PEOPLE Transat winner announced for Grand Paradise Samana contest

first_img Share TORONTO — Robyn Lindsay of Trent Travel in Lindsay, Ontario has been named the winner of Transat’s latest travel agent contest, claiming the grand prize of a seven-night vacation for two at the four-star Grand Paradise Samana in the Dominican Republic.The contest was launched in December 2016 on The prize also includes flights, hotel and transfers.Located in beautiful Samana Bay, the popular resort has recently completed an extensive multi-million-dollar renovation and boasts 50 villas, three pools, five restaurants, six bars, a disco and playground.“I am very excited to win this trip to the Grand Paradise Samana as I sell Samana as a destination often but have never visited myself!” said Lindsay.For more travel agent contests, go to For more information on the Grand Paradise Samana, go to Travelweek Group Posted by Tuesday, January 24, 2017 center_img Tags: Contests, Transat << Previous PostNext Post >> [PEOPLE] Transat winner announced for Grand Paradise Samana contestlast_img read more

Qantas Air New Zealand join forces for codeshare deal

first_img Travelweek Group Qantas, Air New Zealand join forces for codeshare deal Friday, June 1, 2018 Share SYDNEY — Long-time competitors Air New Zealand and Qantas have announced plans for a reciprocal codeshare agreement.Under the codeshare Qantas will add its code on up to 30 routes on Air New Zealand’s domestic network, while Air New Zealand will add its code on up to 85 routes on Qantas’ domestic network.Both carriers say the new deal will make travel within Australia and New Zealand easier. Coordination of check-in and handling at airports will mean shorter connection times, opening up more onward flights for passengers on each carrier’s domestic networks and faster journey times overall, say the airlines.While the two airlines “will continue to compete very strongly across all markets,” the codeshare will see two of the world’s best airlines offer their customers a full service experience when they make domestic connections within New Zealand or Australia, says Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce added that the two national carriers had a lot of shared history as well as a shared goal of making travel easier.“Our relationship with Air New Zealand goes back almost 80 years. We’ve been partners at various stages over that time and we have a lot of respect for them as a competitor. A codeshare deal on our domestic networks makes sense for customers because it leverages the strengths we each have in our home markets.”The codeshare and customer offering will exclude Trans-Tasman flights. Qantas will continue to codeshare on all connecting Jetstar New Zealand services.Tickets for the codeshare services will be available by the end of July, for travel from Oct. 28 onwards.Virgin Australia has already let it be known that it’s not impressed with the new codeshare deal. According to reports in The Sydney Morning Herald, a spokesperson for Virgin Australia said the codeshare will have knock-on effects for competition on the Tasman, adding “we are surprised that a partnership between the two major airline groups in New Zealand is allowed.”center_img Posted by Tags: Air New Zealand, Codeshares, Qantas << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Board names Air Canada exec Ben Smith as Air FranceKLM CEO

first_imgBoard names Air Canada exec Ben Smith as Air France-KLM CEO Posted by Share Friday, August 17, 2018 Travelweek Group center_img Tags: Air Canada, Air France, Promotions << Previous PostNext Post >> ROISSY — After much speculation comes official word that the Board of Directors of Air France-KLM has announced the appointment of Air Canada exec Benjamin Smith as Air France-KLM’s new CEO.In a statement issued by the board, Air France-KLM notes that Smith has played a major role at Air Canada over the past two decades, most recently as Air Canada’s President Airlines and Chief Operating Officer.A statement from Air Canada says Smith will resign his position with Air Canada effective Aug. 31. Smith will replace former Air France CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac, who quit more than three months ago when staff turned down his offer of a pay deal aimed at halting a wave of strikes. Smith, who has acted as chief negotiator during labour talks for Air Canada’s Rouge, will come on board amidst growing labour turmoil on the tarmac in Europe. Pilots at Air France, Brussels Airlines and Ryanair have all staged work stoppages in recent months. Smith will take up his duties at Air France-KLM at the latest on Sept. 30. In the meantime the board says the interim governance structure established on May 15, 2018 will remain in place. Anne-Marie Couderc, non-executive Chairman of the Air France-KLM and Air France Boards, and the Management Committee consisting of three members, will continue to perform their duties until Smith comes on board.Upon arrival Smith will take over executive management of the Air France-KLM Group and will establish its organizational structure. His priority? To revitalize Air France, to give a new strategic impulse to the Group and to work on a new leadership approach with all Air France-KLM’s teams.The Board also announced that Smith will be appointed as soon as possible as Director of Air France-KLM, with the full support of the French State.The Board says it will pull together as quickly as possible an updated Group’s governance structure as regards to the roles and missions of the non-executive Chairmanship of Air France-KLM and Air France.Said Couderc: “The arrival of Benjamin Smith is excellent news for the Group. Benjamin is a world-renowned leader in the airline sector who successfully transformed Air Canada. “As a man who prefers dialogue, he developed and implemented the historical long-term win-win agreements with the airline’s social partners for the benefit of Air Canada’s teams, the airline and all other stakeholders. Benjamin Smith will bring his in-depth knowledge of the sector and his unique energy to the job to resume dialogue with Air France-KLM teams around a shared vision and to define a new go-to-market plan that will address the challenges of strong global competition.“His on-the-ground experience will ensure a team-oriented approach to increase customer satisfaction and brand’s value. “On behalf of the Board, I welcome and assure him of our total support for the task ahead. The Board also wishes to thank the three members of the Management Committee for their unfailing dedication during this complex transition period.”Smith himself had this to say: “I am very enthusiastic about this new opportunity. Air France and KLM are both airlines well known for the professionalism and commitment of their teams. I am well aware of the competitive challenges the Air France-KLM Group is currently facing and I am convinced that the airlines’ teams have all the strengths to succeed in the global airline market. I am confident in the Group’s capacity to become one of the world’s leading players. “I look forward to earning the trust and respect of all teams, working together to win in this highly competitive and fast-changing customer service industry. I am approaching this new challenge with my passion for the aviation sector and with my deep willingness to listen to all stakeholders so we can work together and win. I have spent my entire career in this industry and I am convinced that the teams of the Air France-KLM Group are its strongest assets for its future success. “I believe that over the past two decades I have developed very strong trust-based relations with my colleagues at Air Canada and I am looking forward to meeting the teams at Air France-KLM in September to begin working alongside them. “I thank the Board of Directors of Air France-KLM to entrust me with this mandate.”Air Canada President and CEO, Calin Rovinescu, said: “We wish Ben well in his future endeavours and congratulate him on his appointment. On behalf of our Board of Directors, our executive team and our 30,000 employees, I thank Ben for his significant contributions in many various roles at Air Canada over the past two decades.”Rovinescu added: “There have been many architects of Air Canada’s highly successful transformation, and our deep and highly experienced leadership team will continue to deliver on our global ambitions, achieve our targets and drive our operational performance well into the future.”Smith started out in 1990 at Air Ontario and in 1992 set up his own retail corporate travel agency, heading up the company for eight years. In 1999 he simultaneously took on a consultancy role for Air Canada before finally joining the group in 2002. He was successively Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Network Planning, before joining the Air Canada executive management team in 2007.With files from The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Jacó Happenings

