first_imgFormer British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the grocer’s daughter whose overpowering personality, bruising political style and free-market views transformed Britain and transfixed America through the 1980s, died Monday after a stroke, her spokesman said in a statement. She was 87.The first woman to lead a major Western power, Thatcher served 11 1/2 uninterrupted years in office before stepping down Nov. 28, 1990, making her the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century.Infuriated by Britain’s image as the “sick old man of Europe,” she set out to dismantle Britain’s cradle-to-grave welfare state, selling off scores of massive state-owned industries, crushing the power of organized labor and cutting government spending with the purpose of liberating the nation from what she called a “culture of dependency.”On the world stage, she collaborated closely with her friend Ronald Reagan to modernize Europe’s anti-Soviet nuclear shield by deploying cruise and Pershing II missiles in Britain, a costly and controversial enterprise that some analysts would later say contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Thatcher then joined Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush, in repelling Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, counseling Bush not to go “wobbly” on her.She fought her own war as well, dispatching an armada to retake by force a colonial outpost off South America – the Falkland Islands – after it was invaded by Argentina in 1982. At the same time, she negotiated the end of Britain’s lease over another colonial relic, Hong Kong.“It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher’s death,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement Monday. “We’ve lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton.”During her career, Thatcher was frequently at war with consensus, which she disdained as the abandonment of “all beliefs, principles, values and policies.” At a low point in her popularity ratings, facing a clamor for change from her own party members, she gave a defiant response: “You turn if you want to,” she declared. “This lady’s not for turning.”While unapologetically advancing what she considered the Victorian values that made Britain great, Thatcher thoroughly modernized British politics, deploying ad agencies and large sums of money to advance her party’s standing. “The Iron Lady,” as she was dubbed, was credited with converting a spent Conservative Party from an old boys club into an electoral powerhouse identified with middle-class strivers, investors and entrepreneurs. No one denied her political genius. Future Prime Minister Tony Blair eventually copied her methods to remake the rival Labor Party.She was, wrote Conservative Party contemporary Chris Patten, “a political bruiser who understood the importance of an element of fear in political leadership. … While denouncing the notion that politics was the art of the possible, that is exactly what she practiced, albeit skillfully and bravely redefining the limits of political possibility.”“Her huge political achievement was to snatch the Conservative Party from the privileged but often well meaning old upper-class gentlemen, and give it to the shopkeepers, the businessmen, the people in advertising and anyone she considered ‘one of us,’” writer John Mortimer, a staunch critic, wrote of Thatcher. “She greatly improved her party’s electability but robbed it of compassion.”Born above grocer’s shopShe was born Margaret Hilda Roberts on Oct. 13, 1925, above her father’s grocery shop in Grantham, England. It was an era when no woman held any position of significant national authority anywhere in the world and few Britons, male or female, could contemplate rising to the top politically if not born there in the first place.But, in Alfred Roberts, she had a father who groomed her for leadership nevertheless. In addition to running grocery, he was a lay Methodist preacher and a politician committed to the Conservative Party, serving as alderman and mayor.He began preparing his daughter for leadership before she was 10. Lacking formal education himself, he enrolled the future prime minister at an elite local girls school. He filled the household with politically oriented newspapers and books. He brought her to lectures and prompted her to stand up and ask questions.She attended Oxford’s Somerville College, a women’s school, majored in chemistry and became president of the Oxford University Conservative Association, where she made useful party contacts.At 23, she won the Tory candidacy for an unwinnable seat in Dartford. It was the first of several predictable defeats before she was selected, in 1958, to run from the solidly Conservative constituency of Finchley, north of London. Finchley sent her to the House of Commons.By then, Margaret Roberts had married Denis Thatcher, a successful paint dealer and Conservative activist. Ten years her senior and previously married, he financed her training in law and her entry into practice with a specialty in tax law. The couple had twins, Mark and Carol, in 1953.Denis Thatcher died in 2003. Survivors include the twins, according to the statement by her spokesman, Lord Tim Bell.‘Thatcher the uncaring’When Thatcher arrived at the House of Commons, the Conservatives were in power but philosophically divided. The core conflict within the party, as Thatcher saw it, was between people such as Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who had come to terms with socialism as part of a “postwar settlement,” and those such as Thatcher, who had not.She relied on ferocious preparation, study and attention to detail to get noticed by party leaders. In October 1961, they plucked her from the backbenches of the House of Commons and made her parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Pensions, the lowest rung on the ladder to leadership. In 1970, after a Conservative general election victory, she ascended to the Ministry of Education.Here was born the image of “Thatcher the uncaring” that would follow her throughout her career. Amid cuts in public spending prompted by the economic downturn of the 1970s, Thatcher was ordered by the Treasury to eliminate, among other things, free milk in schools. “Thatcher, Thatcher, Milk Snatcher,” cried the tabloids.“It was the incident that made her a truly famous politician,” wrote biographer Hugo Young. “Somehow it struck a deeper chord. It was a piece of seemingly gratuitous deprivation that conformed with the image of severity and adamant righteousness which was beginning to become Thatcher’s stock-in-trade.”Thatcher developed a close intellectual relationship with Keith Joseph, a wealthy Conservative MP and intellectual who in 1974 challenged former Prime Minister Heath for party leadership. Thatcher was Joseph’s campaign manager. He proved a clumsy campaigner and dropped out, leaving Thatcher to carry on in his place. On a second ballot Thatcher became Britain’s first female leader of the opposition. To many Tories, she was a placeholder, awaiting a suitable male insider as choice for party leader and possibly prime minister.The Labor government that came to office after the 1974 election oversaw a long period of crippling inflation, strikes and disaffection that came to be called Britain’s “winter of discontent.” Thatcher bided her time, then, on May 4, 1979, took advantage of public dissatisfaction to lead the Conservatives to a general election victory. She took up residence in No. 10 Downing Street.The first years of her administration went badly. Her government’s attempt to tame inflation by boosting interest rates and sales taxes produced even higher inflation and unemployment. The Irish Republican Army staged dramatic acts of terrorism, killing, among others, the war hero Lord Mountbatten and dozens of British soldiers and engaging in fatal hunger strikes that served to highlight the government’s inability to end the sectarian troubles of Northern Ireland.In 1984, Thatcher was nearly a victim of the IRA herself — a bomb that the group planted devastated a Brighton hotel where she was staying during a party conference, killing five people and injuring 34. She emerged unhurt and went on to give a rousing speech of denunciation.At other times, she quarreled with Cabinet members, frustrated that she had not felt politically able to install true-blue Thatcherites in most jobs, politicians whom she would come to call “one of us.” In December 1981, satisfaction with her leadership reached a new low, 25 percent, in public opinion polls.Then, in the spring of 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands.Thatcher responded with fury, dispatching a large naval task force to South America and making statements that seemed designed to discourage compromise by effectively calling for Argentina’s unconditional surrender.“No one would be more pleased than I should be if either President Leopoldo Galtieri or the commander of their local garrison should say, ‘This is absurd that we should sacrifice our young people in this way and we will not fight further,’ ” she said in an interview with The Washington Post.She personally approved a British submarine’s sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, in which more than 300 Argentine sailors died. The attack came as the vessel was sailing away from the British naval task force, and critics charged that it was done to block any compromise settlement.After British ground forces landed on the islands, the Argentines surrendered in June 1982.Thatcher heralded a “new spirit” for her country. “Things cannot be the same again,” she declared. “For we have learned something about ourselves … a lesson which we desperately needed to learn. When we started out, there were the waverers and the fainthearts. The people who thought that Britain could no longer seize the initiative for herself.”Some of her colleagues found her performance distasteful, “a little too triumphant,” her defense minister, John Nott, would say later. But the Falklands campaign revived Thatcher’s popularity and sped her toward a second general election, in June 1983.After that, Thatcher repeatedly invoked “the spirit of the Falklands” as she waged war on “the enemy within,” the nation’s trade unions. Her target was the National Union of Mineworkers, led by a symbol of militant unionism, “King” Arthur Scargill.In 1984, the Thatcher stared down striking coal miners as she closed government-owned coal mines across the country, deeply dividing and weakening the labor movement and undermining her political opposition.Gushing over ReaganWhen Thatcher took office, Jimmy Carter was president of the United States. Although the two had a polite relationship, she gushed over Ronald Reagan, who defeated Carter in the 1980 election. “I knew that I was talking to someone who instinctively felt and thought as I did,” she wrote, “not just about policies but about a philosophy of government, a view of human nature.”Thatcher also held to the long-standing British view that a close relationship with the United States was crucial strategically in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.Over considerable domestic opposition, she collaborated with Reagan in deploying U.S. cruise and Pershing II missiles. The Soviets could not counter that move, which, in the view of some analysts, advanced later negotiations for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty of 1987.“All over Europe the peace marchers demonstrated to prevent Western missiles from being installed for their defense,” Reagan wrote in 1989 article in the National Review, “but they were silent about the Soviet missiles targeted against them! Again, in the face of these demonstrations, Margaret never wavered.”She befriended Mikhail Gorbachev even before he became Soviet leader, believing she had found someone with whom she could “do business,” and later served as an intermediary between Reagan and Gorbachev.Reagan and Thatcher did not always agree, however. The Reagan administration was slow to support Britain in the Falklands. And Thatcher was furious and deeply embarrassed at home when the Reagan administration failed to warn her in advance of its 1983 invasion of Grenada, a British Commonwealth nation.The Conservatives won a third general election in 1987, but with a narrower majority. Thatcher’s relationships with senior ministers deteriorated dramatically, as arguments flared first over her resistance to further integration with Europe and then over a botched plan to restructure local taxes as part of her effort to disempower local governments.As she and her Cabinet squabbled over the “poll tax” and scattered rioting broke out across the country, the party’s popularity plummeted.Thatcher, isolated, badly underestimated the strength of an emerging challenge to her leadership and left London for a summit in Paris, where she remained even as a first ballot was taken among Conservative MPs in the battle for her job. She won, but not by the margin necessary to prevent the second ballot that could seal her fate.When she returned to London, even her husband advised her that she could no longer prevail. Then, one by one, she spoke with members of her Cabinet, who to a man told her that though they were loyal, others were not.“Weasel words,” she would call them in her memoir.On Nov. 22, 1990, she announced her withdrawal and informed Queen Elizabeth II.Thatcher remained in the House of Commons for another two years before accepting an appointment, as Baroness Thatcher, to the House of Lords.Her press secretary, Bernard Ingham, later wrote: “There was a void opening up. … She’d no interests outside politics. … When you’d spent all that time not just strategizing, but mastering detail in a way that was quite frightening … every waking moment was filled. Now, it was all pure pleasantry and commiseration.”After leaving office, Thatcher embarked on a series of speaking tours that garnered her $50,000 per speech in the United States. She controversially performed consulting duties for $250,000 per year with Philip Morris, the tobacco company.She wrote memoirs that, along with her occasional comments in the British press, served to undermine her Conservative successor, John Major, who was already confronting a party deeply divided over Britain’s role in Europe. Tony Blair’s Labor Party defeated the Conservatives in 1997.Thatcher’s public appearances came to an end when she suffered a series of debilitating strokes in 2002.Her last turn in the global spotlight was in June 2004 at Washington National Cathedral, at Reagan’s funeral. Draped in a black veil, Thatcher sat two rows behind first lady Nancy Reagan and next to Gorbachev. Her touching eulogy to Reagan was delivered on a video screen, as she sat silently in her chair.© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

