Posted by Tags: Chicago, Travel Alert CHICAGO — Hundreds of O’Hare International Airport workers have voted to go on strike ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.Service Employees International Union Local 1 officials said Thursday that about 500 workers have committed to strike. Union spokeswoman Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich said the strike “will definitely take place in the coming days,” though she didn’t specify which day it will start.The workers involved have been trying to organize with the union’s help. They work mainly for private contractors at the airport.“They don’t expect to shut the airport down,” SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “That’s not what they’re trying to do. Oh, there will be disruption.”Balanoff said a walk out could slow but not shut down airport operations. He said what workers are trying to do “is get the powers that be to hear their voice.”The workers who plan to strike include baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, janitors and wheelchair attendants. They are seeking a $15 per hour wage.More news: Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongIt wasn’t immediately clear how such a strike would affect operations at O’Hare, which is one of the nation’s busiest airports.The Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement that it doesn’t anticipate any disruption in service.Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst and former airline executive, said much depends on what types of jobs are affected, whether airlines or the private contractors can assign other employees to fill in and on how many workers will be willing to cross a picket line.Workers have taken similar actions at other airports, including LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports in New York, creating disruptions that “ranged from noticeable to marginal,” he said.Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert and economics professor at DePaul University in Chicago, noted the city has a few days to try to come up with a “plan B.”“This will be a mass headache, but a crisis it is not,” he said.O’Hare has about 190 gates and is a hub airport for both American and United airlines, which hold the majority of those gates.More news: Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesAuto club AAA predicts it will be an especially busy Thanksgiving weekend of travelling. O’Hare airport workers vote to strike ahead of the Thanksgiving The Canadian Press Share Friday, November 18, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >>
Tags: Mexico, Thompson Hotels, Zihuatanejo DENVER — Luxury lifestyle brand Thompson Hotels will introduce its newest luxury resort in Zihuatanejo in late 2018, following a repositioning and extensive redesign.Located oceanfront along the destination’s Playa La Ropa beach on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Thompson Zihuatanejo will feature 54 suites and multiple food & beverage venues, along with “stunning” pools, says the company, including an adults-only oceanfront infinity pool, a family-friendly option with swim-up bar and a pool offered exclusively for swim-up suite guests.“We are expanding our Thompson resort portfolio to a new region of Mexico after the success of our Thompson hotels in both Cabo San Lucas and Playa del Carmen,” said Jamie Sabatier, CEO of Two Roads Hospitality.“The opening of Thompson Zihuatanejo will bring a new urban resort experience to the area, while still honoring the deep traditions and laidback lifestyle of this quaint fishing village.”Thompson Zihuatanejo is one of the area’s only beachfront properties, located on a secluded stretch of coastline along a protected bay. The resort’s oversized suite accommodations all offer separate living areas and private balconies or terraces.More news: TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamPremium suite types include two Lagoon Penthouse Suites, one Thompson Suite and 11 swim-up suites with direct access to an exclusive pool.Most suites will include private infinity plunge pools, with many perched along the property’s freshwater lagoon or offering dramatic ocean views.Perched under open-air palapas seaside, CENIZA restaurant will offer a refined Mexican dining experience under the stars with fire-grilled seafood.The resort will also introduce HAO, a day-to-night beach club experience set against the resort’s adults-only pool and overlooking Playa La Ropa. HAO will offer all-day dining, including a unique beachfront breakfast menu, poolside bites and handcrafted cocktails.Oceanfront event space will accommodate outdoor functions and weddings for up to 200 guests. El Jardin, an outdoor garden area, can additionally accommodate receptions and social gatherings for up to 180 people, while two meeting rooms can host groups of 12-50 people. << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, October 16, 2018 Travelweek Group Share Thompson Hotels to debut resort in Zihuatanejo on Mexico’s Pacific Coast Posted by
<< Previous PostNext Post >> Share MIAMI — Carnival’s 5,200-plus lower berth ship, now officially under construction following its steel cutting ceremony earlier today, more than lives up to its ‘XL’ moniker.The first vessel in Carnival’s newest class of ship, and the largest Carnival cruise ship ever constructed, will weigh in at 180,000 tonnes when it’s delivered in 2020.The new XL vessel will also be the first-ever ship operating in North America to use liquefied natural gas (LNG).The as-yet-unnamed ship will operate from Port Canaveral beginning in 2020. The ship’s name is scheduled to be revealed in early December.Details on the ship’s inaugural season are planned to be announced in January, with information on the vessel’s vast array of exciting culinary, beverage and entertainment options to be revealed later in 2019.A second XL ship will start construction in 2020 and will be delivered in 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Carnival Cruise Line’s founding.More news: Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochureThe traditional steel-cutting ceremony took place at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland. At the ceremony, the company also revealed its dramatic new red, white and blue hull design that Carnival says “celebrates its legacy as America’s Cruise Line”, and pays homage to maritime tradition.Carnival says the design builds upon the company’s iconic colour scheme that has made the cruise line “one of the most recognizable brands in travel”. The navy blue hull has vibrant red and white accents running the entire length of the 1,130-foot-long ship.“This new ship promises to be truly special, from its groundbreaking technology and one-of-a-kind features to its distinctive livery and hull design that is both timeless and forward-thinking while paying tribute to our nearly 50-year history of making wonderful vacation memories for our guests,” says Christine Duffy, President, Carnival Cruise Line.Following the steel-cutting ceremony, construction began on the 5,200-plus lower berth ship which Carnival promises will offer a variety of never-before-seen innovations.More news: War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps up“The start of construction of this amazing ship is a historic day for our company as we are laying the foundation for an unparalleled seagoing vacation experience that will be like no other and take our cruise offerings to the next level,” Duffy said. First look at the largest Carnival cruise ship ever built Posted by Tags: Carnival Cruise Line, New Ship Travelweek Group Thursday, November 15, 2018
