Scramble to reassure tourists as group abducted in Puerto Vallarta

first_img By: Christopher Sherman Share Tuesday, August 16, 2016 Scramble to reassure tourists as group abducted in Puerto Vallarta MEXICO CITY — Police and troops are searching for 10 to 12 suspected gang members who were abducted in a shocking raid by gunmen on an apparent celebration at an upscale restaurant in the popular beach resort of Puerto Vallarta.Meanwhile, the city’s tourism promoters scrambled to reassure tourists that it was an isolated incident and that activities for visitors continued without interruption.In a statement, the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board says it “deeply regrets the events that occurred this morning in one of the city’s restaurants and confirms that no tourist was involved or affected in this incident. As an immediate safety measure, security has been reinforced in Puerto Vallarta to ensure that residents as well as tourists can continue with their normal activities. It is important to note that the authorities are taking the necessary measures and Puerto Vallarta is fully operational with all tourism services and attractions open and following their regular schedules without any interruptions.”More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthBoth the kidnappers and those kidnapped were members of criminal organizations, Almaguer said at a news conference called to discuss the early Monday abduction in the resort’s main hotel zone.“They were not tourists or residents who work in legal activities,” Almaguer said. “They were people tied to a criminal group we can very clearly presume.”The Jalisco New Generation cartel has become the dominant criminal force in the state. It has battled the powerful Sinaloa cartel for supremacy in other parts of the country, such as Baja California Sur.Almaguer said two SUVs carrying five gunmen arrived around 1 a.m. at La Leche restaurant on Puerto Vallarta’s main boulevard, which runs through the hotel zone lying between the old beach city and the airport.He said some of those abducted had been vacationing in Puerto Vallarta for a week and the group that was targeted appeared to be celebrating according to other people in the restaurant. Authorities found lots of drinks and luxury items inside the restaurant. Five vehicles were abandoned at the restaurant, among them one with Jalisco license plates, but a false registration.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agency  “As representatives of the tourism community of Puerto Vallarta, a city recognized by the warmth of its people and the ease with which visitors enjoy the destination’s diverse offerings, we do not tolerate violence of any kind,” said Agustin Alvarez general director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board. “We are following the instructions by the different government authorities and encourage the community to do the same; as well as pay attention to information and facts solely communicated by the authorities in charge, in order to dispel false rumors and avoid confusion that do not represent the actual situation in Puerto Vallarta and ensure we do not compromise the security of our residents and tourists.” << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

WestJet ready to say bonjour to Paris with tonights inaugural flight

first_img Thursday, May 31, 2018 Share Travelweek Group Tags: Halifax, Paris, WestJet << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img HALIFAX — WestJet will make history right around 10:55 p.m. ADT tonight, with its first continental Europe flight taking off from Halifax to Paris.With the new flight the carrier says it’s taking “another step to fulfill its mission of becoming a truly global airline.”Tim Croyle, WestJet Interim Executive Vice-President Commercial, and Joyce Carter, President & CEO of Halifax Stanfield International Airport Authority, will be on hand at the airport for the flight’s launch.Together with WestJet Encore, WestJet now offers scheduled service to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe, and to more than 175 destinations in over 20 countries through its airline partnerships.WestJet announced back in January that it was adding the Paris CDG flights to its summer 2018 schedule. The seasonal service will operate through Oct. 27.All the Paris flights will be operated on WestJet’s B737-8 MAX aircraft. Daily flights depart Halifax at 10:55 p.m., arriving at 10 a.m. the next day. On the return leg, flights leave Paris at 11:20 a.m., returning to Halifax at 1:35 p.m. Posted by WestJet ready to say ‘bonjour’ to Paris with tonight’s inaugural flightlast_img read more

Here is Crystals full roster of themed cruises for 2019 2020 2021

first_imgHere is Crystal’s full roster of themed cruises for 2019, 2020 & 2021 Posted by Tags: Crystal Cruises Travelweek Group MIAMI — Crystal Cruises has unveiled its roster of theme cruises for the next three years, and by the early looks of them, clients are in for a real treat.The 2019, 2020 and 2021 ‘Experiences of Discovery’ voyages take place aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal serenity, and include enhanced programming in specialized subjects. Several of the sailings will feature programming for more than one theme, allowing guests to further expand their interests.“Luxury travellers expect to be enlightened and stimulated as they explore the world with Crystal, and our ‘Experiences of Discovery’ offer opportunities for them to broaden their horizons even further,” said Carmen Roig, senior vice president of marketing and sales. “Whether piquing guests’ interest in a new area or deepening their fascinations with long-held pastimes, the programming for each of these voyages is designed to spark conversation and an increasing curiosity for travellers.”Here is the full lineup:President’s Cruise: Crystal president and CEO, Tom Wolber, and his wife, Sharon, will host special receptions, Q&A sessions and an excursion ashore aboard Crystal Symphony.2019: December 12020: December 7Crystal on Broadway: This cruise will feature performances and presentations from the creative talents of stage and theatre, thanks to Crystal’s partnership with multi-Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Kevin McCollum, on voyages in the Mediterranean and Western Europe, Alaska, South Pacific, Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Pacific West Coast and Hawaii.2019: January 5, 6 and 14, April 8, May 29, July 2, 12, 29 and 30, August 10 and 12, September 17, 21 and 28, October 10, 11, 23 and 25, November 8 and 24, December 1, 11, 14, 21 and 22Crystal Wine & Food Festival: Accomplished and acclaimed chefs, wine sommeliers, mixologists and other culinary masters share expertise through special dinners, hands-on instruction and demos and tastings in the South Pacific, Australia, North Cape, Asia, Caribbean, Western and Northern Europe, Arabian Gulf, North American East Coast, and South and Central America.2019: January 5 and 14, April 26, June 21, September 28 and November 242020: March 3, May 8, June 19, August 30, October 23 and 302021: January 5 and 21, April 8 and 24, June 13 and October 27More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaGolf: Golfers can perfect their swing onboard with PGA instructors and learn insights of the PGA tour from guest golf celebrities and experts. Ashore, they can challenge their handicap on renowned courses in Western Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia and Pacific West Coast and Hawaii, with Crystal taking care of the details, including club transport, storage and cleaning, plus special onboard instruction from pros and friendly competitions among players.2019: June 10, August 12 and December 212020: March 1 and July 252021: February 19, April 13, July 20, August 13 and 20 and September 5Big Band & Ballroom Dance: Live daily and nightly performances throughout the ship, plus additional Ambassador Hosts for ladies without dance partners, allow guests to swing, tango, waltz and rhumba their way across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal.2019: October 11 and November 122020: August 30 and November 212021: October 26Jazz Days & Cabaret Nights: Live performances by some of today’s jazz greats and presentations from experts and historians about the legends of the craft on voyages to the South Pacific, North American East Coast, Mediterranean, Mexico and Costa Rica.2019: February 19 and September 282020: October 302021: October 11More news:  Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongMind, Body & Spirit: Health and wellness experts from Tai Chi masters and yoga gurus to nutritionists and Cleveland Clinic medical minds will share tips for living one’s best life on North Cape, Mediterranean, Arabian Gulf, Caribbean and Australia and New Zealand voyages.2019: June 21 and October 252020: May 10 and October 232021: December 6Magic: Crystal’s exclusive partnership with the renowned Magic Castle presents the sleight of hand and mesmerizing illusions of talented magicians in the Caribbean, New England and Canada.2019: November 242020: September 202021: December 12Film & Theatre: Fans of stage and cinema will be treated to performances and showings of classics, plus entertaining presentations and Q&A with some of show biz’s great minds in Japan, Alaska, Europe and the north American East Coast.2019: May 262020: August 192021: September 5Ocean Views: Acclaimed guest speakers join panel discussions on politics and world affairs, inviting guests to engage in Q&A sessions and real-time debate via interactive polling devices on sailings through the Caribbean, South Pacific, Africa, Western Europe, Holy Land, India, Arabian Gulf, China and Japan.2019: January 5 and 14, March 13 and May 92020: January 22, April 3 and May 82021: January 5, 21 and 27, March 22 and April 24Crystal Society: Returning guests will be treated to special receptions, excursions and other perks on a celebratory sailing in the Caribbean.2019: October 252020: October 302021: January 5 and 21, May 12center_img Share Monday, November 19, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Unifor head supports Air Canadas bid for Transat citing stability