first_imgNo related posts. In the August 9th edition, The Tico Times reports on the unsupported accusation by the Prosecutor’s Office against me, and makes grave mistakes in its reporting.My innocence in the Alcatel-ICE case was declared by the Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia Penal based on the substance of the facts and not by the statue of limitations or “by errors in the handling of evidence during the investigation.” The Tribunal specifically and with great detail declared that in no way the facts charged against me determined a criminal conduct on my part.Should you want to delve into those details the Tribunal’s decision is on the public record, and it is also available on its entirety at: The charges presented by the Prosecutors Office on July 30th in no way refer to the “alleged payments” that your news mentioned in the August 9th edition. Moreover, the accusation in no way claims that I have had “contacts with the insurance company.”These statements in your publication are incorrect.Miguel Ángel Rodríguez EcheverríaEx-President of Costa Rica  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgTEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s top officials on Sunday welcomed the initial agreement struck with world powers over its nuclear activities, hailing the deal as the beginning of a new era for the Islamic republic, both in its relations with other countries and for its sanctions-ravaged economy.“Trust is, of course, a two-way street, and we must also find this trust in others. The first step in creating that trust has been taken,” Iran’s new president, the moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani, said in a statement broadcast live on television Sunday morning.Addressing concerns over the language in the agreement between the six world powers and Iran regarding Tehran’s ability to continue work on its nuclear program, Rouhani said, “Let anyone make his own reading, but this right is clearly stated in the text of the agreement that Iran can continue its enrichment, and I announce to our people that our enrichment activities will continue as before.”Rouhani, who was joined on the broadcast by the families of several Iranian nuclear scientists who were assassinated in recent years, also reiterated what Iran claims is the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.“Let me say once more, the Iranian nation does not want nuclear weapons,” Rouhani said, referring to the accusations that Iran is attempting to build a bomb as “one of those funny jokes of history.”A key point for Tehran throughout the negotiations with the group of world powers has been a clear path to reductions in the sanctions that have wrought havoc on Iran’s economy in recent years.One of the achievements of Sunday’s agreement, according to Rouhani, is that “the sanctions will be broken. The cracks in the sanctions began last night, and in the future those gaps will be grow.”Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has long doubted the sincerity of Western leaders, expressed guarded approval of the agreement.Responding to a letter from Rouhani, Khamenei thanked the efforts of Iran’s negotiating team, led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, but asked the members to continue their vigilance in dealing with old enemies.“God willing, standing against the arrogant powers is and will be the main criteria on the path forward for those in charge of this issue,” Khamenei wrote.While the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive to the announcement of the initial agreement in Tehran, some conservative lawmakers are giving signs that they may try to short-circuit any deal.“Our minister of foreign affairs says something, the U.S. secretary of state says something else, our television and 8 a.m. news are all saying things that are contradictory. We want to help the government, but the Geneva agreement must be ratified by the parliament,” Hamid Rasaei, a cleric and hard-line parliament member, told fellow lawmakers on Sunday.Throughout Sunday Iranian state media went to great lengths to say that the deal was in Iran’s favor, with the news ticker highlighting the rights that Iran will retain, the promise of reduced sanctions and quotes from Israeli lawmakers who called the agreement a “win” for Iran.It is the hope for improved economic prospects that is capturing the attention of most people here.“Let the world know that we do not have a dispute with any country. Now that sanctions are going to be relaxed, our economy will start growing and people will feel better. I hope the end result becomes reduction of prices to ease people’s lives,” said Mahmood Gerami, a 48-year-old shopkeeper in Tehran.Authorities are counting on that positive sentiment to help jump-start Iran’s long-slumping economy, and the first sign that the agreement is having that effect was a early-morning rise of nearly 2 percent in the value of Iran’s national currency, the rial, against the U.S. dollar.“Some of our economic problems are related to psychological issues, especially the prices of gold coins and currencies’ exchange rates. This negative effect will diminish and ultimately disappear because of this agreement,” Yahya Ale Eshagh, head of Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview with the state-run Mehr News agency.Others remain cautious in their optimism, acknowledging the heavy burden that Iran has faced in fighting to maintain its nuclear program.“I’m happy to hear the news of an agreement, but I doubt that change will come soon or easily,” said Aida Sarbandian, a 34-year-old secretary. “So many problems have piled on top of each other especially during the last four years, and it will take time to solve them. But all in all, this is a breakthrough.”The deal comes on Rouhani’s 99th day in office and the milestone was an important one for the administration, which has had few measurable successes in its early months.“I’m happy that before my first 100 days finished we had this victory,” Rouhani said. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

