Gay hotspot Gran Canaria leaves unsuspecting tourist feeling uncomfortable

first_img Posted by Michael Smith Gay hotspot Gran Canaria leaves unsuspecting tourist feeling “uncomfortable” Share Friday, September 23, 2016 center_img GRAN CANARIA, CANARY ISLANDS — Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands is considered one of the most gay-friendly places in the world, but it seems that one recent visitor failed to read the memo.According to the Gay Times, a traveller known as ‘MooSmith21’ posted a review on TripAdvisor to alert others of the destination’s plethora of gay-friendly attractions.The review states: “I’m not homophobic however there was a definite feeling of them and us and the gay couple[s] outnumbered the straight couples by two to one at least. Because of this we never spent too much time at the hotel or relaxing around the pool as I felt very uncomfortable.”The reviewer also wrote about how a fellow guest, who he hadn’t spoken to, sent him a drink to his room. He commented that it was “a bit perverted.”Trip advisor review from someone who apparently isn’t homophobic about the hotel Neil and I are staying at Gran Canaria— Lee (@LeeJnes) September 20, 2016Despite his discomfort, the reviewer still gave the hotel four stars out of five, with the food being the highlight. The location of the hotel was also applauded, however the surrounding “gay bars, gay hotels, [and] gay wrestling shows” left him feeling uncomfortable.More news:  Can you guess the one and only hotel company to rank on Indeed’s Top Workplaces in Canada list?The review ended with: “All in all a great trip but I wouldn’t stay in that resort again if returning.”Clearly, MooSmith21 didn’t use a travel agent. << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: LGBT Travel, LOL, Spainlast_img read more

83 of agents say clients are investing more dollars in their cruise

first_img Travelweek Group WASHINGTON — Low water levels on Europe’s rivers made 2018 a challenging year for river cruising but that hasn’t stopped this one-time cruise niche, and now a cruise industry phenomenon, from posting double-digit growth.River cruises in Europe have seen a 53% year-over-year growth to eastern waterways (Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Elbe) and a 30% growth to western channels (Soane, Seine, Loire) as well as a 24% growth to the south (Douro, Rhone, Dordogne, Garonne, Po), according to CLIA’s 2019 Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report.River cruises remain one of the top trends in the cruise industry, says CLIA. And close to four out of five travel agents (79%) say a river cruise is a good way to introduce ‘new to cruise’ travellers to cruising. Agents surveyed in CLIA’s report also say river cruises are ideal for clients looking for new or different experiences, smaller ships, destination immersion and a relaxed way to see Europe.“The results of last quarter’s survey were no surprise,” says Rob Huffman, Vice President Sales, USA, Scenic Group. “We’ve seen tremendous growth for both of our river cruise brands – Scenic and Emerald Waterways – on the traditional European routes like the Danube, as well as on newer routes like the Douro.”More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Here are some of the CLIA report’s top findings:Cruise bookings, spending upFour out of five travel agents (84%) say bookings are up when compared to last year. Additionally, 83% reported spending is up, as well. More than a quarter of agents (28%) reported clients are spending greater than 10% more than one year agoAlaska still strongAlaska has been consistently the top growth destination for the last three years of the report. More than two-thirds of travel agents (67%) reported seeing increased interest in the Northern-most U.S. state. Alaska has gained an even wider margin than in the past.Destination interest up double digitsSome cruise destinations have seen a double-digit spike in interest from just a year ago. In Mediterranean Europe increased interest has jumped from 25 percent to 42% (up 17%) over the past year. South America has seen growth in interest from just 9% last year to 20%.Travel Agent Knowledge and AdvocacyMore news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTOverwhelmingly, travel agents stated the most beneficial attribute for travel clients is the ability to providing valuable experience and product knowledge (86%). Agents also reported another travel agent benefit is the ability to leverage relationships and expertise if something goes wrong (81%).For the full report see: 83% of agents say clients are investing more dollars in their cruise vacation Share Wednesday, January 23, 2019 center_img Tags: CLIA, Statistics Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Hurricane Sandy to mantain intense rains until Friday

first_imgNo related posts. The influence of Hurricane Sandy in Costa Rica is now visible: Torrential rains from Tuesday night and the early hours of Wednesday caused landslides and a partial collapse of the Inter-American Highway in the southern region.According to the National Meteorological Institute (IMN), cumulative rainfall is up to 140 mm, which is five times more than that reported on a typical day of the rainy season.Sandy evolved into a hurricane on Wednesday and is heading towards Jamaica at a speed of 22 kilometers per hour.Damage and debris on the Inter-American Highway forced the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) to restrict traffic at two points on the route.“Heavy rains make it impossible to begin repairs to the collapsed area, and we’re still evaluating what work is needed and the time it will take to complete,” MOPT officials said in a press release.As an alternate route to get to the southern region, MOPT recommends Route 34, the Costanera Sur.IMN experts predict that intense rains will affect the country through Friday, and they have issued a preventive alert for residents on the Pacific coast and in the Central Valley. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rican Coast Guard nabs fishing boat with 900 kilos of cocaine

first_imgNo related posts. Officers from the Costa Rican Coast Guard on Sunday seized 963 kilograms of cocaine from a fishing boat near the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, in the Pacific Ocean.Public Security Minister Mario Zamora on Monday said the seizure was part of a joint patrol with the U.S. Coast Guard.Zamora said at a press conference that the crew of three Costa Ricans and one Nicaraguan was arrested and sent to Ecuador for booking.Public Security Ministry officials have requested that Ecuador send the three Costa Rican nationals here to be tried in Costa Rica.The minister said officials also are performing background checks on the detainees to verify if they have criminal records.Last November, agents from Costa Rica’s Drug Control Police captured the same fishing vessel, named “Capitán Pearson,” with 1,081 kilograms of cocaine on board, Zamora said.At the time, four people were arrested after transferring the drug shipment from an Ecuadorian boat. However, a judge ordered the boat returned to its owners pending trial in that case. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Club Rio maximizes family adventure time