Share Posted by Monday, June 17, 2019 GENEVA — When the MSC Grandiosa debuts later this year following its christening on Nov. 9, passengers will find brand new ‘MSC for Me’ features for 2019.MSC for Me, a multi-channel digital program that enables guests to interact with the ship and crew members, was first introduced onboard MSC Meraviglia in 2017 and has since been expanded to four ships – MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview, MSC Splendida and MSC Bellissima – each time adding more features to improve the guest experience.MSC Grandiosa will the MSC Cruises’ sixth connected cruise ship.“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at MSC Cruises, and technology does not stand still,” said MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato. “Since launching our industry-leading digital innovation program MSC for Me in 2017, we continued to research and implement the latest technologies that are specifically designed to enhance our guest experience, ensuring that they can make the most of the rich array of services, activities and facilities that we offer onboard our ships.”Here is an overview of MSC for Me’s new features for 2019:• Pre-booked experiences: Guests ben begin to plan their time aboard by adding selected pre-booked experiences to their pre-cruise personal agenda, whether it be excursions, a specialty restaurant reservation or a Cirque du Soleil at Sea show.More news: Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is back• Credit card pre-registration. Pre-registering of a credit card through the app prior to the cruise is one less thing that guests need to do when they embark, giving them more time to enjoy their cruise once onboard.• Friends & Family Locator. This new paid-for service means friends and family travelling together will never get lost. Guests can purchase a special MSC for Me wristband with Bluetooth, Low Energy technology, and find their loved ones at any time on the ship map shown on their MSC for Me app. This new feature is complements the Kids Locator service launched in 2017.• MSC for Me Chat. Guests are now able to message each other directly through the MSC for Me app without the need for an Internet package. To begin chatting, simply scan the QR code on a friend’s app and begin chatting.• ZOE. Developed in partnership with HARMAN and Samsung Electronics, MSC’s voice-enabled artificial intelligence (AI) found in every stateroom on MSC Bellissima speaks seven languages and can answer hundreds of questions about the cruise and onboard facilities. It will soon be available on MSC Grandiosa.More news: Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish Steps• What To Eat. A handy ‘what to eat’ feature has been added to the MSC for Me app to give guests insight into the local must-eat ingredients or dishes to try in port as they cruise from destination to destination.In addition to the new features introduced this year, MSC for ME continues to offer:Mobile check-in to save time on embarkation day for simple transition from ashore to onboard An interactive map to help guests get around the ship quickly and easilyGuests can plan their cruise in real time, browsing through daily events, activities and highlights on the app, in-cabin TV and interactive screens throughout the shipNFC wristbands will connect guests to the ship’s services so that they can book them through the interactive digital screensUpon its launch, MSC Grandiosa will become the largest ship in the MSC Cruise fleet featuring enriched facilities, more staterooms, more public space and new features. It will be christened on Nov. 9 in the Port of Hamburg, and then sail the winter season in the Mediterranean, calling at Barcelona, Palermo, Marseille and Valletta in Malta. MSC to offer new MSC for ME features onboard the Grandiosa << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: MSC Cruises Travelweek Group
Garin Daniel and Scott Doherty are typical of U.S. expats living in Costa Rica. Both came to the country, found jobs and Tica wives, and ended up staying. Doherty played quarterback in high school and at Pierce College in Los Angeles, while Daniel is a late bloomer who won his first quarterback job in organized football with the Bulldogs of the American Football Federation of Costa Rica (FEFACR).Both in their mid-20s, they are good friends, and they will be at the offensive helm of the two teams competing for the FEFACR championship Saturday at Cuty Monge Stadium in Desamparados, in southeastern San José.This TicoShooter met up with both young men over lunch. I had seen both in action in an early March game. The game was tense, a tough squeaker in which the Bulldogs held on to win with a last-minute interception against a relentlessly driving Toros squad. With that as a preview, the 2012 Costa Rican Super Bowl shapes up as an interesting match indeed. But during the interview with Daniel and Doherty, what stood out was a friendship far above who would win or lose on Saturday, and great pride in what FEFACR has accomplished for its players in bringing U.S.-style football to Costa Rica. FEFACR players have to pay for their own equipment – helmet, jersey, pants, pads and cleats – which is expensive. Surprisingly, most players are Ticos. So, what drives young men to invest to play such a complex, foreign sport as U.S. football in a country in which a soccer player’s only investment is cleats? Daniel and Doherty both agreed that what drove FEFACR participation was the opportunity for a variety of athletes with different skills that soccer minimizes and U.S. football maximizes. Think about the relatively narrow range of athletic skills required for soccer, and about the sameness of physical types of the players. Yes, there’s the occasional tall beanpole, but the vast majority of players are cut from the same athletic cloth: under 6 feet, lean, quick on their feet, with excellent balance.U.S. football is a smorgasbord by comparison. A kid big and strong, but slower than smaller athletes can be a lineman – a clogger-upper if he’s huge, a pulling blocker or an outside rusher if he combines size with mobility. Does a guy have great hands (useless in soccer)? He’s a receiver. Is a young man a soccer type, with great balance and running speed? He also fits into U.S. football as a running back or slot receiver, though he’ll have to adjust to a game where hitting is the main idea and not something that’s penalized. Is a kid tough and strong, but ordinary in size? Does he relish contact and hitting? Definitely defense, either linebacker or defensive back depending on size, speed and agility. And, of course, there’s the kicking game, where any guy not fast or mobile enough for soccer can test his nerve as a placekicker or punter. Suddenly, all kinds of potential athletes who can’t make it in organized soccer can find a niche for their competitive spirit as a Bulldog, Toro, Raptor, Rhyno or Dragon.U.S.-style football is not without penetration in Latin America: It’s the No. 2 sport in Mexico. The biggest crowd in NFL history, 112,000, was a 1994 Dallas Cowboys-Houston Oilers exhibition game in Mexico’s national stadium. Though the sport has yet to catch on in Costa Rica, if player enthusiasm is a measurement, it’s well on its way.Daniel states that one of his great satisfactions is the development of his center, Carlos Ávila. Ávila weighs 310 pounds and has discovered the fellowship of being part of a sports team, which would have been impossible without FEFACR. The opportunity cuts both ways: Jason Jenkins, is an English-language high school teacher who recently moved here from the United States and is a Bulldog wide receiver. He has found that his team is the best gateway for getting to know people.A notable accomplishment in FEFACR has been getting the level of play up to where defense is just as important as offense. Since defense is more complex and harder to coach, a characteristic of low-level play is undisciplined shootouts in the 50-point range. Not so when the Bulldogs and Toros meet. The last game was 16-14. Daniel and the Bulldogs came out on top in that one, but Doherty and the Toros were driving hard at the end. Once football gets to the level of FEFACR playoffs, there’s one thing that can’t be changed about the game: The space between the ears of the quarterbacks is one of the most decisive factors in which team comes out on top. For the 2012 FEFACR championship, these two best friends are knife-edge close in their quarterbacking abilities. On April 28, will it be Daniel and the Bulldogs again, or Doherty and the Toros? Go see for yourself, starting at 6 p.m. at Cuty Monge Stadium. Look for a close and interesting Costa Rica Super Bowl IV. Facebook Comments No related posts.
