Book clients to Vegas for a chance to see Celine Dion live

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — Celine Dion, Canada’s favourite songstress, is best seen live, which is something travel agents have the chance of doing thanks to Air Canada Vacations’ latest promotion.Agents who book packages and groups to Las Vegas by Sept. 30 will be entered to win a trip for two to see Dion live in concert on Jan. 25, 2017.The prize includes two Economy Class air seats to Las Vegas, a three-night stay at Caesars Palace from Jan. 24-27 in a newly renovated Julius Tower room, two tickets to Dion’s concert, and a US$100 gift card to the Miracle Mile Shops.Every booking is considered one ballot entry. This promotion is valid for new bookings only made between Aug. 3 and Sept. 30 for customer travel from Oct. 1, 2016 and completed by March 31, 2017. Show ticket date cannot be changed. Book clients to Vegas for a chance to see Celine Dion live in concert Posted by Sharecenter_img Thursday, August 4, 2016 Travelweek Group Tags: Air Canada Vacationslast_img read more

TICO updates guidelines for trust accounts

first_imgTags: TICO Posted by Share << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — TICO is advising registrants that revised Trust Accounting Guidelines are now available on TICO’s website.The updated guidelines can be accessed here: http://www.tico.ca/files/Trust%20Acctg%20Guidelines%20Final%20073116.pdf.“Although there are no changes to the existing trust accounting requirements, the revised Guidelines provide further clarifications related to the requirements under the Legislation. The revised Guidelines are a consolidated document which replaces the former retail and wholesale trust accounting guidelines which were last updated in June 2013,” says TICO President and CEO, Richard Smart.Any questions regarding the revised Guidelines should be directed to TICO’s Financial Compliance Department at 1-888-451-8426 or email sskrbic@tico.ca.center_img Travelweek Group Tuesday, August 16, 2016 TICO updates guidelines for trust accountslast_img read more

Hong Kong Airlines will make North American debut in 2017 with daily

first_img Share RICHMOND, BC — Hong Kong Airlines has announced its North American debut with the launch of new nonstop daily service between Hong Kong and Vancouver next summer.Kicking off on June 30, 2017, the year-round service between Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and Vancouver International Airport (YVR) will initially be operated using an Airbus 330-200 with 283 seats. The airline operates one of the youngest fleets in the world, with an average aircraft age of just 4.1 years.“Hong Kong Airlines is a well-known, family-friendly airline based in a world class city, and we are thrilled to be able to offer the public even more options to travel between Vancouver and Hong Kong,” said Craig Richmond, President and CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority. “Every new airline that chooses to fly to YVR means more jobs for the local economy and creates new opportunities for British Columbians.”The new daily service will generate approximate 431 jobs in British Columbia, both at the airport and in the tourism industry.More news:  Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongHong Kong Airlines is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a new campaign titled ‘Flying Beyond’. In addition to the new Vancouver service, the airline will mark the arrival of its first A350 aircraft in August 2017 as part of its ongoing fleet expansion. It will also debut its new VIP lounge at HKG in the first quarter of 2017, which will offer upgraded premium services to more passengers. Travelweek Group Posted by Hong Kong Airlines will make North American debut in 2017 with daily YVR servicecenter_img Tuesday, November 29, 2016 Tags: Hong Kong, Hong Kong Airlines, North America, Vancouver, Vancouver International Airport, YVR << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Californias Montecito is devastated by mudslides

first_img Thursday, January 11, 2018 Share California’s Montecito is devastated by mudslides By: Marcio Jose Sanchez and Robert JablonSource: The Associated Presscenter_img MONTECITO, Calif.  — The number of people missing since mudslides engulfed this wealthy coastal town surged to 48 Thursday as hundreds of rescue workers slogged through knee-deep ooze and used long poles to probe for bodies. The number of confirmed dead stood at 17.The huge increase in those unaccounted for came as authorities investigated missing-persons reports, said Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson.The number has fluctuated since the disaster struck in the early morning darkness Tuesday and was as low as 16 Wednesday evening. The new count raised fears that the disaster was far worse than authorities imagined.Family members have been anxiously awaiting word on loved ones as the search goes on.“It’s just waiting and not knowing, and the more I haven’t heard from them _ we have to find them,” said Kelly Weimer, whose elderly parents’ home was wrecked. The couple, Jim and Alice Mitchell, did not heed a voluntary evacuation warning and stayed home to celebrate Jim Mitchell’s 89th birthday.As search dogs clambered on heaps of wood that used to be homes, mud-spattered rescue teams from all over California worked their way through the ruins of Montecito, an enclave of 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey.It was left covered with thick muck, boulders, wrecked cars, splintered lumber and tree limbs in a scene Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown likened to a World War I battlefield.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencyAfter a better look at the damage, officials lowered the number of destroyed homes from 100 to 59 and raised the number of damaged ones from 300 to 446.Overall, 28 people were injured. Twelve remained hospitalized, four in critical condition.By Wednesday, some 500 searchers had covered about 75 per cent of the inundated area, authorities said. They had a long slog ahead, filled with hazards seen and unseen.“A lot of the street signs are gone, the roads are impassable. It all has to be done on foot,” said Deputy Dan Page, chief of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department rescue team.Rescue crews worked up to 12 hours a day and risked stepping on nails or shattered glass, or being exposed to raw sewage, or dealing with leaking gas, Page said.“We’ve gotten multiple reports of rescuers falling through manholes that were covered with mud, swimming pools that were covered up with mud,” said Anthony Buzzerio, a Los Angeles County fire battalion chief. “The mud is acting like a candy shell on ice cream. It’s crusty on top but soft underneath, so we’re having to be very careful.”Crews marked where bodies were found, often far away from a home, and used that information to guess where other victims might have ended up as the surging mud carried or buried them.People in Montecito had counted themselves lucky last month after the biggest wildfire in California history spared the town. But it was the fire that led to the mudslide, by burning away vegetation.More news:  A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passenger“We totally thought we were out of the woods,” said Jennifer Markham, whose home escaped damage in both disasters. “I was frozen yesterday morning thinking, ‘This is a million times worse than that fire ever was.”’The mudslides were already occurring when Santa Barbara County officials first sent emergency alerts to cellphones in the area, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.For days, the county had issued repeated warnings via social media, news media and emails about the potential for mudslides. But county emergency manager Jeff Gater said officials decided not to use the cellphone push alert system until 3:50 a.m. Tuesday out of concern it might not be taken seriously.Only an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of residents fled when ordered, and much of the damage occurred where evacuations were voluntary.It could take days or even longer before the work is finished.“That’s always our mentality: ‘Hey, we’re going to find someone alive,”’ Page said. “You never really know. You never know exactly what the human body is capable of.”In 2014, a mudslide in rural Oso in Washington state killed 43 people. The last body was found four months later. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Remember when 1800 numbers were cause for concern Tripcentralca has seen it