first_img MONTREAL — The largest private-sector union in the country says Air Canada is employees’ best option when it comes to the purchase of Quebec tour operator Transat A.T.Unifor president Jerry Dias argued in an open letter Wednesday that while takeovers can work against employees’ best interest, his union is backing the option that offers the most stability and job security.Last month Transat’s board of directors approved a takeover offer by Air Canada over other bidders, though the $520-million deal faces legal and regulatory scrutiny along with resistance from major Transat shareholders.The announcement came three days after Ottawa greenlighted Onex Corp.’s proposed $3.5-billion acquisition of WestJet Airlines Ltd. on June 24.Dias said in a phone interview Wednesday that hedge funds have little stake in protecting companies in the long-term and frequently wind up selling off profitable parts before abandoning ship.“They bust up the company, they sell off the assets,” he said. “At least a company like Air Canada has a long history, and they’re not going anywhere.More news:  Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portal“For me it’s about stability. It’s about a common-sense business model that keeps people employed instead of an industry that’s based on making a quick buck,” Dias said.Unifor represents more than 4,000 sales and customer service agents at Air Canada, but no employees at Transat, where about half of the 5,000 workers are unionized.Other unions representing machinists, flight attendants and pilots on both sides of the pending purchase say it is still too early to weigh in.The two companies say the deal will likely close early next year. It must pass the scrutiny of the Competition Bureau and win over major Transat shareholders.Letko, Brosseau and Associates, the Montreal-based travel company’s largest stakeholder at just under 20 per cent, has stated its opposition to the $13-per-share purchase price.The Quebec Federation of Labour Solidarity Fund and the Caisse, which hold 11.56 per cent and 5.83 per cent, respectively, have not yet made their opinions public. Thursday, July 18, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >> By: The Canadian Press Unifor head supports Air Canada’s bid for Transat, citing stability Share Tags: Air Canada, Air Transat, Uniforlast_img read more