first_imgThings are looking up for the Costa Rican tourism sector and maybe Ticos looking for work in a tight job market, according to a new report released last week.Costa Rica’s world famous tourism sector is set to grow 5.8 percent during 2014, according to the latest economic impact assessment from the World Travel and Tourism Council. The jump is up from 4.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2013, some $6 billion.The report estimated tourism’s total contribution to the national economy added up to 12.1 percent of GDP in 2013 and prognosticated that tourism will make up 13.7 percent of Costa Rica’s GDP by 2024. Figures showing travel and tourism’s contribution to Costa Rica’s GDP and employment. Courtesy World Travel and Tourism CouncilGrowth in tourism could be a boon to out-of-work Ticos. The WTTC estimates that growth in the leisure sector during 2014 will add 7.2 percent more jobs than in 2013, and 6.2 percent more to total employment. The travel organization estimates that Costa Rica could see the biggest bump in the Americas in 2014 for tourism-related jobs, far exceeding the regional average of 2 percent growth.The WTTC findings contrast with a survey from the National Tourism Chamber from January that said 70 percent of tourism businesses did not plan on hiring more staff during peak tourism season between December and April, despite anticipated growth.Costa Rica has the second highest uneployment rate in Latin America, behind Colombia, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Unemployment in Costa Rica fell to 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the National Statistics and Census Institute, down from 9.8 during the same period in 2012.The WTTC estimated that tourism and travel-related industries account for more than 11.5 percent of jobs in Costa Rica.Costa Rica’s tourism industry took a hard hit during the global financial crisis in 2008, but has seen improvement since 2011.The tourism research organization also put some hard figures to something many U.S. travelers already know: Flying is too expensive.The report noted that U.S. passengers pay more taxes on their flights — 20 percent — than “sin” goods, like firearms (10 percent) or liquor (11 percent). The organization argued that the travel and tourism industry bears a disproportionate tax burden in the United States, an average of 14 percent, compared to manufacturing (4 percent) and health care (11 percent).The WTTC describes itself as a forum dedicated to promoting the economic impact of the travel and tourism industry. Facebook Comments Related posts:Highway headaches didn’t delay flights for tourists during Sele celebrations Tourism season kicks off in Costa Rica despite high costs for travelers Crime against tourists down, says Costa Rica’s Tourism Police director Fishermen, locals are the ‘real heroes’ in Costa Rica catamaran accident, says survivorlast_img read more

first_imgTwo strong temblors of magnitudes 4.9 and 6.7 shook most of Costa Rica Monday night, at 9:31 p.m. and 9:52 p.m.A report by the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica registered the first temblor’s epicenter at 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Bahia Ballena, in the southern Pacific, while the second was located in the northern Pacific, near the Nicaraguan coast.The National Seismological Network reported the magnitudes at 5.3 and 6.3, respectively.Emergency officials have not received any reports of injuries or significant damage to structures.A powerful magnitude-7.3 earthquake southeast of El Salvador’s capital on Monday night was felt across Central America, prompting a brief tsunami warning. At least one person was killed. Facebook Comments Related posts:Two Good Friday quakes rock Costa Rica Costa Rica’s capital to run earthquake drill Thursday Officials in Costa Rica’s capital ‘evacuate’ 60,000 people during earthquake drill Earthquake jolts five provinces in Costa Ricalast_img read more