first_imgThese have long existed in most major tourist destinations: There’s Midworld near Manuel Antonio, Monteverde Extremo in Monteverde and Buena Vista Lodge in Guanacaste. In Costa Rica’s adventure capital – the La Fortuna area – the country’s newest and most convenient multi-adventure outfit has been quietly amassing attractions for the past two years.That would be Club Rio, an extension of The Springs Resort and Spa, located about 9 kilometers west of La Fortuna. U.S. businessman Lee Banks bought the 59-hectare property about a decade ago. Although the opulent, five-level hotel has become a favorite with well-heeled North Americans, most don’t know the story behind it.“I actually bought the property because I love the area down by the river so much,” Banks said in a recent interview. “I knew that with an amenity package like the river, rainforest and pastures below, I could put together an outdoor center to rival any of the world’s great resorts.”Banks had a vision for a place that would provide numerous activities in just one spot, so tourists wouldn’t need to drive 30 minutes to horseback ride, 45 to river raft, 30 to rappel and 30 more for hot springs. “The idea is to keep families together when mom wants to just watch the father and kids come down the river,” he said. “She can still feel a part of the activity.”The 1.5-kilometer stretch of the Arenal River that runs across the resort is ideal, Banks said, because it’s scenic, private and close to the Arenal dam, which prevents flash floods and allows sediment to clear quickly after heavy rainfall.The class I and II rapids in the tranquil river also offer a perfect opportunity for white-water kayaking and tubing, the latter of which is Banks’ favorite Costa Rican adventure activity. Club Rio’s natural waterfall and hot springs.Lindsay Fendt A baby monkey in Club Rio’s rescue center.Lindsay Fendt After our wildlife tour, we headed for Rancho Club Rio and sat down to a lunch. The chicken casados were filling and flavorful, and my steak burrito was among the best I’ve had in the country.After lunch we had an hour or so of free time before our kayaking would start, and my mom said she wanted to return to the room to rest beforehand.Meanwhile, Lindsay, my dad and I soaked in the natural hot springs, admiring the nearby waterfall and watching other tubers and kayakers come in. We also met an oddball jaguarondi, crept into the enclosure of two sleeping sloths and snapped photos of a bunch of caged toucans, which had been quarantined for the day. The sanctuary was in many ways similar to that of its sister property, La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Varablanca, which Banks also owns. The La Paz sanctuary is larger and contains more animals, including a jaguar. But Banks also has plans to expand Club Rio’s wildlife offerings to include a frog habitat, an aviary, a serpentarium and a farmhouse petting zoo.Additionally, he plans to build a state-of-the-art ropes challenge course, which will begin from the rock wall. Like a ski mountain, the ropes course will include yellow, green, blue and black challenges, with black being expert. “[Ropes courses] are one of the fastest growing outdoor sports in the world,” Banks said. Having jogged along much of the river, Banks found this the most interesting and beautiful place. There were pools, hot water and rapids, but also the flat ground on the side of the river. “If someone gets scared, they can always exit the river on our side, no matter where they are,” he said.Surely this would be good news to my mom. Except that come 2 p.m., with our tour was about to start, she was nowhere to be found.It was only then that we realized our mistake. We had pressured her into signing up, and now she had chickened out. Rather than allow us to pressure her further, she snuck away. Now she wouldn’t even see us come down the river!So much for the grand plan to keep families together.What could we do though? We got on the bus. After a quick ride to the starting point and a lesson on how to move and stay safe, we set off down the river. The current was strong, the rocks were big and adrenaline was rushing through us. I think we all knew immediately that this was no activity for mom. Maybe next time we’ll just allow her to watch. Facebook Comments My parents watched as Lindsay and I geared up and easily mastered the beginner section of the wall, then they headed off on their hike. On the slightly harder routes, our guide offered important pointers, for instance, keeping our weight in our legs. When we reached the top of the four-story structure, we could see the river and beyond.Our guide then showed us to the back of the wall, which featured smaller holds that were farther apart. That thing was serious, but we both went for it. Only one of us made it to the top, but I won’t embarrass Lindsay by telling you who it was.Then the guide showed us the final side of the wall, with its tiny holds that could be grasped only with the tips of fingers and toes. Most people can’t even start that one, he told us.We were all ready to try when my parents returned and scooped us up for the wildlife sanctuary tour. Oh well.As a guide showed us around, he described the animals and their respective mental illnesses (which occurred as a result of the animals previously being kept as pets). Apparently, the ocelot is schizophrenic and the monkeys are bipolar. “Be careful with Mike Tyson,” the guide said of a white-faced monkey. “He loves iPhones.” An ocelot at Club Rio’s rescue center.Lindsay Fendtcenter_img Club Rio has the self-proclaimed largest artificial rock wall in Costa Rica (we don’t know of a bigger one). They have traditional artificial grip walls along with walls that imitate real rock faces.Lindsay Fendt Over the last two decades, Costa Rica has developed a reputation for its ample array of outdoor adventures. Canopy tours, horseback riding, rafting, rappelling and ATV rides all top the checklists tourists arrive brandishing. Knocking off all those items usually requires hours in transit, not to mention lost time with cowardly companions. But it doesn’t have to be that way.To accommodate families and groups who’d like to spend the majority of their time together and doing fun things rather than driving all over the place, there is the multi-adventure center. To be clear, I define a multi-adventure center as a place with two or more activities in which my timid mother would refuse to participate. Whitewater river tubing and kayaking are both available at Club RíoLindsay Fendt A Toucan at Club Rio’s rescue center.Lindsay Fendt No related posts. “Everyone is smiling as they come down the rapids,” he said. “With this tour, you have adventure and fun in the right mix.”In addition to the river activities, Club Rio has horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing and rappelling, nature hikes, hot springs bathing, and a wildlife experience at the club’s wild cat and wildlife sanctuary, which houses pumas, ocelots, monkeys, sloths, toucans and more.When my parents came for a visit, I jumped on the opportunity to do everything together in one place, securing us all multi-adventure packages, These included two adventure activities of our choice, lunch, hiking, pools and a tour of the wildlife sanctuary ($99 for adults, $75 for kids under 12). Somehow, I managed to talk our whole group – including my terrified mother – into signing up for kayaking.First she and my dad would be partaking in the guided nature tour while Tico Times photographer Lindsay Fendt and I climbed and rappelled the largest artificial rock wall in the country.We caught the 8:15 a.m. bus from The Springs down to Club Rio, and the short but steep ride was a small adventure of its own. Out the window, wild turkeys perched in the trees, and twisting foliage gave way to cleared horse pastures, with the majestic volcano rising above it all. Soon a few structures materialized at the end of the road.The club is composed of a reception area, the Rancho Club Rio bar and restaurant, a massive rock wall, the sanctuary and a grassy knoll overlooking the pools, a waterfall and the final part of the river, where kayakers and tubers finish their ride. All of it sits in a compact area, allowing families to hang together even if they select different activities.last_img read more