first_imgRemember when 1-800 numbers were cause for concern? Tripcentral.ca has seen it all Tuesday, May 29, 2018 About Latest Posts Kathryn FolliottEditor at TravelweekKathryn is Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 1995. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Hong Kong, Jerusalem, the Swiss Alps and the Galapagos Islands among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Kathryn Folliott (see all) “They need to go where the bucks are”: Agents on ACTA partnership – April 18, 2019 As the cost of doing business climbs, host agencies, retail groups say they have options – April 4, 2019 As of 2021 Europe-bound clients will need to apply online for a visa waiver and pay a fee – April 3, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Share Tags: Travelweek, Tripcentral.ca Kathryn Folliott This story originally ran in the May 10th, 2018 issue of Travelweek magazine. To get Travelweek delivered to your agency for free, subscribe here.TORONTO — Tripcentral.ca is looking to grow with new locations in Western Canada and in Quebec but timing is everything and the travel agency chain, now with 26 storefronts in Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, says getting its expansion ‘right’ is more important than getting it ‘right away’.Growth into Quebec would be either a strategic acquisition or partnership, says Tripcentral.ca President Richard Vanderlubbe, adding, “out West would be fun too. We do better when we have a presence on the ground, but the distance is bigger and we’d need to do it carefully. We’re not in particular hurry – if the timing is right, you never know. Each location and opportunity is evaluated uniquely, since our locations are not only a place for our agents to work, but also a live billboard for the website and a trust factor for a geographic market.”That website, Tripcentral.ca, is the travel agency’s calling card in the consumer market, and one of the original online travel sites, going back to the very early days of OTAs. The site was launched in 1996, the same year Expedia and Travelocity got their start. When Tripcentral.ca launched, seven years after the travel agency was founded in 1989, very few travel agencies had their own domain name, much less a functioning site. “It started with Microsoft Access 1.0 and my ex-wife literally keying last minute package specials faxed to us into a database,” said Vanderlubbe. “We eventually made that database public on the web in 1996. From there we were able to eventually have all Toronto departures, not just last-minutes, and then national. The site was branded tripcentral.ca in 2001, and we branded our locations tripcentral.ca in 2003.” These days Vanderlubbe and industry veteran Paul Foster own and operate all 26 of the company’s storefront locations in Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.While the Tripcentral.ca site has become a powerhouse, the majority of the company’s sales still come through the bricks-and-mortar agencies. “People will be surprised that most of our volume is through our traditional channels but our website is not in competition with our agents. We use the multi-channelled approach because that is what customers want. They want the convenience of web shopping and booking at any time, and they like the trust and knowledge of our agents.”Tripcentral.ca’s agents are credited back web bookings when they have been in recent two-way contact. There’s overlap, and that works to the company’s advantage, says Vanderlubbe, with each point of contact building brand recognition for the other points of contact. “It becomes very hard to determine exactly what is online, local phone, or web-influenced … and there is strong action to call an agent and interact on the phone or over chat.”The ratio of pure, unassisted online bookings to non-online bookings hasn’t changed much for the company, he adds. “Today we are not heavy into the flight-only marketing. If we decide to, our flight-only transactions would likely have a much higher online percentage. When people are going to spend a week or more of their precious holiday time, they usually have a lot of questions.”While Tripcentral.ca certainly isn’t the only retail travel agency to have a website, Vanderlubbe says Tripcentral.ca’s vertical integration with online and bricks-and-mortar, going back more than 20 years, has given the company a multi-channel experience that is an entirely different model from lead-generating sites where agents make bids for would-be bookings. “Those businesses would not necessarily have the consistency of customer experience as Tripcentral.ca.”Back in the mid-1990s, bricks-and-mortar and online seemed like two increasingly at-war camps. Then came the realization that travel agencies needed to be everywhere their clients were, and that included the web. “I’ve always said, the Internet is not a channel of distribution. It is a channel of communication, just like walk in, phone, etc.  You never saw a travel agency that only dealt in person and not by phone,” says Vanderlubbe. “In the 1980s and 1990s there were not ‘fax only agencies’.”  He adds: “Back in my early days, it was 1-800 numbers everyone was freaked about. Customers are customers who want value for their money and a trusted place to book. That has not changed.”last_img read more