first_imgNo related posts. Something to look forward to during low season: Tsunami Sushi is throwing its 10-year anniversary party Saturday, Oct. 13, starting at 7 p.m. The Costa Rican jazz, soul and R&B singer Sasha Campbell will perform live with her band at the celebration. Tickets are $25 per person. For more info, call 2643-3678–Christina Facebook Commentslast_img

Why is Obama coming to Costa Rica

first_img*OPINIONU.S. President Barack Obama will visit Central America in early May. Although he only will stay in Costa Rica a few hours, the visit has been categorized as “regional” because Obama also plans to meet with his Central American presidential colleagues.Evidently, the summit is of significant geopolitical importance and underscores a process that, initiated by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963, was continued by his successors beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1982, and George H.W. Bush in 1989. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush traveled to Central America during their respective terms. Now it’s Obama’s turn, and the obviously obligatory questions are: What does Obama hope to accomplish? What proposal has driven him to meet with his Central American colleagues?Those questions still don’t have clear answers. In past trips by U.S. presidents to the isthmus, the objectives of their tours were more than clear. Kennedy, enveloped in the Cold War, came to consolidate his Alliance for Progress. Reagan traveled to reaffirm his commitment to maintaining strong relations with Costa Rica in the midst of a regional crisis and as a counterweight to the Sandinista Revolution.With Clinton, the focus was the environment. Since 1994, Central America has promoted an Alliance for Sustainable Development with the support of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. This initiative, signed in Gore’s presence at a presidential summit at Masaya Volcano in 1995, pried open a door that later would be pushed wide open at the Americas Summit in Miami. On that occasion, and in an act unprecedented in the region’s history, five democratically elected presidents from Central America signed with the United States the Joint Central America-U.S. Declaration.George W. Bush, for his part, traveled to San Salvador to consolidate a regional alliance against terrorism, and he put on the table an issue that Central American elites had been demanding since the Clinton administration: a free trade agreement.Propelled by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the more dramatic consequences of the Iraq War, Bush managed not only to solidify the position of all countries in the region, which had begun during the El Zamorano Summit, but also he announced the most important initiative of trade liberalization proposed by the U.S. in the region since the era of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. In addition, he planted the seed for another initiative, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which created a type of agency parallel to USAID, but with a private-business philosophy to promote infrastructure projects and combat poverty.Given these precedents, what exactly will Obama’s agenda be in San José? Will he broaden security issues – especially the effort to combat illegal drug trafficking – which is already contemplated in the Central America Regional Security Initiative?Or will he focus on putting forward a plan to provide more economic balance and a new dynamism to relations on the isthmus, which have been stagnant for some time as a consequence of the financial crisis up north?For the moment, no one seems to know what Obama is coming to do, nor has any preparatory process been made public as happened with the visits of Clinton and Bush, both characterized by a much more explicit agenda.This is a curious situation, as it’s not very often that the U.S. president, especially someone like Obama who is not particularly a Latin America expert, embarks on an adventure to the region without previously agreeing on a common agenda.It’s also not as if his colleagues on the isthmus have been explicit about it either – with more than five national agendas, Central America should have the capacity of speaking to Obama with one voice and from a collectively agreed position. That agenda (and the will to form one without complicating things) remains to be seen.Luís Guillermo Solís is a political scientist, historian and presidential candidate for the Citizen Action Party. This column first appeared in and is reprinted with their permission. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