Mexicos changes could lessen US role in antidrug efforts

first_imgMEXICO CITY – For the past seven years, Mexico and the United States have put aside their tension-filled history on security matters to forge an unparalleled alliance against Mexico’s drug cartels, one based on sharing sensitive intelligence, U.S. training, and joint operational planning.But now, much of that hard-earned cooperation may be in jeopardy.The December inauguration of President Enrique Peña Nieto brought the nationalistic Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) back to power after 13 years, and with it a whiff of resentment over the deep U.S. involvement in Mexico’s fight against narco-traffickers.The new administration has shifted priorities away from the U.S.-backed strategy of arresting kingpins, which sparked an unprecedented level of violence among the cartels, and toward an emphasis on prevention and keeping Mexico’s streets safe and calm, Mexican authorities said.Some U.S. officials fear the coming of an unofficial truce with cartel leaders. The Mexicans see it otherwise. “The objective of fighting organized crime is not in conflict with achieving peace,” said Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States.Interviews with more than four dozen current and former U.S. and Mexican diplomats, law enforcement agents, military officers and intelligence officials – most of whom agreed to speak about sensitive matters only on condition of anonymity – paint the most detailed public portrait to date of how the two countries grew so close after so many years of distance and distrust, and what is at stake should the alliance be scaled back.U.S. officials got their first inkling that the relationship might change just two weeks after Peña Nieto assumed office Dec. 1. At the U.S. ambassador’s request, the new president sent his top five security officials to an unusual meeting at the U.S. Embassy here. In a crowded conference room, the new attorney general and interior minister sat in silence, not knowing what to expect, next to the new leaders of the army, navy and Mexican intelligence agency.In front of them at the Dec. 15 meeting were representatives from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the CIA, the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other U.S. agencies tasked with helping Mexico destroy the drug cartels that had besieged the country for the past decade.The Mexicans remained stone-faced as they learned for the first time just how entwined the two countries had become during the battle against narco-traffickers, and how, in the process, the United States had been given near-complete entree to Mexico’s territory and the secrets of its citizens, according to several U.S. officials familiar with the meeting. By then, cartels had begun employing assassination squads, according to Guillermo Valdes, who was CISEN director at the time. CISEN discovered from a captured videotape and a special analytical group it set up that some of the cartels had hired former members of the U.S.-trained Guatemalan special forces, the Kaibiles, to create sociopathic killers who could behead a man, torture a child or immerse a captive in a vat of acid.Anxious to counterattack, the CIA proposed electronically emptying the bank accounts of drug kingpins, but was turned down by the Treasury Department and the White House, which feared unleashing chaos in the banking system.As the Mexican death toll mounted, Calderon pleaded with Bush for armed drones. He had been impressed by the results in Iraq and Afghanistan, two former U.S. officials said. The White House considered the request, but quickly rejected it. It was far too likely to result in collateral damage, they said.By 2009, President Barack Obama’s first year in office, horrific scenes had become commonplace throughout Mexico: severed heads thrown onto a dance floor, a half-dozen bodies hanged from a bridge, bombs embedded in cadavers. Ciudad Juarez, a stone’s throw from El Paso, was a virtual killing zone.Obama approved an intensification of bilateral measures. Deputy national security adviser John Brennan, also in charge of counterterrorism operations focused on al-Qaida, led the U.S. side. His Mexican partner was CISEN director Valdes.“We got people together to define the operations,” Valdes said in an interview. Every new program was vetted by Mexico’s security team and often by Calderon. The day-to-day operations were conceived in Mexico and approved by the U.S. ambassador at the time, Carlos Pascual, and the specific Mexican agency head involved.The first important decision was to use the same “high-value target” strategy that had been so successful against al-Qaida in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. authorities used real-time intelligence against kingpins on a Mexican-U.S. priority list – including cellphone geolocation, wiretaps, electronic intercepts and tracking of digital records – to help Mexican authorities target them.The second was to clean up the Mexican units that would be responsible for carrying out raids.As early as 1997, the DEA had funded the creation of Sensitive Investigative Units (SIU) made up of foreign nationals, first in Colombia, then in Bolivia, Peru and Mexico, and eventually in nine other countries. By mid-2006, the DEA had two units with a total of 184 members in Mexico alone, according to a DEA inspector general’s report. The Mexicans were brought for training to the DEA’s facility at Quantico.Mexico does not allow U.S. agents to take part in the actual raids, but they can be involved in planning operations and can even direct them remotely.The CIA also has trained units in raid tactics, protection of senior officials, intelligence collecting and, in a departure for the spy agency, in gathering and preserving evidence that can be used in court.To guard against penetration from the cartels, members were polygraphed, drug-tested and vetted for criminal and financial irregularities. But operations were still routinely exposed by moles inserted by the cartels. So, beginning in 2009, the size of the units was cut significantly. Those who remained worked under cover and lived in secret safe houses. The U.S. agencies they worked with provided special cellphones and even paid their salaries and set up their bank accounts. There are now six or seven SIUs in Mexico, sponsored by the DEA, CIA and at least one other U.S. law enforcement agency.The two countries also have constructed an elaborate physical infrastructure and developed protocols for sharing sensitive, often real-time intelligence. Garza, the former U.S. ambassador, called it “the plumbing” of the security relationship.“We started to appreciate that the same sort of plumbing construction for counterterrorism naturally translated into other security cooperation,” he said.By 2011, the plumbing extended to a CIA-run fusion center in Mexico City, a DEA-sponsored fusion center in Monterrey, a federal police bunker of “Star Wars”-like screens and computer terminals, also in the capital city, as well as separate military and federal police intelligence centers and one inside the headquarters of CISEN.“They gave us intelligence, they helped teach us the 24-hour intelligence cycle, helped build up our intelligence centers and taught us the importance of connecting intelligence to operations,” said Valdes, the CISEN director until September 2011. “Both DEA and the [CIA] helped, and we had a high level of support from Washington.”The infrastructure also has included regional law enforcement headquarters with temporary war rooms set up during large-scale Mexican military and federal police operations in Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana and Acapulco.To support Mexican operations in Ciudad Juarez, U.S. authorities arranged two brainstorming sessions at nearby Fort Bliss in Texas for their Mexican counterparts. Experts were brought in, including, upon Mexican request, the police chief of New Orleans, from whom they wanted to learn about the civilian large-scale control and relief measures after Hurricane Katrina.U.S. liaison officers remained on hand inside the federal police war room in Ciudad Juarez for more than two years, according to U.S. and former Mexican officials involved.The bulk of the U.S. work finding cartel members depends on the DEA’s exhaustive network of informants and undercover agents. Their information usually trumps what Mexican authorities bring to the table, particularly because local and state police remain riddled with corruption.DEA-provided information led to the killing of cartel leader Arturo Beltran Leyva in December 2009. The cartel not only moved significant quantities of cocaine into the United States but also had penetrated the highest level of Mexico’s institutions. His death gave Calderon his first significant victory in the militarized anti-cartel campaign.But planning for the Beltran Leyva operation had to overcome significant hitches. The CIA persuaded the embassy team to give the mission to a specialized Mexican army unit it was working with at the time. But the army chain of command dragged its feet. After several weeks of delay, the DEA insisted the mission be given to Mexico’s more aggressive Naval Special Forces.In another successful mission, the DEA in the summer of 2010 was able to locate the multiple cellphones of U.S.-born kingpin Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie” for his Ken-doll good looks. The drug agency tracked his travels over time, allowing Mexican authorities to pursue him through five Mexican states. He was captured in August 2010 and is in Mexican custody, still awaiting extradition to the United States.Drones became part of the mix, too.In July 2009, hours after Mexican smugglers shot and killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent while trying to steal his night-vision goggles, U.S. authorities were given permission to fly an unarmed Predator drone into Mexican airspace to hunt for suspects. Intelligence from the flights was passed to the Mexican army. Within 12 hours, the army brought back more information, according to two U.S. officials involved in the operation. Eventually, four suspects were captured. Three pleaded guilty, one is awaiting trial and a fifth remains at large.That first flight dispelled Mexican fears that U.S. authorities would try to take control of drone operations. An agreement was reached that would temporarily give operational control to Mexican authorities during such flights. U.S. pilots sitting in the States would control the planes remotely, but a Mexican military or federal police commander would be able to direct the pilot within the boundaries of a Mexico-designated grid.By late 2010, drones were flying deeper into Mexico to spy on the cartels, as they did during the two-day gun battle involving 800 federal police that resulted in the death of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, head of the ultra-violent La Familia Michoacana cartel.By then, Mexican authorities had grown so enamored with drones that they were requesting more flights than the United States could deliver, given that most of the aircraft were being used to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan. So Mexican authorities bought their own drones. The first public indication of this development came when one crashed in El Paso in December 2010.“Eventually, when they got better at using their own, they would fly more missions than we would,” said one former law enforcement official involved in drone operations.Four months and many conversations after the Dec. 15 meeting, the new Mexican government is still fleshing out the details of its counterdrug approach.In a visit to Washington two weeks ago, Mexico’s top security team shared the broad outlines of the plan with U.S. agencies, according to U.S. and Mexican officials. It contains many changes.The president will not be nearly as directly involved in counterdrug efforts as Calderon was, the officials said. The interior minister will coordinate the relationships between various Mexican and U.S. agencies and other Mexican units. The director of the Mexican intelligence agency will decide which Mexican agency should receive and act on sensitive U.S. information.Given the corruption of Mexican law enforcement and armed forces, U.S. officials said privately they would be unwilling to share sensitive information until they have vetted the people involved and understand how their information is to be protected.The Mexican government also plans to create five regional intelligence fusion centers, staffed with federal and state officials, and to build a 10,000-member super police force. This force would be steeped in military discipline but would use police tactics, rather than overwhelming military force, to keep violence to a minimum.Medina Mora, the Mexican ambassador, said in an interview that his nation considers U.S. help in the drug war “a centerpiece” of Mexico’s counternarcotics strategy. But the Mexican delegation in Washington also informed U.S. authorities that Americans will no longer be allowed to work inside any fusion center, including the one in Monterrey. The DEA agents and retired military contractors there will have to go.Several senior U.S. officials say U.S. agencies stand ready to help in any way the new administration allows.They anxiously await further details.Julie Tate in Washington and Gabriela Martinez in Mexico City contributed to this report. © 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments The administration of former president Felipe Calderon had granted high-flying U.S. spy planes access to Mexican airspace for the purpose of gathering intelligence. Unarmed Customs and Border Protection drones had flown from bases in the United States in support of Mexican military and federal police raids against drug targets and to track movements that would establish suspects’ “patterns of life.” The United States had also provided electronic signals technology, ground sensors, voice-recognition gear, cellphone-tracking devices, data analysis tools, computer hacking kits and airborne cameras that could read license plates from three miles away.Under a classified program code-named SCENIC, the CIA was training Mexicans in how to target and vet potential assets for recruitment and how to guard against infiltration by narco-traffickers.In deference to their visitors, the U.S. briefers left out the fact that most of the 25 kingpin taken off the streets in the past five years had been removed because of U.S.-supplied information, often including the location of top cartel members in real time, according to people familiar with the meeting. The CIA and Calderon declined to comment for this article.Also unremarked upon was the mounting criticism that success against the cartels’ leadership had helped incite more violence than anyone had predicted, more than 60,000 deaths and 25,000 disappearances in the past seven years alone.Meanwhile, the drug flow into the United States continued unabated. Mexico remains the U.S. market’s largest supplier of heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine and the transshipment point for 95 percent of its cocaine.No one had come up with a quick, realistic alternative to Calderon’s novel use of the Mexican military with U.S. support. But stopping the cartel violence had become Peña Nieto’s top priority during the campaign. The U.S. administration didn’t know what that meant. Some feared a scaling back of the bilateral efforts and a willingness to trade the relentless drive against cartel leaders for calmer streets.When the Dec. 15 meeting concluded, Mexico’s new security officials remained poker-faced, “They said they were very appreciative to have received so much information,” said one U.S. official familiar with the meeting. We will be in touch, they added, and left.U.S. involvement in Mexico’s deteriorating internal security first peaked in the mid-1980s when the cocaine epidemic in the United States turned the southern neighbor into a prosperous distribution route north. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed a National Security Decision Directive instructing U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to help defeat the growing narco-trafficking menace worldwide.Beginning in the late 1980s, a massive U.S. air, sea and land effort was shutting down many Caribbean drug routes. The traffickers were increasingly forced to move their product through the only territory left unhindered: Mexico.Mexico’s secret security ties with the United States date at least to the Cold War, when Mexico City was a hub of intrigue, the “Beirut of the Western Hemisphere,” according to intelligence history scholar Sergio Aguayo. To keep an eye on the United States, the Soviet Union and China had their largest embassies here, necessitating a large CIA presence.Back then, the Mexican intelligence service, CISEN, “was basically run by the CIA,” according to one former CISEN official. Although that has changed with time, the unusually close relationship between Mexican presidents and CIA chiefs has not. Then-CIA director David Petraeus attended a party at the Mexican Embassy in Washington in 2011 and visited Calderon in Mexico last year. As many of his predecessors had done, Calderon usually met with the CIA director when he came to Washington.The CIA’s importance here can be explained, in part, by the historically strained dealings between Mexico and the DEA and U.S. military. “There was a void that the CIA stepped into,” said Jeffrey Davidow, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico and author of a book about the prickly relationship between the two countries.In the mid-1980s, the DEA had been virtually banished from the country because of its aggressive pursuit of a slain DEA agent’s killers. But that relationship has improved greatly in the past five years. Now, the DEA has more employees in Mexico than in any other of its 67 foreign posts.In 2000, a political earthquake in Mexico paved the way for a less suspicious era between the two neighbors. The 71-year political reign of the authoritarian and corrupt PRI ended with the election of Vicente Fox of the National Action Party as president. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States turned the new openness into unprecedented bilateral action against terrorism.The two countries fortified the border with personnel and surveillance technology. Eventually, a protocol was worked out for Mexico to stop, detain and interrogate non-Mexicans traveling north toward the United States. Mexican authorities allow U.S. officials to remotely question third-country nationals of concern to the United States, according to Mexican and U.S. officials.Clamping down on illegal border crossings, however, had an unintended consequence: It upset agreements among the cartels over smuggling routes, sparking yet more violent competition.By the time Calderon was inaugurated in late 2006, many experts believed that Mexico was losing control of parts of the country. Even before his inauguration, Calderon pleaded with President George W. Bush to help the Mexican military quash the cartels, according to Antonio Garza, then U.S. ambassador to Mexico, who attended a meeting between the presidents.Bush agreed to help, and the Merida Initiative, a $1.9 billion aid package for military training and equipment and judicial reform, set the framework for a new level of U.S.-Mexican cooperation. In a little-noticed move, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence took a leading role in the U.S. effort to defeat the cartels, signaling the importance of intelligence in combating organized crime. By Dana Priest | The Washington Post No related posts.last_img read more