Costa Rican surfer disappears off Pacific coast

first_imgThe Red Cross is also collaborating with area lifeguards and pedestrians on the beach to find any traces of González. Despite contradictory media reports in the Spanish-language press, Jiménez said that Red Cross authorities did not locate González’s surfboard.Many of Costa Rica’s beaches are often without lifeguard supervision and the country has seen up to 60 annual drowning deaths since 2000. Facebook Comments A 22-year-old surfer named Ricardo Andrés González has been missing off the coast of Caldera on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast since Friday afternoon, authorities say. Costa Rican Red Cross spokesman Gerald Jiménez told The Tico Times that authorities have been scanning the waters from 7 a.m. until sunset each day, looking for the lost surfer who is originally from San Antonio de Belén in Heredia.Jiménez said Monday that a group of 10 Red Cross officials are working the long hours each day to locate any sign of González near the Puntarenas beach popular with locals who make the short trip from the Central Valley.“We’re continuing to search,” Jiménez said. “But because there is currently a high swell of waves off the coast, it has complicated search efforts.” Related posts:Update: Missing US tourist found dead in Costa Rica UPDATE: Red Cross locates US cyclist who went missing during Costa Rica’s Ruta de los Conquistadores Body of missing surfer found off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast Canadian man drowns off coast of Costa Rica’s Playa Hermosalast_img read more

Costa Rica judge detained for child pornography

first_imgA civil judge in Heredia was detained Thursday under suspicion of possessing and producing pornography, according to the prosecutor’s office in Heredia. The judge, surnamed Hilge, is accused of filming in the women’s bathroom of a judicial building.Raids on the judge’s house, car and office yielded “compact discs containing child pornography” and video cameras, among other evidence.Prosecutors opened an investigation into the judge’s alleged illegal activities last Tuesday after an employee of the justice tribunals in Heredia found a hidden camera in the women’s bathroom.“The initial investigation links Hilge to the crime,” the prosecutor’s office informed.The office is analyzing whether to seek preventive measures against the judge, who could face up to eight years in prison if found guilty. Facebook Comments Related posts:Love triangle turned deadly in case of slain US-Costa Rica family Costa Rica man arrested with 400 cloned US credit cards U.S. Embassy in San José donates police van Costa Ricans report increasing safety concerns; 2016 is set to become most violent year on recordlast_img read more

On patrol with the Costa Rican Border Police

first_imgRÍO CLARO, Puntarenas — It’s 7 a.m. at the Kilometer 35 border checkpoint and members of a Border Police squad stand in a line in brown uniforms as their commander reviews the day’s assignments. Adrian Barrantes and three other officers are to spend the morning on patrol.After migrants from Africa, Cuba and elsewhere began accumulating at the southern border in March, the government announced several policies aimed at reinforcing the country’s border with Panama to keep out individuals who lack authorization to enter the country.More than two months later, migrants — many of them without identification, let alone visas — continue to cross the border and reach the temporary Red Cross camp in Paso Canoas. As many as 170 migrants have arrived at the camp in a given day, according to Red Cross Captain José Obando.The Tico Times recently accompanied Border Police on a patrol to try to understand what it’s like to police Costa Rica’s borders and why the country can’t seem to keep unauthorized migrants out. During the approximately 160-kilometer patrol from Kilometer 35 to Gamba, Golfito, Playa Zancudo, Paso Canoas and back, it became clear Barrantes and other officers face big hurdles, including resources spread thin and a border that is so porous it’s practically invisible.Plus, despite increased funding and training from outside to beef up the country’s border security, Costa Rica hasn’t traditionally had much need for an airtight southern border.Stopping human smugglers from moving migrants into Costa Rica is just one of many tasks assigned to Officer Barrantes and the other Border Police officers. Formed in 2013 with financial assistance and training from the U.S., Border Police officers respond to everything from illegal immigration and drug trafficking to animal control and traffic violations.They are law enforcement’s first response in some of Costa Rica’s most remote territory. Border Police examine livestock at a checkpoint near Costa Rica’s southern border. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesShifting PrioritiesThe squad gets into a white Toyota Land Cruiser and sets off. The Offspring’s “The Kids Aren’t Alright” plays on the radio. The truck turns off the Inter-American Highway down a stretch of gravel road into the Gamba, a remote area just north of the Pacific town of Golfito. Row after row of oil palms stretch along either side of the road.Barrantes stops the car at an intersection and sets up the first of several temporary checkpoints that day. This is one of many backroads smugglers and other people trying to avoid police use to skirt the permanent checkpoint at Kilometer 35 of the Pan-American Highway.“We know where the trouble spots are,” Barrantes says. “The idea is to try to have a constant presence in these areas,” he says of the roving patrols.As three of the officers search a truck carrying two cows, Barrantes points out that the palm oil plantation here is one of several thoroughfares smugglers used to sneak Cuban migrants into Costa Rica in November before the government started issuing temporary transit visas to Cubans. African and other extra-continental migrants have also used it but not as frequently, he said.Barrantes said he used to spend most of his time chasing down smugglers of contraband liquor and cigarettes. But within the past year, the Border Police have put more of an emphasis on stopping human smuggling.Ironically, he said the number of migrants crossing through the oil palm plantations and other remote parts of the country has fallen, in part because the Panamanians have started policing their side of the border more aggressively.Barrantes’ job has also been made easier by the Costa Rican government’s decision to tacitly let most of the migrants who make it onto Costa Rican soil pass through the country.In April, hundreds of migrants were left in limbo at the border when Panama and Costa Rica both refused to accept them. Demanding permission to cross, migrants blocked the Inter-American Highway and at least one car was damaged in the protest.Border Police were called in to help the National Police manage the crowds of migrants, and they increased patrols to try to stop smugglers.Eventually, Costa Rica agreed to issue the migrants who reached Costa Rica a piece of paper that allows them to circulate legally in Costa Rica so long as they check-in with authorities regularly. Normalizing these migrants freed up Border Police officers to get back to their other duties. Border Police man a checkpoint near Costa Rica’s southern border. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesPura Vida PoliceAfter 20 minutes at the intersection in the Gamba, the officers collect the traffic cones and throw them on top of the Land Cruiser. Barrantes follows the bumpy, sometimes washed-out dirt road toward Golfito for another 10 minutes before pulling off the road at what looks like an improvised trash dump. The officers get out and walk through the trash into a clearing just behind a row of trees.“Sometimes people do drugs back here,” Barrantes explains. He says Border Police reserve their jurisdiction for places outside the bounds of a local police delegation, in this case, Golfito.The azure waters of the Golfo Dulce rush past the truck’s windows. The road is paved here and Barrantes hits the gas. There’s still more than half the patrol to finish and it’s already 9 a.m.Out toward Playa Zancudo, the paved road shifts back to gravel. The officers set up the next mobile checkpoint at an intersection next to a wide, empty field. The first person stopped is a woman riding a motorcycle without a helmet. She says she’s driving to pick up her daughter.Barrantes says that he has to use “common sense” when dealing with situations like this. Yes, she’s not supposed to ride without a helmet but a ticket or taking away the motorcycle isn’t the answer. This could be her family’s only means of transportation, he says. Leaving her without a way to get around out here isn’t solving anything.He admits that the Border Police sometimes struggle when it comes to strict enforcement of the laws. Although the U.S. funded the Kilometer 35 checkpoint and has helped train Border Police, Costa Rica sets its own enforcement priorities.“The U.S. trainers have the hardest time reminding Costa Rican trainees to stay alert,” Barrantes said. “It’s a cultural thing. We’re more willing to let something go.”Another motorcycle approaches but makes a sudden u-turn when the driver sees the checkpoint. The officers don’t pursue it. A Costa Rican Border Police agent stands near a concrete pylon that marks the border with Panama. Police say people will often uproot and move the pylons for illegal construction projects. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesThe Invisible Border“If you look right here, that’s all Panama,” Barrantes says as the truck snakes north up another gravel road toward Paso Canoas. There is no sign announcing the frontier. The road itself is the closest thing to a marker between the green field in Panama and the Costa Rica side.The peaceful relationship between Costa Rica and Panama actually contributes to the illegal flow of immigrants and contraband, Barrantes says. The countries enjoy good relations, making a heavily-patrolled border seem unnecessary and counterproductive to trade and tourism.In the town of Paso Canoas, you can walk into a store on the Costa Rican side and walk out on the Panamanian side. Vehicles with Panamanian license plates can drive as far as Ciudad Neily without checking in with Costa Rican authorities. The flow of people is so uninterrupted it appears at first glance to be a waste of money to pay a smuggler.Barrantes drives along a stretch of road outside Paso Canoas and points out a crooked concrete pylon that’s supposed to mark the border.“When people want to build something they’ll just move the pylon,” Barrantes says, standing in front of a cinderblock building that is mostly in Panama but likely crossing into Costa Rica.The same, however, can’t be said for the Nicaraguan border. Barrantes, who is from the northwestern province of Guanacaste and is regularly called to patrol Costa Rica’s northern border, said the mood along Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua is more tense.Across from Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica’s busiest northern border town, the Nicaraguan military patrols. The government there has continued its policy from last November of refusing entry or passage to all migrants without visas.“When Nicaragua closed its border, that’s when the problems started,” Barrantes says. The crackdown has created high demand for human smugglers.The Public Security Ministry issued a news release on June 17 reporting that a Costa Rican smuggler was arrested trying to secret four African migrants across the border into Nicaragua. The smuggler reportedly charged $750 to get the group across, according to the daily La Nación.Some African and Haitian migrants who have reached Mexico’s border with the U.S. have told local reporters that getting through Nicaragua was among the toughest parts of their journey.Heading back to the Kilometer 35 checkpoint, Barrantes reflects on the scope of the Border Police’s job.“People have the idea that we’re here to forcibly close the border,” he says. “It’s just not possible.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Central America arrests break up major human trafficking ring, police say Cuban migrants storm Costa Rica-Panama border demanding to pass African migrants on honor system as Costa Rican officials search for solutions Migrants flowing through is likely Costa Rica’s new normal, minister sayslast_img read more