first_imgSOMOTO, Nicaragua — Somoto appears to be a vulnerable place, an economically depressed border town, just 20 kilometers from gang-ridden Honduras. There isn’t much work here, so many people migrate to Spain in hopes of finding jobs. Children get left behind to live with grandparents or alone.This close to the border, the town regularly sees people come through from Honduras and El Salvador for business or to visit family. Many locals fear that among them, there might be gang members looking to recruit young people in Somoto.But Somoto, like other Nicaraguan towns, hasn’t had to face the high murder rates and criminality that towns in Central American countries to the north have. Nicaragua does a good job of keeping transnational gangs out, thanks, in part, to a police force that interacts closely with the population. But they still must deal with local gangs.Enoc Gurdian, a 23-year-old tour guide, says the people of Somoto keep a close watch on their town, and are especially on guard when a new migrant turns up.“Everybody knows everybody, so when someone has an inkling that a gang member from outside is trying to recruit people here, they will immediately call the police,” he said. “Nobody wants that craziness here.”Last year Gurdian experienced how serious the police will take such a phone call. There was a boy from El Salvador who came to live in Somoto with his uncle. The boy was friendly, easy going and funny, so Gurdian and his friends hung out with him.But one day, while walking with the newcomer down the street, they suddenly found themselves surrounded by heavily-armed police. The boy was forced against a wall with his hands cuffed behind his back. The police pulled up his shirt so everybody could see the gang tattoos on his body.Someone had tipped off the police. The boy was hiding in Somoto after killing two rival gang members in San Salvador. He was immediately deported.Though foreign gang members are closely monitored, the real risk for Nicaragua is homegrown gangs, called grupos juveniles. These groups imitate the gang life they see in the so-called Northern Triangle countries – Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Boys bike past gang graffiti on a wall in Somoto, April 2015. Local leaders say the graffiti comes from homegrown gangs imitating their more powerful and violent counterparts in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Eline van NesOne former gang member explained how neighborhood groups are formed, imitating the Mara Salvatrucha or Barrio 18. He said most Nicaraguan gang members are involved in petty theft and small-time drug dealing. They mainly fight each other. Extortion of regular citizens is uncommon, unlike in the Northern Triangle countries.“There are not many guns here, so they fight with knives and stones,” the former gang member said. He declined to give his name because he fears for his personal security.Despite the relative lack of guns, the former gang member was shot two years ago, and it almost cost him his life. It was a wake-up call: he realized he had to change his life if he wanted to be a father to his now nine-year-old child. He stopped smoking crack and started a course in agriculture with the local nonprofit organization, Inphru.He left the gang and became an active Christian. Fortunately for him, Nicaraguan gangs don’t kill members for leaving the gang, as they often do in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.National Police spokesman Fernando Borge Aguilar explained how the Nicaraguan police work with at-risk youth. The police have career training programs for young people, and they work with the government to create job opportunities following training.“We don’t just fight the gangsters with a strong hand,” Borge said. “We try to use an intelligent approach.”The Nicaraguan police also have a special department dedicated to making sure officers don’t take bribes from gangs.Nonprofit groups like Inphru in Somoto also work to create opportunities for Nicaraguan youth.Luis Alberto Álvarez Alvarado, a field worker with Inphru, drives around town to show the different places Inphru has helped set up to teach people about horticulture, honey and seed collection. Inphru doesn’t solely target vulnerable youngsters, but it has helped some turn their lives around.Still, Álvarez said he worries about Somoto’s homegrown gangs, which have strengthened in recent decades. At least once a year, fighting between neighborhood gangs results in a death.“The most important thing is that they need someone who listens to them,” Álvarez said while visiting a group of young people sorting red beans. “When we see someone who becomes the (gang) leader of their neighborhood, we try to give him that same role in a positive way. We take him seriously as part of the society.”For Álvarez it’s usually a case of lost boys in search of a father figure, a role he readily provides. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican held in ‘deplorable’ conditions in Nicaragua granted house arrest  Dueling stories behind shooter at Nicaragua protest reveal sharp divide over Sandinista government Guatemalan president spars with US over Chixoy Dam reparations Costa Rica’s ‘Macho Coca’: A fishmonger accused of being a drug lordlast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:Health Ministry expands list of liquor brands suspected of causing methanol poisoning Adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica: What you need to know today Costa Rica issues sanitary alert over adulterated alcohol Updates: Health Ministry suspects 19 deaths due to adulterated alcohol Costa Rica’s Health Ministry on Wednesday expanded to nine the list of liquor brands that may contain dangerous amounts of methanol.Translated from Spanish, the Health Ministry’s update reads, in part, as follows:The Ministry of Health … informs the general population about the extension of the Health Alert issued regarding the sale of products packaged in bottles labeled “Guaro Chonete”, “Guaro Guerazo”, “Guaro Sacheto”, “Guaro Gran Apache”, “Aguardiente Estrella Roja”, “Guaro Montano”, “Aguardiente Barón Rojo”, “Aguardiente Timbuka” and “Aguardiente Molotov”, which according laboratory results, are adulterated with methanol.“Guaro Chonete” is the newest addition to the list.Do not consume any of the liquor brands named in the alert, and report to authorities if you suspect an establishment of selling adulterated liquor. A criminal complaint can be filed via email at: or companies selling adulterated alcoholic beverages are subject to various administrative and criminal penalties. The Health Ministry said Wednesday it shut down two establishments in Upala, Alajuela this week “due to the commercialization of alcohol brands adulterated with methanol indicated in the health alerts.”The Health Ministry says at least 55 people were treated for methanol poisoning in June and July. As of July 30, 23 people have died.The last death was reported on July 24, according to the Health Ministry.The U.S. Embassy has said it is “not aware of any U.S. citizen illness or death due to consuming adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica.”In an effort to reduce the risk of additional poisonings, more than 38,000 bottles of liquor have been seized by authorities, according to the Health Ministry. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgAssociated PressMAREA, Syria (AP) – Lt. Col. Maan al-Mansour’s mission is to capture the Syrian air base where he once served.The 22-year air force veteran, who defected in June to the rebellion, led an attack by hundreds of fighters on the Kuwiras military airport last week. In a fierce battle, they hammered the base with mortar fire and rocket-propelled grenades for four hours, nearly overrunning it until they were driven back by sustained strafing and bombing by jet fighters. