Bill to eliminate funding for Visit Florida passes 10 – 5

first_img Share Posted by TALLAHASSEE — Tourism officials say a bill passed this week could cripple Visit Florida, to the point of wiping out the tourism board at a critical time for attracting international travellers to the state.According to the Orlando Sentinel the bill passed by a 10 – 5 vote. The bill eliminates funding for tourism marketing and other programs.Visit Florida has been beset by scandal after it partnered with Florida-born rapper Pitbull for a tourism promotion campaign. Florida Governor Rick Scott called for former Visit Florida CEO Will Seccombe to step down after Visit Florida refused to publicly disclose it paid rapper Pitbull US$1 million to promote the state. Visit Florida’s new President and CEO Ken Lawson was appointed in January.Tourism funding critics say increases in visitation to Florida don’t justify current levels of government funding.According to TravelMole, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who was in favour of the bill to eliminate funding, said that between 2011 and 2015, Visit Florida funding increased 112% while visitor numbers were up 22%. Travelweek Group Friday, February 10, 2017 center_img Tags: Florida Bill to eliminate funding for Visit Florida passes 10 – 5 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Dine Dash 24hour food race kicks off tomorrow

first_imgDine & Dash: 24-hour food race kicks off tomorrow << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Tuesday, June 20, 2017 Posted bycenter_img TORONTO — 24 hours, 2 men, 1 airline and 150 years. This is the gist of an epic coast-to-coast race set to launch tomorrow in Charlottetown.Dubbed a ‘great Canadian food race’, the event teams up Ritz-Carlton, Toronto Executive Chef Daniel Craig with Culinary Adventure Co. owner Kevin Durkee on a 24-hour cross-country journey celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary.The edible adventure will begin on June 21 at the home of Confederation in Charlottetown before jetting off via Air Canada to Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto and Calgary. The race ends in Vancouver at midnight on June 22.Sounds impossible? Maybe. But one thing’s for sure: there’ll be lots of eats, and plenty of Canadiana to make Canadians proud.The pair of racers will source ingredients to be used in a Taste of Canada menu at the hotel’s signature restaurant, TOCA, starting July 1.“Whether it’s Nova Scotia blueberries or sustainable fish farmed off the coast of B.C., our aim is to sample food from as many cities as we can within one day,” said Chef Craig. “We’re excited to share our adventure with guests when we return to Toronto and create a truly Canadian menu in honour of Canada’s 150th.”More news:  Can you guess the one and only hotel company to rank on Indeed’s Top Workplaces in Canada list?The coast-to-coast tour is part of the hotel’s new culinary program, ‘Off the Eaten Track’, a customized series of culinary tours curated exclusively for guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto by Culinary Adventure Co.You can watch the team live @facebook/ritzcarltontoronto or on Instagram @culinaryadvco, or visit ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/canada/toronto/area-activities/off-the-eaten-track for more information. Tags: Ritz Carlton Travelweek Group last_img read more

Software glitch causes check in delays at airports worldwide

first_imgTags: Airports, Amadeus MADRID — Authorities say passengers at airports around the world have suffered some delays because of a problem with check-in systems.The Spain-based company Amadeus, which provides software to airports, airlines and the tourism industry, confirmed Thursday that a network issue caused disruption to some of its systems and services.It said its technical teams identified the cause of the problem and services were gradually being restored.It would not say how many airlines or airports were affected.London’s Heathrow airport said a small number of airlines were experiencing intermittent issues with their check-in systems at airports around the world. It said there might be delays but that passengers would be able to check in. Share Software glitch causes check in delays at airports worldwide Source: The Associated Press Thursday, September 28, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