Costa Rican Foreign Minister leaves Israel just as Trump arrives

first_imgTEL AVIV — Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González Sanz visited Israel for the first time last week, spending three days in the Jewish state in a bid to cement already strong bilateral relations and boost fledgling Israeli-Costa Rican business ties.The visit comes at a critical time for the Middle East in general, and for Israel in particular.For many years, Costa Rica was one of only a handful of nations that recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In 2006, then-President Oscar Arias relocated the mission to Tel Aviv, the country’s financial center and biggest metropolitan area, in a bid to win trust — and business — in the Arab world. That forced El Salvador, the only other country that still had an embassy in Jerusalem, to pull out, too.González’s departure coincides with the arrival in Israel of U.S. President Donald Trump, who enticed Jewish voters during the 2016 election campaign by promising, among other things, to transfer the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.“Obviously it’s a complete coincidence,” González told The Tico Times during a press conference at Tel Aviv’s elegant Norman Hotel. “Where we have the embassy in Israel was a matter of discussion for a long time. All the pros and cons were considered. President Arias decided to follow the path of most countries and move it to Tel Aviv, and I don’t think that has necessarily changed our relationship. It has worked out very well since then. There are many deeper aspects to it than where to locate the embassy.”González added: “The reality is that this decision was taken by another administration, but our relationship with Israel is just as deep and profound as when the embassy was in Jerusalem.”That didn’t stop Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s right-wing deputy minister of foreign affairs, from urging Costa Rica to move its mission back to Jerusalem in a public speech welcoming González to Israel.Her appeal — which is unlikely to be heeded, considering that even Trump is now backtracking on his widely hyped vow to move the U.S. Embassy — came during a reception organized by Esteban Penrod, Costa Rica’s ambassador in Tel Aviv, that attracted 160 dignitaries, local journalists and expatriate ticos living in Israel.Among the guests in attendance were Yoed Magen, director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Central America, Mexico and Caribbean department; Ariel Goldgewicht, the Costa Rica-born director of the Jewish National Fund’s Latin American division; and Dyana Cordero, director of Costa Rica’s trade office here.In 2015, said Cordero, bilateral trade reached $45 million. Of that, $36.7 million comprised Israeli exports to Costa Rica (mainly plastics, herbicides and pesticides), and $8.2 million represented Costa Rican exports to Israel, mainly coffee and pineapple juice concentrate.That’s still a far cry from the $230 million in annual trade in years past, when Intel had a factory in Costa Rica and the company — which also has R&D facilities in Israel — virtually dominated trade between the two countries.Next month, Pedro Beirute Prada, the CEO of Procomer, Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Promotion Agency, will come here to sign a memo of understanding regarding services, according to Cordero, who founded the Costa Rican-Israeli Chamber of Commerce in 2015 and lives in Tel Aviv.In his remarks to journalists, González explained the timing of his visit, which also included a side trip to Bethlehem— a city that falls under Palestinian jurisdiction — as well as neighboring Jordan. A scheduled visit to Ramallah, capital of the Palestinian Authority, was cancelled at the last minute for security reasons.“This is a visit that I probably should have done before, but the conditions were not there,” he said. “Planning a trip like this takes a lot of time and preparation. It’s not something you improvise from one day to the next. My agenda is busy, and we were also waiting for the new ambassador to take office, so the conditions are right now.”He added: “Israel is a very close friend of ours, but next May, the government will change, and we don’t know if the next administration will have a visit like this.”During his visit, González met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuvin Rivlin, as well as Michael Oren, the country’s deputy foreign minister for diplomacy and former ambassador to the United States.He also toured the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, as well as the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. In the port city of Jaffa south of Tel Aviv, González stopped by the Peres Center for Peace, a nonprofit organization founded by the late Israeli prime minister, Shimon Peres, that encourages dialogue between Arabs and Jews.Asked by a local journalist how he felt about coming to a country as heavily militarized as Israel, González noted that 1948 — the year the State of Israel was established — was also the year that Costa Rica, under President José Figueres Ferrer, famously disbanded its army.“Costa Ricans feel very comfortable living in a country that took this very difficult decision 69 years ago to abolish its armed forces and dedicate those resources to human development, principally education and health. It’s an investment that has given us important dividends,” said the foreign minister. “We also understand that for countries in difficult situations, it could be much more complicated. But in 1948, when we made this decision, most countries in Latin America were under dictatorship or civil war.”Magen noted proudly that Costa Rica was “among the nations that helped Israel even before the creation of Israel, back in 1947, when it appointed a special ambassador to visit different Latin American capitals and convince those countries to support the partition of Palestine.” A year later, this led to Israel’s establishment.“Ever since, we’ve had excellent relations with all Costa Rican governments,” said Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to both Panama and Colombia. “The fact that Costa Rica decided in 1982 to turn down the UN’s recommendation and not move its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv meant a lot to Israel.”He added that even though Costa Rica eventually fell in line and transferred its embassy out of Israel’s capital, “it’s been 10 years already, and we’ve moved on. We’ve tried to fill these relations with content, especially cooperation in the fields of health, education and agriculture. We still have many friends in Costa Rica, and the Jewish community there is pretty influential. Many Israelis visit Costa Rica every year, and some Israeli entrepreneurs have initiated projects in Costa Rica, mainly in tourism.”Penrod, who took over as Costa Rica’s ambassador here four years ago from now-retired veteran diplomat Rodrigo X. Carreras, said Israel seeks Costa Rica’s help in fighting what it views as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.Israel also quietly trying to restore relations with countries that severed ties with the Jewish state in recent years — a list that includes Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela. In late March, Israel restored ties with Nicaragua after a seven-year break; an unidentified Central American country reportedly acted as a go-between in getting the Sandinista government to reconsider its previously hostile stance toward Israel.While the Netanyahu government is unlikely to convince the Solís administration to return its embassy to Jerusalem, González said Costa Rica will continue to have Israel’s back at the UN with regard to any future Middle East peace initiative.“With Israel, we share the values of democracy, and the defense of liberty and fundamental rights,” he said. “We cannot have close relations with countries that don’t share our values.”Tel Aviv-based journalist Larry Luxner is a longtime correspondent for The Tico Times. Facebook Comments Related posts:Bernie Sanders’ CAFTA reversal pledge worries Costa Rica businesses African, Cuban migrant children in limbo at Panama-Costa Rica border Scoring the World Surfing Games: A guide U.S. Ambassador Haney to continue in his postlast_img read more