A Tica artist abroad

first_imgIngrid works with a group on London architects on a group project in France. Courtesy of Ingrid Neurohr By Ingrid Neurohr | Special to The Tico TimesSome say you should pick a career that you like. But I thinkyou should work in something that comes naturally to you and complement it with something you are passionate about. For me, that has meant becoming a designer and pairing it with travel.Art and design have always been a part of my life; I grew up working and playing in my Costa Rican grandmother’s art gallery and frame shop. It was natural for me to take two years of architecture, graduate from interior design and to earn a master’s degree in product and conceptual design. But when I finished, it became clear that my real passion was traveling. There is nothing that gets me out of bed (at least not in a good mood) that doesn’t involve getting in a car, plane or boat. I love the wind in my hair, good music on the radio and watching a sunrise on the plane, and that is just the “getting somewhere” part. I won’t even start with cultural and gastronomic exchange, the friendships I’ve built regardless of language barriers, the ideas I’ve been able to spread about Costa Rica and its rain, food and natural richness.I’ve worked in Panamá, studied in Spain and backpacked through most of Europe, and over time I have grown to love being a Costa Rican abroad. Being raised in such a laid-back country was an advantage in that it provided me with the flexibility to navigate very different cultures, people and ways of working. But, I have also had to overcome my cultural predisposition to stay in my comfort zone, choosing security and stability over my fear of the new and unknown.I’ve had to learn to appreciate the experience of change, to value the lessons and get over the hassle and the anxiety of “the first time.” I’ve missed trains and planes, I’ve had to sleep in the middle of nowhere, I’ve been yelled at because I’m standing on the wrong side of the escalators (who knew there is a fast lane on escalators?).I try to feed these experiences and this passion for traveling into my design. Because when I began to understand diversity, I began to understand people, and in turn I understood more about myself and who I wanted to be in this world. I’ve learned to value that which makes me unique, the ways Costa Rica has defined me as a designer: how I choose organic and hand crafted over industrialized and processed every time, the colors I am drawn to, the way I strive to design for enjoyment and not just function. I don’t think I would be able to recognize these things if I hadn’t traveled and met people who were so different – and so similar – to myself.  No related posts. Tica Artist Abroad Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Bats are in danger and they could use some help from kids

first_imgNo treatment is available because scientists are still trying to figure out why the fungus is causing the disease.Conservationists and scientists have been watching it spread at an alarming rate. It has moved south and west, now into 22 states. And it is affecting additional species — including the little brown bats that live in the Washington area and the Virginia big-earned bat, the official state bat.Bats that don’t hibernate have problems, too. Their habitats are disappearing. Wooded areas with hollow trees used for nesting are often cleared to make room for houses and office buildings. Sturges said she has helped bats that have been hit by cars and those that have been injured by cats or other wildlife.Both Coiner and Sturges said kids can help save bats.“If people learn to care about the bats themselves,” Coiner said, ” . . . that can hopefully lead to action, maybe personally or maybe on a broader scale.”Kids can build boxes for bats to nest in outside. They can keep outdoor lights low. They can also be a voice for bat protection.“We really want kids to take ownership of wildlife decisions,” Sturges said. “Let the adult world know that they care.”© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Bat researcher and educator Leslie Sturges stays up late to feed and rehabilitate about 25 bats at her home in Annandale, Virginia, on July 22. Photo by Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post Bat researcher and educator Leslie Sturges wears a spotlight on her head but turns off all other lights before she feeds about 25 bats at her home in Annandale, Virginia, on July 22. Many of those bats were found injured on streets and brought to her home by those who found them. Photo by Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post No related posts.center_img Sturges said kids often ask personal questions about the bats, such as their names and why she is taking care of them. Sturges has been trained to care for injured and orphaned bats. When they are healthy, she returns them to the wild. At the moment, she has 30 in the basement and back yard of her Annandale home.Learning the bats’ stories creates a connection, Sturges said.“Kids have a lot of empathy,” she said. “Bats and kids go together.”Regardless of whether you think bats are cute, they are useful.“Bats are extremely important to the ecosystem,” Coiner said. “Here in Maryland, they help keep control of the mosquito population.”A little brown bat can eat as many as 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. They also feast on beetles and moths, which can damage vegetable gardens and farm crops.The Seba’s short-tailed bats, which are common in Latin America, are among those species that help pollinate plants.“Without bats, there would be a lot less crops,” Sturges said.They’re also interesting animals. More than 1,200 species include bats as small as an inch (the bumblebee bat) and those with a six-foot wingspan (the flying fox bat). They are the only mammal that can fly. Even though they are mostly small animals, they live a long time — 20 to 30 years.One of the coolest bat features is how they get around at night. They navigate by making sounds that bounce off objects and let bats know how far away those objects are, a process called echolocation. (They aren’t blind. That’s another myth.)Sturges noted several other qualities that have fascinated her since she began studying bats in college.“They’re really tiny, but they’re super smart,” Sturges said. “I like the socialness of most of them. They have friends. They have language.” (Bats use a series of buzzes, clicks and trills to communicate with one another.)Sturges said she tries to use those qualities to help kids relate to bats.“All those things connect them to the way we live,” she said. “I tell them that the challenges that they face, those are the same challenges that bats face.”One serious challenge that is unique to bats is white-nose syndrome. This disease was discovered around 2006 on bats in caves in New York. Since then, it has killed more than 5 million hibernating bats, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.The disease comes from a fungus that infects bats’ wings, ears and face, and it causes bats to wake up early from their hibernation. Without enough insects flying around in winter, the bats usually starve to death.“It’s really a hard thing to watch happen,” Sturges said. “Half the bats in North America are cave-dependent.” You’re probably aware that giant pandas, rhinos and Asian elephants are disappearing from the wild. But the problems these large but cute animals face are getting a lot of attention from adults and kids alike, so hopefully their numbers will rebound.There’s an animal that lives much closer to home that is also dying in large numbers. Would you be surprised to find out that not a lot of people are coming to its defense? In addition to fighting for its life, this animal is also battling old wives’ tales and an image problem. As you have guessed by the pictures, we’re talking about a bat.It’s not surprising that myths have hung around about a flying animal that comes out only at night. People don’t have much interaction with them. So false information continues to be passed along.“It’s a common misconception that bats want to roost in your hair,” said Katie Coiner, an animal keeper at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, in the United States. Coiner cares for the 172 Seba’s short-tailed bats at the zoo. She says zoo visitors sometimes get anxious when they see her inside the enclosure with the bats.“They’re not something to be scared of,” said Coiner, who admitted that she wasn’t a bat lover as a child.Another myth you may have heard is that most bats have rabies. Any wild animal can have rabies, but few do. (To be safe, it’s best not to touch any animal you don’t know.) What about the story that bats suck human blood? Not true. Even vampire bats — which are not found in the United States — don’t suck blood; they lick it.The zoo aims to tell bats’ true story by hosting its first International Bat Day on August 24. The event will feature chats with keepers and other bat-related activities. It will also spread the word that bats’ survival is being threatened by disease and fewer places to nest.With featherless wings, big ears and pointy teeth, bats don’t always look cute in photographs. But bat rescuer and educator Leslie Sturges says that kids who meet a bat at one of her talks are charmed by the furry creatures.“It’s always ‘awww,’ ” said Sturges, who spoke to 4,000 kids about bats last year. “No one ever sees their faces. They’re adorable.”last_img read more