After leading an entire country what does an ex-president do in her or his spare time?Well, it you’re U.S. President George W. Bush you start painting cats and world leaders. If you are former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi you record an album of Elvis Presley covers.And what has former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014) been doing the past two months (aside from tweeting, a lot)? Adopting a baby bird.From Chinchilla’s Facebook page:When I returned home from supporting the Costa Rican national team in Brazil, I was surprised not only to find my husband and son waiting for me at the airport, but also a new member of the family. His name is Baby Charlie.According to the Facebook post, the girlfriend of Chinchilla’s son found Baby Charlie in the middle of the road where it had fallen from a tree. The family is now caring for the baby chick, which followers of Chinchilla’s Facebook page have identified as a clay-colored thrush, the national bird of Costa Rica.Since his Facebook debut, Baby Charlie has been a continued feature on Chinchilla’s page:They feed him For more Baby Charlie updates that are sure to follow, visit Laura Chiinchilla’s Facebook page. Facebook Comments Related posts:A letter to President Chinchilla: Save the Costa Rican spinner dolphins Laura Chinchilla’s environmental report card Costa Rica joins Ecuador in calling for more protection of endangered shark species Costa Rica government vows to no longer support international shark protections Watch him grow new feathers And even dress him up for Costa Rica’s World Cup games
Related posts:University of Costa Rica calls for national mental health survey Costa Rican lawmakers submit anti-bullying bill Costa Rica banana workers affected by Nemagon still waiting on compensation Costa Rica court orders better prison beds for conjugal visits An average of 315 Costa Ricans take their own lives every year, according to the latest report by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on suicides in the region.The report, “Suicide Mortality in the Americas: Regional Report,” released in late October, includes data from 48 countries and states that Central America has the lowest suicide rates behind South America and North America.Analysis includes data from Costa Rica from 2005-2009. The report has similar findings to one conducted by the Costa Rican Health Ministry from 2010-2013. The ministry registered an average of 318 suicides per year during the three-year period.PAHO has called suicide a severe public health concern, and the organization urged countries to strengthen research on suicidal behavior, abandonment, and other social and cultural factors.Local health experts this week are participating in the National Health Congress in San José, and a keynote speech on Monday highlighted bullying as an increasing cause of suicide among teenagers.Psychiatrist Virginia Rosabal said Monday at the congress that Costa Rica has registered 21 suicides caused by bullying in the last five years. She believes the number is increasing.Among the types of bullying, Rosabal cited physical, psychological and sexual abuse, as well as social exclusion and cyber-bullying. Cyber-bulling is a growing trend as more young people use social media networks.In her presentation, Rosabal cited a recent case involving a high school teenager who killed herself after two classmates created a Facebook page in her name that claimed she was available for sexual acts.“We need to find a solution by starting in the home, in school, and from the perspective of health professionals,” she said. “We have protocols to address this issue in Costa Rica, but we need to step up our efforts.”On Tuesday, forum participants discussed further development of these types of protocols, the role of health and educational organizations, and legal approaches to bullying in suicide cases. Facebook Comments
After years of lawsuits, appeals, and a strike in October that paralyzed the ports in Limón, APM Terminals is finally set to start construction on a new $1 billion terminal on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.The green light comes after the National Technical Secretariat of the Environment Ministry (SETENA) announced Wednesday afternoon that it had approved the project’s environmental impact study, one of the last major hurdles. The Dutch company APM Terminals already had won several appeals by the Atlantic Port Authority’s union to block the project from moving forward.Advocates of port modernization, which likely will begin in 2015, say it will create hundreds of jobs and serve as a catalyst for development in the Caribbean province, the poorest in Costa Rica. Environmentalists vowed to contest SETENA’s decision.The environmental assessment’s approval is valid for two years.SETENA issued its decision months ahead of schedule and with little fanfare. The agency issued a statement in late October saying it would push back notification to March 2015, after the Costa Rican Federation for Environmental Conservation (FECON) presented documents alleging irregularities in the environmental impact study that favored the project.The dockworkers union, SINTRAJAP, had hoped the the move would achieve what their October strike could not by forcing another environmental assessment and an evaluation of the contract terms. Unions have fought the concession since it was first signed by former President Laura Chinchilla in 2011.In 2012, a San José administrative court upheld the concession contract.Álvaro Sagot, an environmental lawyer who along with Mauricio Álvarez of FECON had urged SETENA to reject the environmental impact assessment, told The Tico Times they planned to appeal the decision to Environment Minister Edgar Gutiérrez, likely in early January.Sagot said that if the appeal to Gutierrez was unsuccessful they would turn to the Administrative Contention Court. Environmentalists are concerned about the project’s potential to harm Caribbean reefs in Costa Rica and Panama from sediment displacement.“Limón deserves development, that goes without saying, but not at the cost of the environment,” Sagot said in the telephone interview.Environmentalists and the dockworkers union might be on the ropes after the SETENA decision, but the business sector celebrated the announcement.“Costa Rica urgently needs to modernize its Caribbean ports,” said Union of Private-Sector Chambers and Associations President Ronald Jiménez in a statement. “According to the Global Competitiveness index Costa Rica is among the nations with the worst port infrastructure [115th out of 144 countries studied],” Jiménez said.Costa Rica has some of the worst port infrastructure in the world, yet 80 percent of its maritime cargo passes through the ports in Limón. APM Terminal’s 33-year concession grants the Dutch company exclusive rights to build and handle container traffic at the new terminal, which will float off the coast of Moín.APM Terminals published a poll in October showing that 88 percent of respondents in Limón believed the port would have a “positive impact” on the community. Related posts:UPDATE: Atlantic ports paralyzed after dockworkers go on ‘indefinite’ strike Solís administration, striking dockworkers at loggerheads over port concession More than 85 percent of Limón residents support new port terminal, poll claims Dockworkers strike declared illegal after union loses appeal Facebook Comments
Related posts:Argentina announces end of forex restrictions Argentina defends legal action over Falklands oil Pro-market Macri likely new president of Argentina: exit polls Argentina central bank president quits under pressure from Macri NEW YORK — Argentina’s new government began negotiations with hedge fund creditors Monday, amid reports it wants them to write off up to a quarter of their bonds to settle a long-running dispute.Finance Secretary Luis Caputo arrived Monday morning at the New York offices of the U.S. court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack in a fresh effort to end a debt battle rooted in the country’s $100 billion default in 2001.Major Argentine newspaper Clarín said the government, which took office in December, planned to propose a 15 percent cut in the debt. Business newspaper El Cronista meanwhile reported that the reduction sought would be about 25 percent.“We don’t expect any news today,” said Caputo as he arrived for the talks.Argentina’s access to global financial markets has been tightly restricted for years due to the dispute with the hedge funds demanding to be paid the full value of the bonds they hold, even though some 93 percent of the country’s creditors accepted hefty write-downs of their bonds in debt restructurings years ago.In 2012 a New York court backed the claim for 100 percent payouts sought by the hedge funds, NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management.But Argentina’s former leftist president Cristina Kirchner refused to negotiate, branding them “vultures.”Buenos Aires said the funds bought up Argentine debt cheaply around the time of the default and then refused to take part in the restructuring.Kirchner, though, was replaced in December by a new conservative president, Mauricio Macri, who is seeking warmer foreign relations and has vowed to strike an agreement.Even so, a deal would challenge the country’s finances. The hedge funds together with other so-called holdouts are claiming about $10 billion in total, which the court ruled had to be paid before Buenos Aires repays any other creditors.On Friday a group of New York banks agreed to lend the country $5 billion to strengthen its foreign currency reserves, hit in part by the Macri government’s move in December to devalue the currency.That would increase the reserves to around $30 billion, still relatively small for the size of the Argentine economy.Macri has rolled back various protectionist policies of his predecessors, lifting currency and export controls and eliminating electricity subsidies.He said such measures are necessary to make the economy competitive. His critics warn they will hurt poorer Argentines. Facebook Comments