10000 diamonds on display at Buckingham Palace

first_img The vital role family plays in society Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Top Stories LONDON (AP) – A new exhibition at Buckingham Palace shows that diamonds are a queen’s best friend.More than 10,000 of the gems are going on display in a celebration of jewelry owned by British monarchs over three centuries.The exhibition includes a coronation necklace and other gems worn by Queen Elizabeth II as well as items from the royal collection, including the miniature crown adorned with 1,187 diamonds worn by Queen Victoria for her 1897 Diamond Jubilee. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates How do cataracts affect your vision? More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Curator Caroline de Guitaut said Friday that the jewels “show us how monarchs have deployed diamonds to give an aura of magnificence” and underscore Britain’s wealth and power.The display runs Saturday to July 8 and July 31 to Oct. 7 as part of Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the queen’s 60 years on the throne.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familylast_img read more

Report Afghan militants have mafialike financing

first_img 0 Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches 5 ways to recognize low testosterone The report suggested that targeting the group’s financial infrastructure could be a key way to hamper the network.“In partnership with the ongoing tactical campaign, a stepped-up U.S. effort to identify and disrupt Haqqani business activities and logistical supply lines, modeled on previous successful campaigns against other transnational crime networks around the globe, could significantly degrade the network’s capacity to cause trouble,” said the report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The diplomat nominated to be Washington’s next ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, said during a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that getting Islamabad to crack down on the Haqqani network would be his “most urgent” responsibility.The group’s founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani, began developing his financial support network in earnest decades ago following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. During the decade-long war, he was largely reliant on money, weapons and supplies provided by Pakistani intelligence, which received billions of dollars from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.Foreign assistance dropped sharply after the Soviets withdrew in 1989, prompting Haqqani to search for new sources of funding, including Arab donors in the Gulf and proceeds from protecting drug traffickers and extorting businessmen in eastern Afghanistan and areas across the border in Pakistan, said the think tank report.Haqqani’s ability to earn money from drug trafficking and other smuggling activities increased after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in 1996 and named him minister of tribal and border affairs.Following the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and relocation to Pakistan, the group continued its outreach to Arab donors, with senior leaders making regular trips to the Gulf, and deepened involvement in illegal activities by broadening the types of businesses it extorted and kidnapping local businessmen and their relatives, said the report. Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family “Local sources … say it is virtually impossible to conduct business in Haqqani areas of operations unless the network approves and profits off that business in some way,” said the report.The most lucrative target for extortion is NATO and other foreign-funded construction projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the report. Although it is impossible to pinpoint a precise figure the group earns, multiple sources say extortion has become the network’s largest source of income. But this type of predation risks turning locals against the group.The network’s reliance on illicit sources of financing reportedly increased after Haqqani had a stroke in 2005 and handed over responsibility for day-to-day operations to his son, Sirajuddin. The son is credited by some analysts with expanding into the smuggling of minerals and timber, said the report. The group is also believed to be deeply involved into importing chemicals needed to process opium into heroin, it said.The Haqqani network also maintains a portfolio of legal business interests, although leaders appear to disguise their ownership through front men and companies, said the report. The group is believed to own real estate from Kabul to Dubai and to run transport and trucking firms, construction companies and import-export operations _ some of which appear to exist mainly to launder illicit profits. Top holiday drink recipes Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories “Life at war has become lucrative _ even if highly risky _ while an end to the fighting would almost certainly produce a decline in wealth and power,” said the report, which was released Tuesday and was based on archival records, documents captured in Afghanistan and interviews with Western, Afghan and Pakistani officials, as well as locals in areas where the Haqqani network operates.The U.S. has identified the Haqqani network, allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban, as one of its most potent enemies in Afghanistan, partly because of its record of carrying out high-profile attacks on the capital Kabul. The leaders of the group are based in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area, having fled there from their homeland in eastern Afghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.The U.S. has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan prevent Haqqani fighters from using North Waziristan as a base to attack troops in Afghanistan, but Islamabad has refused, saying it is stretched too thin fighting domestic militants. Most analysts believe Pakistan is reluctant to target a group with which it has strong historical ties and could be a useful ally in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw. Associated PressISLAMABAD (AP) – One of the deadliest militant groups in Afghanistan, the Haqqani network, has developed a sophisticated, “mafia”-style financing operation that relies on extortion, kidnapping, smuggling and ties to legitimate businesses, according to a new report by a U.S.-based think tank.The report by the Combating Terrorism Center in West Point, N.Y., suggests the system has become so lucrative that maintaining it could be as much of a goal for the group as driving foreign forces out of Afghanistan. That could complicate U.S. efforts to negotiate an end to the war since much of the network’s cash flow is dependent on instability and lawlessness bred by the conflict. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