We love our travel agents Norwegian toasts new YHMDublin direct service

first_imgTags: Dublin, Hamilton, New Routes, Norwegian Air, Tourism Ireland About Latest Posts Cindy SosroutomoDeputy Editor at TravelweekCindy is Deputy Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 2007. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Kenya, Morocco, Thailand and Turkey among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Cindy Sosroutomo (see all) Frustrations mount over elusive consumer-pay model: Will it ever happen? – July 16, 2019 “It’s in everyone’s best interest to stay open”: Beaches Turks & Caicos will not close in 2021 – May 15, 2019 Putting “Partners First”: NCL’s CEO lauds agents and the new Norwegian Joy – April 29, 2019 Share Posted by “We love our travel agents”: Norwegian toasts new YHM-Dublin direct service << Previous PostNext Post >> Cindy Sosroutomo TORONTO — How would one toast Norwegian’s new direct service from Hamilton to Dublin? With a Guinness, of course.Ireland’s most famous brew flowed freely at PJ O’Brien’s pub in Toronto yesterday, where the low-cost carrier – along with Tourism Ireland and John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM) – hosted a media lunch to celebrate the upcoming daily direct flights, launching March 31, 2019.It’s Guinness o’clock in #Toronto, where we’re kickin’ back with a cold one with @TourismIreland & @Fly_Norwegian. The low-cost carrier kicks off Hamiton-#Dublin service in March 2019. Read all about it 2moro at https://t.co/yvLIguDyas! pic.twitter.com/TgWdqeunLS— Travelweek (@TravelweekGroup) December 5, 2018Norwegian first announced in June that it was entering the Canadian market with service from Montreal to the French Caribbean (Martinique and Guadeloupe), which commenced in October. Now, the carrier is looking forward to launching Dublin out of YHM, marking its first-ever flight between Europe and Canada as well as the return of transatlantic service to Hamilton following a 10-year hiatus.Speaking to Travelweek, Anders Lindström, Director of Communications, North America for Norwegian, said that Canada has “so much opportunity”, although the carrier’s Canadian approach has been very different from that of the U.S. where it has grown exponentially to 60 routes since its U.S. launch in 2013.“In the U.S. we launched a number of routes into airports that were not served or did not have transatlantic routes, thus creating a market,” he said. “But in Canada, we’re doing the opposite. We’re going in and seeing where there is a lot of demand and where we can compete instead, and then growing it from there. We’re going to grow slow and profitable and sustainable, to make sure it really works well in Canada.”The 6.5-hour direct flight from Hamilton-Dublin will take off onboard the brand new Boeing 737 MAX; Norwegian was the first airline to operate the 737 MAX to/from North America last summer. Two fare options are available – Low Fare and Low Fare Plus – with prices starting at $209 one way, including taxes in April-May, and $279 during the peak months of June and July. Upgrading to Low Fare Plus, which includes airfare, meals and luggage, would cost an additional $70.More news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTWhen asked how Norwegian is able to offer such affordable fares, Lindström was quick to praise the new aircraft.“We’re very pleased with the 737 MAX. What it does is allow us to go further – from short-haul to medium-haul – and offer more seats. It’s also one of the most fuel-efficient aircraft in the world, which brings the cost down, which then makes it cheaper for customers,” he said.Of course, with Canada’s ultra low-cost carrier market filling up with the recent entries of WestJet’s Swoop, Flair Airlines and still-to-come Canada Jetlines (neither Swoop or Flair offer direct service to Europe), ‘cheaper’ has become the new standard. And although Norwegian is a low-cost airline – not a ULCC – Lindström is certain that it can compete with Canada’s new lot of budget carriers.“We know that Canada already has ULCCs competing to Europe, and we know that we’re not the first or the trendsetters in this market. But we also know that we have a competitive product and a competitive fare,” he said.Norwegian’s stance on affordable air perfectly aligns with YHM’s overall vision. Dina Carlucci, Director, Marketing & Communications at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, told Travelweek that Norwegian’s entry is yet another milestone in YHM’s journey to becoming a global gateway for affordable travel and goods movement.“We’re not looking to compete with Toronto Pearson in any way for what they do as a main global hub in the southern Ontario market,” she said. “We’re looking to establish ourselves in a niche that focuses on low-cost carriers like Norwegian. We’re already working with others who are doing quite well, and we’re expecting the same for Norwegian.”Carlucci, who said that nearly 20% of YHM’s customers originate from the Greater Toronto Area, added that Canadian travellers naturally gravitate to airlines with “low-cost, nonstop and daily service”, and that the new Hamilton-Dublin route would be a match for the market in the region.This is precisely what Tourism Ireland is banking on, as Canada remains one of its top markets. Dana Welch, Manager, Canada of Tourism Ireland, told Travelweek that the destination has seen double-digit growth from Canada for the past couple of years, with over 220,000 Canadians visiting in 2017.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”“We’re definitely on track for additional growth this year,” she said, adding that it’s never been easier for Canadians to get to Ireland. “Having this new direct flight is really important, it’s a great opportunity to expand in another origin within Canada to get into Dublin.”Lindström, Carlucci and Welch all agree that travel agents continue to play an essential role in driving growth, and were quick to note that agent support is available at all times. Welch encouraged all agents to sign up for Tourism Ireland’s webinars, attend ongoing industry events and reach out for brochures and materials, while Lindström reminded agents to use Norwegian’s agent portal – agents.norwegian.com – which allows them to get different fare structures.“When an agent books through the portal, they can make sure their client always gets their luggage and meals included and book seat reservations. And they can price all this, allowing them to add their own commission, so to say,” he said. “We love our travel agents and we know that Canada is more of a market where travellers book through them.”For more information go to norwegian.com/us. Thursday, December 6, 2018 last_img read more

Mick Jagger Rocks original bad boy turns 70

first_imgHe’s still got it. Carl Court/AFP LONDON – Mick Jagger turns 70 on Friday – and though the Rolling Stones frontman isn’t quite the image of rebellious youth he once was, he has lost none of his legendary swagger.Strutting onstage in a sequined jacket as the Stones headlined Britain’s Glastonbury music festival last month, it was hard to believe this was a man who should be collecting his state pension.One newspaper cruelly captioned its photos of the wrinkly British rockers “Night of the living dead!” – but zipping through the hits, the band had the same raw energy that brought them fame half a century ago.“If this is this first time you’ve seen the band, do come again,” Jagger told the crowd, suggesting that a quiet retirement may be some way off yet.Between his onstage cavorting, wild bedroom antics and occasional brushes with the law, snake-hipped, rubber-lipped Jagger has been a model for generations of later rock stars.“We were young, good-looking and stupid,” he once said.These days, cricket-loving Jagger is more likely to be spotted watching a match at Lord’s than partying hard.The Stones did prove they could still hit the dance floor at Jagger’s early 70th birthday bash last month, although by 1:30 a.m. it was time for bed.The music-making hasn’t stopped either – the band recently wrapped up a tour of North America to mark their half-centenary, and released two new tracks along with their greatest hits album “Grrr!” in November.Romantically, however, Jagger seems to have settled down – he has been dating stylist L’Wren Scott, some 25 years his junior, for more than a decade.His heyday was punctuated by high-profile relationships with models, singers and actresses, and he has seven children with four different women. He twice married models – Bianca Jagger and Jerry Hall – while other ex-lovers include singers Marianne Faithfull and Carla Bruni, who is now married to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.Jagger has always been a curious mix of sensible and shocking. On one hand he has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II; on the other, a rumored sex act involving Jagger and a Mars bar has passed into rock legend.Michael Phillip Jagger was born on July 26, 1943, to middle-class parents in Dartford, south of London.He started jamming with childhood friend Keith Richards in 1960 after they discovered a mutual love of the blues.The Stones played their first gig in 1962 – Jagger dropping out of the prestigious London School of Economics in the pursuit of fame – and three years later scored their first smash hit with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”Snarling and surly, they were the complete opposite of the family-friendly Beatles.A string of massive hits across five decades followed including “Brown Sugar,” “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Paint It Black.”And, of course, there were the band’s off-stage antics.Jagger and Richards were found guilty of drug offenses in 1967, but their jail sentences were quashed.The drug-fueled hedonism continued, but between the excesses Jagger – who studied business before dropping out of university – kept a careful eye on the commercial side of things.He is now worth an estimated £200 million ($305 million).The band spent the 1980s and ’90s going on lucrative tours while producing the odd album. Today, rumors of live shows still spark feverish excitement among fans.In 2011 Jagger set up SuperHeavy – a super-group including a member of Eurythmics, Bob Marley’s youngest son Damian and soul diva Joss Stone – which released a widely-praised debut album.He has also turned to cinema, trying his hand at acting in the 1970s and, more recently, branching out into film production. He is currently co-producing a biopic of the father of funk, James Brown.The ultimate sign of Jagger’s acceptance by the establishment came in 2003 when, to Richards’ disbelief, he accepted a knighthood from the British monarchy.The singer revealed last month that while he is proud of his achievements, he sometimes wishes he had pursued his earlier dreams of becoming a teacher, politician or journalist.“It is a slightly intellectually undemanding thing to do, being a rock singer,” he told the BBC.“But, you know, you make the best of it.” Facebook Commentscenter_img No related posts.last_img read more

