.S. and U.N. officials have said that a six-point peace plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan was in fact the only plan on the table for dealing with the Syrian crisis for the time being. That plan seemed to be unraveling this week _ U.N. observers in Syria announced they were suspending all missions because of escalating violence over the previous 10 days. Associated PressBEIRUT (AP) – The U.S. has spent months disparaging Russia for blocking strong U.N. action against Syria and standing by President Bashar Assad as his forces lay waste to rebellious cities.But in many ways, Russia’s stance is convenient for Washington and its allies which have their own reasons for avoiding direct intervention in yet another Arab nation in crisis.Not the least of them is the impending U.S. presidential election in November. Others are the uncertain outcome of a military commitment and the war-weariness of the U.S. public. Top Stories The Syrian regime has contributed to the international tension by systematically ignoring initiatives and sanctions, often with the support of Moscow.Clinton has acknowledged that military intervention faces serious hurdles beyond Russian reticence.Among those, she said, were Syria’s substantial air defenses, divisions among Arab countries on whether military options should be entertained in Syria, and the danger of Syria’s unrest spiraling into a larger civil war which could spill over Syrian borders.“We know it could actually get much worse than it is,” Clinton said.U.S. officials have also cited the risk of a “proxy war” with Syrian ally Iran backing Assad and other outside nations or forces backing insurgent factions. The U.S. is among six world powers engaged in talks with Iran meant to reduce tensions over Tehran’s nuclear activities.“Obama believes that his strategy for Iran, a far more important issue than Syria for this administration, is working,” Saab said. Obama “does not want to mess it up by fishing in troubled Syrian waters.”___Karam has covered Syria since 1996.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debatescenter_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family How men can have a healthy 2019 Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home “The fact that Russia is not budging on Syria certainly helps Washington in its efforts to justify its inaction,” said Bilal Saab, a fellow and Syria expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.For all the tough rhetoric over the carnage in Syria, Washington and its Western allies remain deeply reluctant to engage in any kind of military action such as the NATO-led mission that helped oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.The American domestic political situation is also a factor. President Barack Obama faces a tough re-election battle, and his people are focused on their economic woes. Many are clamoring for an end to the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan after the American pullout from Iraq and would oppose yet another military adventure.The U.S. would rather deflect blame for the bloody conflict onto its old Cold War foe.Russia’s continued support for Assad “is going to help contribute to a civil war,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned last month.Syria has become one of the bloodiest and murkiest conflicts of the Arab Spring, and world powers have been unable to stop the violence which has so far killed 14,000, according to opposition groups. Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementslast_img read more

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US Peace Corps volunteers return to Nepal

first_imgKATMANDU, Nepal (AP) – U.S. Peace Corps volunteers have returned to Nepal eight years after they left due to a communist insurgency.The U.S. Embassy in Katmandu said 20 Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in the country on Sunday. They will be working on food security, sanitation and health projects in different locations in this Himalayan nation.The Peace Corps withdrew volunteers from Nepal in 2004 citing security concerns as Maoist rebels fought government troops. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technologycenter_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona The Maoists joined the peace process in 2006 and gave up their armed revolt. The Maoists’ deputy leader Baburam Bhattarai now leads a coalition government.The U.S. announced last week it was removing the Maoists from its list of terrorist groups.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

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Party quits ruling coalition govt can survive

first_img Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Last week, two Liberal ministers resigned after Ponta refused to accept the Liberals’ nomination of Klaus Johannis, the popular mayor of Sibiu city, as interior minister to replace another Liberal Party official. The Liberals had 10 of the 28 ministers in the Cabinet.Parties are struggling to find viable candidates for the November presidential ballot.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – The junior party in Romania’s ruling coalition has withdrawn from the alliance ahead of presidential elections later this year.The Liberal Party voted to quit the alliance late Tuesday, citing disagreements with Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Ponta’s Social Democratic Party retains a slim majority in Parliament without the Liberals.Earlier Tuesday, he was negotiating with another party to join the coalition, which would give his government a comfortable majority. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