Members loved every minute of TPIs annual Velocity Trip

first_imgMembers “loved every minute” of TPI’s annual Velocity Trip Share Thursday, June 21, 2018 Tags: Riviera Maya, TPI << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Posted by Travelweek Group TORONTO — Top agents had the time of their lives at TPI’s annual Velocity Trip, which recently took place at Secrets SilverSands in Riviera Maya.Unique to TPI advisors, the exclusive Velocity rewards program is designed to recognize and incentivize advisors, and allows them to build their business through increased revenue. Along with the annual Velocity trip, agents are rewarded with higher commissions and dollars that can be used for their own personal travel.Year to date, the TPI Velocity Rewards program has paid out over $190,000 to its advisors.“These reward trips allow us all to have one on one time together while also allowing fellow advisors from across the country to learn and get to know each other better while reinforcing the strength of our network between TPI and our advisor,” said Morris Chia, Chairman of TPI. “I always look forward to connecting with TPI advisors and getting feedback to ensure that our organization remains focused and relevant for the continued success of our advisors.”More news:  Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truckKelly Klassen, a Platinum Level Advisor from Saskatchewan, said she “loved every minute” of her first Velocity Trip, and praised TPI for incentivizing its members. “TPI rewards its top earners with amazing trips that are fantastic for networking with other agents as well as some of the wonderful head office team who support us day in and day out. I can’t wait to see where the next TPI Velocity Trip will take us,” she said.Carlo Trinidad, BDM, AMResorts who also joined the trip, commented on the strong partnership between the two companies: “This year’s TPI Velocity trip solidified AMResorts’ strong partnership with TPI. It was a great opportunity to host the agents alongside the TPI team and together we continue to build initiatives to strengthen our business.”last_img read more

Plenty of choice – and cheer – with Insights Christmas Markets

first_imgTags: Christmas, Insight Vacations, New Tours TORONTO — Insight Vacations has no fewer than eight Christmas Markets journeys in its ‘2018-19 Seasons – Autumn, Winter and Spring’ lineup. “Travel during the festive season adds such a significant touch to the overall experience and we received positive feedback from our loyal Canadian agents about the increasing popularity of our Christmas Markets program,” says Brad Ford, President, Insight Vacations Canada. “The holiday season is a time to build incredible memories and our carefully curated Insight Experiences are so rich in festive cheer, sampling local specialties and unique highlights that will create memories to last a lifetime and allow guests to experience Christmas like never before.” Here’s a look at three of the trips:Alpine Christmas MarketsThis 10-day itinerary takes clients through traditional German towns and the snow-frosted Alps. Munich embraces the holiday season with a flourish, and “there is no better place for guests to begin their trip”. Highlights include Christkindlmarkt and Salzburg, where a Local Expert takes travellers to Mozart’s family home, and where travellers can take in the 500-year-old Christmas Market in front of the cathedral. In Strasbourg guests will explore France’s largest and Europe’s oldest Christmas Market. Meanwhile Zurich is home to Europe’s biggest indoor Christmas extravaganza, held inside the main railway station with a three-storey Christmas tree, draped with twinkling Swarovski crystals.Christmas Markets of Poland, Prague & GermanyClients on this nine-day regional journey through Poland, Czech Republic and Germany start with time in Krawków, where the Christmas Market takes place on the Main Market Square with roasted chestnuts and traditional ‘oscypek’ cheese with cranberries. With a Local Expert, guests journey on for picturesque views from Prague Castle, which give way to the decorated Old Town Square with its giant Christmas tree draped in twinkling lights and surrounded by decorative wooden stalls. Then it’s on to Germany, known by many as the ultimate European destination for Christmas Markets, with stops in Dresden and Berlin.Christmas Markets of Austria & BavariaThis nine-day itinerary begins in Vienna with a private walk through the opulent Schönbrunn Palace. Once at the Viennese Christmas Market, a local stallholder is on hand with Viennese winter desserts paired with Glühwein. The trip then heads to Salzburg and on to Oberammergau and its colourful painted chalets, and King Ludwig II’s fairy-tale castle in Neuschwanstein. A final day is spent in Munich at the Christmas Market of Marienplatz, complete with carol sing-alongs, tasty treats and a tree lit up with 3,000 candles. Plenty of choice – and cheer – with Insight’s Christmas Markets << Previous PostNext Post >> Sharecenter_img Travelweek Group Thursday, September 6, 2018 Posted bylast_img read more