A beach and mountain escape in Malpaís

first_imgThe headlights from our truck illuminated only the craggy dirt road and the jungle that tried to cover it. The truck rocked side to side as we slowly rolled down hill, and the sparkle from the dark river’s reflection came into view.It reminded me of the scene from “Jurassic Park” when Dennis Nedry, desperate to escape the island (supposedly in Costa Rica, mind you) with valuable dinosaur embryos, crashes his truck into a tree before crossing a river just like this one. If we got stuck, would we also be dinner for a dilophosaurus lying in wait?What brand was my shaving cream anyway? Barbasol?We splashed through the river and slowly climbed the bumpy road up the hill until we reached Star Mountain Jungle Lodge.If we didn’t need four-wheel drive to get to Malpaís, we did for the hotel. SMJ sits 5 kilometers down the road and up the hill from the intersection that separates Malpaís and Santa Teresa, home to some of Costa Rica’s most beloved and remote beaches. Alberto Font Alberto Font While there aren’t any dinosaurs to see here, SMJ attracts birders and other wildlife enthusiasts. The owner, Andrew Rhee, called the property “a budding Cabo Blanco” for its proximity to the national park, Costa Rica’s first.Bird watching tours and horseback rides through the expansive property are available along the 1.4 miles of trails that wend through the property.SMJ offers horse tours of the peninsula’s famous beaches, too, but we opted for a half a day away from the waves and saddled up for a ride through the jungle. On the way to the stables we passed the yoga studio, a beautiful open-air space secluded from the hotel rooms and dining area.Keeping with its eco-tourism roots, the studio was built in part from reclaimed lumber from trees that fell during a storm. Crossing streams and climbing the mountain on our horses, we saw bromeliads, vines reaching down from the canopy and spectacularly tall trees. Howler monkeys continue to, well, howl, but the other animals were shy that day.We finally reach a clearing and the Pacific Oocean came into view. Cabo Blanco was to our backs but from our vantage point, there were no roads or developments or noises to mark the town of Cabuya, the entrance to the reserve, or the dusty roads of Santa Teresa, just uninterrupted green mountains.  While there is no beach access at Star Mountain Jungle Lodge, guests can enjoy the pool and waterfall Jacuzzi. The warmly decorated rooms are clean and inviting, including fresh flower arrangements from the lodge’s garden. Breakfast with a view. Start the day with fresh fruit, Costa Rican coffee, yogurt, granola, cereal or eggs and toast. Hammocks and chairs make the gazebo an inviting place to lounge after breakfast and enjoy a book or just the sounds of the jungle. As we pulled onto the lawn in the darkness, the groundskeeper greeted us with his assistant, a gray, white and brown calico cat.After a bit of shuteye in a comfortable bed in the warmly painted, clean room, I woke up the next morning to the sound of a heavy rainstorm on the roof overhead, the soft light of the morning filtering in through the slatted windows.With such famous beaches, it’s easy to forget the dramatic green mountains that rise over the coast here at the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. The lodge sits on 222 acres of undeveloped countryside, offering a unique chance to be immersed in the sights and sounds of the tropical jungle – with a pool and Jacuzzi nearby.Four hotel rooms, two doubles ($69 per night) and two triples ($95 per night), sit together under a shared porch. The rustic rooms are warmly decorated and come equipped with an overhead fan, two nightstands, mini fridge and a private bathroom with hot water. There are even arrangements of fresh flowers picked from around the lodge.A short way down the path is the Monkey House, a small cottage that’s popular with families for its privacy and ability to sleep four comfortably ($159).In the daylight, the property revealed itself to be a lush tropical garden. The path from the rooms to the large gazebo where breakfast was waiting was lined with red, yellow and magenta false birds-of-paradise flowers, green palms and countless other flora. A spread of yogurt, granola, cereal and milk was laid out on the table, alongside a large serving of papaya, pineapple and watermelon. I order scrambled eggs, too.The simple breakfast was a nice way to start the day but there’s no cook on hand so we would have to head back into town for lunch and dinner.The dining area also has lightning-fast WiFi, something that can be hard to come by in the neighboring beach towns.Finishing my coffee after the plates were cleared, I heard the first cry from a howler monkey. The jet-black monkey’s deep-throated moan, winding up to a staccato hoot, also made me think of dinosaurs.   Alberto Font Going ThereDriving from San José, take Route 27 west out of the city and follow it north along the coast after it turns into Route 23. When you near Puntarenas, go west on Route 17 and follow signs for the Paquera Tambor Ferry. ($24 per vehicle plus one driver; $1.50 per additional adult passengers). After crossing the Gulf of Nicoya, drive past Tambor and through the town of Paquera. Follow Route 160 into the town of Cóbano and turn left at the Banco Nacional. At the Mal País/Santa Teresa intersection take a left into Malpaís. At Mary’s restaurant take a left and drive 2 km on the jungle road towards Cabuya. After crossing two creeks the hotel will be on your right. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