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Putin criticizes US but offers to cooperate on global crises

first_imgRussian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Investment Forum in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) Top Stories Comments   Share   David Iakobashvili, founder of Russia’s once-largest beverage company and head of a Russia-US business council, said businessmen have gotten used to the fact that Putin seems to prioritize foreign policy goals over domestic development.“It’s very clear today that geopolitics is more important from his point of view,” he told The Associated Press. “But… we shall adapt to whatever environment has been presented by the government and act accordingly.”Addressing the forum, Putin argued that Russia wants February’s peace deal for Ukraine to succeed. He said Russia was exerting pressure on the rebels to abide by the agreement and urged the U.S. to encourage Kiev to comply.Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of breaking the peace deal by supporting the rebels with troops and weapons. Moscow denies this.Commenting on the accusations, Putin said the rebels are defending themselves against the Ukrainian military. He added that “once an attempt is made to solve the problem by political means, those weapons will be gone.”In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby called on Russia to fully implement February’s ceasefire agreement in Ukraine and remove heavy weapons from the country. ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Despite the showdown with the West over Ukraine, Moscow wants to cooperate with Washington and its allies in dealing with the threat posed by the Islamic State group and other global challenges, President Vladimir Putin said Friday as he tried to allay investors’ fears over Russia’s course.Putin blamed the United States for ignoring Russia’s interests and trying to enforce its will on others, but he also sent conciliatory signals, saying that Moscow wants a quick settlement to the Iranian nuclear standoff and a peaceful political transition in Syria. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Asked about the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine last July that killed all 298 people on board and triggered the toughening of Western sanctions, Putin said it’s necessary to wait for the conclusions of the Dutch Safety Board, which is investigating the crash.Controversy continues over who downed the airliner. Ukraine and the West suspect it was destroyed by a Russian surface-to-air missile fired by Russian soldiers or Russia-backed separatist rebels fighting in the area. Russia denies that.Putin referred to an unofficial report alleging that the damage to the Malaysian airliner could have been inflicted by a missile launched from the area held by Ukrainian forces at the time.Putin’s speech on the economy decidedly lacked any engagement on his part or specific proposals to turn around the economy. A large number of Russian and foreign investors in the audience were reading news or emails on their smartphones as Putin delivered a speech in which he did not address the severe crisis that businesses in Russia are facing.In contrast to the economy speech, Putin was much more animated while responding to questions about foreign policy.His emphasis on foreign policy has reflected the way the Kremlin has been running Russia since the Ukrainian conflict began. Critics have blamed Putin for sacrificing the country’s economic growth for geopolitical ends such as the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall As for Putin linking the arms to a political solution, Kirby said it was “difficult to have a political solution when you’ve still got thousands of combined Russian separatist forces inside Ukraine fomenting violence and instability, and violating the agreement that they signed up to.”Putin used the investment conference as yet another opportunity to blame the U.S. and the European Union for triggering the Ukrainian crisis by refusing to take into account what he described as Russia’s legitimate interests.“They have pushed us back to the line beyond which we can’t retreat,” he said. “Russia isn’t seeking hegemony or some ephemeral superpower status.”He was defiant when asked about investigations into alleged corruption at FIFA, saying that Russia fairly won the 2018 World Cup bid contest.“If anyone has evidence, let them present it,” he said. “We won in a fair fight and are going to host the World Cup.”Putin said Russia wants to cooperate with the West in tackling global threats and challenges — including Islamic State, calling the extremist group an “absolute evil” that requires stronger joint efforts to combat. Speaking at a major economic forum, Putin also insisted that Russia wants February’s Ukraine peace agreement to succeed. Fighting there will stop, he said, once Ukraine provides broader rights to its eastern regions, gives amnesty to the rebels and calls local elections there.The annual event, intended to burnish Russia’s image before global investors, was tarnished by the freezing of Russian accounts in France and Belgium on Thursday as part of an effort to enforce a $50 billion judgment to compensate shareholders of the now-defunct Yukos oil company.At a meeting with top executives of global news agencies, including The Associated Press, which began nearly three hours behind schedule at around midnight, Putin sought to downplay the freeze and said that Russia will contest it.Putin argued that the arbitration court in The Hague, Netherlands, which issued the ruling last year, does not have jurisdiction over Russia.The court ruled that Russia must pay damages to shareholders in the oil company, which was dismantled in a politically driven onslaught that saw its chief executive, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, sentenced to 10 years in prison.EU and U.S. sanctions over Ukraine have helped push Russia’s economy into recession and cut investment and imports dramatically. Putin, however, argued Friday that the Russian economy is on the path to recovery and that the West hurt itself by imposing the sanctions. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too Putin also said Russia wants a deal ending the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program to be signed as planned before the end of June, but cautioned against putting “unfulfillable” demands upon Tehran.And he also voiced readiness to encourage Syrian President Bashar Assad to discuss the peaceful political transition. He explained Moscow’s backing for the Syrian ruler was to prevent the victory of radical forces who would begin a reign of terror.“We are ready to work with the president to ensure political transformation, so that all Syrians have access to instruments of power,” he said.___Isachenkov reported from Moscow. Nataliya Vasilyeva in St. Petersburg and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed reporting.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