Avalons 4day A Taste of the Danube leads in at 1449 for

first_img Posted by Tags: Avalon Waterways Wednesday, March 20, 2019 TORONTO — In 2020 Avalon Waterways will be the only river cruise company offering four-, five- and six-day river cruise itineraries including A Taste of the Rhine, Heart of Germany and A Taste of the Danube.The lead-in option, the four-day ‘A Taste of the Danube’ starts at just $1,449 and is ideal for first-time river cruisers and time-starved travellers alike, with visits to Budapest, Bratislava, Melk and Dürnstein. The cruise ends in Vienna.With prices starting at $2,586 (excluding airfare), the new ‘A Taste of the Rhine’ is a five-day sailing along the Rhine River with a culinary walk through Amsterdam, a guided tour of Cologne, a wine-tasting in Boppard and free time in Rudesheim.Formerly a Christmas markets cruise, the new six-day ‘Heart of Germany’ will be offered year-round in 2020. Priced from $2,743, the itinerary features stops along the Main River and Main-Danube Canal with a guided walk through a Bavarian village, time in Würzburg and Baroque Bishop’s residence, sampling Bavarian wines in Kitzingen, an onboard beer-tasting near Volkach and the sites of Bamberg. The cruise concludes in Nuremberg.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upAvalon Waterways is introducing three Your Way options in 2020: an Avalon Waterways land extension; a Monograms independent vacation package; or a Globus escorted touring vacation.“With our new Your Way program, we’re making it easier for travellers to extend their river cruise vacation with land itineraries that are perfectly suited to their preferences and budget,” said Pam Hoffee, Managing Director of Avalon Waterways. “In addition, with our exclusive onboard Avalon Choice feature on every itinerary, our guests have their pick of the widest array of included excursions, from classic sightseeing to immersive discoveries and active adventures.”All cruise itineraries, short and long, sail on Avalon Waterways’ signature Suite Ships which provide guest two full decks of 200-square-foot Panorama Suites featuring the industry’s only Open-Air Balconies and beds facing the river views.Clients can book a select 2020 Europe river cruise and receive $499 per person airfare from select Canadian gateways and save $1,200 per couple. Avalon’s 4-day ‘A Taste of the Danube’ leads in at $1,449 for 2020center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Sharelast_img read more

Costa Rica economy on track Vice President Liberman says

first_imgFrom the print editionLuis Liberman came to the second vice presidency of Costa Rica by an unusual route: an outstanding banking career in the private sector. Liberman, 65, started from scratch in the late 1970s by getting a group of prominent businessmen to invest in Banco Interfin, a finance company that he ran as general manager. Under Liberman’s leadership, Banco Interfin grew during three decades into Costa Rica’s biggest private bank. In June 2006, Scotiabank bought Banco Interfin, which had $1.6 billion in assets. Liberman continued as general manager of Scotiabank for another year, and then resigned to join Laura Chinchilla’s successful presidential run. With a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois, Vice President Liberman coordinates President Chinchilla’s economic team. He is married with three adult children and a grandfather, and lives in the southwestern suburb of Escazú.The Tico Times caught up with Liberman Monday at Casa Presidencial to talk about job creation, the fiscal deficit and challenges facing the Chinchilla administration.Excerpts follow:TT: Mr. Liberman, my point of departure is that Costa Rica is economically stable and should continue with stability until the end of the Chinchilla administration.LL: I hope this is so. Unfortunately, with Costa Rica so dependent on its export markets, we are very vulnerable to world economic stability, which right now depends on how the euro, and to a lesser extent the dollar, evolve. If the euro muddles through without major market disruptions, then yes, we should have continued stability. But this situation is out of our control, and I won’t venture a guess as to what will happen with the euro.So aside from the euro threat that Costa Rica can do nothing about, how do you see the economy?We are on track for the economy to grow 4.5 percent this year, which is pretty good. Exports are up 12 percent, and service exports [increased by] 15 percent on a year ago. I’m especially encouraged that construction is coming back on a much healthier basis than in the 2006-2007 bubble years. Back then construction was driven by foreign sales, with developers building based on foreign commitments to buy Costa Rican properties. Now, there are several big hotel projects funded the old-fashioned way, with developers bringing their own money in and not dependent on foreign-purchase commitments. Construction is only growing at about a 4 percent rate, but it has all kinds of linkages to suppliers and tourism, which make it a very high-powered employment generator. Employment is something we really focus on in the government. Last year, we generated 90,000 new jobs, but a lot of that went to offset the 80,000 jobs we lost in the 2009-2010 crisis. Employment is a permanent challenge, because Costa Rica needs to generate 95,000 new jobs every year just to keep up with the number of young people who enter the workforce. So, even though I’ll take a 4.5 percent [gross domestic product] growth rate, I’d like to bump that up another point or point and a half to generate all the jobs we need.What will be this government’s way forward on the fiscal deficit front, in view of the tax-increase bill that’s now dead in Congress?There’s a misperception that the fiscal reform we attempted consisted only of the tax package. That was one of four reforms we presented, and we are going ahead with hopes for success with the other three. The first of these is a law to rationalize and contain public spending, the second is a law to strengthen income tax and customs tax administration, and the third is an authorization for U.S. dollar international bond market issues as a tool for managing the government’s debt.A recent Bloomberg-Newsweek article stated that you were leading the government team to put together a bond issue for $4 billion.Yes, that is falling into place surprisingly quickly. Two weeks ago, I made a presentation on Costa Rica at a meeting of the Emerging Markets Trade Association and was surprised by the interest in a Costa Rican issue. Costa Rica has not sold international market bonds since 2004.$4 billion is really big for Costa Rica. Doesn’t this present potential problems of downward pressure on the colón-dollar exchange rate?Not really. What we are proposing to the Legislative Assembly and to investment bankers for the bond issue is an authorization for up to $4 billion, but for bonds to be issued over a 10-year period with a maximum of $1 billion in any given year. The minimum practical amount for any single sale of bonds will be around $500 million, so if the government wants to stretch the issuance out, they could do eight $500 million bond issues over the next 10 years. I don’t anticipate significant funds from sale of these bonds being changed into colones, so they shouldn’t generate exchange-rate pressure. Bond-sale proceeds mostly will be applied to refinance existing foreign debt. International bond market rates are very low right now, and Costa Rica qualifies to issue in a favorable emerging-market bond sector rather than as a high-rate “exotic.” The rate for 10-year emerging-market bonds is now around 5 percent, so under present market conditions Costa Rica has a chance to lock in a very favorable rate for 10 years.Focusing on a very prominent problem for this government, what is being done about the 1856 Road project [the problematic highway paralleling Costa Rica’s San Juan River and northern border, started under presidential emergency decree in March 2011]?The big change is that the project is now being built by MOPT [Public Works and Transport Ministry]. MOPT will contractsome of that work with private construction companies, but now under full government tendering procedures. There’s something the public is unaware of regarding this project, which is that it’s not just the 160 kilometer parallel to the river. An integral part of the project has been the rehabilitation of more than 400 kilometers of access roads to the river highway itself. So the project is really an opening of access to the entire northern quadrant of Costa Rica.What about the crisis at the Costa Rican Social Security System, or Caja, which with 45,000 employees and more than $4 billion in assets is the largest company in Central America?The Caja has its own funding and administration and is very autonomous from the central government in how it is run. Fixing it will be a long-term proposition. They’ll have to start with controlling costs and implementing more effective collection of their payroll taxes. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute, or ICE, has just shown operational losses. How concerned are government officials?I think ICE can handle its problems. They have strain on their cash flow because they are investing in big projects. The Reventazón Hydroelectric Project alone is $1-1.4 billion, and they also have the Diquís project and a lot of expansion of the power grid.Where they have had most difficulty is with the cellular phone [market], which has recently been opened up to competition. But in ICE’s case, I am heartened by the experience of the Costa Rican state banks. Remember, they once had a monopoly on deposits. When this was abolished and private banks started to compete, state banks went through some rough years. But they adapted to the competition, and today are much better banks as a result. I think ICE will go through a similar process with cellphones.What accomplishments can the Chinchilla administration point to on the social font?First of all, security. Despite all of the media’s crime coverage that leads people to think otherwise, we have brought down crime rates where crime used to hit hardest: poor, urban neighborhoods. Nothing fancy, just more cops on the beat, and more and better equipment. Under our FODESAF payroll tax social fund, we continue to develop our care network for children and elderly people at risk. In education, we are on track to develop 90 vocational high schools over four years of this government. We consider these as very good social-development tools because they make young people immediately employable without a college degree. Our AVANCEMOS program of subsidizing poor students to keep them from dropping out of school is making headway on that problem. And, finally, we are building 10,000 homes for poor people per year, which we consider a good contribution under a program that we wish was much bigger. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