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories “We woke to the sound of planes last night at 4 a.m. and everyone was terrified and fled into the fields,” said Ahmed al-Hajji, who lives with his five children and hundreds of others in a massive customs shed near the border in Azaz. “Who will stop the planes? They are almost in Turkey.”So far, every rebel assault on the air bases, which are guarded by tanks, rockets as well as the aircraft themselves, has ended in failure and often with a heavy loss of life. On Aug. 31, the same day al-Mansour’s fighters attacked Kuwiras, rebels hit two air bases in neighboring Idlib province, but all ultimately foundered. He did not give any casualty figures.Capt. Ahmed Ghazali, the head of rebel forces in Azaz, said his forces have repeatedly tried to take the Menagh helicopter field, which squats on the key road between the border and the rebel stronghold of Tel Rifaat. From there, its aircraft have hit rebels across the region.“There is no cover around these areas and it is very exposed. We can’t get close, and they use artillery and jets on us,” complained Ghazali, wearing Gulf War-era U.S. surplus camouflage. “With our current means, we can’t attack these places.” “The Syrian military is becoming increasingly concerned that its superiority in terms of numbers and firepower belies significant weaknesses such as troop fatigue, growing defections, and a lack of experience in irregular warfare,” it said in a recent briefing.Rebels claim to have shot down a few aircraft, but they admit there is little to do about the threat from above _ so they are moving against the source.The leader of the rebel brigade doing most of the fighting in Aleppo announced Tuesday that air bases would be the new target for their forces.“We control the ground in Aleppo but the regime has the air force and controls the air,” Abdul Qadir Saleh, the field commander of the Tawhid Brigade, told journalists in Istanbul. “We will solve this by destroying airports and air bases.”Driving through the green fields of corn and olive orchards of Aleppo province, life almost seems to have returned to normal with farmers riding tractors and children playing soldier in the dusty streets of the small towns under the scorching summer sun. But every town has piles of rubble where buildings were pulverized from the air.The airstrikes have sent hundreds of thousands fleeing for the dubious safety of the Turkish border. Al-Mansour says he’s determined to try again. Syria’s rebels have turned to a new tactic of attacking bases, trying to stop the jets and attack helicopters that have wreaked devastation on their fighters and civilians in the battleground city of Aleppo and the nearby countryside.“We are going to destroy the place that causes all this destruction,” al-Mansour said. “The pilots inside are my friends and I like them, but they are on the wrong side, they destroy buildings with the innocent and children inside, so when I attack the airport, I think of them.”Rebels drove the Syrian army out of the countryside north of Aleppo long ago and claim to control more than two-thirds of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, where they have battled to a standstill the regime forces trying for more than a month to uproot them.But the military is turning increasingly to its largely unchallenged air power, using its aircraft to strike in Aleppo and throughout the small towns that dot the rebel-held areas to the north. The growing reliance suggests the regime is trying to spare its elite troops of the Republican Guard and the Fourth Armored Division, which have borne the brunt of past year and a half of fighting, according to Maplecroft, a British-based risk analysis company. Sponsored Stories “You can take out the old tanks, the (1960s era) T-55s with just one shot of the RPG between the turret and the main body,” he said with a laugh, while admitting that the newer tanks took a few more rockets. They have yet to find a similar simple solution to helicopter gunships and fighter jets soaring high out of reach.Another perennial problem for the rebels is the lack of unity among the hundreds of small battalions that make up its ranks, each anywhere from a few hundred to a few dozen men.For his assault on the airport, al-Mansour had to weld together the 12 different battalions that agreed to participate into a single fighting force.“We asked everyone who would like to take part in the operation and support it with ammunition. Some accepted and some didn’t,” he said. “The cooperation is all on a personal level. If they agree, it’s a personal thing. I come to you, I have an operation, if you want, we do it. If you don’t, that’s it.”He said some insisted on financial compensation as well.The problem is replicated with the outside leaders, al-Mansour added, listing three who refused to defer to one another. Recently, however, several top leaders are working on fusing the different groups into a more cohesive rebel army under the control of defected Gen. Mohammed al-Haj Ali, residing in Jordan. Instead, he said, his forces have been harrying the base with pinpoint strikes to keep it occupied, but that has done little to stem the daily attacks on Azaz and other towns. On Wednesday, two rockets fired from a jet slammed into the road near the city hall and the main communications tower. One left a huge crater, the other disappeared under the pavement after not exploding.The lack of heavy weapons, especially anti-aircraft missiles, has been a common lament among the rebels. More than a month ago, they did succeed in shelling Menagh with one of their captured tanks, but the move has never been repeated due to a lack of ammunition.Mustafa Saleh, a 20-year-old religion student-turned-rebel who spent the last month fighting in Aleppo, also said that regime aircraft picked off opposition tanks easily, curtailing their regular use in combat.Tanks, once the common infantry man’s nightmare, seem to be increasingly superseded in this conflict. Their burnt out husks litter the countryside in testimony to rebel successes in stopping them.Abu Muslim, a portly, bearded rebel in the town of Marea, became a specialist in rocket-propelled grenades during his military service a decade ago. He said in the tight confines of urban warfare, taking out the regime’s older tanks wasn’t a problem.center_img New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Even with a more cohesive military structure, Western countries would likely be loath to hand out sophisticated hand-held anti-aircraft missiles for fear they could fall into the wrong hands, as happened with the Stinger missiles meant to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and then in Libya when Moammar Gadhafi’s lavish arsenals were opened to all comers.Resolving these leadership issues and opening the door to more coordinated assaults, and perhaps even better weapons, is what fighters like Mustafa Saleh _ the former religion student _ want to see. He said it was a rare moment in Aleppo when there wasn’t a dreaded jet or helicopter buzzing in the sky.“Many times we were forced to withdraw by the aircraft. … If there were no aircraft, Aleppo would fall in days,” he said, back in his home village of Marea, where his unit is gearing up for an assault on a nearby infantry academy. “Aleppo needs antiaircraft rockets.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixlast_img read more