San Josés Chinatown woes continue

first_imgCosta Rica’s most intense rainy-season months are bringing more problems to National Liberation Party (PLN) presidential candidate Johnny Araya’s pet project as mayor, San José’s Chinatown, known as Barrio Chino.Several floods in recent weeks have swamped many businesses along the Barrio’s main boulevard, and the city’s old sewage system has been unable to handle the excessive water.Stephanie Mendoza, manager at Paso Canoas, said the store has flooded at least five or six times in the past few weeks.“We wanted to increase the width of drain grates in front of our store so that rainfall could drain better, but municipal officials wouldn’t authorize us to do that, saying they [the drain grates] are public property, and that we could be fined for altering them,” Mendoza said.“We were forced to move all of our merchandise that was at ground level. Some of our metal shelves are now rusting, and others made of wood are becoming moldy,” she added.Passage on most of the seven blocks of Chinatown’s main boulevard was closed for several hours during a strong rain shower on Sep. 16, and local employees were up to their waists in water. Store employees struggled to keep up with the rising water by using brooms in a losing battle to keep merchandise dry.“The situation worsens when motorists pass at certain speeds and send waves of standing water into the stores on both sides [of the boulevard],” Mendoza said.Litter to blame, city official saysDuring a recent renovation, workers replaced the sewers along the old 9th Street with one central sewer system that is covered with a layer of porous concrete that functions as a filter.Rodolfo Sancho, director of the city’s Public Works Department, said the filtering system was the first of its kind in Costa Rica and was working as expected, but “excessive pollution, mainly litter thrown by pedestrians, and oil and grease from vehicles and nearby businesses have saturated the cement layer and reduced its absorption capacity. … And heavy rains like those we have seen in recent days definitely aggravated the problem.”He said that the recent flooding along the boulevard was not related to the construction of Barrio Chino, “but rather was due to a sewage system that is over 100 years old.”However, the municipality now will be forced to fix the problems with the city’s drainage system to hopefully stop the flooding of local businesses.City officials already have increased the number of workers to clear Chinatown of debris and litter, Sancho told The Tico Times. On Friday morning, at least four municipal cleaning crews were collecting trash along the boulevard.Officials also plan to install drain grates in parts of the porous concrete lawyer, although that job isn’t expected to get underway for up to three weeks, and even then it’s a temporary solution. Meanwhile, additional heavy seasonal rainstorms are expected in coming weeks.City engineers will continue to study the problem, and work on a permanent solution likely will begin next year.Polemic projectSan José’s Barrio Chino was one of the flagship projects of former San José Mayor Johnny Araya, now the PLN’s top candidate for president in 2014.But the Tico Chinatown has faced several problems, even before it was inaugurated. First, civic groups and public school students protested against the project because it is located on an historic landmark known as “Paseo de los Estudiantes,” which refers to the daily transit of many public school students in the area.Many terminals and bus stops also were located along 9th Street, and business owners complained that closing the road would reduce customer traffic.Those fears soon became reality, and by the inauguration of the project in December 2012, several businesses had already closed or were sold due to a sharp drop in customers during Chinatown’s construction.In June, six months after Chinatown opened, another controversy made headlines when the city was forced to remove four massive speed bumps along the boulevard following constant complaints from motorists.The removal of the concrete “domes” cost the city an additional ₡11 million ($22,000).As if that weren’t enough, the Chinese arch at the entrance of Barrio Chino on Avenida 2 – a $1 million gift that Araya secured on one of several trips to China – was vandalized. Since then, the arch has become a canvas for graffiti and pigeon droppings.City officials don’t know how much this latest setback will cost, but Sancho promised that “the municipality will use funds from its public works maintenance budget, which will not require any additional funding.” Facebook Comments Related posts:After last year’s flooding, San José officials say city is prepared for the rainy season Municipal Police target street vending in downtown San José President Arias Inagurates New Public Works Projects Costa Rican capital hit by heavy rains, flash floodslast_img read more