Israel calls Iran the greatest nuclear threat

first_img Top Stories Iran also continues to enrich uranium, which can make both reactor fuel and the core of nuclear missiles, instead of accepting foreign offers of such fuel. That comes despite international sanctions against Iran and threats of attack from the Jewish state, which says it will not tolerate the existence of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Tehran has warned in turn that any Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities will be met with a crushing response.In Tehran, Iran’s IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told reporters that his country will “not suspend enrichment activities, even for a second.”The initiative to censure the Jewish state in a vote at the IAEA meeting comes from the 17 Arab members of the nuclear agency. But it is expected to be supported by Iran as well as most if not all the other Muslim countries, as well as others critical of Israel’s stance on Palestine, meaning it has a good chance of passing.The Arab and Israeli documents were submitted to a preparatory commission for the meeting. Arguing the Arab position, Jordanian Ambassador Makram Queisi says Israel is exposing the Middle East “to nuclear risks and threatening peace” by refusing to throw open its nuclear facilities to international purview. Associated PressVIENNA (AP) – Muslim nations and Israel are heading for a confrontation at a 154-nation nuclear meeting next month over an Arab initiative to criticize Israel’s secretive atomic program.Documents submitted for that gathering show that Arab nations are seeking Israel’s censure _ a move the Jewish state says is a sideshow that deflects attention from the real danger to Mideast peace _ Iran. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Patients with chronic pain give advice Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Beyond his warning on Iran, Ehud Azoulay, Israel’s chief IAEA delegate, questions whether Arab nations have the moral right to point fingers. He says some have “a long, unflattering history of violating their international obligations and other norms of the international community” _ an apparent poke at Syria, itself suspected of hiding a nuclear program and the target of international condemnation for atrocities attributed to government troops fighting insurgents.Some 20,000 people have died since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule began in March 2011, according to human rights groups.At last year’s meeting, Arab states repeated their demands of Israel but did not push for a resolution targeting the Jewish state by name. The conference did pass a resolution calling on all Middle East states to adopt the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.___Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi contributed from Tehran, Iran___On line: Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix In asking September’s International Atomic Energy Agency meeting to reprimand Israel, Jordan says Israel is guilty of thwarting “all initiatives to free the region of the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, and in particular of nuclear weapons.”Israel, in turn, warns that the Arab initiative is “serving Iran’s attempt to divert the attention of the international community … (from) its quest for nuclear weapons.”Israel is widely assumed to be the only Mideast country with such arms. But it refuses to either confirm or deny its status, sticking to an official policy of ambiguity that, combined with the stalemate over Palestinian demands, feeds tensions in the region.Israel’s Arab neighbors have repeatedly demanded that it declare itself, join the Nonproliferation Treaty and open its nuclear activities to full inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency _ conditions Israel says it can consider only after peace rules in the Middle East. But Arab nations insist that peace can come only if Israel takes the steps it demands, leading to a standoff that has stretched over decades.Already high tensions over the issue have grown in recent years as Iran forges ahead with nuclear activities that Israel says are meant to allow it to make atomic arms, a suspicion shared by the United States and other Western nations. Iran denies any interest in such weapons but refuses to cooperate with an IAEA probe of Iran’s alleged secret work on nuclear weapons.last_img read more

French mosque smeared with excrement

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project PARIS (AP) – The outside of a mosque in a French city has been smeared with excrement, the latest in a series of vandalism incidents involving Muslim places of worship in the country.The Interior Ministry said Wednesday that police are seeking the culprit or culprits, adding in a statement that “to attack a religion is to attack the (French) Republic.”The Limoges mosque in central France was vandalized in July with Nazi symbols scrawled on its doors. In the latest incident, excrement was smeared on the doors and elsewhere before dawn. Sponsored Stories How do cataracts affect your vision? Four benefits of having a wireless security system Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img In August, two pigs heads were hung on two pillars outside a mosque in the southwestern town of Montauban.The French Council of the Muslim Faith asked the faithful for calm vigilance in the face of what it says is rising Islamophobia.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixlast_img read more

British lawmakers visit Iran ahead of talks

first_img 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober “Separately, visiting German lawmaker Andreas Schockenhoff, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, also met Iranian counterparts in TehranIt is the fourth time groups of European parliamentarians have visited since Iran’s new president, moderate Hassan Rouhani, took office in August. Rouhani has vowed a softer approach toward the West.The British Embassy in Tehran was closed in late 2011 after hardliners overran the building. Iran’s embassy was also closed in London but relations have improved in recent months.Both Britain and Germany and other members of the UN Security Council are at odds with Iran, and suspect the country seeks a nuclear bomb.Tehran denies charges it is seeking nuclear weapon, insisting its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.___John-Thor Dahlburg in Brussels contributed to this report.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – A British Parliament delegation arrived in Tehran on Tuesday on the first visit by U.K. lawmakers to Iran in years, as the two countries work to improve relations and ahead of continued talks on the country’s disputed nuclear program.The four-member delegation was headed by former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who last visited Iran in 2003 as Britain’s top diplomat, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported. Semi-official ISNA news agency reported that Straw told his Iranian counterparts he is “optimistic” that a November deal between Iran and world powers over the nuclear program will be realized. He also met Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.Last November, Iran agreed to cap its nuclear enrichment program in return to easing some sanctions by the West. Both sides have held three rounds of expert-level talks about how to implement the interim deal.European Union and Iranian officials will meet again this week to try to finalize details on the implementation.EU negotiator Helga Schmid will hold talks in Geneva with Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbasa Araghchi, an EU spokeswoman said Tuesday in Brussels.Negotiators last met Dec. 30. “Progress was made, but some issues remain to be resolved,” said EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic. “Contacts continue in order to finalize a common understanding of the implementation arrangement. The Schmid-Araghchi meeting in Geneva is part of these contacts.”In Tehran, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said: “We hope that a couple of remaining issues, not yet agreed upon during the expert level nuclear talks, could be finally resolved during the talks. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