No word on turtle deaths

first_imgThe cause of death of more than 290 turtles in Costa Rica’s southern Pacific remains unconfirmed this week by veterinarians at the National University. While test results are expected next week, environmental organizations across the country are placing the blame on longline fishing, and the fishhooks and lines found in a number of the turtles’ bodies.“There is no doubt that fishing was involved,” said Randall Arauz, president of the Marine Turtle Restoration Program, or Pretoma. “There are turtles with fishhooks in their mouths.”Last week, hundreds of olive ridley turtles, green turtles, marlin and sailfish washed ashore along 10 kilometers of coast between Punta Banco and Playa Pavones, in the Southern Zone. Since then, several photos and videos of turtles caught in nets and snared by hooks have surfaced from environmental groups, who claim that this is not the only evidence of fishing interference. The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network (WIDECAST), another turtle conservation group, did their own preliminary tests. They found foaming mucus in the tracheas of the turtles. Other veterinarians in the network agreed that the probable cause was drowning. “All of this evidence is pointing to fishing as the cause,” said Didiher Chacón, WIDECAST’s Latin America director. “We are waiting on the official results, but everything fits.”Both the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca), and the newly formed Vice Ministry of Waters and Oceans acknowledged fishing as a possible cause of death, but officials are waiting for results before taking any kind of action. Incopesca President Luis Dobles named disease, red tide and water contamination in his list of suspicions, and put the number of dead turtles closer to 100, rejecting the reports from WIDECAST. “Not all of the turtles had hooks in them,” Dobles said. “We just don’t think that could be the only cause. Turtles have no commercial value in this country, fisherman have no reason to catch them other than by accident.”The accidental capture of turtles, called bycatch, is a common problem with long-line and live-bait fishing techniques. Turtles and other unwanted species caught on the longlines’ hooks are thrown back into the ocean. Environmental groups released a joint statement last week calling for a change in fishing policies in the Golfo Dulce, off the southern Pacific coast. “It is not possible for these things to keep happening in our country without the authorities taking any action,” said Jorge Jiménez, director of MarViva, an environmental group. For Arauz, the regulation of long-line fishing is key in cutting down on these types of incidents. Pretoma is calling for the complete ban of live-bait fishing and further restrictions on longliners.“We propose that longlines should target mahi mahi five months out of the year,” he said. “We can live with longline fishing but it needs to be strictly regulated.”According to Dobles, the regulations in place are already well within international standards.“The environmentalists asking for this regulation are looking at it from a very simple viewpoint,” Dobles said. “There are many countries with much looser laws than Costa Rica.” Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Haiti cholera victims file new lawsuit against UN