Captain was not at helm of capsized South Korean ferry

first_imgRelated posts:Four dead, 284 missing in S. Korea ferry sinking JINDO — The captain was not at the helm of the South Korean ferrythat capsized two days ago, investigators said Friday, as anger spread over stalled rescue efforts for hundreds of missing passengers trapped by the submerged vessel.More than 48 hours after the 6,825-ton Sewol suddenly listed and then sank, a small army of more than 500 exhausted divers — battling powerful currents — have yet to obtain any real access to the ferry’s interior.Two divers managed to partially pry open a door on the side of the ship, but did not swim inside, the coast guard said.“Visibility is almost non-existent. You can hardly see your hand in front of you face,” said one diver when he returned to the harbor at nearby Jindo island.The confirmed death toll stood at 28, but the focus of concern remained on the 268 people still unaccounted for — hundreds of them children on a high school outing to the southern resort island of Jeju.As the dive teams worked on accessing the ferry, two divers bored holes in the hull and began injecting oxygen into the ship.The weather conditions were challenging, with rain and fog, and strong sea swells that covered the small keel section of the Sewol that had previously poked above the surface.Of the 475 people on board when the Sewol capsized, 179 were rescued, but no new survivors have been found since Wednesday.Three giant, floating cranes reached the disaster site, but regional coastguard commander Kim Soo-Hyun stressed they would not begin lifting the multi-deck ferry until they were sure there were no survivors inside.No salvage before rescue“I want to be clear: There won’t be any salvage work done against the will of the families,” he said.There were 352 students on board and for the parents of those who were not rescued there was bitter resentment at what they saw as the inadequacy of the official response.“It’s been two days but no one has been brought out alive,” complained Lee Yong-Gi, whose son was among the missing students.“I firmly believe that the kids are alive. We need to rescue them as soon as possible. But officials are dragging their feet,” Lee told AFP.Another father accused the authorities of indifference and deception in an appeal broadcast live on television.“The government lied yesterday,” he said, speaking from a podium in a Jindo gymnasium where hundreds of blanket-wrapped relatives have been sleeping on the floor since the tragedy unfolded.Disputing the official figures of hundreds of divers, vessels and aircraft being deployed, he said he and other relatives had visited the rescue site and seen only a dozen ships and helicopters.“Everyone, is this the reality of South Korea? We plead once more, please save our children,” he said.A coast guard official trying to brief the relatives was pushed and slapped around the face.The initial public backlash has centered on the captain, Lee Joon-Seok, and his 28 crew, most of whom survived the disaster.State prosecutors said preliminary investigations showed the third officer was at the helm of the ferry.‘Captain not in command’“The captain was not in command when the accident took place,” prosecutor Park Jae-Eok told a press briefing.The captain was “in the back” he added, without elaborating.The captain apologized Thursday to the victims and their relatives, but offered no clear explanation for what caused the Sewol to capsize.“I feel really sorry for the passengers, victims and families,” Lee said. “I feel ashamed.”Tracking data from the Maritime Ministry showed that the ferry made a sharp turn just before sending its first distress signal.Some experts believe a tight turn could have dislodged the heavy cargo manifest — including more than 150 vehicles — and destabilized the vessel, causing it to list heavily and then capsize.But others suggested the turn might have been caused by a collision with a rock or other submerged object.Chief prosecutor Lee Seong-Yoon stressed there was “no limit” to the range of the investigation.“We will make sure… those responsible are sternly held accountable,” Lee said.As well as the cause of the disaster, investigators will be looking at why passengers were ordered to stay in their cabins and seats for up to 40 minutes after the ferry ran into trouble.Furious relatives believe many more people would have escaped if they had reached evacuation points before the ship listed sharply and water started flooding in.Newspaper editorials were scathing with the Dong-A Ilbo daily calling the rescue response “ludicrous”.“We have the world’s finest shipbuilding industry in the 21st century, but our mindset is in the 19th century,” the newspaper said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Libertarians propose Caja insurance bill for workers earning less than minimum wage

first_imgLibertarian Movement Party lawmakers Otto Guevara and Natalia Díaz have filed a bill to amend laws governing Costa Rica’s Social Security System, orCaja, to allow insurance for employees who work only a few hours a day or during a specific period.Bill No. 19,685 aims to incorporate exceptions to Caja’s insurance system that stipulate contributions based on a minimum monthly wage.In order to offer basic insurance with the Caja, current laws provide only a minimum monthly wage of ₡185,488 ($345). Caja uses this figure to calculate monthly insurance fees for workers even if they earn less than that. The law does not allow for coverage for temporary workers.The Libertarian Movement proposal aims to create an option for Caja insurance based on a worker’s actual income instead of using a minimum wage for everyone.Díaz cited several examples of workers who would benefit, including gardeners, domestic employees, construction workers, painters, farmers and seasonal sales employees. Advocates believe the initiative will help strengthen the Social Security System by increasing the number of people who contribute to the Caja.“We also seek to benefit the productive sector, as we know this initiative will boost new business ideas and will create thousands of new jobs,” Guevara said.Díaz added that the initiative would help reduce informality in the workforce and boost social insurance coverage for a considerable number of workers who currently do not have any kind of insurance.A date for discussing the proposal before the full Legislative Assembly is pending. Facebook Comments Related posts:No free dental checkups for self-employed workers who owe the Caja, Sala IV rules Public hospitals begin offering online appointments this week Costa Rica’s poor live longer than poor in the US, study finds Social Security System launches anti-influenza vaccination campaignlast_img read more

Costa Rica announces increased security measures for active volcanoes

first_imgThe National Emergency Commission (CNE) announced Monday increased security measures at the country’s active volcanoes.In a press conference, the CNE said that at Turrialba Volcano, which has presented ongoing volcanic activity since 2017, new shelters now provide protection to scientists, park rangers and other authorized personnel near the crater.The setup is similar to the one at Poás Volcano, which reopened to the public last August but has exhibited increased activity since late 2018. Despite the additional security measures, CNE said Monday the park may temporarily close to the public at times in 2019.“Very few countries in the world take these initiatives to help ensure the public’s safety when they visit national parks with active volcanoes,” said the CNE’s Alexander Solis.Access to Turrialba Volcano will remain restricted indefinitely, with visitors prohibited from coming within two kilometers of the crater. CNE explained it will need to construct additional shelters for tourists and work with the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) to improve road infrastructure prior to lifting limitations.“We have reports of people getting in to the park, and we have to emphasize that it is not safe,” Solis said.According to the CNE’s Guillermo Alvarado, Costa Rica is the first Latin American country with bunker-type shelters for safety at active volcanoes.At Irazú Volcano, which has maintained lower volcanic activity, the CNE is monitoring landslides that could affect communications towers on which much of the country is dependent.CNE also announced Monday that it will increase monitoring efforts at several other active volcanoes across Costa Rica.According to the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI), Poás Volcano and Turrialba Volcano are both at a level three of volcanic activity, indicating a period of “stable eruption” that includes passive ash emissions and tremors.The organization said that since Poás Volcano reopened to the public, the National Park sees 300 daily visitors during weekdays and accommodates about 1,000 daily during weekends. Spots are limited and must be pre-booked via an online portal, and guests must wear hard hats when they approach the lookout.​​​​Thanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years. ​​​​Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s Turrialba Volcano erupts, sends ash 3 km high Turrialba Volcano registers increase in activity Ashes from Turrialba Volcano’s explosions reach San José, Heredia Experts document presence of lava in two Costa Rican volcanoeslast_img read more