Facebook Comments First Lady Mercedes Peñas Domingo spent part of her weekend in a classroom, but not inaugurating a new project or attending a ceremony. She was taking a citizenship test.“After 27 years living in Costa Rica, everything this country has given me, and all I have tried to give back to it; after a Costa Rican daughter, my partner, and the honor of representing you as First Lady, this weekend I took my exams for Costa Rican citizenship,” Peñas, who hails from Madrid, Spain, announced on Facebook.President Luis Guillermo Solís praised his partner’s decision on his own social media profile.Watch President Solís tell The Tico Times about his own family history of immigration.“Those of us who are Costa Ricans and love Costa Rica are proud to call ourselves its daughters and sons,” he wrote. “But those who choose this country as their homeland of their own free will deserve twice the credit, because they do it consciously, not just because of the call of their blood or their land.“This weekend Mercedes took her exams to obtain our citizenship. We celebrate this together and I’m filled with happiness at seeing that a person who for 27 years has lived among us and worked for the development of our territories and as First Lady, fully committed to Costa Rica, will now officially become a tica.”Peñas Domingo holds degrees in political science and international relations and is a rural development specialist. She and Solís have one daughter together, Inés, born in 2006.See also: The Alabama woman who became Costa Rica’s first lady (Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera via Facebook) Related posts:President Solís to discuss migration, green energy with US Vice President Joe Biden Solís touts Costa Rica’s treatment of migrants, refugees A letter to our readers From Russia to Costa Rica: ‘This is a blessed country’
Part III in a series on adaptive surfing in Costa Rica. Read Part I, about the country’s association for disabled surfers, and Part II, about British adaptive surfer Dean Bushby.Straight from Arlington, Virginia, Kiersten Todt, her husband Roger Cressen, and their blended family – Kate (18), Andi (16), Haley (12) and Noah (14) – decided that they would compliment their stay at the Westin Conchal with surf lessons from Mojo Surf Adventures in Playa Grande. They had a special consideration: they would have to surf together and include Noah, who has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement, muscle coordination and motor skills.“We had so many good things we did as a family,” recalled Roger. “But in the first week, we all wanted to surf. Everybody is into sports, and this seemed a fun water activity we couldn’t do back home.”At home, Noah does a lot of physical therapy with his legs and is rewarded by stickers for exceptional accomplishments. His family had concerns about him trying this challenging sport, and, as a result, got him the necessary attention in order to complete the task. The results, according to Noah, was a “four-sticker” experience. Mojo Surf Adventures owner Tim Thomson gathered up his team of instructors, led by Johel Dinarte, and designated one coach solely for Noah, along with spotters who kept an eye on his session (one worked with the rest of the family). Safety was of utmost importance, as Noah’s limited mobility required diligence.“Johel could not leave him alone for a second,” Thomson explained. “He rode the board in with him every time. Also, when the instructors got him up on the board we made sure three instructors were there to help and make sure he was safe. Noah did great most of the time he rode the board; he was lying down, but he got the feeling of surfing. His smile was infectious and he is so personable that he bonded well with Johel and with me. He is also a joker, so he was always making us laugh.” Surfer Noah. Courtesy of Tim Thomson / Mojo Surf Adventures“I like surfing,” Noah said after two days of doing it. “The waves were really rough sometimes, but I stood up on the board. I was embarrassed the first time, but then I was happy, proud. I accomplished something and I was strong. Dad was laughing at me, and I like surfing with my sisters.”His sisters enjoyed surfing with Noah as well. According to Kiersten, Haley has always been and continues to be tremendous support for her brother. She always makes sure he is taken care of and willingly stays in the background, although mom admits that’s not her usual personality.“The instructors really made it not at all scary,” Haley explained. “They took the unknown out of the water and told us all, ‘Don’t be scared.’”“To listen to our body more than our minds,” added sister Kate. “We did it all at the same time, and we all got up.”Noah admitted that he was “concerned, nervous and scared,” particularly because he had a fear of going under the water. Kate noted that without help specifically for him, it might not have been possible for him to surf. Fortunately, Johel, who was the assigned instructor for the boy, was able to calm his nerves, and even goof around with him to take the fear away.Due to Noah’s success, as well as their own, the family is already planning a return to Costa Rica to continue working on their surfing.“Mojo did a great job working with us as a family, creating lots of enthusiasm when we first got in the water and then when we were learning to surf. It takes a special person to connect will all our kids. Johel was great with Noah, they goofed around and he had to put Noah’s limits in a positive way on the board and before on the beach talking. Tim was invested, as were those working with us,” Roger said.Ellen Zoe Golden is a former New York City punk rocker turned hip-hop head. She thought when she’d retire as a publicist in the entertainment business, she’d just surf, do yoga, run, read books, watch TV and hang out with her friends. She does all those things in Tamarindo, but has a day job as a travel agent for Costa Rica Vacations. She loves arranging for people to visit her adopted country. Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby Through adaptive surfing, disabled athletes conquer Costa Rica’s waves Facebook Comments Related posts:Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby Anthony Fillingim crowned 2018 Costa Rican surf champion, Rubiana Brownell scores historic triple win Leilani McGonagle wins bronze medal at World Surfing Games Your dream photo isn’t worth it: leave the fish in the water
Related posts:More than 40 doctors fired from hospital in Leon Life after the brutal attack in Monimbó Threats against independent journalists in Nicaragua continue Daniel Ortega’s regime has twice as many political prisoners as Nicolás Maduro’s Hundreds of Nicaraguans visited the national zoo, located on the highway between Managua and Masaya, to help cover costs and guarantee food more than 400 animals this Sunday.The mass visit came after the zoo’s administrators released a public call for help.This is the second weekend that Nicaraguans heeded their call. At least 3,000 people visited the zoo last Saturday and Sunday, zoo administrators said. They hope they surpassed that figure this Sunday.Este es el ambiente en las instalaciones del #Zoológico Nacional @laprensa pic.twitter.com/O3AvXyv3JK— Julio Estrada (@JulioEstradaG) August 12, 2018The zoo had been closed for two months due to a lack of visitors caused by the country’s sociopolitical crisis that started on April 18. It then reopened its doors about a month ago.Los nicaragüenses disftutan ver los animales en el #zoológiconacional @laprensa pic.twitter.com/IX9SL2ixV9— Julio Estrada (@JulioEstradaG) August 12, 2018The cost of admissionAdmission price for the national zoo is 30 córdobas (about $1) and there’s an additional 20 córdobas ($0.60) fee to enter the butterfly farm. There’s no fee for hildren under 2. The doors open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday.En el #zoológiconacional hay unos 400 animales de al menos 90 especies @laprensa pic.twitter.com/MVYmmSN1eB— Julio Estrada (@JulioEstradaG) August 12, 2018People who want to donate food to the animals can bring chicken and horse feed, corn flour, watermelons, papayas, bananas, and carrots.El #ZoológicoNacional fue cerrado producto de la crisis sociopolítica en Nicaragua y fue reabierto desde hace un mes @laprensa pic.twitter.com/AARpqiicuO— Julio Estrada (@JulioEstradaG) August 12, 2018Annual budget of 12 million córdobasMarina Argüello, director of the national zoo, said the zoo needs approximately 12.5 million córdobas ($390,000) a year to operate. Argüello says they operate on a deficit of 8.5 million córdobas ($265,000) since the Nicaraguan National Assembly only provides them with 4 million córdobas ($125,000).“Every year I have to ask them not to take away our budget, to keep it the same or increase it,” Argüello said. She also noted that the budget for the zoo animals hadn’t been cut.Read the original story in Spanish at La Prensa, first published on Aug. 13, 2018.This story was translated into English and republished in The Tico Times as part of a partnership with La Prensa to help bring their coverage of the Nicaraguan crisis to an English-speaking audience. Facebook Comments