first_img New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Sponsored Stories ___But Rafa has no illusions in today’s crisis-wracked Spain. He and millions of other students have just been squeezed by a hike in university fees. And he knows that it’s when he gets his qualification that the really hard part begins: Spain’s building industry is in the dumps and youth unemployment stands above 50 percent.“When I’m done with university,” says Rafa, “I still don’t know what I’m going to do.”With the job outlook so bleak, Rafa has started learning Portuguese with an aim of possibly moving to Brazil to find work as an architect _ as the rapidly developing Latin American country prepares to host the soccer World Cup and Summer Olympics.___Next up … Athina___Follow The Class of 2012 on the AP Big Story page: The Class of 2012 on Twitter:!/AP/class-of-2012 0 Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Four benefits of having a wireless security system MADRID (AP) – Over the summer Rafa Gonzalez del Castillo was in crisis: His professors had found major flaws with his final project to qualify as an architect _ throwing his future into doubt.Now he’s back on track to fulfilling his dream. He resubmitted his design for a riverside greenhouse and terraced farmhouse and got a thumbs up.___This is an update of Class of 2012, the AP’s yearlong exploration of Europe’s economic crisis through the eyes of five young graduates. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories last_img read more

first_imgThis undated handout photo provided by the US Coast Guard shows US Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant. Thirty-eight Cuban migrants caught trying to sail to the U.S. are stranded aboard a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, waiting for permission from the Cuban government to return home, The Associated Press has learned. The migrants were among about 96 Cubans who were intercepted at sea and taken aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant. The Cuban government allowed the return of the other 58 people. (Coast Guard via AP) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober ___Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.___Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WASHINGTON (AP) — Thirty-eight Cuban migrants caught trying to sail to the U.S. have been stranded aboard a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, waiting for permission from the Cuban government to return home.The would-be immigrants had tourist visas to the Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia when they were intercepted at sea by the Coast Guard, U.S. officials told The Associated Press. The Cuban government has refused re-entry to the island because their return does not comport with a repatriation agreement with the U.S., one official said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the situation by name. The decision to keep the migrants from returning is likely to cause a diplomatic rift as both governments have been negotiating conditions for re-establishing diplomatic relations. Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced the effort in December.The United States and Cuba are trying to wrap up an agreement in the coming days that would allow them to re-establish embassies and post ambassadors to each other’s capitals after a half-century interruption. Officials from both governments were planning to meet in Havana Friday to discuss the situation.Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, will meet Josefina Vidal, her Cuban counterpart, next week in Washington.The biggest obstacle to restoring full diplomatic relations is almost gone: the U.S. designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. Obama announced his intention last month to delist Cuba, and the change will become effective May 29, when a 45-day waiting period expires. The designation has ramifications for Cuban access to international financial institutions.Lingering matters include the ability of U.S. diplomats to travel freely in Cuba and speak with dissidents. Ironically, migration has been one of the issues that American and Cuban officials say they’ve had the greatest cooperation on. The migrants were among about 96 Cubans who were intercepted at sea and taken aboard the Coast Guard cutter Vigilant, a 210-foot ship operating out of Port Canaveral, Florida. The ship typically carries 75 officers and crew. The Cuban government allowed the return of the other 58 people.The Cuban government has made no public comment about the case.Under U.S. law, Cuban nationals who make it onto U.S. soil are granted permission to come into the country and can quickly become legal permanent residents and eventually U.S. citizens. Migrants caught at sea generally are sent back to Cuba. The Cuban government has historically allowed U.S. authorities to quickly repatriate those migrants caught at sea.The migrants were found near the Virgin Islands in late April and have been aboard the Vigilant in international waters since, one of the officials said.The so-called wet-foot-dry-foot policy has long angered Cuba’s communist leaders who have argued that the policy encourages Cuban citizens to make the treacherous trip across the Florida Straits, often on homemade rafts or rickety boats in hopes of landing on U.S. soil.In recent years, the Cuban government under President Raul Castro has made it easier for Cubans to travel overseas by eliminating a decades-old and unpopular exit visa requirement. Top Stories Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

first_imgGermany argued one way for Greece to meet its financing obligations was for it to issue IOUs for domestic needs.____Raf Casert in Brussels and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Demonstrators gather near the Greek Parliament during a rally against the government’s agreement with its creditors in Athens, in central Athens, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. The eurozone’s top official says it’s not easy to find a way to get Greece a short-term cash infusion that will help it meet upcoming debt repayments. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) The legislation was approved with 229 votes in favor, 64 against and six abstentions — and won the support of three pro-European opposition parties.Among Syriza’s 38 dissenters were prominent party members, including Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who many blame for exacerbating tensions with Greece’s creditors with his abrasive style during five months of tortured negotiations.The post-midnight vote might not pose an immediate threat to Tsipras’ government, but it raised more doubts over whether it could implement the harsh new austerity program demanded by rescue lenders.The vote came after an anti-austerity demonstration by about 12,000 protesters outside parliament degenerated into violence as the debate was getting underway Wednesday night. Riot police battled youths who hurled petrol bombs for about an hour before the clashes died down.The bill was the first step Greece must take in order to begin negotiations with creditors on a new bailout — its third in five years — of about 85 billion euros ($93 billion) in loans over three years.Dissenters argued that Greeks could not face any further cuts after six years of recession that saw poverty and unemployment skyrocket and wiped out a quarter of the country’s economy. Tsipras has been battling all week to persuade party hard-liners to back the deal. He has acknowledged the agreement reached with creditors was far from what he wanted and trampled on his pre-election promises of repealing austerity, but insisted the alternative would have been far worse for the country.“We had a very specific choice: A deal we largely disagreed with, or a chaotic default,” he told parliament ahead of the vote.Tsipras had urged Syriza members to back the bill despite having urged voters to reject earlier, milder creditor demands in a July 5 referendum. Greeks voted overwhelmingly to reject those proposals.Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who took over from Varoufakis the day after the referendum, said the deal Greece reached with its creditors on Monday was the only possible choice.“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life,” Tsakalotos said.“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is,” he told parliament.High-ranking dissenters included Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, who resigned from her post earlier Wednesday, saying she could not vote in favor of the bill. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories In a letter sent to Tsipras on Monday and released by the finance ministry Wednesday, Valavani said she believed “dominant circles in Germany” were intent on “the full humiliation of the government and the country.”The economy ministry’s secretary general, Manos Manousakis, also resigned over the measures.Parliament speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou, a prominent Syriza member, slammed the deal as a product of blackmail, calling it a “crime against humanity” and “social genocide.”Thursday’s vote came after more than two weeks of capital controls, with Greek banks and the stock exchange shut since June 29 and ATM cash withdrawals limited to 60 euros per day.With its banks dangerously low on liquidity and the state practically out of cash, Greece desperately needs funds. It faces a Monday deadline to repay 4.2 billion euros ($4.6 billion) to the European Central Bank, and is also in arrears on 2 billion euros to the IMF.Negotiations on the new bailout will take an estimated four weeks, leaving European finance ministers scrambling to find ways to get Athens some money sooner.The European Commission has proposed giving Greece 7 billion euros in loans from a special fund overseen by all 28 EU nations so it can meet its upcoming debts. The loan would be made pending the start of a full bailout program, but faces resistance from Britain, a non-euro member of the EU.center_img How do cataracts affect your vision? Patients with chronic pain give advice The vital role family plays in society Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek lawmakers voted overwhelmingly early Thursday to approve a harsh austerity bill demanded by bailout creditors, despite significant dissent from members of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ own left-wing party.The bill, which imposes sweeping tax hikes and spending cuts, fueled anger in the governing Syriza party and led to a revolt against Tsipras, who has insisted the deal forged after a marathon weekend eurozone summit was the best he could do to prevent Greece from catastrophically crashing out of the euro, Europe’s joint currency. Mesa family survives lightning strike to homelast_img read more