Arenal Report

first_imgMore and more live music is happening around Lake Arenal. On July 13, Grupo Tropicales from Alajuela played lively salsa music to a crowd extending to the street at Iguanas Restaurant/Bar in Nuevo Arenal.  On July 21, a fresh Tilapia dinner with live marimba music (Los Choros) was scheduled for Restaurante Las Peceras near El Aquacate. Tomorrow night, Saturday, July 27, Gingerbread Restaurant will host the local folk rock group Caballeros sin Caballos (Scott Schillereff, Ed Yurica and special guest Jack Cash); music starts at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are always required at Gingerbread – 2694-0039.Road crews are busy identifying and shoring up slope failures along the lake road (current project near Gingerbread restaurant, and spray paint markings along a bad section at Rainbow Bay). Lake area residents greatly appreciate these repairs.The Arenal Association Sport Committee held a mountain bike rally on Sunday, July 14, with a ride from Hotel Rio Celeste near Tenorio volcano back to Nuevo Arenal. Jeff Spencer, local resident and committee member, organized vehicles to ferry eight bikes and riders to the starting point. While the bikers rode back via Guatuso, the drivers and a few others had a very interesting three-hour hike to see the Rio Celeste waterfall, and confluence where two clear volcanic streams react to form the sky blue river. Hotel staff were friendly and helpful, and a great day was had by all.-Janet Bradshawjanetlbradshaw@gmail.com Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Original inspired opulence over Jacó

first_imgIt’s all very impressive, until one takes the tour of the suites next door in Zephyr Palace, named for the Greek god of the west wind. We entered the castle premises aboard a golf cart, and disembarked to wander its opulent corridors, replete with stone statues and dignified columns. The palace contains its own art gallery and discotheque, along with a private infinity pool, grand hall for events and seven theme suites – New World, Imperial, Oriental, Egyptian, African, Royal and Twentieth Years.Seeing the photos on the Internet doesn’t do justice to the experience of entering these sumptuous abodes. In the Imperial Suite, majestic green wood paneling, centuries old, classical furnishings and elegant oil paintings transport guests to the glory days of the British Empire. Additionally, the suite contains its own gym, Turkish bath and Jacuzzi on the terrace, overlooking the ocean. All of the suites are ridiculously nice, and each in their own way.In both the Zephyr Palace and Villas Caletas, guests are able to revisit the times of European conquest without sacrificing modern amenities; meanwhile, the staff treats them like mid-century monarchs, ensuring everyone is well fed, pampered and showered with unique surprises and delights at every turn. Thankfully, those surprises do not include a towel animal.Going there:From San José, take the Caldera Highway west, following signs to Jacó. Before you arrive, a sign will indicate turning off to the right. Follow the pathway lined in potted cactuses up to the hotels.Room rates start at $175 and reach over $400, depending on room type, season and length of stay, plus tax.For information and reservations, call 2630-3000 or visit www.hotelvillacaletas.com. Facebook Comments No related posts. The Zephyr Palace is a more exclusive part of the property featuring seven unique suites.Lindsay Fendt The reception area, where guests are greeted with welcome drinks and large windows looking over Jacó and Herradura Bay, showcases a reproduction of the Louvre’s famous tiger sculpture, as well as a British colonial bronze table and two hefty but finely engraved wooden reception desks from India. Just outside stands an encased puma skeleton, which was gifted to Roy by Costa Rica’s most famous taxidermist.Wandering the property, guests encounter not only spectacular art, but also native trees identified with placards and a Zen garden. Up a meandering walkway, the saltwater infinity pool might look similar to what you’d find at other hotels, but it was actually the first one built in Costa Rica. Oh yeah, and it has a waterfall and a mangrove tree living in it.Next door is the Greek Amphitheater and its adjacent restaurant, which offers three incredible meals a day. The menu offers a range of delicious breakfast choices that originated around Costa Rica and the rest of the world, and lunch and dinner plates offer classic burgers to duck breast to surf and turf. A variety of specialty cocktails, wines and smoothies are always available. A second and more formal dining establishment, called the Mirador Restaurant, offers an even more decadent menu at the top of the mountain.There are 10 different levels of accommodation at Villas Caletas, the most basic of which is accessed by descending a private stairway lined with elaborate tapestries and stone fountains. The more upscale units, including villas and suites, offer features such as private dipping pools, private Jacuzzis, private terraces overlooking the Pacific and flat-screen TVs that pop out of the end of the bedframe.center_img If a visitor to Costa Rica were fortunate enough to stay in all of the luxury hotels across the country, that visitor would begin to notice certain trends:palapa-topped restaurants, infinity pools, furniture from Indonesian, towel animals. Originality isn’t always a trait here, yet, some hotels do manage to achieve it.Villas Caletas and Zephyr Palace – neighboring hotels above Jacó both owned by an interior designer as well-traveled as he is scrupulous – are two of them.Here is the difference between the hotels: Villas Caletas is the larger and less exclusive property, and yet it still features 45 high-end accommodations, each with its own unique design, along with access to two restaurants, a spa, two pool areas and a stunning Greek amphitheater.Next door, Zephyr Palace is a mansion where celebrities and professional athletes hold lavish parties and retreat to distinct and extravagant theme quarters, along with a private pool and salon. This isn’t just grand luxury – it’s the life’s work of a man deeply committed to his personal vision, with cost as no object.That man is Costa Rican Denis Roy, who in the late 1980s discovered the 395 acres on which he eventually erected his opuses. He purchased the land from cattle farmers and began both developing and reforesting the area, which led to the return of coatis, monkeys and hundreds of species of birds, including the scarlet macaw. Roy also planned for his hotel to serve as a museum, displaying the spoils of his travels and particularly those that relate to the era of European conquest.He opted for tropical Victorian architecture with flourishes of Italian neoclassicism and French colonial design, and dubbed his broader concept “back from a journey.” In studying the furnishings, it’s impossible not wonder just how many passports Denis Roy has filled. Accommodations at Villa Caletas are some of the best in the country.Lindsay Fendtlast_img read more