A blade of Bracharia growing after the land was cleared with glyphosate. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)The other reason he uses it is to keep the road clear. Alvarado says farmers have to keep the area where their farm meets the road clear of any brush or growth.This is known locally as “rondas.” Alvarado says he used to use a machete to keep it clear. It was tough work in the tropical sun, and it could take up to 10 hours to clear 100 meters of ronda.Aside from the risk of wielding a blade for that amount time, Alvarado says you can get bad cuts if you strike a glass bottle, which happened frequently enough for him to want to find other methods. At this age, Alvarado says he’d hire someone to clear his ronda, something that would cost 1,200 colones per hour, or 12,000 colones for every 100 meters.Or he could use glyphosate. He currently gets a gallon for about 6,000 to 7,000 colones and he can clear 500 meters of ronda with it. After he loads it up in his hand pump, he says it takes about 15 minutes to spray 100 meters of ronda. Stephanie Smith rallied the troops.They were assembling at the Cóbano municipal offices to take on a common enemy: glyphosate, the active ingredient in popular herbicides like Roundup. Their goal that day was to ban pesticide and herbicide use in public areas.Smith was the first to arrive, and she practiced her speech outside the building. Her Spanish was a bit rough – she’d moved to Costa Rica only 10 months before – but she knew her enemy well. Smith, a British-American documentarian, is working on a documentary called “Just Another Brick in the Wall” about environmentally toxic schools in the United States.“It’s about everything children are subjected to in schools,” Smith said. “From how building materials to food are all contaminated with glyphosate.”Smith moved to Costa Rica with her family because she wanted to live in a more environmentally friendly country. That’s why she was surprised when one day she found herself flanked by men spraying pesticides on a public road.“I was driving to pick up my son at school and then, to the right and to the left, there were two men manually spraying pesticides with no protection,” Smith said. “I had my windows down and the smell was so intense and horrific.”Smith said one of the teachers at her son’s school felt lightheaded that day and her son got sick the following week.“I came here thinking this was a green paradise,” Smith said. “I had no idea that pesticide use was so rampant.” Costa Rica is one of the leading consumers, per capita, of pesticides in the world. In 2015, Semanario Universidad reported that the Regional Institute of Toxic Substance Studies (IRET) found that Costa Rica used an average of 18.2 kgs of pesticides per hectare of farmland.China came in second place with 17 kgs per hectare.Smith highlighted this point in her speech. By the time she started, the tiny municipal building was packed with government representatives and local residents, most foreigners who had relocated to Costa Rica. Stephanie Smith gave a speech about the dangers of pesticides and herbicides at the meeting with the local government. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)She noted that she’d seen 2,4-D in Cóbano, which was used in Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant used by the United States during the Vietnam war that led to deformities and cancers in Vietnam and U.S. veterans. Smith mentioned a recent ruling in a lawsuit against Monsanto, the company that produces Roundup.In the United States, a school groundskeeper with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was awarded $289 million in damages against Monsanto because he alleged glyphosate caused his cancer.Despite that, glyphosate use has exploded in Costa Rica. A University of Costa Rica study found that glyphosate use in Costa Rica has risen nearly 50 times since it was first imported in 1982. That year, Costa Rica imported 36 tonnes of the herbicide. A total of 1,761 tonnes were imported in 2013. Other municipalities in Costa Rica, such as Pérez Zeledón, banned the use of herbicides, Smith said. Why not Cóbano? But the government responded with a question of their own. What about the farmers?Aside from rich tropical forests, idyllic beaches and mountains, Cóbano is home to large swaths of farmland. About a third of Costa Rica’s rural population is employed in the agricultural, cattle and fishing industry and Puntarenas, the province Cóbano belongs to, is home to nearly 13,000 of Costa Rica’s 78,000 registered farms.*****Onias Alvarado remembers when people laughed at the idea that electricity would come to Cóbano. That was only about 20 years back, and he’s been farming even longer. His calloused hands and tanned leather face can attest to that. The 61-year old from Cóbano works the same farm his father did before him.He knows cattle, too. It’s what has kept food on the table for generations. Land was cheap in the area back in the day, before the tourist boom. He remembers one family who sold their land piece by piece to fuel their drinking habit. Onias Alvarado, 61, has been farming in the area his whole life. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)The rush back then was to cut down trees and make way for pastures to feed cattle.“It was a shame, actually,” Alvarado said. “It was really beautiful, all those mountains.”Alvarado remembers a government initiative that encouraged reforestation and led to hundreds of thousands of acres being reforested. Alvarado isn’t opposed to conservation or protecting the environment, but he still uses glyphosate throughout his 10-hectare farm.He says he has no other choice. He can’t afford to farm any other way.There are two main reasons Alvarado uses glyphosate. One, to kill weeds on his farm and occasionally make way for “pasto mejorado,” or Bracharia, a type of drought-resistant grass that can grow in most soils and is resistant to prosapia, a bug that destroyed grass throughout Cóbano years ago. Related posts:Are bees getting hooked on pesticides? Dreamlike, diverse and grappling with change: Our Santa Teresa deep dive Santa Teresa Deep Dive: How to Surf in Santa Teresa Santa Teresa Deep Dive: The Bakery This story was made possible thanks to the donations from Tico Times 5% Club. The TT 5% Club is a group of readers who donate at least $2 a month to keep our newsroom operational. That’s how we’re able to bring you stories like this one. Become a member of The Tico Times 5% club and helps us shine more light on issues like these.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Alvarado showing his ronda, the area where his farm meets the public road. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)The glyphosate also keeps the road clear longer, Alvarado says. Clearing it manually with a machete keeps it clear for around two months, while glyphosate keeps it clear for up to twice as long.Alvarado tries to save money any way he can. “The price of everything has gone up,” Alvarado said. “And then when the dollar goes up, everything goes up.”While the cost of living in Costa Rica has risen steadily, the price of cattle has dropped. Alvarado says that five years ago you could get 1,800 to 2,000 colones per kilo for a good calf. Nowadays you can get 1,100 or 1,200.He says cheap cattle imported from Nicaragua has hit local farmers hard.Alvarado has tried to diversify his offerings. He produces honey and imports it to Europe. Their project is small though and they were able to produce 6 kgs of honey this year, netting them about 300,000 colones, or about $500. Alvarado started producing organic honey at his farm, but it only nets them a small amount of money. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)The idea of banning glyphosate is frustrating for Alvarado because he doesn’t know what he’d do without it.He says he’s never gotten sick from it and doesn’t know anyone who has. He knows people in rice plantations who’ve gotten sick, but he thinks it was because of the tall plants and airborne pesticides they used. Alvarado always uses the proper protection and a hand pump that doesn’t spray glyphosate into the air.*****“There’s been no increase in cancers in the area,” said Dr. Juan Ledezma, an epidemiologist and head of the Peninsular Regional Health Authority, which oversees public health in Cóbano. “There’s no relation between the use of pesticides in public spots and cancer.” (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)While online records are only updated to 2014, Dr. Ledezma said he’s interested in analyzing more recent cancer statistics to see what the risk is in his community. Despite not having analyzed glyphosate use in the region, Dr. Ledezma agrees with other studies that have been done on the herbicide.