Italia 90 receives preview screening at Cine Magaly

first_imgAfter months of shooting and editing, “Italia 90” finally premiered last night at Cine Magaly, and the atmosphere felt like a red-carpet event: Enormous posters stood in the corridor, marketing people pooled outside and every media outlet in the city showed up to document the release. The public premiere will take place tomorrow, but for the film’s production team and interested journalists, last night was an exciting sneak-peak, and photographers packed onto the cinema steps like true paparazzi.“Italia 90” tells the story of the Costa Rican national soccer team, La Selección, during their landmark World Cup performance in 1990. An ensemble drama about the teammates and their personal handicaps,  the film explores how a bunch of immature blue-collar workers helped redefine La Sele as a professional global threat on the playing field.But the real highlight of the evening was the arrival of the original Italia 90 players. Most of those World Cup teammates have lived quiet lives since the mid-1990s, and the chance to see them together in public was a rare treat. They are older now, and all of them have shaven their one-fashionable mullets, but nostalgic fans recognized them immediately and asked for autographs. The aged heroes posed in front of the cinema entrance for pictures, then marched together into the building to find their VIP seats. La Sele player Alexandre Guimaraes poses in front of Cine Magaly with a fan. Alberto Font/The Tico Times“This film is for you,” said director Miguel Gómez during his opening speech. At his request, the Italia 90 players filed down the aisles and formed a line on the cinema’s main stage. Judging by the thunderous applause, their fame will live on.The public premiere of “Italia 90” takes place tomorrow, May 28, at various theaters in the Central Valley, and the film will release nationally on June 5. Facebook Comments Related posts:Keep the party going with the Sele song on a Steinway Music legend Rubén Blades writes Editus to praise Costa Rica’s World Cup achievements What I’ll tell my daughter about La Sele, 2014 Can Costa Rica defy the odds and conquer Group D (or at least score a goal)?last_img read more

NASAs Dawn mission inspires Costa Rican students

first_imgLaunched in 2007, NASA’s Dawn space probe mission is currently in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres after successfully completing its study of Vesta. Dawn is the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial bodies during the same mission, and is providing new insights about the origins of our solar system.Over the past few months this historic space mission caught the imagination of a group of young Costa Rican English students in the town of Santa Ana, west of San José. In my capacity as their English teacher, I introduced some of my most science-oriented students to the Dawn project, and they began their own research on the mission. It is a particularly natural field of study for young Costa Ricans, given the country’s growing involvement with the aerospace industry: Costa Rica is the birthplace of NASA Hall of Fame astronaut Dr. Franklin Chang, who shares the record for number of space flights (seven), and one of NASA’s top engineers, Sandra Kaufmann, who is the Deputy Project Manager on NASA’s Mars MAVEN mission.To cap off their project, the students contacted the Dawn team directly to ask them a few questions about scientific aspects of the project and seek some career guidance. What better way to learn about a project than from the people working on it? Dawn Flight Engineer Kristina Larson and Dawn Education and Public Outreach Lead Joe Wise kindly took time out of their busy schedules to correspond with the kids. Here is an excerpt from the exchange.Valeria Salazar Jiménez, age 15: What benefits will the Dawn mission provide for the world, and what is your favorite part about working for NASA?Kristina Larson: Dawn is the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial bodies, as well as the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet. Dawn uses a unique form of propulsion, ion propulsion, which is more than 10 times more efficient as standard chemical propulsion. Dawn used its Framing Camera, Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, and Gamma Ray & Neutron Detector at Vesta to map the topography and composition, and will be doing the same at Ceres. Understanding how these two proto-planets formed gives us clues into the formation of our solar system.My favorite part is seeing images taken by the spacecraft when they first are downlinked to Earth. I have experienced this with Dawn, with both images of Vesta and Ceres, as well as when I worked on the Opportunity rover. Every day we would see the new images taken the previous day of Mars. It’s so exciting to think that these spacecraft that we build on Earth are traveling far into our solar system and sending us back these current images of alien planets. You never know what you’re going to see when you come to work, and I absolutely love that! Dawn Mission Education and Public Outreach Lead Joe Wise. Courtesy of NASAAnthony Callow-Monge, age 16: What made you interested in joining this type of project? What is the work environment like? KL: I have always loved all things space, whether it was planetary science discoveries or sci-fi shows like Stargate SG-1. This motivated me to pursue an internship at JPL [a branch of NASA] and join the Dawn project. The work environment is awesome! JPL is not for profit; this provides a very different atmosphere from a for-profit company. Everyone is so passionate about the space exploration that we do and everyone is working towards that common goal. Members of Dawn really took the time to teach me space operations and provided a great learning environment.Edwin Emery, age 13: If humans were sent to Ceres, what would be the fastest travel time to get there?Joe Wise: This is one of the reasons that there is no talk about establishing a manned station on Ceres. Getting there in a reasonable time is prohibitively expensive. Dawn utilized ion propulsion to make the mission affordable. As an example, the ion engine would accelerate from 0 – 60 mph in about 4 days. It has a very gentle thrust, but it is consistent. The engine is very efficient so that we only use a little fuel for our trip, but the payback is that it takes a very long time to get there.Anthony Callow-Monge: How far do you think space exploration will have advanced by 2025?KL: The sky’s the limit! Wait – actually, there is no limit in space. Upcoming missions include the Europa Clipper mission and Mars 2020 (re-fly of MSL). Other projects in the works are the Asteroid Retrieval Mission and even possibly a Mars return mission. By 2025 we should also be much farther down the road in knowing how to take humans farther than the moon. Exciting times!No one should be surprised if more Costa Ricans in the near future are inspired to assume important roles in the aerospace industry and NASA. For more information on the Dawn project, visit the mission’s website. Facebook Comments Related posts:NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft enters Mars orbit A rocket landing in Tortuguero? Costa Rica’s Franklin Chang pushes space agenda in Washington Gravitational waves: Are scientists about to open a new window on the universe?last_img read more