Court hears testimony from key witnesses in the Jairo Mora murder trial

first_imgUpdated at 2:19 p.m. Nov. 7Judges in the murder trial of seven defendants accused of killing Costa Rican sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora in 2013 heard testimony from four key witnesses this week.One protected witness, Róger Salguera, testified via video conference. Salguera’s identity was protected throughout the investigation using the alias “El Faro,” but judges required him to identify himself in the video conference. Judges also heard recorded testimonies from three U.S. volunteers who were kidnapped along with Mora on the night of the murder.According to prosecutors, Mora, the three U.S. volunteers and a Spanish veterinarian were patrolling the northern Caribbean coast for leatherback sea turtle nests when they were abducted by a group of masked men in the early hours of May 31, 2013. The four women were taken to an abandoned house while Mora was beaten, dragged behind a car and left to suffocate in the sand.Seven men face murder, kidnapping and other charges that could put them behind bars for up to 35 years if convicted.According to Salguera’s testimony, he was on Moín Beach the night of the murder collecting coconuts to sell when he encountered the suspects several times throughout the night. At about 3 a.m., he saw one of the suspects, Felipe Arauz, and several other men who were wearing masks surround a car matching the description of the Suzuki Jimny that Mora and the volunteers were driving. Salguera said one of the men threatened him and punched him several times in the head before he fled the scene.The court also heard testimony from three U.S. volunteers that was recorded by police hours after the murder. Shortly after giving that testimony, the three women – all in their early 20s – returned to the U.S. None will testify in person during the trial. Judges permitted the use of the recorded testimonies despite objections from defense attorneys, who claimed they were inadmissible because an official investigation of the suspects had not yet been opened when the recordings were made.In the recordings, which The Tico Times obtained and reported on last September, all three women describe being kidnapped and driven to an abandoned house, where they were held for hours before they escaped. Two men allegedly sexually assaulted the women while the others drove off with Mora.A total of 26 witnesses are scheduled to testify in the trial, which is set to end in December. Facebook Comments Related posts:NOT GUILTY: 7 men acquitted of murder of Costa Rica sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Faced with delays and the mishandling of evidence, prosecutors deliver closing arguments in Jairo Mora murder trial Delays and blunders: A timeline of the Jairo Mora murder trial in Costa Rica 5 things to know about the new Jairo Mora murder triallast_img read more

Costa Rican student arrested in multicountry cybercrime raid

first_imgRelated posts:Police nab flat-screen TV shoplifter Motorcyclists to protest proposed law prohibiting passengers Bandits steal monitoring equipment from Turrialba Volcano Costa Rica homicide rate hits record high A 24-year-old Costa Rican student was caught up in a multi-country cybercrime raid based on evidence collected by the FBI, according to the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ).Tuesday morning, OIJ officers arrested a National University student at his home in Barreal de Heredia. The FBI tipped off local authorities in June that a Costa Rican IP address was used to access an online forum frequented by suspected cyber criminals.According to a statement from the OIJ, the man was suspected of administering a botnet, a system of computers infected by malicious software that the user can control en masse. OIJ spokesman Marco Monge did not specify the alleged use of the malicious program, but the malware can be used to carry out denial-of-service attacks and perpetrate fraud, among other crimes.Police seized computers and electronic storage equipment, among other evidence, in the raid. Some 30 police operations were carried out Monday and Tuesday related to the alleged cyber criminal group, OIJ said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

New taxi cooperative plans an allelectric fleet in Heredia

first_imgRecommended: The ultimate guide to taxis in Costa RicaWe’ve seen the ‘Red Fleet’ of licensed taxis in the streets; the porteadores, or private chauffeurs; the illegal pirate taxis called piratas; and, in recent years, Uber drivers, loved by some and hated by others.Now yet another category is upon us: electric taxis, if new cooperative in Heredia, north of San José, gets its way.Quiet, efficient and economical is how the cars are described by Alfredo Espinoza, one of the promoters of the new taxis he hopes to bring soon to the streets of Heredia. The idea came to light during a conversation among guests at a wedding reception, he explained.“We were talking about how Costa Rica produces so much electricity,” he recalled. There is hydro power, thermal and solar power. With so much electricity, why not use if for cars?“So right there we formed a group called Generation H: H for Heredia where we are located, and Generation because we are all different ages,” he explained. “We are all professionals with different backgrounds, so we understand the process of putting plans into action.”Espinoza is a retired specialist in auto mechanics who has worked in the United States and in Israel.“Costa Rica is a small country. An electric car can cross the country on one electric charge, and you find electricity in every corner,” he added. “You can charge up an electric car from your own home. With 110 voltage it takes up to eight hours. With 220 four to six hours, and with a special converter, about thirty minutes.”He calculated that about 90% of the driving in central Costa Rica is within the general metropolitan area, going to and from work or other short distances, and can be done on one charge per week.“First, we tried to convince the taxi cooperatives in Heredia to consider electric cars,” he said. “They rejected the idea because of the cost. An electric car costs more than an internal combustion model but over the long run, even the medium run, you save.  You save on fuel and maintenance costs.” Mitzi Stark / The Tico TimesLooking for other solutions, Generation H found backing from the Public Service Agency of Heredia and decided to form their own taxi cooperative.“With only two taxis to start off, we aren’t competing with other companies. We want to show them that electric taxis are feasible and economical,” says Espinoza.The cooperative faces various obstacles. One is the price of an electric car in Costa Rica, about $36,000, although the electric car bill moving through the Legislative Assembly would cut import taxes to reduce those costs significantly.Another is that the car Generation H hopes to use is not yet available. While various manufacturers are producing electric cars, Generation H hopes to use the Nissan Electric LEAF. Silvia Milano, in charge of sales for Nissan Costa Rica, says that before the cars go on sale, they must undergo tests to see how they fare in Costa Rica’s driving conditions.Finally, charging stations and trained mechanics for the new types of motors and systems will be needed. The first charging station opened in February in San Ramón.Milano said that Nissan have received a lot of interest in the LEAF and expects that in ten years’ time most of the cars on the roads will be electric.A look through the 2017 LEAF is an eye opener. A knob in the between the front seats puts you through the gears, and the controls on the dash show energy levels instead of fuel. The motor is compact and there are none of the standard components like spark plugs and radiators.In fact, a glance under the hood reveals a strangely bare space! The most important accessory is in the trunk: the cable and plug to connect your car.As Costa Rica move toward an electric car future, one cooperative in Heredia is raring to take to the streets with its own fleet of quiet, comfortable, and clean-air taxis.See also: Lawmakers exclude full hybrids from electric cars bill Facebook Comments Related posts:Lawmakers exclude full hybrids from electric cars bill Costa Rica prepared for this season’s harsh weather, energy officials say This Oregon company wants to build electric cars in Costa Rica Earth Hour in Costa Rica saved more electricity than in 2016last_img read more