first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Workers finish installing a large billboard showing Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, left, and President Barack Obama, right, in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, July 23, 2015. In his first trip to Kenya since he was a U.S. senator in 2006, Obama is scheduled to arrive in Kenya on Friday, the first stop on his two-nation African tour in which he will also visit Ethiopia. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) Auma Obama said she believed her late father would be proud to see his son return to Kenya as American president.“He’d be extremely proud and say, ‘Well done,’” she said in an interview with CNN. “But then he’d add, ‘But obviously, you’re an Obama.’”_Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report._Follow Julie Pace at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The president’s father, Barack Obama, Sr., left Kenya as a young man to study at the University of Hawaii. There, he met Stanley Ann Dunham, a white woman from Kansas. They would soon marry and have a son, who was named after his father.The elder Obama left Hawaii when he son was just two years old, first to continue his studies at Harvard, then to return to Kenya. The future president and his father would see each other just once more, when the son was 10 years old. Obama’s father died in a car crash in 1982, at age 46.“I didn’t have a dad in the house,” Obama said last year during a White House event for My Brother’s Keeper, his initiative for young men. “I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time.”Obama’s first trip to Kenya nearly 30 years ago was a quest to fill in the gaps in the story of his father’s life. In his memoir “Dreams From My Father,” Obama wrote that at the time of his death, “my father remained a mystery to me, both more and less than a man.”What Obama uncovered was a portrait of a talented, but troubled man. An economist for the Kenyan government, the senior Obama clashed with then-President Jomo Kenyatta over tribal divisions and allegations of corruption. He was ultimately fired by the president, sending him into a tailspin of financial problems and heavy drinking. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Fulfilling the hopes of millions of Kenyans, Barack Obama returned to his father’s homeland Friday for the first time as U.S. president, a long sought visit by a country that considers him a local son.The president spent the evening reuniting with his Kenyan family, including his elderly step-grandmother who made the trip to the capital of Nairobi from her rural village. U.S. and Kenyan flags lined the main road from Nairobi’s airport, and billboards heralding Obama’s trip dotted the city. The Kenyan leader Obama will meet with this weekend, Uhuru Kenyatta, is the son of the president his father confronted decades ago.Obama met most of his Kenyan family for the first time on that initial trip to his father’s home country. As he stepped off Air Force One Friday, he was greeted by half-sister Auma Obama, pulling her into a warm embrace. The siblings then joined about three dozen family members at a restaurant at the president’s hotel for a private dinner.Logistical constraints and security precautions prevented Obama from visiting Kogelo, the village where his father lived and is buried, on this trip. Sarah Obama, the step-grandmother he calls “Granny,” still lives in the village.Despite the intense focus on the American leader’s local roots, the White House has cast the trip as one focused on the relationship between the U.S. and Kenya, not the president and his family. Officials say Obama’s agenda is heavily focused on trade and economic issues, as well as security and counterterrorism cooperation.The president is traveling with nearly two dozen U.S. lawmakers, along with 200 U.S. investors attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha did not accompany the president. Top Stories Sponsored Stories center_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology “I don’t think that Kenyans think of Obama as African-American. They think of him as Kenyan-American,” said EJ Hogendoorn, deputy program director for Africa at the International Crisis Group.Obama’s link to Kenya is a father he barely knew, but whose influence can nonetheless be seen in his son’s presidency.Obama has spoken candidly about growing up without his Kenyan-born father and feeling “the weight of that absence.” A White House initiative to support young men of color who face similar circumstances has become a project dear to Obama, one he plans to continue after leaving the White House.In Africa, Obama has used his late father’s struggle to overcome government corruption as a way to push leaders to strengthen democracies. He’s expected to make good governance and democracy-building a centerpiece of his two days of meetings and speeches in Nairobi, as well as a stop next week in Ethiopia.“In my father’s life, it was partly tribalism and patronage and nepotism in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career,” Obama said during a 2009 trip to Ghana, his first visit to Africa as president. “We know that this kind of corruption is still a daily fact of life for far too many.” Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist 0 Comments   Share   last_img read more

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W Domestic visitors are still attracted to the harbour city of Sydney as new figures released show an eight per cent increase in September for tourists visiting the Australian city. “There are more visitors to Sydney who are spending more money, with an increase of nearly six per cent in domestic visitor nights and 6.5 per cent in expenditure for the year to September,” Minister for Tourism and Major Events, George Souris said.The latest National Visitor Survey shows visitors to Sydney alone have injected $4.9 billion into the NSW economy, a massive $301 million increase on September last year.Mr Souris said while it is encouraging to see regional NSW on the rise including the South Coast and the Snowy Mountains, Sydney is still the favourite destination for domestic visitors.Overall, 24 million visitors domestically to NSW spending $13 billion in 81 million night stays is 34.5 per cent of the total domestic travel over the year ending September 2011. “To see such strong results for our domestic market over the past year is heartening and is testament to the significant marketing push Destination NSW is leading in key markets,” Mr Souris said.A mix of domestic and international campaigns and promotions to attract visitors to the state, along with major events during the summer should ensure numbers remain high.last_img read more

first_imgA recent survey has revealed that baby boomers are spending more on luxury travel experiences than they did a decade ago.According to the survey conducted by Peregrine Reserve, 67 percent of Peregrine’s customers aged 50 years or above have disposable incomes and are seeking an adventure holiday.Some interesting statistics reveal customer travelling and spending patterns have changed along with their destination choices.Over the past four years consumer confidence in spending on luxury items during a holiday increased by 48 percent.Last year, 66 percent of customers spent A$10,000 on a standard trip compared to an average of A$5,500 ten years ago.In 2012, Latin America and Turkey are the top selling destinations compared to 10 years ago when the Himalayas made the top of the list.Additionally, tours which concentrate on the one destination in depth appear to be more popular than multi country tours.The new ‘Peregrine Reserve’ brand has been established to handle increased demand for creative holidays in Australia. Baby Boomers are spending more on luxury travel Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

first_imgThe new Qantas and Emirates extensive aviation partnership announced yesterday will see “greater opportunities” for Australia’s inbound markets, according to tourism leaders.Qantas said commencing April 2013, the agreement would see the carrier move its flights to Europe from the Kangaroo Route with British Airways and onto the Falcon Route with Emirates. Still subject to regulatory approval, the Australian flag carrier explained the agreement would give its customers the option to fly one of 98 weekly flights between Australia and Dubai as well as access to up to 70 Emirates destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.The increase in air access announced by the carrier is “critical” to increasing Australia’s tourism numbers, according to Tourism, Transport and Forum (TTF) chief executive John Lee, and will likely improve travel times for travellers coming to Australia from Europe. Mr Lee added that the new partnership would also strengthen both carriers to host an “unrivalled global network” which will provide new opportunities to the Australian tourism industry. “It [the partnership] will allow both carriers to focus on the future and ensuring they can grow sustainably in the years ahead,” he said. Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy concurred, adding that that while the agreement had “potential” to increase international visitor numbers, its success “would need to be judged fully over time”.He explained that although Qantas should “do whatever” to survive, the loss of flights between Singapore and Frankfurt would “be a loss” for Australia and its effect should not be underplayed. “Tourism Australia will work closely with the industry including those carriers that continue to serve Western Europe to ensure we best manage this change,” Mr McEvoy said. “We’re pleased to hear that no other Qantas international services have been cut and that there is a commitment over the medium term to open new routes – including Trans Tasman and into Asia, the fastest growing tourism region to this country.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