Deporting 600 migrants back to Africa could be expensive and impossible

first_imgRelated posts:Solís touts Costa Rica’s treatment of migrants, refugees 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 says Costa Rica is getting tough-ish on the some 600, mostly African migrants camped out on its southern border in Paso Canoas. The government announced over the weekend that it had persuaded four families and one pregnant woman to move into a migrant youth and family center in nearby Buenos Aires — despite the protests of some men in the group who want Costa Rica to let them pass through the country on their journey to the U.S.Communications Minister Mauricio Herrera said at a Saturday news conference that the government’s principal concern was for the welfare of the approximately 25 children and 18 pregnant migrant woman in Paso Canoas, some of whom have been sleeping on the street or in otherwise substandard conditions.But the government has also made clear that it has no intention of cutting a deal with the undocumented migrants to either let them pass through the country, or to stay here, unless they have a valid asylum claim.Vice Minister of the Interior Carmen Muñoz said Saturday that of the approximately 200 requests for asylum that the government has received since Semana Santa, none have been granted. She said most of the requests were rejected because applicants made it clear that their intention was to move on to the U.S., not stay in Costa Rica.The officials said they would continue their efforts to coax more migrants to either move to the family center, or, for adults traveling without children, to a processing center set up in Paso Canoas away from the vehicle border crossing.But Herrera indicated that patience was running thin. “We’ve told them that we’re not going to tolerate them being there much longer,” he said.Herrera said the government was trying to maintain a dialogue with the migrants, “but this window won’t be open much longer.”He said that when and if security forces ultimately have to tell migrants to leave, if they don’t comply, “they’ll stop being irregular migrants and become people in conflict with the law.”No way forwardBesides the group of African and other migrants from beyond the continent, an even larger group of Cubans is marooned in Paso Canoas, a town that straddles the Costa Rica-Panama border. After weeks of a hot-potato approach to the migrants, the turbulent situation has settled for the moment with the Africans mostly on the Costa Rican side of the border and the Cubans mostly on the Panamanian side.With neither country willing to accept the migrants and Costa Rica unwilling to let them pass, the normal next step for most of the migrants in Costa Rica would be deportation, according to Immigration Administration officials.But finding a country willing to accept them could be a herculean task, according to Demetrios Papademetriou, president emeritus of the Washington, D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute, a think tank. Papademetriou told The Tico Times that similar efforts are “next to impossible” for European countries or the United States, and “impossible” for smaller ones like Costa Rica.Many of Costa Rica’s so-called “extracontinental” migrants lack identification, and home countries are often unwilling to accept their own citizens without ID, complicating attempts to repatriate them, Papademetriou said.If they cannot be sent back to their country of origin, the Foreign Ministry is tasked with identifying a so-called “third country” that will accept them. In that case, Costa Rica would provide documentation during the deportation process for those without formal identification.No country has yet said publicly that it would accept the African migrants.Papademetriou said he was not surprised. More than 100 undocumented migrants from African countries were detained earlier this week at checkpoints along Costa Rica’s southern border with Panama near Paso Canoas. (Courtesy of MSP)High price to deportAccording to Costa Rican law, deportees are supposed to be sent back to their country of origin or to the last country they legally entered. But even this basic information has remained elusive, Deputy Foreign Minister Alejandro Solano said in an email to The Tico Times. Often, migrants from outside the Americas do not speak Spanish or English and without documentation or passports, there is no clear answer as to where the migrants should be sent.Papademetriou from the Migration Policy Institute said migrants will sometimes destroy their identification to make it harder for a country to send them back. Even when a migrant’s home country is determined, that country could “play dumb,” Papademetriou said, and refuse to accept the person.If deportation is a possibility, it’s expensive, especially for small countries like Costa Rica. In 2013 the government deported the largest number of people in the last five years, spending $259,490 to deport 1,554 migrants back to countries like Iraq, Nigeria, Ghana, the Philippines and many others.Considering that the U.S. is the stated destination of many of these migrants, Papademetriou said he imagined the Costa Rican government would request funds from the U.S. government to contribute to the deportation effort.But the cost of deporting so many migrants goes beyond airfare. Papademetriou said Costa Rica would have to spend significant diplomatic, political and moral capital to find a country willing to accept the migrants. Many of their home countries do not have embassies or consulates in Central America or strong relations with the region, adding to the diplomatic heavy-lifting required of Costa Rica.False hopesMigrants in Paso Canoas are also likely getting mixed messages about their potential to continue on their journey, Papademetriou said. Migrants share information with those following behind, and the decision to issue nearly 8,000 temporary transit vistas to Cubans in November and December would not go unnoticed, he said.The African migrants, like the Cubans, are reportedly traveling to the United States. But unlike the Cubans, who enjoy special immigration privileges in the U.S., these extracontinental migrants would likely be turned away at the border.When migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo or Nepal, for example, see Cuban migrants getting temporary transit visas, they may not fully understand the political dynamics in the U.S. that make an airlift possible for some while others are marked for deportation.Khadka Krishna Bahadur, a 24-year-old Nepalese migrant whom The Tico Times spoke with in Paso Canoas last November, was one of them. He was traveling illegally with a group of 40 of his countrymen and was flummoxed by why the Cubans could pass and they could not. “We just want what the Cubans are getting,” he said.Papademetriou said, “Migrants today simultaneously have too much and too little information.” African migrants in Paso Canoas. Álvaro Sánchez/The Tico TimesAn uncertain routeNational media, including The Tico Times, has reported stories of migrants from Africa who said they crossed the width and breadth of South America to reach Costa Rica on their way to the U.S. But Papademetriou said he has doubts about these claims.“A family with small children does not cross South America on foot in 30 or 40 days,” Papademetriou said. “To me that screams organization, organization, organization.”The Costa Rican government might agree. President Luis Guillermo Solís and many cabinet members have said that criminal human smuggling networks are the main beneficiaries of these waves of illegal immigration.Papademetriou suggested that the reason why other countries along the supposed path have not seen the same migrant crises that Costa Rica and Panama have is because the migrants were never there. Instead, he suggested that some African migrants might have arrived directly to Panama from their port of origin instead of through Brazil or other South American countries.Papademetriou said migrants might tell stories that exaggerate their journey in hopes of getting favorable treatment.“We would all do the same thing if we were in their situation,” he said.Regardless of how they reached Costa Rica, the government has tried to encourage some migrants to move into a temporary care facility. (The government has taken pains to emphasize that no shelters are being opened, an attempt to quash any hopes of repeating the months-long stay of 8,000 Cubans recently airlifted out of the country.)The Solís administration tried last Thursday to start moving families and pregnant women to a care facility in Buenos Aires, Puntarenas with room for 120 people, but the migrants refused to go, according to Vice Minister of the Interior Muñoz.Muñoz said the Costa Rican government is obligated to make sure vulnerable groups have access to humane living conditions, but said it would not forcibly relocate them.The pressure to find humane conditions for vulnerable migrants is mounting. Costa Rica’s rainy season has already gotten underway in the southern Pacific region, where Paso Canoas is located. Muñoz said the majority of the migrants were in hotels around Paso Canoas but that a group of roughly 100 was protesting and camped out by the immigration offices.Others aren’t waiting for deportation. Thursday, the Public Security Ministry announced that it had detained four Costa Rican migrant smugglers late Wednesday evening outside Golfito, Puntarenas with a group of 18 Cubans and five Africans. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