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After terror attacks Tunisia erects fence on Libya border

first_imgTunisia’s prime minister Habib Essid adresses the parliament in Tunis, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. ays that authorities believe plots aimed at massive deaths and destruction of the country’s economy are in the works, and justify the state of emergency declared after a second deadly attack on tourists in three months. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Tunisia’s government declared a state of emergency days after a gunman killed 38 tourists, mostly Britons, on June 26 in the coastal resort of Sousse. In March, two attackers fired on tourists and others at Tunis’ National Bardo Museum, killing 22 people.Authorities say the three gunmen, who were shot dead by security forces, received weapons training in Libya.A prosecutor’s office official, Belhassen Oueslati, said three suspected accomplices in the Sousse attack are also in police custody.Other recent government security measures include firing some security officials, sending more than 1,300 security forces to patrol hotels, beaches and other tourist sites and closing 80 mosques whose leaders were said to incite terrorism.Rights groups say the state of emergency mustn’t trample freedoms in Tunisia’s fledgling democracy. Essid insisted in parliament Wednesday the moves instead aimed “to preserve the democratic achievements” in the country.“Today’s Tunisia is not yesterday’s Tunisia,” he said. “The state must act in line with the law.”Tunisia overthrew its dictator in 2011, setting off the Arab Spring revolutions. While successive governments have fostered democracy in Tunisia, Libya has fallen into near-chaos — now divided between rival governments with hundreds of militias roaming the country. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia’s army and contractors are building a barrier along part of the country’s border with Libya to keep out extremists in the wake of attacks claimed by the Islamic State group.Prime Minister Habib Essid said the goal is to render the border “impassable” by jihadi fighters and vehicles, and construction should be finished this year.Essid told Tunisian TV the barrier will cover 168 kilometers (105 miles) — about one-third of the border — and will include fencing, a sand wall, trenches and surveillance posts.center_img How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes 0 Comments   Share   last_img read more

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Cebu Pacific denies discrimination against special child

first_img<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/27a26/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. has denounced Cebu Pacific Airlines for barring a special needs child and his mother from boarding a Manila-bound flight from Hong Kong. Pimentel prodded the mother, Mylene Alcantara to file a damage suit against Cebu Pacific to prevent a repeat of the incident, which occurred on December 23. “A case for damages can be filed against the airline,” he said in regards to Cebu Pacific’s alleged discriminatory policy. “I cannot understand why a special child should be made to get out of the plane,” Pimentel said. He added that Cebu Pacific has a lot of explaining to do as it put the airline in a negative light.In a separate interview, former senator Tito Sotto urged travelers to “boycott Cebu Pacific for the obvious discrimination the airline inflicted against the special child.” “A boycott of Cebu Pacific is called for because what they did to Mrs. Alcantara and her son is not right,” Sotto said. The airline crew have reportedly been reprimanded for making the “wrong call,” when they denied access to the pair citing a Cebu Pacific manual that disallows “mentally ill” passengers from boarding the plane. Alcantara tried to explain, however, that her 10-year-old son has Down Syndrome and is not a mentally ill person. According to lawyer Salvador Panelo, Cebu Pacific personnel had no legal basis for asking the special child to get off the plane. “Special children are not qualified as mentally ill passengers and that is why  Alcantara can press civil and criminal charges against the airline,” Panelo said. Cebu Pacific management has since conveyed its apology to Alcantara and her son, as well as other airline passengers who were inconvenienced by the incident that caused a one-hour flight delay. Cebu Pacific has released a statement which stresses that it has no policy that discriminates against persons with special needs.“The attempt to offload a passenger with developmental disability on a December 23 flight from Hong Kong to Manila was a result of the cabin crew’s misinterpretation of government regulations designed to assure the safety of passengers.”last_img read more

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Record flotilla for Carnival Australia this summer