first_imgThe sales and marketing team from Hilton Hawaii came out to Australia this week for a sales and media blitz at Zeta Bar at Hilton Sydney.Cynthia Rankin and Valerie Okamoto-Moad, Hilton Hawaii, Sandy Narvaez, Hilton Waikiki Beach, and Maria Alaveras, Embassy Suites, were joined by their friends at Hawaiian Tourism Oceania and Hawaiian Airlines to take selected guests through a Hilton Hawaii product update.“It is important for us to come out to see our Australian friends and further develop our Hilton Hawaii relationship with our supporters Down Under,” Hilton Hawaii regional director of corporate communications Cynthia Rankin said.“There is very strong brand awareness for Hawaii in the Australian market and we are thrilled to be welcoming more and more Australian guests at our properties.”Guests were treated to an island-inspired menu created by Chef James Aptakin from Hilton Waikiki Beach and dancing by HulaNesian Dance.Source = Hilton Hawaii Cynthia Rankin (Hilton Hawaii), Janaya Birse (Hawaiian Tourism), Valerie Okamoto-Moad (Hilton Hawaii), Chef James Aptakin (Hilton Waikiki Beach), Sandy Narvaez (Hilton Waikiki Beach), Maria Alaveras (Embassy Suites)last_img read more

first_imgIn response to the growing demand for cruises in the Australian and New Zealand market, Webjet has officially launched its cruise product on its Australian and New Zealand websites.Australia and New Zealand’s largest online travel agency will be offering over 4,000 cruises on renowned cruise lines including Princess Cruises, P&O, Royal Caribbean and Carnival.The content is sourced from Cruise Republic with a dedicated team of cruise specialists will be available seven days a week to assist with customer inquiries.“There is a growing demand for cruises in the Australian and New Zealand market and we’re delighted to offer customers such an extensive range of cruise options that can be seamlessly booked online,” Webjet managing director, John Guscic.The Australian cruise industry is ranked number one in the world for market growth and penetration, with latest industry figures revealing a record 833,348 Australians taking a cruise in 2013.New Zealand has experienced similar growth, with passenger numbers increasing by 23 percent in 2013 compared to passenger numbers in 2012.Source = ETB News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

first_imgATEC today announced three new corporate partnership agreements across a range of industry stakeholders including the accommodation and horse racing segments and an Inbound Tour Operators (ITO). The new partnerships are with AOT Group – one of Australia’s biggest ITO’s, TFE Hotels – an Australian hotel brand extending into Asia, and the Australian Turf Club (ATC).ATEC managing director, Peter Shelley said the ATEC team is pleased to have signed these new agreements.“We are very pleased to have signed three new tourism businesses to ATEC’s Corporate Partnership program, representing the breadth and strength of our industry,” Mr Shelley said.“The ATC has recognised the value of the international visitor market showing just how widely the reach of the export tourism industry now extends,” he added.Mr Shelley said over the past 12 months, ATEC had undergone a wholesale strategic review and repositioned itself as a more industry focused organisation working to build business capacity for the sector.All of the new parties that have signed new agreements have said they are excited to work with ATEC to build a positive future for Australia.ATC general manager of commercial and sales Tony Partridge, said horse racing carnivals were a major drawcard for visitors to Sydney and Australia.“We are delighted to become a corporate partner with a prestigious body such as ATEC, recognised as the peak tourism organisation in the country,” Mr Partridge said.The AOT Group’s chief executive officer, Andrew Burnes, said his business was highly supportive of the leadership role ATEC plays for the tourism industry.“With the growing recognition of tourism exports by all Governments, the role of ATEC as the voice of tourism exports to government is even more important moving forward,” Mr Burnes said. TFE Hotels group director of marketing Emma Fraser said the business was committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of inbound tourism in Australia.“At TFE Hotels, our guests are at the heart of everything we do and we understand the importance of working alongside partners to make sure our guests, from across the international marketplace, are warmly welcomed and well looked after,” Ms Fraser said. Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

first_imgJW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa celebrates with grand openingJW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, the distinctive and sophisticated brand of Marriott International, hosted a spectacular two day event to mark the official grand opening of the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, the first JW Marriott resort in Europe.The celebrations saw 300 guests including local Venetians, influencers and media immersed in the treasured traditions of some of Venice’s most famous islands while exploring Isola delle Rose (Rose Island), the private island in the Venetian lagoon that the new resort calls home.Guests were invited to savour fragrant cocktails from Isola delle Rose; hand pick culinary treats from Sant’erasmo, the lagoon’s famed vegetable island; learn about the delicate art of Burano lacemaking and admire the colours of the world famous glass from Murano.With music curated by renowned DJ, Rob da Bank, and a deconstructed orchestra featuring the premiere violinist Lizzie Ball and the Classical Kicks, the Gala event not only enticed all the senses but brought the traditions of Venice to life.Each immersive and culinary experience told the stories of the Venetian lagoon whilst showcasing the 40 acre island, which includes beautifully landscaped gardens and olive groves as well as four restaurants, five bars, a cooking school and wine academy, a rooftop pool overlooking St Mark’s Square, a restored 19th century church and the largest spa in Venice. Stay at the hotelSource = JW Marriottlast_img read more

first_imgSource = Emirates Emirates Flight Training Academy partners with BoeingEmirates Flight Training Academy partners with BoeingEmirates Flight Training Academy, the new world class flight training facility developed by Emirates airline to respond to the industry’s growing need for pilots, has signed an agreement with Boeing under which both organisations will collaborate on a comprehensive training curriculum and software infrastructure to support Academy operations.Emirates Flight Training Academy, currently under construction at Al Maktoum International Airport- Dubai World Central (DWC) and scheduled to open in October 2016, will combine best practices in education with state of the art learning technologies and cutting edge training aircraft.Under the agreement with Boeing, Emirates Flight Training Academy will receive an integrated software system, based on the Peters Software system acquired by Boeing, for managing cadet learning and training flight operations, and an enhanced curriculum customised for Emirates. Cadets will learn with highly interactive digital content delivered in purpose-designed classrooms and on personal tablets.“Our programme is designed to produce career-ready pilots. Exceeding regulatory requirements, the curriculum will, for instance, see cadets complete at least 1,100 hours of ground and 315 hours of flight training using a competency-focused approach. We are leveraging Boeing’s expertise in airline pilot training to identify opportunities to enhance the Academy’s curriculum,” said Captain Alan Stealey, Principal, Emirates Flight Training Academy.Emirates designed the Academy to promote advancements in four key areas of pilot training: interactive learning for theoretical subjects in classrooms, practical learning in the most capable training aircraft, practical learning in advanced flight simulators, and airline-focused line-oriented flight training. When fully operational, the Academy will be able to accommodate over 600 students at a time.Emirates recently placed an order for 27 aircraft allowing ab-initio pilots to receive 100% of their training in the UAE at the most advanced pilot academy in the world with a purpose-built learning environment for developing professional pilots. Ab-initio pilots in the airline’s long-running Emirates National Cadet Programme currently complete their training at a variety of overseas locations. When the Academy opens its doors later in the year, all aspects of pilot training for the airline will be established in Dubai.Emirates Flight Training Academy will initially focus on cadets in Emirates’ existing prestigious National Cadet Pilot Training Programme for UAE nationals. However, the Academy intends to welcome international cadet pilots in the near future. Emirateslast_img read more