The Tico Times Circulation Department and a lost newspaper way of life

first_imgRelated posts:At 60, The Tico Times celebrates tradition — and reinvention The Tico Times Circulation Department and a lost newspaper way of life Two US journalists killed during live TV broadcast Part of the Berlin Wall stands in Costa Rica, 26 years after its fall We are proud to share this reflection from our former Editor and Publisher Dery Dyer, daughter of Tico Times Founder Elisabeth Dyer and Publisher Richard Dyer, as we celebrate our 60th Anniversary.A classmate from my U.S. prep school recently sent me the following comment after I’d thanked her for sending me photos of our 50th class reunion:“What would have been unimaginable 50 years ago is that you saw my photos in a computer (what is that?) and that you sent me a missive from Costa Rica via a cloud of electrons that reached me within 5 minutes on a crosstown bus in New York, and that I read the missive on a telephone.”Just as unimaginable 60 years ago — or even 10! — was that someday The Tico Times would be reaching its readers via that same cloud of electrons. So, on the TT’s 60th birthday, I’d like to offer a toast: not only to the newspaper, but also to the memory of its Circulation Department.After making sure you received your paper week after week for so many years, this once-essential department vanished overnight — deleted as swiftly and as totally as if a key had been pressed — when The Tico Times went online-only in 2012.It was hard to believe. Circulation had always been the department that made all the others’ work worthwhile. It got the news into the readers’ hands and spread the word about Costa Rica around the world.It also bonded us with our readers. Every subscriber — whether in Alajuela or Afghanistan (yep, we had readers in Afghanistan!) — was a real person who had become part of our worldwide community. Our readers turned into friends: they’d write chatty little notes on their renewal notices, send us comments, photos and articles, and drop by the office to say hello.In the beginning, there was no Circulation Department. Everybody at The Tico Times did everything. When wearing our Circulation hats, we worked with little file boxes containing each subscriber’s address and subscription status typed on index cards.Every week we spent hours typing labels on sheets of paper, cutting them out with scissors and sticking them on the newspapers with white glue. Before long we were photocopying the sheets of paper so we didn’t have to type all the addresses each week, but we were still cutting and pasting.Then we acquired a nifty little machine which printed address labels from metal plates that had to be laboriously engraved on another little machine, and the Circulation Department was born. It had its own staff and was required to keep track of subscriptions, sales, and press runs in order to generate the all-important Circulation Reports.Little by little, computers arrived, making everything a lot easier. But as the paper grew, so did the circulation challenges.Every day there were subscriptions to be processed, renewal notices to be sent out, sales points to be checked and restocked… all of it leading up to Thursday nights, the Circulation Department’s adrenaline-fueled equivalent of the newsroom’s deadline, when the team worked feverishly all night manhandling piles of freshly printed newspapers so that the world could read us.Staffers loaded bundles of papers onto waiting trucks bound for sales points in the provinces. Then they bundled papers for the home-delivery guys waiting with their motorcycles and route lists; counted stacks of papers to give drivers for distribution to sales points around the Central Valley; and labeled, stamped and sorted piles of papers into color-coded batches for the mail subscribers. These were rushed to the Post Office to be sent all over the country and to the many different areas of the world — the Americas, Europe, Asia, Oceania — where our subscribers lived.Over time, the number of subscribers in the United States and Canada grew so large that we started air-freighting packages of papers to Miami and mailing them in bulk from there, which meant tearing to the airport as soon as they came off the press to get them on the earliest possible flight.Later it made more sense to print the North America-bound papers in the U.S. This required making an extra set of page negatives and another frantic airport dash on Thursday evenings to get them ASAP to our U.S. printer.Once again, computer technology eventually speeded things up, enabling us to ship the pages electronically; however, the Thursday-night marathon in Costa Rica continued for all the papers going elsewhere.The entire circulation routine was so tightly coordinated that the slightest glitch along the way — if we were late getting on or off the press, if a plane couldn’t land, if a holiday meant the Post Office was closed, if a delivery guy was out sick — provoked a whole chain of chaos and an avalanche of complaints the following week, each of which had to be answered with a personal letter, phone call or e-mail, as well as with replacement copies rushed out by messenger or first-class mail.The Circulation Dept. ended up being the most dramatic casualty of The Tico Times’ switch to digital delivery because an entire busy, hard-working world went extinct without leaving a single trace of its existence. There’s simply no equivalent in the newspaper’s online incarnation to remember it by. (The dinosaurs, at least, left fossils.)So here’s to its memory! We could never have imagined a newspaper without paper, or without a Circulation Department to circulate it. But then, can any of us imagine how people will be getting their news 60 years from now? Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica 101 Using your cell phone in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:The ultimate travel hack to prevent beach theft – and more Costa Rica safe travel tips How to deal with street harassment in Costa Rica Bocas on a budget: How to get to Bocas del Toro from Costa Rica Costa Rica 101: Visiting Poás Volcano National Park One of the better parts of any vacation is disconnecting from the rest of the world.But whether it’s for safety or convenience, it can still be useful to have a working cell phone when you visit a new country. Thankfully, it is downright cheap, and relatively simple, to use your own cell phone during your Costa Rica vacation. Here’s how to use your cell phone in Costa Rica: 1) Unlock your phone and confirm compatibility Depending on how you purchased your phone, it may be locked, or restricted to one specific service provider (e.g. AT&T, Verizon, etc.). If your phone is locked, you may not be able to use it with Costa Rican carriers. Contact your wireless service provider to check if your device can be unlocked for a trip abroad. Each provider has different policies (here are AT&T’s; here are Verizon’s), but if you meet the requirements, the unlock process is quick — it’s usually done by inputting a special code on your phone. If your carrier will not unlock your device, they may offer you a temporary international plan. While useful, these can be significantly more expensive than buying a SIM card in Costa Rica. Finally, while most modern cell phones have the hardware to connect to network frequencies around the world, it’s still worth double-checking before going through any more trouble. I recommend visiting Frequency Check and inputting your device type to see a table showing whether your phone will work on Costa Rican carriers. 2) Buying a SIM card in Costa Rica Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) both have kiosks selling SIM cards for kölbi, the state-owned mobile service provider. At Juan Santamaría International Airport near San José, look for the storefront at baggage claim after you’ve passed through immigration. At Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, you’ll see it after you exit the customs area. If you don’t get a SIM card at the airport, you can visit a kölbi authorized vendor almost anywhere in Costa Rica. Click here for a list of locations. You’ll need your passport to purchase a prepaid SIM card, which costs 1,000 colones (about $1.70). The kölbi staff will help install the SIM card into your phone. Keep your original SIM card in a safe place, since you’ll want to install once you return home. Hang on to all kölbi documentation, including the plastic card that has your SIM pin on it, for the duration of your trip. 3) Buying additional data or minutes on your kölbi SIM card As of June 2019, a new prepaid kölbi SIM card includes 6,000 colones worth of domestic phone calls, text messages, and internet access. That alone may be enough for your vacation.As of June 2019, your balance spent at 40.351 colones per minute on the phone, 0.008588 colones per kilobyte of data, and 3.021 colones per SMS text message.You can also pay at the kölbi store for additional data when you purchase your SIM card.  This can be done à la carte or with a package. The “de todo” package, for example, includes 200 text messages, 34 call minutes, and 150 megabytes of data for 2,500 colones, or about $4.30.You can also buy recharge cards at 23,000 different locations across Costa Rica — including most grocery stores and pulperías. Check your balance by dialing *888#. If you’re staying in Costa Rica for a significant period of time, it might be worth creating an account in kölbi’s app for iPhones and Android phones, which allows you to purchase data directly. Tips for using cell phones in Costa Rica The vast majority of Costa Rican drivers use Waze, not Google Maps or Apple Maps, to navigate. Waze has community-sourced traffic information and will alert you of road hazards, police traps, etc. Similarly, the vast majority of Costa Ricans use WhatsApp rather than sending text messages through their carrier.If you have Google Maps, you can save areas for offline use while you’re on Wi-Fi to reduce your data usage later on. Most populated areas of Costa Rica have solid cell coverage. However, coverage can be spotty in the mountains. Your kölbi SIM card will expire if it goes unused for several months, so it’s not worth keeping for next year’s vacation to Costa Rica. There are other wireless service providers in Costa Rica other than kölbi. They include Claro, Movistar, and Tuyo. All work similarly to kölbi and may be more convenient if you’re traveling throughout Central and South America.Do you have ideas for our Costa Rica 101 series? Let us know by emailing:  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

UN rights chief cites problems in Syria Bahrain

first_imgThe U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, on a visit to commemorate Switzerland joining the world body a decade ago, challenged the council to focus attention on five areas, including discrimination, violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and women’s rights.“It is an affront to our conscience that millions of people still struggle against poverty, hunger and disease. These conditions violate their fundamental human rights,” he said.Pillay argued that respect for human rights is key to peace, development and humanitarian efforts, and she began by citing Syria’s civil war as an area of grave concern with devastating consequences for civilians.Activists say up to 26,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising began in March 2011 against President Bashar Assad’s regime.Next on Pillay’s list was Bahrain for handing down what she called harsh prison sentences against 20 prominent rights activists and opposition figures, including seven who face life in prison. Bahrain’s U.N. Ambassador Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri defended his nation, saying its judiciary held a fair trial attended by diplomats, human rights representatives and news media. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Parents, stop beating yourself up Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helpcenter_img Pillay spoke of human rights problems in Colombia, Ivory Coast and Congo, then mentioned France and Greece. She also noted issues in Kenya, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Myanmar and many other countries.“I am also worried by the recent forced closure of Roma camps in France, which have affected hundreds of people, making them even more vulnerable and exposed to a whole range of human rights concerns,” Pillay told the packed chamber.“I acknowledge a number of steps that have been taken by the government, but further efforts must be made to address this situation” and integrate Roma, or Gypsies, into society, she said.In August, police raids in Paris and other French cities dismantled camps used by Roma from Eastern Europe and left hundreds without shelter. It echoed a crackdown on the Roma two years ago under conservative then-President Nicolas Sarkozy that drew criticism.But the French government has since made it easier for Roma, who mostly originate from Romania and Bulgaria, to get jobs and stay in France by expanding the number of sectors where residents of those nations can seek work. The government also abolished a tax paid by employers to hire people from the two countries. Top Stories Pillay also noted problems in Greece, where there has been a surge in racist attacks against immigrants with dark skin.“Equally troubling are violent xenophobic attacks against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in recent months, for example, in Greece,” Pillay said. “I am also concerned about reports that the police appeared to have been unable to respond effectively to protect victims of xenophobic crimes. “Greece launched a campaign in August to try to seal its northeastern border with Turkey in the face of a crippling financial crisis that has caused joblessness to soar.She also criticized the United States, along with Belarus, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and authorities in the Gaza Strip for their use of the death penalty in recent cases.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Associated PressGENEVA (AP) – The U.N.’s top rights official laid out the world’s most significant human rights issues Monday, criticizing Syria and Bahrain but also mentioning problems in Western countries such as France and Greece.The assessment by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is important because it sets the tone for the U.N.’s 47-nation Human Rights Council, whose month-long session opened Monday. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectlast_img read more