Gunmen kill 3 soldiers child in south Philippines

first_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Three soldiers were killed and 10 others were wounded, two seriously, along with three passing motorists, he said.Other gunmen believed to be related to the attackers in the initial attack later fired at two nearby army detachments. A child was killed by sniper fire from the gunmen near one of the detachments, said Lucero, adding that troops were hunting down the attackers.The gunmen were believed to be gangsters unleashed by politicians who wanted to harass the military for backing government and police efforts to prevent fraud in next year’s congressional and local elections by cleaning up a list of voters long notorious for including non-existent, or “ghost,” voters. The fraudulent practice has allowed politicians to ensure their hold on power for years, Lucero said.The anti-elections fraud campaign in Marawi led to the recent exclusion of 24,000 suspicious names on the voters’ list, angering corrupt politicians, he said. Since then, army troops have come under fire at least four times from unknown gunmen.Marawi, about 810 kilometers (505 miles) southeast of Manila, lies in a volatile region with a long presence of Muslim guerrillas and other armed groups and a recent history of electoral fraud and violence. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Heavily armed men opened fire on an army patrol near a sprawling university in the southern Philippines and attacked two nearby military outposts, killing three soldiers and a child in what appeared to be coordinated assaults, military officials said Thursday.About a dozen soldiers were traveling on a truck near Mindanao State University in predominantly Muslim Marawi city late Wednesday when around 15 gunmen raked the patrolling troops with rifle fire. The soldiers returned fire and wounded several of the attackers, who fled after a 30-minute gunbattle, army Col. Daniel Lucero said.last_img read more

Uruguay returns independence hero to mausoleum

first_img 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center “It’s an honor to be part of this procession,” said Juan Carlos Cano, 58, a welder. “Artigas transcends Uruguay. He’s a Latin American leader and (we), and the metallurgical workers, share his belief of a unified Latin America.Artigas was born to a wealthy family and rose to become a leader of Uruguay’s 19th century fight for independence from Spain and Portugal. History books describe Artigas as a man happy to do farm labor with the Gauchos, or the cowboys of the Uruguayan and Argentine Pampas flatlands.Although Artigas fought to free Montevideo and Buenos Aires from the European empires, his attempt to unite the region’s provinces failed and he was forced to spend his last days in Paraguay, where he died.When the procession of more than 1,000 people reached the square, the urn was returned to a marble and cement mausoleum inaugurated in 1977 during the country’s military dictatorship.The mausoleum stirred controversy in 2009, when former President Tabare Vazquez announced he would move Artigas’ remains from the “cold marble” to a building in the plaza where they could be put on public display.Congress voted in favor of the plan, but the project stalled after more than a hundred people rode horses to Independence Square to protest. Vazquez then said Artigas’ remains would be taken away for restoration. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated PressMONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) – The remains of Uruguayan independence hero Jose Artigas were returned to a mausoleum in Montevideo’s main square Friday, a year after they were removed to be restored.The urn was hauled back from Congress to the mausoleum on an artillery caisson pulled slowly by six horses in a solemn ceremony led by President Jose Mujica. The gun carriage was guarded by soldiers from a regiment that Artigas belonged to in his youth and dozens of unionists clad in red. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories 0 Comments   Share   (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories last_img read more

2 convicted of alQaida membership in Germany

first_img 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories Sponsored Stories Check your body, save your life BERLIN (AP) – A German and an Austrian have been convicted of membership in al-Qaida and sentenced to several years in prison.Yusuf Ocak, 27, from Luebeck, Germany, was also convicted of being a founding member of the German Taliban Mujahideen and was sentenced to 9 years in prison. Maqsood Lodin, 23, an Austrian of Afghan background, was sentenced to 6 years 9 months.Both can appeal.The pair met in July 2010 in Pakistan’s Waziristan region and were assigned by al-Qaida to collect money and recruit members for the terrorist group in Europe upon returning there in the spring of 2011. Ocak also posted a threat video on the internet in 2009. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous ofcenter_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Ocak was arrested in Vienna and Lodin in Berlin in 2011. Neither defendant made statements during the trial.(Copyright 2013 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 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