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F Pacific Jewel Carnival Australia has announced a record flotilla of 15 ships for the Australian cruise season, which officially begins today. The nation’s largest cruise ship operator confirmed that the vessels will carry a combined capacity of 220,000 passengers – a 16 per cent increase on the company’s previous milestone of 190,000 passengers, achieved last summer. In an exclusive interview with e-Travel Blackboard, Carnival Australia Senior Vice President, Jenny Lourey said that Princess Cruises’ will kick off the Australian cruise season in a spectacular fashion with rare dual appearance of both the Dawn Princess and Sun Princess, in Sydney Harbor today. Running from October to March, the Australian cruise season will also feature a number of other highlights including the maiden visit of P&O Cruises Pacific Pearl on February 3 for her inaugural deployment. During the season, the Seabourn Sojourn will also be welcomed to Australian waters for the first time. Cunard’s newest liner Queen Elizabeth will also make maiden visits to Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle and she will also have “a spectacular royal rendezvous with her big sister Queen Mary 2” in Sydney on February 22-23. Ms. Lourey said the heightened activity this season was a clear indication of both the country’s growing popularity as an international cruise destination and Australians’ increasing interest in cruise holidays. “Over the last five cruise seasons we’ve welcomed more and more ships to our shores and this coming summer will be no exception. “There will be spectacles around the country as Australians flock to the foreshores to get a glimpse of these ships.” Ms Lourey said. Ms Lourey said that every state visited should reap the benefits of Carnival Australia’s bumper cruise season. “Each ship visit generates around $500,000 in crew and passenger spending, port fees and providoring. “Meanwhile a turnaround call, where new passengers embark, generates up to $1 million, so there’s no question about the economic value that flows from cruising.” Ms Lourey said it was imperative that travel agents understand the great benefits that they can reap from booking cruise holidays for their clients. “3500 travel agents will be taken on walkarounds of Carnival Australia’s ships during the season. “Getting onboard a ship is the best way to get a feel for the product and really give the agents the knowledge they need to sell a range of brands,” Ms Lourey said.The 15 ships in the Carnival Australia fleet this season include: P&O Cruises’ Pacific Jewel, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Sun; Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth; Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Sapphire Princess, Diamond Princess and Pacific Princess; P&O Cruises UK’s Oriana, Aurora and Arcadia and Seabourn’s Sojourn.last_img read more

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Egypt set for tourism revenue growth

first_imgThe home of the pyramids of Giza expects a 17 per cent jump in tourism revenue, according to Egypt’s Tourism Minister Zoheir Garranah.Mr Garranah told Bloomberg that, “if things go as planned as far as future reservations are concerned” Egypt may receive between USD12.6 billion and USD13 billion from tourism revenue.According to Mr Garranah, the country is “working a hundred times harder” following the  recent shocks to the industry such as the global financial crisis and the massive flight disruptions caused by Iceland’s volcanic eruption.“If the [global financial] crisis hadn’t occurred in 2008, we would have been already at 16 million tourists now,” Mr Garranah said, but added that, “Everything is rebounding back.”The country is on track to meet its targets “as far as infrastructure is concerned”, Mr Garranah said.“We have the proper product and the diversity of nature.”With 212,000 hotels rooms under construction and the government upgrading airports across Egypt, existing visitor traffic to the country is expected to rise within the next five years, Bloomberg reported.Accounting for 12.6 per cent of jobs in Egypt, tourism revenue brought in USD10.8 billion in 2009. Pyramids of Giza Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.Alast_img read more

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CHI The Spat at ShangriLas Tanjung Aru Resort And Spa Kota Kinabal

first_imgSource = Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu recently received the Excellence Award for Best Spa Resort from Expatriate Lifestyle’s Best of Malaysia Travel and Hospitality Awards 2011 and the Country Award from Spa Finders Reader’s Choice Awards 2011. Expatriate Lifestyle’s Best of Malaysia Travel and Hospitality Awards is voted by expatriates living and working in Malaysia with an overview of the Malaysian hospitality industry from hotels, beach resorts, attractions, spas and more. The award system was 100 per cent popularity driven and the only one of its kind in the country.Meanwhile the Spa Finder Reader’s Choice Awards 2011 drew paralleled participation worldwide with votes cast by spa-goers across different countries, regions and categories – offering the most complete and the most useful peer-to-peer recommendations in the global spa market. Both awards not only emphasize on the quality and standard of Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa’s CHI Spa but also highlight the exemplary service and quality of products. Expatriate Lifestyle – Best in Malaysia Awardslast_img read more

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