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – Victims of Haiti’s deadly post-earthquake cholera epidemic filed a new lawsuit Tuesday against the United Nations in U.S. federal court, demanding compensation over the organization’s alleged responsibility for the outbreak.The class-action suit — representing some 1,500 victims — is the “the largest lawsuit against the U.N. regarding the outbreak to date,” plaintiffs’ representatives said in a statement.“The lawsuit seeks to force the U.N. to take responsibility, compensate victims, and bring critical sanitation to the devastated Haitian communities the U.N. was sworn to protect,” it said.The suit was filed at a federal court in Brooklyn, New York.There had been no cholera in Haiti for at least 150 years until it was allegedly introduced to the Caribbean nation by Nepalese U.N. peacekeepers sent there in the wake of the devastating earthquake in January 2010.According to the plaintiffs, who include several New Yorkers and U.S. citizens who lost members of their family, the epidemic has “killed approximately 9,000 and sickened 700,000 and counting” since it broke out in 2010. A Haitian woman suffering from cholera is taken to Hospital Bicentenaire run by Doctors Without Borders in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Dec. 10, 2010. Héctor Retamal/AFPThe source of the cholera epidemic was traced to a river that runs next to a U.N. camp in the central town of Mirebalais, where Nepalese troops had been based.The strain of cholera is the same as one endemic in Nepal.But the United Nations has so far refused to officially recognize responsibility for the outbreak, arguing it is impossible to concretely determine its origin and noting it is immune from prosecution in the United States.On Oct. 9, a group of five Haitian victims of the epidemic filed a first lawsuit against the United Nations in U.S. federal court in New York.A study by Yale University last August had found the peacekeepers responsible for sparking the epidemic. An earlier study in 2011 came to the same conclusion.However, on Friday, the U.S. State Department said the United Nations and its mission in Haiti “are immune from suit in this case.”The cholera epidemic has yet to be brought under control: In 2013 alone some 65,000 cases and 55 deaths were recorded, in addition to cases in neighboring countries including the Dominican Republic, Cuba and most recently, Mexico. Facebook Comments Related posts:Haiti’s former President Aristide faces corruption probe New hope for Haiti UN peacekeepers routinely trade sex for goods Landmark Arms Trade Treaty spearheaded by Costa Rica’s ex-President Óscar Arias goes into effectlast_img read more

¡Grande Navas Watch the save that sent Costa Rica to the World

first_imghttps://vine.co/v/MFHOVXr1IvPKeylor Navas sacrificed his body over and over again to keep the Ticos in the match. His steady resilience permitted La Sele to reach penalty kicks when the rest of the team looked exhausted and completely out of sorts. During penalty kicks, the 27-year-old goalkeeper made the greatest save of his life — giving Costa Rica a chance to go to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time ever.With Costa Rica leading 4-3 on penalties, Navas deflected away a shot by Theofanis Gekas. Then, Michael Umaña — with the weight of the country on his shoulders — smoothly knocked in the goal that eliminated Greece.https://vine.co/v/MFHO2KQ01xeThe Ticos surpass the feat of the 1990 Costa Rica squad that reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Italy. This La Sele team is officially the best team in the country’s history.Costa Rica will attempt to continue its magical run in Brazil on July 5 against the Netherlands in Salvador.Photos of fans watching the nail-biter from Costa Rica (Images by The Tico Times photographer Lindsay Fendt) Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Related posts:VIDEO: Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas wins Spain’s Best Goalkeeper award for 2013-2014 season Costa Rican prosecutors, judicial police under investigation for alleged use of police database to probe personal information of superstar goalie Keylor Navas Keylor Navas breaks Real Madrid record with fourth straight shutout WATCH: Keylor Navas makes two incredible saves, extends historic shutout streak Facebook Comments Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Timescenter_img Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Timeslast_img read more