HRW Chinese police torture suspects despite legal reforms

first_imgBEIJING (AP) — Police abuse of criminal suspects to extract confessions in China is a serious problem despite measures to reform the legal system such as moves to exclude evidence obtained through torture, Human Rights Watch said in a report Wednesday.The report found that police have found ways around the rules, in a legal system that still relies heavily on confessions to produce convictions in nearly every case, partly because of often inadequate manpower to properly investigate crimes. Top Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement President Xi Jinping has made a priority of reducing wrongful convictions and reforming the justice system to restore public confidence in the ruling Communist Party, but has declined to consider loosening the party’s control over the judiciary.A high-profile result of the legal reform campaign so far was the posthumous exoneration in December of a teenager from Inner Mongolia who was convicted of rape and murder and executed 18 years ago. The police officer who oversaw the original case has been charged with using torture to coerce a confession.Measures put into place in 2009 and 2012 — before Xi became president — require interrogations to be videotaped and ban the use of evidence directly obtained through torture. Those are positive steps, but not enough, Human Rights Watch said.“They are being grafted onto a criminal justice system that still affords the police enormous power over the judiciary and offers police numerous opportunities to abuse suspects,” the group said.Some officers get around the rules by torturing detainees outside of official detention facilities, using methods that leave no visible injuries and taping confessions later, the report said.center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility China’s Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun was quoted as saying in June 2013 that coerced confessions had dropped 87 percent in 2012 compared to the year earlier. Human Rights Watch said it did not have enough access to confirm or refute that figure.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Quick workouts for men At the same time, police operate the detention centers, suspects have no right to have a lawyer present during interrogations and judges rarely question police conduct and often ignore clear evidence of mistreatment, the report said.“The confession is still highly valued, a confession is obtained in almost every case, there is nothing that really holds a police officer accountable for torture or coercion,” said Maya Wang, Hong Kong-based Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.In interviews for the Human Rights Watch report, former detainees, mostly suspected of theft, selling drugs or robbery, described abuse during police interrogations, including sleep deprivation, being beaten with batons and being hung up by the wrists.The Ministry of Public Security didn’t immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.Human Rights Watch spoke to 18 former detainees as well as family members, lawyers, a former judge and a former police officer. It also looked at 432 court verdicts from across China that addressed claims of torture by detainees among 158,000 verdicts published online from the first four months of 2014. The defendants were convicted in all 432 cases, even in the 23 cases in which judges excluded confessions due to concerns over police torture. Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Qantas wants direct flights to Papua New Guinea

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Qantas wants to operate direct services to Papua New Guinea from Cairns, and has applied for air rights to fly 12 weekly services with its Bombardier aircraft.The government Friday revealed that it had received an application from Qantas requesting the rights for 888 seats per week between Cairns and Port Moresby.“Qantas plans to commence services between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) from July 2010, or as soon as all necessary approvals have been received,” said Qantas in its submission.“Twelve weekly return services will be operated between Cairns and Port Moresby using QantasLink Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 aircraft configured with 74 seats.”Qantas says if it’s given the green light it will have its services in place before year’s end.Interestingly the carrier has asked for the rights to be operated by regional operator QantasLink, and will be the subsidiary carrier’s first international service. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.Xlast_img read more

The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney Takes Top Honours at 2010

first_imgThe Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney has taken out top honours at the 2010 Australian Hotels Association (NSW) Awards for Excellence held last night at the Hilton Hotel.The Spa was named the winner in the category of Health Club and Spa Facilities of the Year, ahead of four other prestigious Sydney hotel spas.Four Seasons Hotel Sydney Spa Manager Lucy Kennington said: “This award is testament to our highly skilled spa therapists who consistently deliver the most memorable treatments, so it’s wonderful to be recognised in front of our industry colleagues with this prestigious award.”The Spa at Four Seasons offers an intimate, enchanting escape. The menu of treatments uses a range of Sodashi and Elemis products which help foster the wellness that comes from within. Expert therapists combine techniques from Australia and around the world to provide the ualtimate in pampering and rejuvenation, in an atmosphere of comfort and discretion.Four Seasons Hotel Sydney is conveniently located in The Rocks at 199 George Street, Sydney. Source = Four Seasons Hotel Sydney <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

Tourism to Aussie landmarks waning

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Recent statistics have revealed that visitor numbers to two of Australia’s most iconic landmarks have declined in the past 12 months. Parks Australia has revealed statistics that indicate visitor numbers to Uluru and Kakadu have decreased by about nine per cent in 2011, the ABC reported. The popular tourist attraction Uluru was visited by around 273,000 people and about 160,000 travelled to Kakadu. The parks are two of the most famous wilderness regions in the world and the Northern Territory Government has poured millions into preserving and promoting them. Kakadu National Park is a World Heritage listed area that has been listed for its cultural and natural heritage and Kakadu is the largest terrestrial national park in Australia Kakadu Tourism Operator Genda Campbell said he had never experienced business so difficult in the past.”There was probably an 80 per cent drop in inquiries on the internet on our website and on the phone through agents both in the Territory and interstate as well,” Mr Campbell said. Mr Campbell attributed the downturn in visitors to the strong Australian dollar and economic problems overseas.”When people have got money, they travel, when they don’t, they don’t,” he added. Tourism Central Australia’s Peter Solly is confident the situation for the tourist attractions will change for the better.”This year’s going to be a difficult year, things don’t change overnight but there are some good positive signs around,” Mr Solly said. Mr Solly added that visitor numbers to destinations throughout Australia have been decreasing and that Uluru and Kakadu are not the only regions experiencing a tough time.last_img read more

South African secures ties with China

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P South African Airways launches new non-stop Johannesburg – beijing flights In an effort to strengthen its ties with China, South African Airways has this week launched non-stop flights to Beijing.According to the airline the 15 hour flight, operated by an Airbus A340-600 would make three round trips a week on the Johannesburg – Beijing route, AFP reported.South African Airways Chief Siza Mzimela said the new service will increase trade and tourism within the 15-nation Southern African Development Community.Mr Mzimela said the new route will also boost relationships between the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.“We believe the route will play a strategic role in the growing economic relationships and dependencies between the continents,” Mr Mzimela said.“Commercially, SAA is able to deliver seamless travel from Sao Paolo via Johannesburg to Beijing, servicing all three continents.”Additionally, the airline last month strengthened its position into Central Africa by introducing flights into Pointe Noire in the Democratic Republic of Congo.The airline will operate two flights a week to Pointe Noire with a narrow body airbus A319, which offers a total of 120 seats.“SAA is committed to delivering its strategic objectives for the state, including objectives for the state including facilitating trade and economic development in an environmentally and socially responsible manner,” Mr Mzimela said.last_img read more