Court serves injunctions to Chevron and Transocean

first_img Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Parents, stop beating yourself up Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Transocean said in a statement that it is “vigorously pursuing the overturn or suspension of the preliminary injunction.”Chevron did not immediately reply to a request for comment.The injunctions were served two weeks after Brazil’s top appeals court upheld an order for the two companies to suspend their petroleum drilling and transportation operations.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressSAO PAULO (AP) – A federal court has served Chevron Corp. and driller Transocean Ltd. with preliminary injunctions ordering them to suspend operations in Brazil until investigations are completed into two oil spills off Rio de Janeiro’s coast.A court official said Thursday the two companies have 30 days to cease operations. The official did not provide further details. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the press. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Patients with chronic pain give advice Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectlast_img read more

Austrian charity plans to move into Hitlers house

first_imgVIENNA (AP) – An Austrian charity that helps immigrants reportedly plans to set up an office in the house where Adolf Hitler was born.The villa in the Upper Austrian town of Braunau has been empty for more than a year since a workshop for the mentally disabled moved out. A Russian parliamentarian threatened last year to buy and raze it _ a plan doomed to fail as the building is under historical protection because of its Renaissance origins. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Sponsored Stories Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The Kurier, a mainstream newspaper, in its Thursday edition cited unnamed officials of the Interior Ministry, which now leases the house, as being open to subletting to the Volkshilfe charitable organization.The charity’s head, Karl Osterberger, says that renting the house to an agency like his would send a “great signal.”(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Lithuanian PM Russia trying to reassert power

first_img 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said the Kremlin is growing worried about the EU’s intentions.“It is a key question to Russia whether Ukraine would choose a path to the West and integrate into the European Union market or whether it joins the Customs Union,” Butkevicius said, referring to an alternative trade zone created by Russia that now includes Kazakhstan and Belarus.For both Brussels and Moscow, the real prize is Ukraine, a nation of 46 million with relatively strong industrial and agricultural sectors.Russia has imposed tremendous pressure on Ukraine not to sign a strategic partnership deal with the EU, saying Moscow would retaliate with trade restrictions that could push the ex-Soviet republic toward default.In August, Russia began a series of rigorous border control checks that caused crossing delays and millions of dollars of losses for Ukrainian businessmen.Other nations have not escaped Russia’s wrath, either. In September, Russia imposed a ban on imports of Moldovan wine after that country’s leaders expressed a willingness to sign a partnership deal with the EU at the same summit in Lithuania. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Finally, on Monday, Russia’s top consumer watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, issued a decree barring the import of a range of Lithuanian dairy products. It’s a ban that hurts many producers in the country.“Some of those diary companies sell 80 percent of their production to Russia,” the Lithuanian prime minister told AP. “Today _ milk. Tomorrow _ meat. Then what?”Lithuania, a country of 3 million people, has appealed to the EU to intervene, and Butkevicius said he hopes the dairy companies’ losses will be covered by EU funds.He denied speculation that Lithuania might react by imposing restrictions on Russian goods and passengers moving across its territory. But he also gave no indication that Lithuania would cease its outreach to Ukraine.“We are not going to war. Our task is to collect data, use our negotiators in Moscow, and act within the framework of the (World Trade Organization). We already feel that we have the backing of the EU,” Butkevicius said.Moscow, meanwhile, denies the dairy ban has anything to do with Ukraine and the upcoming EU summit.“This topic has absolutely nothing to do with politics. It’s an old topic having to do with the fact that a number of Lithuanian companies make dairy products that don’t meet Russia’s standards,” Sergei Glazyev, a Kremlin insider, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station Thursday. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories center_img VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) – Lithuania’s prime minister is pointing to a Russian ban on dairy products from his country as evidence that Moscow fears losing influence over Ukraine and other former Soviet states. And he’s wondering how far Russia will go in punishing countries it thinks are wooing those nations away.Lithuania currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, and it has been working overtime to see the regional bloc extend its trade reach in Eastern Europe. In November, the Baltic nation is to host a key EU summit aimed at strengthening trade relations with Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Belarus, and Azerbaijan _ all countries Moscow considers to be in its sphere of influence. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Glazyev, a top adviser to President Vladimir Putin on the Customs Union, in September warned Ukraine that Moscow might impose duties on Ukrainian goods if it were to keep strengthening its ties to the EU.Glazyev also said Thursday that Russia might also impose a visa regime on Ukrainians traveling to countries that are part of the Customs Union. Currently Ukrainians can travel to Russia without a visa.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Again Agents likely impaired in White House incident

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — What were they thinking?For months new Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy had been warning agents and officers that misconduct and drunken shenanigans would not be tolerated in the once-vaunted law enforcement agency. And yet, according to investigators, two senior Secret Service agents spent five hours at a bar, ran up a significant tab, and then drove back to the White House, where they shoved their car into a construction barrier and drove within inches of a suspicious package earlier this year. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top holiday drink recipes Inspector General John Roth’s 18-page report on the incident said that Ogilvie, Connolly and their two companions all denied drinking all the drinks Ogilvie paid for before driving his government sport utility vehicle into a secured area at the White House, pushing a large construction barrier with the vehicle’s bumper and passing within inches of a suspicious item that had been left in the area.Roth told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Thursday that the agents’ behavior was “troubling.” When asked if the pair should be punished, Roth said while discipline will fall to the Secret Service, he “believes there should be some consequences.”Roth testified that Ogilvie and Connolly both violated agency policies barring driving a government vehicle after drinking and requirements that they self-report any incident that could gain public attention.When pressed by lawmakers about what may have led the agents to ignore or violate agency policies, Roth said there is a lack of accountability within the Secret Service.Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and the ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said in a statement that Roth’s report was more evidence that the Secret Service is in need a “major cultural overhaul.” Pierson’s handling of those incidents ultimately led to her ouster. An independent panel concluded that the agency was “insular” and in need of new leadership. The panel recommended hiring a new director from outside the agency, but Obama instead chose Clancy, a retired agent who once ran the president’s protective detail.___Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Secret Service officers on duty and investigating the suspicious item when Ogilvie and Connolly drove through later told investigators they thought something was “not right” and the men were “not making sense” as they spoke to officers on the scene. None of the on-duty officers gave the agents a field sobriety test. Both were instead allowed to leave the White House complex driving government-owned vehicles, despite a watch commander’s concern that Connolly was not fit to drive.In advance of the report’s release late Wednesday, Connolly, the deputy special agent in charge of the Presidential Protection Division, notified the agency that he would retire. Ogilvie has been placed on administrative leave.The incident once again focused a congressional spotlight on an agency that didn’t need more attention for scandals. The scandal-plagued agency has been in the spotlight since 2012 when more than a dozen agents and officers were caught up in a prostitution scandal in advance of a presidential trip to Colombia. Since then, there have been a handful of other incidents, the most serious being a security breach at the White House in September.In that incident, a Texas man armed with a knife was able to climb over a perimeter fence and run deep into the White House before being apprehended. It was later revealed that a few days before that incident, President Barack Obama rode an elevator in Atlanta with an armed contractor. The Secret Service didn’t know the man was armed until after Obama got off the elevator. Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk 5 treatments for adult scoliosis New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories All this just months after Secret Service Julia Pierson director was ousted in the aftermath of a series of embarrassing security breaches involving Secret Service agents and officers.George Ogilvie and Marc Connolly were “more likely than not” impaired by alcohol when they drove through a secure area at the White House earlier this year, the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general said in a new report released late Wednesday.They were among dozens of agency personnel who went to a retirement party for another agent but when the party wrapped up on March 4, the pair and two other, non-agent Secret Service employees, stuck around the Irish-themed bar for three more hours. Ogilvie, the assistant special agent in charge of the agency’s Washington field office, opened a tab and paid $149.87 for eight Johnny Walker Red scotches, two vodka drinks, three beers and a glass of wine.The incident became public days later and forced Clancy to follow in the steps of Pierson and head to Capitol Hill to once again explain a Secret Service scandal to lawmakers.In a statement Wednesday, the agency’s third director in less than three years said he was “disappointed and disturbed at the apparent lack of judgment described in this report. Behavior of the type described in the report is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” Comments   Share   last_img read more