Costa Ricas Solís goes rafting then bans dams from the Pacuare and

first_imgTURRIALBA, Cartago — After a morning of whitewater rafting with his family, President Luis Guillermo Solís signed a decree Saturday banning dams from the Pacuare and Savegre rivers for 25 years, then thrust the document into the air and said, “For Costa Rica!” Luis Guillermo Solís signs a presidential decree banning dams from the Pacuare and Savegre rivers for 25 years. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times Solís holds the decree overhead and says, “For Costa Rica!” Karl Kahler/The Tico Times“Signing is the easy part,” Solís said to volunteers earlier who took him on a short float down the Pacuare, his first rafting trip. “The hard part is the work that you have been doing for many years.” Solís adjusts his life vest in preparation for rafting. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times Solís puts on a rafting helmet. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times ¡Listo! Solís is handed a paddle. Karl Kahler/The Tico TimesSolís, First Lady Mercedes Peñas, and daughter Inés, along with Environment Minister Edgar Gutiérrez, were briefed at the side of the river on the basics of rafting by longtime guide Luis Sánchez Hernández, better known as Luigi. Then with an “Adelante” from Luigi, they put their paddles in the water and began their float from a put-in near Rancho Bleak to a take-out in Tres Equis. Luis Sánchez Hernández, aka Luigi, gives Costa Rica’s first family a briefing on Rafting 101. Karl Kahler/The Tico TimesAt one point the president, sitting in the right front, made a face when it looked like his side of the raft was going to crash into a boulder. But there were no mishaps aboard the presidential raft, and the first lady could be seen laughing as the boat was rocked by big waves. Hitting some rough water. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times All smiles, with one serious guide in back. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times Turn your hand over, Mr. President! Karl Kahler/The Tico Times After the rafting, a large crowd gathered at the event center at Rancho Bleak (pronounced “Blake”), between Turrialba and Siquirres, for a forum in which community members and government officials spoke. From left, First Lady Mercedes Peñas, President Solís and Environment Minister Edgar Gutiérrez. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times“It’s really a great day,” Gutiérrez said, “because we managed to demonstrate that people do count. The old way of doing politics, of doing government by imposition is over.” From left: Environment Minister Edgar Gutiérrez, river activist Osvaldo Durán Castro and President Luis Guillermo Solís. Karl Kahler/The Tico TimesGutiérrez said Costa Rica has achieved electrical coverage in 99.4 percent of the country, but it has come at a cost, including the “immense environmental impact” of the Arenal dam. But, he said, “we’ve managed to make this great country unique in the world, because today electricity is generated 100 percent from renewable sources; we aren’t burning one liter of fuel to generate electricity.”He said that “when the people organize and demonstrate what they want in a respectful way, in a positive way,” the Solís administration will help them achieve their goals.“And today we’re achieving one of those goals, which is to save the Pacuare River and the Savegre River for 25 years from hydroelectric dams,” he said.The decree applies to hydroelectric projects of 500 kilowatts or more and will be in force for 25 years unless overturned by a future president’s decree.In a 2005 plebiscite, 97 percent of the electorate of Turrialba voted against granting permits for building dams on the Pacuare. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) has coveted the Pacuare’s hydroelectric potential for decades, though it is not currently part of ICE’s expansion plans because environmental studies are still being conducted — and because local opposition is immense.Critics say an ICE dam would uproot the indigenous Cabécar community that lives along the river and destroy Costa Rica’s best whitewater rafting.After Gutiérrez spoke, Solís asked the audience to rearrange chairs to make a circle, in the middle of which a table was placed for the signing of the decree. Gutiérrez and Solís signed it, and the room exploded in applause and cheers. Activists who have worked years to protect these rivers from being dammed hugged each other, some with tears in their eyes.“This is an act whereby we return power to you,” Solís said after the signing. The Costa Rican president addresses members of the community at Rancho Bleak after the signing. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times“I’m going to tell you this, the reality today conspires against the damming of water,” he said. “The investors who want to produce electricity in Costa Rica aren’t thinking of dams because they know that climate change doesn’t facilitate that. But even more than that, the communities aren’t going to permit it.”The audience, many of them from the local indigenous Cabécar community, applauded loudly. A diverse community, including many indigenous people, showed up Saturday for a forum at Rancho Bleak. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times“What are the obligations we’re going to leave to the generations yet to come?” Solís asked. “We need to learn from the lessons history teaches us and guarantee that we’ll adopt best practices and not commit the same errors we’ve made in the past. …“So, congratulations for what you’ve accomplished so far, but what’s left to do is much more. What we’re doing today is a testimony, nothing more, a testimonial expression of what this country can do in the future.”Contact Karl Kahler at kkahler@ticotimes.net. Facebook Comments Related posts:Dam the Pacuare? Over Turrialba’s dead body Water: It Flows Freely in the Streets Costa Rica legislature to hear bill allowing ‘green’ geothermal projects in national parks Costa Rica declines to vote on shark protections at international conventionlast_img read more

Financial environmental questions plague Nicaragua canal project

first_imgIt isn’t looking good for Chinese billionaire Wang Jing and his planned$50 billion Nicaragua canal project. New financial, social and environmental concerns have cast doubt on the feasibility of the proposed interoceanic canal, and construction has now been delayed until March. Doubts continue to linger over whether the 278-mile canal will be built at all.Until June, Wang sat comfortably on the list of the world’s 200 richest people allowing him to pour more than $473 million of his own money into the canal project. But last week Bloomberg reported that Wang lost 84 percent of his fortune following major shifts in the Chinese stock market, making him the worst performing billionaire of 2015.Executives with Wang’s canal development company, HKND Group, insist that the company has other financing plans, but experts say Wang’s turn in fortune likely will affect the canal project.“Wang’s financial resources will impact how and whether the canal can and will be built,” Daniel Wagner, the head of Country Risk solution, a U.S.-based consulting company told The Guardian. “I would expect, given this year’s financial gyrations in China, that the government is also asking itself whether the canal is a viable proposition.” “No canal, no law” reads graffiti painted on a wall during a June 2015 protest against the construction of an interoceanic canal in Juigalpa, Nicaragua. AFPOne of the ‘most mismanaged environmental reviews’Adding to Wang’s woes are the controversial results of the company’s environmental and social impact assessment, which left a number of unanswered questions about the canal’s feasibility and potential consequences.ERM, the Britain-based environmental consultancy that conducted the ESIA, recommended further investigation into the seismic risk along the canal route and whether there is enough water to fill the canal. An executive summary of the 14-volume study was released to the public last week, and the Nicaraguan government announced that all the recommended studies must be undertaken, which will delay construction until March.Along with recommending additional studies, ERM also pushed HKND to host more consultations with indigenous groups that would be displaced by the canal and raised questions about the company’s plans to pass the canal through Lake Nicaragua.As the largest drinking water reservoir in Central America, Lake Nicaragua’s water quality is considered crucially important, and scientists have raised doubts about the lake’s ability to survive the dredging required for the canal.“This is the third year in the row that we have had a drought [in Nicaragua]. Climate change will affect Nicaragua and people are already struggling to find water,” Jorge Huete-Pérez, director of the Molecular Biology Center at Central American University, told The Tico Times. “So if you ruin the lake that will be very negative for Nicaragua.”For Huete-Pérez, an outspoken opponent of the canal project, the bigger problem with the assessment is not ERM’s conclusions, but the government’s failure to release the entire study for independent evaluation. The ESIA was completed in just a year and a half, and as of HKND’s official groundbreaking ceremony last December, no publicly known feasibility or impact studies had been completed.“What they have released are the conclusions and as scientists having a discussion just on the results is not very appropriate,” he said. “From the beginning they have said that the results would be environmentally positive, and they planned to build it before they even had those results. This shows that [the studies] are just a formality because they have to attract investors.”To date only four chapters of one of the study’s drafts has been independently reviewed. The review panel, assembled by Florida International University, pointed to 15 areas where they believed ERM did not have sufficient data to support their conclusions, referring to one part of the ESIA as “scientifically indefensible.” Sudeep Chandra, biology professor at the University of Nevada in Reno and a member of the review panel told news site Circle of Blue that it was one of the “most mismanaged environmental reviews” he had ever read.ERM blamed HKND’s aggressive schedule for most of the panels concerns, and the additional studies that set to be completed by March will address some of these issues.Related: Nicaragua official goes to Washington to justify massive canal project Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican officials: We still have little information about Nicaragua’s Grand Canal plans Activists visiting Washington blast Nicaragua’s $50 billion canal project as ‘illegitimate’ US concerns grow over possible Nicaragua Canal land expropriation, ambassador says Secrecy still prevails as Nicaragua gets set to break ground on $50 billion interoceanic canallast_img read more