Shining Path leader on trial in 1992 Peru bombing

first_imgGuzman’s lawyer, Alfredo Crespo, told The Associated Press that his client did not order the bombing, for which at least five people have been convicted.Guzman, who spoke only his name to the judge in court Monday, has no chance of going free, but Crespo said at least two of his co-defendants would have been released had new charges not been brought.Crespo said Guzman would be appearing in the same courtroom in the Callao military prison on charges in a separate case Friday stemming from rebels seizing an interprovincial bus in 1984 in Ayacucho state and killing 104 people.The Maoist-inspired Shining Path waged a bitter struggle that included urban terrorism and rural massacres. The 1980-2000 conflict clamed some 70,000 lives, most of them civilians.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top Stories Patients with chronic pain give advicecenter_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Men’s health affects baby’s health too Comments   Share   LIMA, Peru (AP) – The founder of Peru’s Shining Path rebels went on trial Monday for a 1992 car bombing considered one of the worst attacks of the conflict he unleashed.Abimael Guzman, whose appearance in court was his first time in the public eye in seven years, is already serving life without parole for a 2006 terrorism conviction for multiple crimes.Prosecutors put the 79-year-old Guzman and 10 other imprisoned Shining Path leaders on trial for allegedly ordering the Tarata Street bombing that killed 25 people and wounded 155. Guzman was captured nearly two months later.last_img read more

Fed sees moderate economic growth around country this spring

first_imgThe Fed report, known as the beige book, will be reviewed by officials at the Fed’s next meeting June 16-17 meeting. Economists expect the central bank to delay any rate hike until they see more signs of an economic rebound.Four districts — Boston, Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis — reported moderate growth in manufacturing, while some other districts said growth was basically flat during the survey period.The report found wide-ranging consequences from the fall in energy prices, with over half of the Fed’s 12 districts reporting a negative impact on companies that either operate in the energy sector or provide services to energy companies. Kansas City described a sharp fall in activity in energy producers Oklahoma and New Mexico, while the Dallas district said that oilfield machinery sales were down significantly from a year ago.The report noted that consumer spending rose in all districts except Richmond and New York. The drop in gas prices was spurring a shift from sales of cars to light trucks and SUVs. Tourism also picked up in a number of districts, lifting demand for summer hotel and resort bookings.The Fed report found that the rise in the value of the dollar wasn’t uniformly hurting demand for U.S. manufactured goods. The Philadelphia and Richmond districts reported stronger demand in the rubber and plastic industries. In San Francisco, biotech and pharmaceutical companies also saw growing demand. Comments   Share   But the report said that business contacts in the Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis and Dallas districts all reported a drag on either export sales or business investment plans from the stronger dollar, which makes U.S.-made products more expensive on foreign markets.Residential real estate and construction activity expanded in most districts. Employment was up except in the energy sector, with New York, Cleveland and Kansas City noting widespread shortages of truck drivers.Chicago and Minneapolis reported poultry flocks had been hit hard by avian flu. Minneapolis producers expect the outbreak to cost them more than $300 million.In April, the Fed downgraded its view of the U.S. economy to reflect the impact of an unusually harsh winter. Economists said the beige book indicates that policymakers are likely to upgrade the outlook at their June meeting.Private analysts, however, said they still think the Fed will prefer to wait until later in the year, possibly September, before beginning to raise a key interest rate. That rate has been at a record low near zero since December 2008.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The vital role family plays in society WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy was growing at a moderate pace in most regions of the country in April and May, as consumers ramped up spending at retailers and auto dealers, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.In its latest survey of business conditions around the country, the Fed said that manufacturing activity held steady or increased, except in the energy industry. Some companies laid off workers and cut back on drilling activities in response to the big fall in oil prices over the past year.last_img read more