“[Glyphosate] has been proven to be carcinogenic in studies in other countries,” Dr. Ledezma said. “So how are we going to use it to kill weeds at schools or public areas?”Dr. Ledezma says his main concern is with multiple exposures, especially the person applying glyphosate, such as municipal employees. He says we should limit the hours and places it’s used, but he’s also not opposed to banning the substance altogether. “I agree with the people who want to ban it,” Dr. Ledezma said. “A lot of municipalities have already agreed not to use it.“The only thing that’s doing is protecting the country. If we keep doing that, that’s great.” About 1.04 million hectares, or 20 percent of Costa Rica’s land, is dedicated to grazing. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)While Alvarado’s farm is just 6 kilometers from Cóbano as the bird flies, it’s nearly an hour away as the car struggles to make it up steep rocky roads and rivers. One river crossing has a small wooden bridge built by locals. It’s small and can only fit one motorcycle at a time. “We made it last year, two winters ago,” Alvarado said. “We got some teak trees and a Guanacaste tree and nailed them. I don’t think it’ll last another winter. It’s already rotting; one of the teak logs broke and you can fall in, motorcycle and everything.”Alvarado says they’ve been asking the government to fix the original bridge for over two years. But if you don’t keep your ronda clean, the government will send a warning letter and then an employee to clean it up for you. Then they’ll quickly send you the bill.Flooding is also common in the area. The Arío river runs right behind Alvarado’s farm; this season, it flooded his farm and sent uprooted trees hurtling through his land. He almost lost a horse, but there were no casualties this season. Debris from the flood still litters his farm, and the rainy season starts back up in May. Onias Alvarado showing a tree that swept through his farm after heavy floods in 2018. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)Many families in the area are one bad step away from financial ruin. There’s a goat farm that earned a Blue Flag certification for its environmental practices, close to Alvarado’s.It belongs to Salvador Montero and his family. They have goats and make cheeses, yogurt and milk to sell in towns like Santa Teresa and Montezuma. But in early November, their pickup truck broke down. Montero’s wife was going through menopause and couldn’t tend to the animals like she used to. Their output decreased and their costs only went up.They need to get feed and supplies from Cóbano and with the car down, it costs 10,000 colones to get supplies, or as the Monteros think of it, a whole sack of feed for the goats. The Monteros have been struggling financially after their car broke down. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)Dagoberto Rodriguez, 47, who runs the local co-op, CopeCobano, hopes he can buy a truck, establish routes and deliver products to farms at a discounted price. He hopes the local co-op can make a comeback because sales have gone down recently. He carries glyphosate, but has been trying to switch over to organic herbicides to appeal to both sides.They are more expensive, though. He thinks there’s also a solution that can be made with vinegar, but he’s worried farmers would just buy it from local supermarkets and hurt the co-op sales even further. Dago has big dreams for the CopeCobano. They have a small cafeteria on the side that sells empanadas, the best in town Rodriguez swears, and he can keep adding to it and turn it into a community center for the people of Cobano.Rodriguez says was at the meeting at the municipality and said that while many newcomers are well-intentioned, they don’t realize how hard things are for the local population.The farms are as close as they always were, but pulling further away as they stay stuck trying to survive while investment and tourist developments push towns like Santa Teresa and Montezuma further ahead. The local farmer co-op manager Dago. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)“I’ve actually fumigated some people’s houses who were at the meeting [to ban pesticides and herbicides,]” Dago said. “Sometimes I feel like we’ve gotten to the point where we’re bothering the tourists.”Alvarado said he never heard about the meeting concerning pesticides and herbicides at the municipality, which was attended by very few local Costa Ricans. He said he would’ve gone to talk about his side if he’d known about it. He says that despite health concerns, he really doesn’t see any other option to do the work that glyphosate does on his land.Smith says she understands there’s frustration with foreigners who have come and developed land without regard to the local population, but her motivation is what’s best for the environment, the people and future generations.The group she belongs to, Costa Rica Libre De Tóxicos, is hosting organic agriculture workshops. She says the group wants to work with the government to educate farmers about alternatives. She also says despite contacting the municipality weekly, she still hasn’t seen or heard of any results stemming from the town hall back in early November.“I hope that the farmers don’t take this personally. It’s not about them,” Smith said. “It’s about big agrochemical companies that are taking advantage of all of us.“I see myself as a human being, not as an American, not as British, Peruvian or Tica. We are all in this together.”
Official government figures indicate 11 percent of Iraqis were unemployed at the end of last year, according to Planning Ministry spokesman Abdul-Zahra Hendawi. Another 25 percent are considered underemployed, suggesting they are unable to find steady, full-time jobs that meet their needs. Other Iraqi officials have quoted higher jobless numbers.The gaps in services are obvious in some of Iraq’s poorest areas.In Hay Tariq, a fast-growing Shiite slum on Baghdad’s outskirts, children cool off by swimming in a garbage-filled pond fed by wastewater runoff.Many residents there lack proper plumbing, so they use donkey-drawn carts to haul plastic containers and even old oil drums to a municipal distribution center to collect fresh water. Resident Hadi Ibrahim said he sometimes has to wait hours before the water gets distributed.Even in nicer areas, such as the Sunni enclave of Azamiyah, residents say they have yet to see any improvement despite the increase in the flow of oil.During an interview in his cramped and cracking house there, fishmonger Sadiq Abdul-Jalil al-Obeidi described how old pipes in the neighborhood are clogged and falling apart, causing sewage to mix with drinking water. The rise stems from a steady increase in Iraqi output and the effect of international sanctions that are crimping Iran’s ability to market its own crude. Foreign oil majors such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC have been brought in to develop Iraq’s vast oil fields, and new export facilities are coming online.The architect of Iraq’s postwar energy policy, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani, is proud of the country’s achievement. He recently boasted that Iraq is now pumping 3.2 million barrels a day, a figure that also puts it ahead of oil-rich Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.The difference is that citizens of those nearby countries enjoy income levels, pensions and standards of health care far higher than their Iraqi counterparts. Their modern metropolises _ which in the UAE’s case host some of the tallest and most innovative buildings in the world _ bear little resemblance to crumbling, concrete Baghdad and other strained Iraqi cities.Embittered Iraqis are acutely aware of the disparity. Many blame not the United States or international oil companies, but a government they see as ineffective and corrupt.“Go ask the government why we are living like this. It was better under Saddam,” said Ahmed Saadi, another driver filling his tank at the gas station, referring to dictator Saddam Hussein, deposed after the American-led invasion in 2003. “They said they were going to distribute the oil money to the people in a fair way. It didn’t happen.” Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The power went out the moment he invited guests inside. It returned, at higher cost, only after a privately owned neighborhood generator kicked in.He accused Iraqi officials _ “the whole government, without any exception” _ of pocketing the country’s oil revenues. “Human nature is greedy,” he added mater-of-factly.