Obese UK woman cut out of house

first_img Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Neighbors said her weight had risen as high as 380 kilos (835 pounds).The U.K. has one of Europe’s fattest populations: more than 60 percent of adults and one third of children aged 10-11 are overweight or obese, roughly similar to U.S. statistics.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) LONDON (AP) – Emergency workers who needed to take an obese teenager from her home to a hospital in Wales had to break through a wall of the residence to get her out and into an ambulance, officials said Friday.The rescue on the second floor of the small house on Thursday used scaffolding as a ramp to lower the woman to the ground level, the local Rhondda Cynon Taf council said.The unidentified 19-year-old remained hospitalized Friday and her medical condition was not released. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Comments   Share   The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

US drawdown in Afghanistan includes many trainers

first_img Comments   Share   There are about 2,500 U.S. troops under the training mission banner, and that will be cut by about 7 percent by the end September, he said.“As we’re building the capacity for the Afghans to be able to train themselves, the natural next step would be for us to reduce our footprint, and as a result the Afghans would be able to stand on their own and conduct their own training,” Stauffer said.But it’s unclear if the Afghan government has the drive to maintain or build on the type of intensive training being provided by coalition troops. An elite military academy is in the works in Kabul, but it won’t be up and running until 2013, and then it’s hard to know how helpful it would be.Gurganus noted that a major barrier to additional training is finding the time to take Afghan soldiers out of combat. And the men who have gone through the specialty academy at Leatherneck say they’ve learned skills from the Marines that go far beyond any Afghan offerings.“In regular training, we only learned how to use a Kalashnikov and a pistol. Here we learn different weapons. We also learn driving skills, ambush tactics, how to read a map,” said Azizularahman Habibi, a 21-year-old police officer serving in Helmand’s Nawa district. “We learn to look at the weather, the terrain, where the friendly and unfriendly forces are, how to execute a plan step by step. I had never done any of this before.” Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help That’s a successful day at the U.S. Marine-run Joint Sustainment Academy in southwestern Afghanistan, which has been offering supplementary training on weapons, specialized skills and unit leadership to Afghan soldiers and police since 2009. The Afghans who attend the academy say they learn things that were never taught in their official training: how to handle different weapons and how to organize a patrol or an ambush.But now, even as U.S. officials talk about their commitment to training and advising Afghan security forces well past 2014, the Joint Sustainment Academy is preparing to shut down.Officials in the U.S. talking about the need to decrease combat operations in Afghanistan have been much more reticent to highlight one aspect of the drawdown: that plenty of U.S. advisers and mentors are also leaving.Those who stay will be hopping in and out of a number of Afghan units rather than being embedded with one group _ a move that is being described as a way to get Afghan forces to take more responsibility, but which also follows a string of turncoat attacks this year by Afghan forces against their Western counterparts.“Someone made the decision, `OK, I’m going to only have the personnel for this piece,’” said Lt. Col. Mike Cromwell, the director of the academy at a U.S. base in Helmand province, as he watched an Afghan police officer brief trainees on the day’s mission. “It just means fewer people. It’s part of the overall drawdown.” Helmand and Nimroz province, the area covered by U.S. Marines, has already seen troops start to leave, and bigger reductions are coming. The Afghan commander for the region, Maj. Gen. Saad Malouk, said he expects at least 10,000 U.S. troops to depart the southwestern region in September _ nearly half of the 23,000 announced by the Obama administration.The general overseeing the two southwestern provinces says the trainer cuts don’t worry him.“We’re handing over this part of the training,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Gurganus. “We will continue to have security force assistance teams _ out with the different battalions and brigades and with our police _ that will continue to mentor, advise and train as we move forward toward the end of 2014 and potentially beyond.”Gurganus would not confirm exact numbers of U.S. troops leaving his operating area, but said it is “significant.” U.S. spokesmen would not say exactly how many U.S. mentors are leaving.The U.S. also has already started decreasing its role in the formal training that all Afghan soldiers and police must undertake. U.S. troops under what’s called the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan started drawing down from 3,300 troops this winter and will continue to decrease through the fall, said Lt. Col. Tim Stauffer, a spokesman for the training mission. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories Cromwell and the 31 other American service members running the academy end their tour at the beginning of 2013, and they have been told they won’t be replaced. They say it’s an opportunity to pass the torch to the Afghan trainers at the academy. But, Cromwell explains, the academy as it exists on Camp Leatherneck is closing.The Marines are just hoping that the Afghan army and police see the value in what they’ve been teaching and incorporate it into their existing training centers at a nearby army base and at a police facility in the provincial capital.“As we ramp down, those centers are the longer term solutions,” Cromwell said.Training classes have already shrunk at the academy. Last year, the Marine academy trained 2,547 Afghans. Cromwell expects to train less than half that _ about 1,000 _ by the end of this year.“We may not make that,” Cromwell said. And this is even though the academy is focused now on training Afghan soldiers and police to become trainers themselves _ a goal that NATO and U.S. forces say is one of their most important priorities.Ever since President Barack Obama announced the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan a year ago, his administration has stressed that it does not mean an abandonment of Afghanistan. Combat troops are supposed to decrease as more forces move into a support role. But less advertised is the fact that the U.S. is also decreasing the number of advisers and trainers it is sending to Afghanistan. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center The vital role family plays in society Associated PressCAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (AP) – For today’s drill, an instructor explains, the Taliban will be played by U.S. Marines, and the “village” will be just down from the driving practice loop.An Afghan police officer uses a stick to point out targets to his team on a map drawn in the dirt. They grab their weapons and head out, taking cover behind a berm. A pickup truck drives up. The Afghans take aim and mimic the sound of a machine gun. The Marines tumble out of the vehicle, grabbing their chests as they fall to the ground. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) According to an April report submitted to Congress, the U.S. forces that make up most of the mentoring teams that operate alongside Afghan troops are being cut with the idea that other NATO nations will fill the gap.“The United States provides the (Afghan security forces) with the majority of required mentor teams. The drawdown in U.S. forces will result in a decreased number of partnered units, creating additional requirements for other coalition partners,” the report states. The plan is to increase the overall number of advisers, using contributions from other allies. But even though the Americans that make up about 63 percent of the adviser teams have already started leaving, NATO is still working to get commitments from other nations.“The nations have not finalized how much they’re going to provide, and which nations,” said Maj. Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the international military force. He said more than 20 nations had agreed to participate, but few had made firm troop commitments.The plan is to move from a one-to-one mentor ratio to a “one-to-many” ratio in which small teams of up to 18 specialized advisers jump between Afghan units teaching them specific skills. That also leaves open the possibility of keeping those advisers at more of a distance from Afghan forces _ a move that would not be surprising following the recent rash of “green-on-blue” attacks by Afghan forces. In the most recent such attack, an Afghan police officer turned his weapon on NATO police advisers in Helmand province Sunday, killing three British soldiers.last_img