Chile soldiers charged in 86 burning death of US resident

first_imgRojas and Quintana were taken in a military truck and were dumped in the outskirts of Santiago.Castaner was arrested this week, and was beaten up by a group of protesters, who shouted “murderer!” and kicked him on the floor at the airport of the southern city of Punta Arenas, on his way to face a judge in Santiago. He is now being held with the other accused former soldiers at a military barracks while they wait for trial.___Luis Andres Henao on Twitter: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home How men can have a healthy 2019 Former Chilean military officer Julio Castaner lies on the ground as protesters kick and insult him, as he tries to catch a flight at the airport in Punta Arenas, Chile, Thursday, July 23, 2015, on his way to face a judge in Santiago. On Friday, the judge charged Castaner and six other former members of the military in the burning death of a 19-year-old U.S. resident Rodrigo Rojas, who was killed in a 1986 protest against the military dictatorship then in power. They were also charged with the attempted homicide of 18-year-old Carmen Quintana. Former solider Fernando Guzman testified that Castaner ordered a soldier to douse Rojas and Quintana in gasoline, spraying the woman from head to toe and the man on his back. (Andres Poblete, Agencia Uno via AP) CHILE OUT – NO USAR EN CHILE SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A Chilean judge charged seven former members of the military on Friday in the burning death of a 19-year-old U.S. resident who was killed in a 1986 protest against the military dictatorship then in power.Judge Mario Carroza charged six former officers with premeditated killing in the burning death of Rodrigo Rojas. They were also charged with the attempted homicide of 18-year-old Carmen Quintana. Another former soldier was charged with being an accomplice to the crime. Comments   Share   Soldiers doused Rojas and Quintana with gasoline and set them ablaze during a street demonstration on July 2, 1986. Rojas died four days later. He was a Chilean-born photographer visiting from Washington D.C., where he lived with his mother in exile.Quintana, who was a university student at the time, survived and underwent lengthy treatment for severe burns at a Canadian hospital. Her scarred face later became a symbol of the atrocities committed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship.The latest development comes after another soldier testified last year, breaking a nearly three-decade pact of silence in one of the most prominent cases of human rights abuses during the dictatorship that saw 40,018 people killed, tortured or imprisoned for political reasons.“The wounds have not been kept in the past. While there’s no justice, there’s no way to move forward,” Rojas’ mother, Veronica De Negri, said after the charges were announced. “Everyone here is responsible because when silence has been kept for 29 years, everyone shares the responsibility.”President Michelle Bachelet, who was held and tortured during the dictatorship, said it’s important for the truth to finally come out so that these crimes are never again repeated and go unpunished in Chile. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “The latest developments encourage us by making us feel that it’s always good for the truth to arrive and justice to be served, even if it takes 29 years,” Bachelet said during a public event this week.A judge in 1999 ordered the Chilean government to pay Quintana $470,000. This week, she thanked the former soldier identified as Fernando Guzman for testifying. Speaking from Canada, where she now lives, she told a local radio station that the soldiers involved in the attack were teenagers like her at the time and were also victims of the dictatorship because they received death threats to keep silent.The burning attack drew condemnation worldwide from governments and rights groups. It also strained relations with President Ronald Reagan’s government, which demanded a full investigation and judicial action.At the time, Chile’s army denied any involvement, and Pinochet suggested that Rojas and Quintana accidentally set themselves on fire when they carried flammable material to ignite barricades. In his testimony, Guzman denied the two were victims of their own firebomb, calling it “a total lie” made up by the military.Guzman said had a clear view of the attack from atop a military truck: a man was lying on the ground while a woman was facing a wall. The commander of one of the patrols that had detained the two, Lt. Julio Castaner, then ordered a soldier to douse them in gasoline, spraying the woman from head to toe and the man on his back. Guzman testified that Castaner used a lighter to taunt the two and then set them on fire. The vital role family plays in society Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas Wins PATA Gold Award

first_imgEdmonstone Source = Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Van der Hoevencenter_img Each year, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)recognizes travel industry leaders who have contributed to the development and promotion of traveland tourism across the Asia Pacific region. PATA announced its 2010 winners on 28 July. Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Asia is pleased to announce that Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas has won a prestigious PATA Gold Award in the Marketing Campaign-Hospitality category for its highlysuccessful, fully integrated opening campaign for the resort.The property, which opened in December 2009, partnered with Keen Media Bangkok to implement a multi-faceted launch campaign comprising social media, online advertising, display advertising in consumer and trade media, the creation of a new website, a promotional video and the production of brochures and fact sheets.”Outrigger Laguna Phuket is proud to have its opening campaign recognized for excellence by such a respected travel institution as PATA,” said Outrigger’s Phuket-based Senior Vice President for Asia, Mr Darren Edmonstone. “Especially in the competitive category of hospitality marketing.”The very modern campaign connected to Outrigger’s 60 years’ of hospitality heritage in the Pacific and Asia.”The opening campaign was built upon Outrigger’s core values of respect for the individual, family and the destination, and a firm belief that people and guests should instantly feel at ease when experiencing the brand,” said Edmonstone.The demand created by Outrigger’s award winning opening campaign is still being felt. OutriggerLaguna Phuket Resort and Villas is currently experiencing occupancy of over 90% for July andAugust only eight months after opening.”In the opening campaign we worked hard to really understand the various segments of our markets and their needs,” said Pieter van der Hoeven, Outrigger’s Director of Sales and Marketing for Asia.”Our messaging used the latest digital distribution channels to reach key segments such as winter sun seekers from Europe, short-stay Asians, and the Thai domestic market.”Van der Hoeven said the campaign was not shy about promoting spacious villa accommodation from 229 to 604 square meters at prices usually associated with a 40 sqm hotel room.”A strong value proposition allied to firm understanding of Outrigger’s brand essence underpinned the whole campaign,” he said. The 2010 PATA Gold Awards attracted 200 entries from 80 companies and individuals. Twenty-four entrants won an award. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a membership association acting as a catalyst forthe responsible development of the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry. PATA was founded inHawaii in 1951. Outrigger was founded in Hawaii in 1947. It now operates, or has under development, nearly 50properties with close to 12,000 rooms located in Hawaii, Australia, Guam, Fiji, Bali, Thailand,Hainan, China, and Vietnam.last_img read more

Exponet caps off exciting year with EEAA award win

first_imgExpoNet has capped off an eventful year in style, taking home one of the top honours at last night’s Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) Awards for Excellence.The exhibition and event supplier was named Best Supplier Team at the gala event at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, which recognised outstanding achievement and innovation in the Australasian exhibition and events industry.Jim Delahunty, CEO, ExpoNet said the win was an exciting end to a year that saw the company change its name from Exhibition Hire / Expo Hire in February and successfully service some 400 events in more than 100 venues nationwide.“The past 12 months have been incredibly busy and demanding and this award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team of account managers, project managers, designers and production staff and the strength of our network of branches in Sydney, Brisbane/Gold Coast and Melbourne,” said Delahunty.One of 14 awards presented at the gala event, the Best Supplier Team category was judged on a number of criteria, including accessibility, responsiveness, customer service, creativity and innovation.It was a big night for ExpoNet, with one of the company’s rising stars Graham Solling also among the finalists for the prestigious Richard Geddes Young Achiever award.Delahunty said the company was now preparing for an even bigger year in 2011.“It’s a wonderful honour to be recognised by a judging panel of industry experts, but we are not about to rest on our laurels. The ExpoNet name indicates our direction for the future and the broad range of industry products and services we now provide and we are working hard to ensure that 2011 is our most successful year yet,” he said. Source = ExpoNetlast_img read more

Air NZ tops most innovative list

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Air New Zealand topped list as the most innovative airline to keep an eye on in 2011. The launch of its economy ‘Skycouch’ seating late last year as well as its IFE food ordering system and inflight wine tasting and kids storytelling groups, pushed the carrier ahead of the 11 others, reported. “At we are continuously on the lookout for innovative products and services launched by airlines around the world as a response to industry and consumer trends, founder Raymond Kollau said.”We aimed to select airlines that have come up with interesting innovations in recent years, be it as part of a company culture of continuous innovation, a strategy to challenge the industry status quo, or as part of efforts to catch up after years of underinvestment.”All Nippon Airways came in second place for its long haul products upgrade, followed by Lufthansa which recently initiated a product remodel across its entire fleet.  last_img read more