“We’re an oil-rich country, so services should be 100 percent perfect. But what we’re seeing is the opposite,” al-Obeidi said. “There hasn’t been a single official who has come forward to serve the people. Even a 5-year-old child can tell you that. They … only think about their personal ambitions.”Repeated attempts in recent days to reach Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh to discuss the bitter complaints were unsuccessful.Other government officials, including some whose parties are allied with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, say corruption and wasteful government spending are seriously diminishing any gains increased oil production is bringing to Iraq.Without better plans to spend the oil revenues, “Iraq will remain another Somalia instead of becoming more like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates,” said Shiite lawmaker Jawad Kadim al-Hassnawi, a member in the services and construction committee in the parliament. Associated PressBAGHDAD (AP) – Iraq is fast becoming an oil producing powerhouse, but you’d never know that by looking at the faded Unknown Soldier gas station in downtown Baghdad. There’s no repair garage or mini-mart, just a cramped office with tattered vinyl couches. Horns blare as a string of waiting cars backs up into busy Sadoun Street, slowing traffic.Electricity from the power grid is available only for a few hours a day, so a noisy generator burns through 200 liters (53 gallons) of fuel daily just to keep the lights on and pumps running. That eats into what little profit is left over after government-imposed price caps, says manager Anmar Abdul-Sattar. “The whole service system will totally collapse soon if the government continues to act in such an aimless way,” he warned.Salem, the taxi driver filling up in downtown Baghdad, is even more pessimistic.“It’s totally impossible,” he said when asked if Iraq’s standard of living can one day hope to rival that of other regional OPEC countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. “We’d need Aladdin’s magic lamp for that!”___Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Salaheddin contributed reporting.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Like many Iraqis, he sees little reason to celebrate the postwar petroleum gains that have turned Iraq into a leading oil producer. “The country is increasing its oil revenues, but we’re not feeling it on the ground,” he said.It’s a widely shared sentiment. Frequent power cuts, the state’s inability to prevent near-daily bloodshed and yawning gaps in basic services have left ordinary Iraqis convinced they are sharing little in the country’s growing oil wealth. Insurgent attacks have killed more than 200 people just since the start of this month.“There is no electricity, no public services. No respect for the people of Iraq,” Mohammed Salem said as he gassed up his taxi at the station, which is named after a monument that once stood nearby. The billions being made off Iraq’s oil, Salem believes, are simply “being stolen by government officials and sent to banks outside of Iraq.”Iraq last month crept into second place behind Saudi Arabia among OPEC’s top oil exporters, according to the latest figures from the International Energy Agency. The shift marks a symbolic victory over neighboring Iran, long the bloc’s No. 2. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day How men can have a healthy 2019 Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Sponsored Stories Comments Share Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project How do cataracts affect your vision?
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – U.S. officials have bestowed a human rights award on an imprisoned Belarusian activist, honoring his work and that of others struggling for democracy in the autocratic ex-Soviet state.The U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Lee Feinstein, presented the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award on Tuesday to the wife of Ales Belyatsky, who is in prison in Belarus.Belyatsky, one of Belarus’ leading human rights defenders, was convicted of tax evasion last November and sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison, an act that U.S. and European officials have criticized and described as a punishment for his democracy struggle. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Feinstein said the award is meant to let Belyatsky know he has Washington’s support, and it also “helps the regime to know that we are paying attention.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Parents, stop beating yourself up 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Comments Share Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation
Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Scotland Yard said Monday a settlement had been reached that acknowledged the suffering Tomlinson’s family has “endured with dignity” over the last four years.“I apologize unreservedly for Simon Harwood’s use of excessive and unlawful force, which caused Mr. Tomlinson’s death, and for the suffering and distress caused to his family as a result,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Maxine de Brunner said in a statement.Harwood was tried and acquitted of manslaughter, but later fired after a police disciplinary panel ruled this actions amounted to gross misconduct. That panel had declined to consider whether Harwood’s actions contributed to Tomlinson’s death _ prompting accusations of a whitewash from Tomlinson’s family.De Brunner added that she took “full responsibility” for Harwood’s actions.Tomlinson’s death became a rallying point for those who alleged police had brutalized demonstrators.Tomlinson’s widow, Julia, said Monday that the police apology was “as close as we are going to get to justice.”“It will always be painful for us that Ian died so violently, but at least he is at rest now, and the force has publicly acknowledged the truth,” she said. Comments Share (Copyright 2013 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 LONDON (AP) – London police apologized Monday to the family of a British newspaper vendor who died after an officer hit him with a baton during demonstrations against a Group of 20 meeting in 2009. The force said it had reached an out-of-court settlement with the family.Officer Simon Harwood hit 47-year-old Ian Tomlinson and shoved him to the ground as Tomlinson tried to leave a cordon put up to contain protesters in London’s financial district. Tomlinson collapsed and died moments later. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Check your body, save your life Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day
Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments Share SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Experts from the World Health Organization and South Korea on Saturday downplayed concerns about the MERS virus spreading further within the country, which recorded its 14th fatality and 12 new infections, but said that it was premature to declare the outbreak over.After a weeklong review of the outbreak, the panel of experts told a news conference that there was no evidence to suggest the virus is spreading in the community. The outbreak in South Korea has so far been occurring only in hospitals, among patients, family members who visited them and medical staff treating them. Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Two hospitals, including one in Seoul considered as the main source of the outbreak, also were temporarily closed after MERS patients were found to have had contact with hundreds of people at the two facilities before they were diagnosed.Experts think MERS can spread in respiratory droplets, such as by coughing. But transmissions have mainly occurred through close contact, such as living with or caring for an infected person.MERS has a death rate of about 40 percent among reported cases. It belongs to the family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold and SARS, and can cause fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure. Most of the deaths in South Korea have been of people suffering from pre-existing medical conditions, such as respiratory problems or cancer.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Top holiday drink recipes The virus has spread at a pattern similar to previous outbreaks in the Middle East, and the sequencing studies of samples from South Korea show no signs that the virus has increased its ability to transmit between humans, said WHO Assistant Director Keiji Fukuda.While the infections seem to be stagnating, the South Korean government must continue to maintain strong control measures, such as closely monitoring suspected patients and preventing them from traveling, because it’s still early to declare the situation over, he added.Fukuda said that overcrowded emergency rooms and hospital wards might have contributed to a wider-than-expected transmission of the virus that usually spreads poorly between people. South Korea’s habits of “doctor shopping” — visiting multiple facilities to treat the same infection — and the custom of having many friends and family members visiting hospitalized patients might have also facilitated the spread, he said.Fourteen people have died and nearly 140 have been diagnosed — including 12 new infections Saturday — with Middle East respiratory syndrome since last month in the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia. About 2,900 schools and kindergartens were closed and 3,680 people were isolated as of Friday after possible contacts with those infected. Hospital workers pray as they attend a special service for patients suffering from MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, at a Sungmo hospital in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, June 12, 2015. The outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome has caused panic in South Korea. (Park Ji-ho/Yonhap via AP) KOREA OUT Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The vital role family plays in society How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies
Comments Share Top Stories Clashes, however, continued to the south and west of the predominantly Kurdish town on the Turkish border on Saturday, they said, although the fighting in the south quietened down by nightfall.Naasan said 23 of the city’s Kurdish defenders were killed in the fighting, but the Observatory put the number at 16. The discrepancy could not immediately be reconciled, but conflicting casualty figures are common in the aftermath of major fighting.“Kobani has been completely cleared of Daesh, and Kurdish forces are now combing the town looking for fighters who may have gone into hiding,” Bali, using the Arabic acronym for the IS, told The Associated Press by telephone from Kobani. The official Syrian news agency, SANA, also reported that Kobani has been cleared of IS fighters.The more than 200 civilians killed in the last two days include some who perished in IS suicide bombings, including one at the border crossing with Turkey, but they were mostly shot dead in cold blood, some in their own homes, the activists said.“They were revenge killings,” Rami Abdurrahman, the observatory’s director, told the AP.Others were caught in the cross-fire as gun battles raged in the town’s streets or were randomly targeted by IS snipers on rooftops. Bali, Abdurrahman and Naasan all said the number of Kobani civilians and IS fighters killed was likely to rise as rescue teams continue to search neighborhoods where the fighting took place.Massacring civilians is not an uncommon practice by the Islamic State group, whose men have slaughtered thousands in Syria and neighboring Iraq over the last year, when its fighters blitzed through large swathes of territory and declared a caliphate that spans both nations.The Islamic State group often posts on social media networks gruesome images of its fighters executing captives as part of psychological warfare tactics designed to intimidate and inspire desertions among their enemies. Last week, it posted one of its most gruesome video clips, showing the execution of 16 men it claimed to have been spies. Five of the men were drowned in a cage, four were burned inside a car and seven were blown up by explosives.The killing of so many civilians in Kobani, according to Abdurrahman, was premeditated and meant by the Islamic State to avenge their recent defeats at the hands of Kurdish forces.The Western-backed Kurdish forces have emerged as a formidable foe of the extremist group, rolling them back in the north and northeast parts of Syria, where the Kurds are the dominant community, as well as in northern Iraq, where they have also made significant gains against the IS. Turkish soldiers stand guard as people from the Syrian town of Ayn al-Arab or Kobani, in the background, wait to cross into Turkey following the attacks by IS militants as seen from the Turkish side of the border in Suruc, Turkey, Friday, June 26, 2015. (AP Photo) 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State fighters who launched a surprise attack on a Syrian border town massacred more than 200 civilians, including women and children, before they were killed or driven out by Kurdish forces, activists said on Saturday.Kurdish activist Mustafa Bali, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Kurdish official Idris Naasan put at 40-50 the number of elite IS fighters killed in the two days of fighting since the militants sneaked into the town of Kobani before dawn on Thursday. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies How men can have a healthy 2019 Fighting is continuing in Hassakeh for the third successive day, with government and Kurdish forces separately fighting IS militants who have seized several neighborhoods in the mostly Kurdish town, according to the Observatory. Forces loyal to embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad have brought in reinforcements from the town of Deir el-Zour to the south while the Syrian air force pounded IS positions inside the town.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Check your body, save your life Kobani has become a symbol of Kurdish resistance after it endured a months-long siege by the Islamic State group before Kurdish forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, broke through and drove the militants out in January.Thursday’s surprise attack on the town and a simultaneous one targeting the remote northeastern town of Hassakeh came two days after the Islamic State group called for a wave of violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting and piety that is now in its second week.“You Muslims, take the initiative and rush to jihad, rise up you mujahideen everywhere, push forward and make Ramadan a month of calamities for the nonbelievers,” IS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said in an audio message released Tuesday.In what also appears to be a response to that call, terror attacks took place Friday across three continents: shootings in a Tunisian beach resort that left 39 people dead, an explosion and a beheading in a U.S.-owned chemical warehouse in southeast France and a suicide bombing by an Islamic State affiliate at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait that killed at least 27 worshippers.The attacks also came after the group suffered a series of setbacks over the past two weeks, including the loss earlier this week of the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad — one of the group’s main points for bringing in foreign fighters and supplies. 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New powers allowing customs officials to search travellers arriving in Australia for pornography have been labelled as an invasion of privacy by the Australian Sex Party. A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said that the first question on the custom’s Incoming Passenger Cards has been changed to ask passengers if they are carrying pornography. The change was allegedly made late last year because the term “pornography” was more recognisable to travellers than the term “objectionable material”.Travellers who answer YES to this newly worded question will then be asked whether they are declaring a weapon, illicit drugs or pornography.If they say they are carrying ‘pornography,’ Customs officers have the authority to search these materials.The Australian Sex Party President Fiona Patten claims the change was “sneaked through” by the Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor.“How can the Minister call this monstrous invasion of people’s privacy and the criminalisation of hundreds of thousands of people who will answer ‘no’ to this question out of embarrassment, a ‘minor’ or ‘machinery’ change?” Ms Patten said that Australian customs officials are looking for any R18+ and N18+ material— and many people wouldn’t admit to carrying porn due to embarrassment. “Is it fair that customs officers rummage through someone’s luggage and pull out a legal men’s magazine or a lesbian journal in front of their children or their mother-in-law?” “If you and your partner have filmed or photographed yourselves making love in an exotic destination or even taking a bath, you will have to answer ‘Yes’ to the question or you will be breaking the law.”HAVE YOUR SAY: Are you okay with these new rules or are they an invasion of privacy? Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A A sophisticated online scam luring Australian travellers with cheap airfares is likely to fool even the savviest of online customers, said police.Queensland police discovered the airfare scam last week along with a Vietnamese-hosted site selling credit card details, phone numbers, and email and postal addresses of 1,000 Australians, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.The scam sees people sent real tickets from real airlines, purchased from stolen credit cards.As people can call the airlines to confirm their seats and are not asked for immediate payment, the scam is given an air of authenticity, Detective Superintendent Brian Hay said.”What is enticing about these websites, and may even serve to alleviate the fear many people have of shopping on these sites, is that payment is not requested until the tickets arrive from the airline,” he said.According to police, it is only when the airlines realise tickets have been purchased with stolen cards and subsequently cancel them that people are left with worthless tickets.”What we see here is unlike anything we’ve seen before,” Mr Hay said. “Two victims from one simple scam – the person’s bank who owns the credit card is now out pocket $2000, as is the person buying the tickets who sent the money after receiving their tickets.”The sites involved include www.cheapflightsonly.net, www.onlycheapflights.net, www.cheaper-flights.net.au and www.flisave.com.Travelscene American Express general manager Jacqui Timmins has said the best protection against these types of scams is for consumers to deal only with travel agents licensed in Australia.“[U]nless you’re dealing with an Australian-based, licensed travel agent, you may as well be putting your hard earned cash through the paper shredder,” Ms Timmins said.