Report NZ raid in alleged plot to kill Fiji ruler

first_imgWELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealand authorities raided the home of a prominent Fijian in connection with a possible plot to assassinate Fiji’s military ruler, Frank Bainimarama, a local television station reported Wednesday.Former Fijian cabinet minister Rajesh Singh, who lives in Auckland, told New Zealand’s ONE News that Security Intelligence Service agents this week seized his computer and phone. He said the agents connected the plot to former Fijian army Col. Ratu Tevita Mara, who lives in Tonga and recently visited Auckland. Both Singh and Mara told the station they knew nothing of any plot. How do cataracts affect your vision? Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img Top Stories 0 Comments   Share   Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup and has been criticized internationally for failing to return the island nation to democracy. He has promised to hold elections in 2014.Mara was once part of Bainimarama’s inner circle but last year left the country by boat after being charged with sedition for allegedly trying to overthrow the regime. He has been an outspoken critic of Bainimarama since.New Zealand authorities declined to comment on the raid.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debateslast_img read more

Cuba acknowledges 51 cholera cases

first_imgTuesday’s Public Health Ministry statement _ carried in the Communist Party newspaper Granma and elsewhere _ made no mention of any cholera cases reported outside Havana.While Cuba’s state-run media had been largely silent about cholera before Tuesday, there has been an intensified campaign against water-borne diarrhetic illnesses, of which cholera is one. Several health centers in the capital require visitors to sanitize their shoes by stepping in chlorine when they enter, and state schools have been stressing hand-washing and other hygiene measures.While some have voiced nervousness over the outbreak, many said they were confident the government had a strong handle on the outbreak.Beatriz Guerra, a 26-year-old mother of two who lives in Miramar, said a state-run school attended by her eldest son was closed briefly last week to clean and disinfect the rooms and furniture. She said residents had been advised at neighborhood meetings to take precautions and be particularly vigilant of what their children were touching and putting in their mouth.“I know that they are taking the necessary measures,” she said. “One just needs to be very cautious.” (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The government has not responded to repeated requests for comment in recent months, nor has it made any experts available to talk about the cholera situation. The family of one man, 46-year-old Ubaldo Pino Rodriguez, told The Associated Press last week that he died of cholera in Cerro on Jan. 2, about two weeks after going to the hospital with severe vomiting.Rodriguez’s sister, Yanise Pino, said her brother had a drinking problem and lived in squalid and unhygienic conditions in a tiny makeshift wooden dwelling.“When he began to feel bad he thought it was from drinking and nothing else,” she said, adding that he left the hospital of his own accord last month. She said that following his death authorities sealed off Ubaldo’s room and told her to burn all his belongings.Juan Bautista Ferrera, a retiree in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood, told AP that he was hospitalized with cholera for five days last week after suffering severe diarrhea.“I was isolated in a room and nobody could come to see me. I communicated with my wife by phone,” he said, adding he never worried about his life. “I’m 75 years old and I don’t fear anything. The medical attention was very good so I never thought for a minute I could die of it.” Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories Associated PressHAVANA (AP) – Cuba’s Public Health Ministry on Tuesday acknowledged 51 new cases of cholera in the capital amid growing concerns about the illness’ spread and disappointment in the diplomatic community over the government’s lack of transparency.The ministry said nobody had died from the latest outbreak, which began Jan. 6, and stressed that preventive measures already taken had put the disease “on the way to extinction.” It said cholera was first detected in the capital’s Cerro neighborhood, and then spread elsewhere. No other areas of the capital were mentioned, but there have been reports of cases in the leafy Playa neighborhood that is home to many foreign embassies. Several other European diplomats have told AP they are also considering issuing advisories, and have been concerned that the government is not sharing information with them in a timely manner. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.Tourism is the top sector in Cuba’s flagging Communist economy, with 2.8 million visitors a year and about $2.5 billion in annual revenue. A major cholera outbreak is sure to make some visitors think twice about a trip, despite Cuba’s sterling reputation in responding to epidemics and natural disasters.The island has a well-organized civil defense system capable of rapidly mobilizing government agencies and citizens groups. Brigades of workers go door to door, noisily fumigating homes and admonishing residents to eliminate standing water where mosquitos bearing another tropical disease, dengue, could breed.American tourists are barred from visiting Cuba due to the half-century old economic embargo, but 400,000 Cuban-Americans come down each year for family visits, and about 100,000 others get licenses to come on cultural or other exchanges. There have been no reports so far of any tourists coming down with the illness. Quick workouts for men ____Follow Paul Haven on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/paulhaven Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Ferrera’s wife, Caridad Neyes, said health workers gave them chlorine to clean their home and also handed out medicine. She said several restaurants in the neighborhood were closed but have since reopened.Cholera is a waterborne disease caused by a bacteria found in tainted water or food. It can kill within hours through dehydration, but is treatable if caught in time. Cholera is unusual in Cuba. But recent outbreaks in nearby Haiti have killed more than 7,200 people.It was unclear why a new outbreak was being seen in Havana. Rains, which can help spread the disease, are common in January, but the weather has been unusually dry this year.In August, Cuba announced that a cholera outbreak had run its course after sickening 417 people and leaving three dead. That outbreak originated in the eastern city of Manzanillo, in Granma province. Some have speculated the epidemic gained new life following the widespread devastation caused in October by Hurricane Sandy, which damaged more than 200,000 homes in eastern Cuba.On Tuesday, the British Embassy in Havana issued a travel advisory in response to the cholera reports, urging its citizens to take “sensible precautions” and seek immediate medical attention for diarrhea. U.S. diplomats on the island issued a travel warning Monday urging American citizens to follow local health recommendations. Sponsored Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