Italy drops illegaldetention hypothesis in deadly shipwreck

first_img“It’s true that the migrants were in the holds and that some hatches were closed. They were closed in order to let other people get on the deck, because they have been all crammed on that boat. But they weren’t locked inside, as we understood at the beginning,” Salvi told a news conference.Many of the victims were believed to have perished inside the overcrowded fisherman’s boat when it sank near the Libyan coast on April 18. Just 28 migrants survived and only 24 bodies were recovered.Two alleged smugglers, including a Tunisian navigator, are being held for investigation of possible charges of causing a shipwreck, multiple counts of manslaughter and aiding and abetting illegal immigration.Salvi said he won’t seek to have the ship recovered from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea for the investigation, citing its depth, the strong current and the likelihood that few bodies would still be recoverable. He said it would be up to the Italian government to decide whether to search for the victims for humanitarian reasons.European Union nations approved plans Monday for a naval operation that will go after the human trafficking networks that are sending thousands of migrants weekly across the Mediterranean toward Europe or to their deaths. Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Italian prosecutor Giovanni Salvi, right, is flanked by Catania Police chief Marcello Cardona as he speaks during a press conference in Catania, Sicily, Southern Italy, Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Giovanni Salvi says authorities have dropped a possible charge of illegal detention against two alleged smugglers being held in connection with a shipwreck believed to have killed more than 800 migrants. Prosecutor Giovanni Salvi told reporters Tuesday that investigators now believe that the doors were closed to secure the boat and not to detain hundreds of migrants on two lower decks as prisoners. Many of the victims were believed to have perished closed inside the overcrowded fishermen’s boat when it sank near the Libyan coast on April 18. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi) Top Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Comments   Share   center_img The International Organization for Migration estimates that 1,820 migrants have died or gone missing on the sea route to Europe this year compared to just over 200 in the same period last year.So far this month, 12,460 migrants have arrived in Italy bringing the total this year to 38,690, according to the IOM. Some 200 rescued at sea were being brought to Sicily Tuesday afternoon.Copyright © 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 Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Top holiday drink recipes CATANIA, Sicily (AP) — Authorities won’t seek charges of illegal detention against two alleged smugglers in connection with a Mediterranean shipwreck believed to have killed more than 800 migrants, a prosecutor said Tuesday.Survivors of the tragedy initially said the smugglers had locked hundreds of migrants in the hold, but prosecutor Giovanni Salvi said authorities have since determined that the doors were closed but not locked. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

First lady to promote initiatives in London Italy

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement In Italy, she will lead members of a still-to-be-named presidential delegation to the Milan Expo and highlight her program to combat childhood obesity. The Milan world’s fair opened May 1 for a six-month run with the theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”The U.S. delegation will tour the American pavilion at the expo and participate in activities to support healthier families.While in Italy, Mrs. Obama will also visit U.S. service members stationed in Vicenza as part of her work supporting military families.Unannounced cultural stops are on tap for Venice.The first lady will be accompanied by daughters Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Robinson.___Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ErrorOK ErrorOK New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Men’s health affects baby’s health too Comments   Share   Top Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama plans to put an international spin on her core initiatives when she visits Europe later this month.The first lady’s itinerary includes stops in London and the Italian cities of Milan, Vicenza and Venice from June 15-21, the White House said Thursday.Her first stop is London, where Mrs. Obama will meet with students to discuss how the U.S. and the United Kingdom are collaborating to help young girls around the world attend and stay in school. She promoted the “Let Girls Learn” initiative during stops in Japan and Cambodia in March. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

Tiger expected to fly from Avalon

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L Avalon Airport will reportedly be Tiger Airways’ new hub, the carrier expected to shift its Melbourne operation from Tullamarine to the airport.While it hasn’t been officially announced, The Age cited senior airline industry sources saying the low cost carrier would make an announcement of the move within the next week.The industry insiders said around five to seven of Tiger’s domestic daily flights were likely to operate out of Avalon to leisure market destinations such as the Sunshine and Gold coasts and Perth.However, it is believed the board of the carrier is yet to sign off on the deal with the airport.Tiger Airways Australia spokeswoman Vanessa Regan would not confirm the move but said the budget carrier was currently “talking to a number of airports around the country, including Avalon” about its future growth plans.last_img read more

Bigger is not always better for tourism

first_imgThe economic importance to a region is not determined by the by the size of its tourism industry, according to a Tourism Research Australia report.An Economic Importance of Tourism in Australia’s Regions report found that expenditure played a large role to the endurance of regional destinations across Australia and any changes that affect the wider tourism industry is likely have a deeper impact to those regions.  Among the areas with highest tourism economic importance is Central Northern Territory with 24.8 percent, $411 million of its economy coming from tourism expenditure.Phillip Island was second highest with tourism expenditure making up 18.7 percent of its economy followed by Whitsundays which depends on the 17.7 percent contribution, Snowy Mountains and Tasmania’s West Coast. Surveying the results, Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) managing director Felicia Mariani has called for governments to “improve infrastructure and connectivity to ensure the tourist dollar can easily connect with these areas”.Ms Mariani added that with major cities across Australia taking up the majority of tourism expenditure of 47 percent, the focus needs to shift to developing regional experiences to drive tourism into those regions. “It is vital we develop regional tourism plans to create real and lasting benefits for regional operators, allowing them to leverage the excess demand in our major cities for the benefit of regional areas,” she said. “Creating new, high quality tourism experiences in regional areas is critical to ensuring both international and domestic tourists are enticed to look further and spread the tourism dollar widely across the country.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Qatar Airways extends wings to Perth

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Expanding its global network and tapping into the growing travel market down under, Qatar Airways has released plans to launch new flights into Perth next year.Speaking at the Dubai Air Show earlier this week, the carrier’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the route will be the carrier’s second service into Australia, following on from its first service into Melbourne and will be launched over the coming months. Revealing the company’s route focus next year, Mr Al Baker said the airline is also looking to add extra services into Africa, Europe and the Middle East.Main cities include from the carrier’s hub in Doha to Finnish capital Helsinki, Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb, Gassim in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and three East African cities – Zanzibar, Kigali and Mombasa, in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya.“We are continuing what we started back in 1997 when Qatar Airways was launched with new routes and new aircraft being introduced at an unprecedented rate to further strengthen what is truly a global network airline,” Mr Al Baker explained. He said the carrier’s “key” mission was to target business and leisure destinations across the globe as well as “underserved” markets other airlines would be unwilling to enter.“We take bold decisions to serve certain markets because we believe it makes strong business sense,” he added.“Today’s announcement shows the confidence Qatar Airways has in such a diverse range of destinations. “We look forward to offering even greater choice to the travelling public that they so deserve.”As well the carrier will commence with previously announced flights to Baku and Tbilisi, the capital cities of Azerbaijan and Georgia from 1 February next year. Also planned to commence from 28 November this year will be the carrier’s fifth gateway into China, between Doha and Chongqing. last_img read more