Guatemalan police ambushed 8 killed

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The bodies of seven officers were found at the police station in the town of Salcaja, said Cecilio Chacaj of the municipal firefighters department.Another officer died in the hospital after the Thursday night attack. The victims had multiple gunshot wounds, Chacaj said.Deputy Interior Minister Eddy Juarez confirmed late Thursday that deputy police inspector Cesar Augusto Garcia was kidnapped in the attack.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Top Stories center_img Parents, stop beating yourself up The vital role family plays in society GUATEMALA CITY (AP) – Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said Friday that drug traffickers ambushed and killed eight police officers in a township west of the capital.“We have no doubt that it was an organized crime group dedicated to drug trafficking,” Perez Molina told reporters during a presentation of three new security squads that include 1,524 police officers and soldiers.He said police are investigating three drug trafficking groups that operate in Quetzaltenango state to determine who was behind the attack. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

Merkel favored for 3rd term faces tight outcome

first_img Top Stories However, Steinbrueck’s center-left has struggled to generate momentum in the face of a healthy economy and a conservative campaign that largely skirted controversy, focusing squarely on Merkel’s popularity.Posters featuring a smiling Merkel declare simply: “Chancellor for Germany.”The opposition’s campaign has been marred by problems that ranged from criticism of Steinbrueck’s high earnings on the lecture circuit to a much-mocked suggestion by his Green Party allies that canteens should introduce a meat-free “veggie day.”And Merkel has attacked plans by the Social Democrats and Greens to increase income tax for top earners, which she says would hurt the economy.Merkel has brushed aside concerns that a tight finish would weaken her position as Europe’s strongest politician, noting that “majorities in Germany are very frequently narrow.”“If citizens give us a mandate to continue with the current coalition … a majority, however big it is, we will take responsibility for governing together,” she told ARD television.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Much may depend on the turnout among the nearly 62 million voters _ about 70 percent in the 2009 ballot. In the days before the voting, prominent figures from all major parties have urged supporters to vote, with the projected outcome too close to take any chances.Given Merkel’s popularity _ polls show her with approval ratings of up to 70 percent _ and the economic success enjoyed during what she calls “the most successful government since reunification” 23 years ago, it might seem surprising that the electoral outcome appears so cloudy.As chancellor, Merkel has won over Germans with her reassuring style, often appearing to be above the political fray. The eurozone’s debt crisis has helped preserve her popularity, said Manfred Guellner, the head of the Forsa polling agency.“She has repeatedly given people the feeling she’s taking care that this abstract crisis doesn’t rain down on their everyday lives,” he said.Still, it is Merkel rather than her coalition that enjoys sky-high popularity. Voters haven’t forgotten public coalition infighting that frequently marred the past four years. Much of the blame has gone to the Free Democrats. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Parents, stop beating yourself up But no single party has won an absolute majority in Germany in more than 50 years. And surveys show Merkel’s coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party, has fallen from the nearly 15 percent support it won in 2009 to about the 5 percent level needed to keep any seats in Parliament.If Merkel’s alliance falls short of a parliamentary majority, the likeliest outcome is a switch to a Merkel-led “grand coalition” of her conservatives with Steinbrueck’s Social Democratic Party, the same combination of traditional rivals that ran Germany from 2005 to 2009 in Merkel’s first term.That is unlikely to produce a radical change in government policies. However, it could signal a subtle shift in emphasizing economic growth over the austerity that Germany has insisted on in exchange for bailing out economically weak European countries such as Greece.Final results are due within hours of polls closing. But with margins so close, the country could still face weeks of protracted horse-trading before a clear picture emerges about the makeup and policies of Germany’s next government.Merkel’s center-right coalition might win re-election but “it will be very tight,” said Oskar Niedermayer, a political science professor at Berlin’s Free University. Sponsored Stories BERLIN (AP) – She enjoys overwhelming popularity and leads an economy that’s the envy of Europe. But Angela Merkel is in a fight to clinch a new term for her ruling coalition in Sunday’s national election, with polls showing her center-right alliance on a knife-edge as her junior partner’s support slumps.Merkel and her conservative Christian Democratic Union appear likely to fend off a challenge from center-left rival Peer Steinbrueck and emerge as the biggest party in the lower house of Parliament, whose members choose the chancellor _ making her the strong favorite to win a third term. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility A new party, Alternative for Germany, which calls for an “orderly breakup” of the euro common currency zone and appeals to socially conservative voters, may sap votes from the ruling coalition parties.State elections in Bavaria last Sunday set off alarms for the Free Democrats, who lost all their seats in the legislature. Since then, they’ve been angling for votes from Merkel’s party since German voters cast two ballots _ one for a specific parliamentary candidate and another for a party.The Free Democrats were never strong in Bavaria but their disastrous showing gave heart to Merkel’s rivals.“Within days, you will be rid of the most inactive, backward-looking, quarrelsome but also loud-mouthed government since German reunification,” Steinbrueck told a rally in Hamburg this week.That was a reference to government infighting over issues such as the Free Democrats’ promises of major tax cuts, which were never realized _ as well as a much-criticized new benefit for stay-at-home parents that Steinbrueck pledges to scrap and the government’s rejection of a national minimum wage, which he advocates.Merkel’s critics say she has failed to set any direction and presided over policy drift. Steinbrueck _who was once Merkel’s finance minister and says he won’t serve under her again _ quipped that if she were in his government, he would give Merkel “the ministry for vagueness.” Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Quick workouts for menlast_img read more

Separatists attack Mali army patrol govt says 9 killed

first_img Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “To the bereaved families, the minister offers condolences and profound compassion,” he said.Mohamed Elmaouloud Ramadane, spokesman for the coalition of separatist groups, also known by the acronym CMA, said they killed 30 soldiers in the attack.Civilians were caught in the crossfire between the separatists and soldiers, said Radhia Achouri, a spokesman for the United Nations mission in Mali. She did not give a casualty figure.“An army patrol was attacked by an armed group,” about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Timbuktu, on the road to Goundam, she said.The U.N. mission is giving medical aid to civilians and the army, she said.Armed groups allied with the government attacked and took over the northern town of Menaka two weeks ago, and the separatist groups have launched a surge of attacks since, saying the cease-fire had been broken. The violence threatens a peace accord meant to be signed May 15 between Mali’s several armed groups, separatists and the government.The U.N.’s special representative in Mali, Mongi Hamdi, condemned the attack.“The violence must immediately cease and I urge all parties to demonstrate their commitment on the ground to the process that is leading to the signature of a peace accord on May 15,” he said, calling it the only viable way to end the security crisis that has gripped the country. Tuareg rebel groups seized control of northern Mali in early 2012 but then al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist militants won control shortly afterward. Troops from former colonizer France later led a military offensive to dislodge the extremists.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s separatist rebels attacked an army convoy in the north on Monday, killing at least 9 soldiers, the government said. The separatist group says it killed 30 soldiers.Mali’s Defense Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly said that defense forces were ambushed by members of the Coordination of Azawad Movements near the town of Tin Telout. Nine Malian soldiers died and 14 others were injured, he said. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis The vital role family plays in society Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Thousands protest in Honduras cities following scandal

first_imgCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Comments   Share   MEXICO CITY (AP) — A protest movement organized over social media in Honduras has led to large demonstrations in cities around the Central American country.The protesters are upset over a scandal involving a purported multimillion-dollar embezzlement of Social Security funds, with some of the money allegedly going to finance the governing political party. Among other things, they are calling for President Juan Orlando Hernandez to resign. Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober “The Social Security case is the occasion that has fed up the Honduran people, and that funds from Social Security would be used to finance political campaigns has been the catalyst for this movement,” activist Gabriela Blen said Monday.Organized via Twitter with hashtags including one that translates as “resign JOH” — a reference to the president’s initials — the movement began recently as just a couple dozen people at a torchlight vigil in the capital.It gradually picked up steam, and thousands marched through Tegucigalpa on Friday with similarly large protests in San Pedro Sula, Siguatepeque, Choluteca and Comayagua during the weekend.The Honduran Public Ministry has said a network led by the then-director of the Social Security Institute, Mario Zelaya, fraudulently misspent at least $120 million during the 2010-14 presidency of Porfirio Lobo.The scheme allegedly relied on mark-ups topping 100 percent on goods and services such as medicines and pensions, with kickbacks then being paid by businesses that benefited. At least part of the money purportedly ended up in the hands of the National Party, which counts both Lobo and Hernandez as members. Top Stories center_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility National Party lawmaker Oscar Alvarez said that if money was received from businesses tied to Social Security, “it was done in good faith.”Hernandez has said that the party “maintains its accounting on the basis of checks contributed by each member” and that those individuals are responsible for the money, not the party as a whole.Zelaya was detained after fleeing the country. He is not related to former President Manuel Zelaya, who was seized by the Honduran military and ousted in a 2009 coup.The 18-person Social Security board of directors, all of them appointed by Lobo, is under investigation. Two former vice ministers of the health and labor departments have also been detained.Blen said organizers plan another march Friday to local offices of the United Nations. They will demand the creation of an international commission to investigate crime and impunity similar to a U.N. commission currently operating in neighboring Guatemala that has played a key role in uncovering graft scandals involving that country’s customs and Social Security agencies.She said there is no direct link between the Honduras protests and similar demonstrations seen in Guatemala, but added: “Yes, of course, (they were) an inspiration.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

Extreme sport of slacklining gains a foothold in Iran

first_img“My biggest dream is to do a BASE jump from the highline,” he said, referring to another extreme sport in which one jumps from a high-altitude stationary object and glides to the ground with a parachute or a wingsuit.Abaee, who was previously a rock climber, said he stumbled upon the sport of slacklining on the Internet. He and some friends then went into the countryside and strung a rope between two trees. By his second attempt, he had made it across.At a rock climbing festival in Iran in 2012, Abaee met a group of European slackliners who gave him advice and equipment. Now he has enough confidence to walk across a 15-meter line without even a safety harness.It’s a journey 24-year-old Masoud Chenaghloo is just beginning. Another former rock climber, he only took up slacklining a few months ago.“When I’m on the webbing… my self-confidence is very high,” he said. “I’m looking down on everything from the top. I feel I have a separate world for myself and the rest of humanity is living in another world.”It’s not just experienced rock climbers attempting the fledgling sport.Samaneh Hassanzadeh has only been slacklining for a few weeks, learning on a line that is just a foot (30 centimeters) above the ground. Her twin sister Samira is also exploring the sport. “It is very exciting. I’m short on words when I want to describe how it feels when you are on the webbing, and how it feels when you manage to walk the whole line and reach the other end,” Sharifi said. “When you are on the webbing you don’t notice anything else.”He’s part of “Iran Slackline,” a group of friends who have had to find their own footing in a country with no formal institutions for the sport. They must make much of their equipment by hand or acquire it abroad — including safety devices.On a recent day the friends gathered in the mountains outside Tehran, with the capital skyline serving as a backdrop. They strung a 10-meter strip of webbing between two rocks 30 meters above ground.At this point they are largely unfazed by the danger, and laughed and joked as they took turns inching across. One of them placed his hands on the line and lifted himself up with just his arms. Then he leaned back on the line as if using it as a hammock.“When I’m walking on the highline I have a very good feeling. I feel free. I’m free from all preoccupations and it is very enjoyable,” said Mohammad Reza Abaee, at 23 the most experienced of the group. High-altitude slacklining is known as highlining. Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist In this picture taken Friday, May 22, 2015, Iranian Hamed Heidari walks across a slackline anchored between two rocks during practice in the mountains overlooking Tehran, Iran. Heidari is one of a growing number of Iranians embracing the extreme sport of slacklining — a high-wire walk on a flat line of webbing strung between rocks or trees up to 60 meters above the ground. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Top Stories TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Kiavash Sharifi can hardly describe the feeling of tip-toeing across an abyss on a thin ribbon of webbing that bends ever so slightly downward.The 22-year-old is one of a growing number of Iranians embracing the extreme sport of slacklining — a high-wire walk on a flat line of webbing strung between rocks or trees up to 60 meters (yards) above the ground. The webbing provides slightly more stability than a round cord, but is also bouncier. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “It helps one achieve great concentration,” Samaneh said. “It is both exciting and helps you concentrate. It’s perfect, when you are on the line you don’t want to step down.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

A380 glitches cause delays in Paris

first_img<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/278a2/” 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> Hundreds of passengers were delayed last week in Paris as Air France and Singapore Airlines experienced technical and electrical glitches on their Airbus A380s.The superjumbo operated by Air France experienced a technical problem twice during the week, once on Monday in New York and the second time on Thursday in Paris.Officials said the “small technical incident” fault forced the plane to be grounded while passengers were placed on another flight.For Singapore Airlines, the glitch was of another kind, its A380 losing all power supply to its on-board kitchens. It forced the plane to return to Paris after flying for two hours.The plane’s 444 passengers were then given a nights accommodation as the pilots and cabin attendants had exceeded their permitted working hours by the time the problem was fixed. A SIA spokesman told Bloomberg that the plane had turned around due to “comfort and service, not safety.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.Llast_img read more