Who is Óscar Arias

first_imgOn Tuesday morning, bothSemanario Universidad and The New York Times reported that Óscar Arias Sánchez has been accused of sexual assault.The accuser said Arias kissed, touched and penetrated her without her consent following a December 2014 meeting, according to Semanario Universidad. Arias, through his lawyer, said he “categorically denied” the reports. Related posts:Óscar Arias, Costa Rica’s former president and a Nobel Prize winner, accused of sexual assault, per reports Two more women accuse Óscar Arias of sexual misconduct, per reports Former Tico Times publisher recalls Daly’s account of Arias misconduct Why Now: Oscar Arias accusers explain why they waited to come forward Arias is among Central America’s most powerful political figures, not only for his terms as president in Costa Rica but also for his work promoting peace in the region.He served as President of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2010. He was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 “for a plan designed to put an end to the cruel civil wars that were devastating Central America,” according to the organization.Arias was born into an upper-class family in Heredia and received a graduate degree in England.Following his election in 1986 as a member of Costa Rica’s National Liberation Party, Arias became a recognized name internationally as he sought to reduce violence in the region. As the non-profit organization United For Human Rights explains:In a series of meetings with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, President Arias Sánchez pressed to resolve the turmoil and end outside influence in Central America. He eventually gained approval of his peace plan, which called for each country to limit the size of their armies, assure freedom of the press, and hold free and open elections. The plan was successful and, with the signing of the accords, fighting in the region came to an end.Arias was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 due to his principal role in stabilizing Central America.In his Nobel Lecture, Arias said “evils” in Central America “are manifest, naked to the view of anyone who cares to see them,” but that Costa Rica was a beacon of a better future:I am receiving this prize as one of 2.7 million Costa Ricans. My people draw their sacred liberty from the two oceans which bound us to the East and West. To the South and to the North, Costa Rica has almost always been bounded by dictators and dictatorships. We are an unarmed people, and we are fighting to remain free from hunger. To America we are a symbol of peace, and we hope to be a symbol of development. We intend to show that peace is both the prerequisite and the fruit of progress.During his final address to the nation at the conclusion of his first term, Arias said he and Costa Rica had “stood up as a force for morality.”With funds from the Nobel Peace Prize, Arias created the “Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress,” which remains “dedicated to promoting democracy, gender equality, disarmament and demilitarization.”Following a four-year battle to eliminate Costa Rica’s ban on re-election, Arias successfully ran for president in 2006. He said in 2010 that his focus on social issues ranked among his top successes. His administration pointed to a reduction in extreme poverty and the introduction of a school dropout prevention program, Avancemos, as solid accomplishments.However, Arias faces criminal charges for breach of duty stemming from a probe into whether he failed to uphold his presidential responsibilities by allowing a Canadian gold mine to operate in Costa Rica in 2008.In 2016, Arias penned a letter to the country in The Tico Times explaining why he was not seeking a third presidential term.“No one person is indispensable in a democracy,” he wrote. “What is indispensable is many people willing to work for this country we love so much.”Though Arias did not seek a third term, he has remained active in Costa Rica through his foundation and as a supporter of human rights.That included his backing of a nuclear disarmament plan that was presented at a conference in Austria in 2014, according to The New York Times. When Alexandra Arce von Herold met with Arias at his house to discuss the cause, he allegedly sexually assaulted her, according to The New York Times. This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Commentscenter_img Óscar Arias, Costa Rica’s former president and a Nobel Prize winner, accused of sexual assault, per reportslast_img read more

Stagnant US exports to Cuba belie fairs optimism

first_imgSo when a plunging global economy pulled Cuba down with it five years ago, Havana had every incentive to hunt for a better deal from friendly nations where government-run companies offer better terms and often won’t complain publicly about rolling over late payments. Even private-sector companies in those countries may be more pliant, counting on guarantees by their governments.“Cuba can still never beat the U.S. for many of the products _ not all, but many,” Kavulich said. “But when you add into the equation the lack of ability to directly have payment terms, the inability to use more efficient transportation systems between the two countries and the lack of political benefit, then the Cuban government will turn elsewhere.”As the fair opened this week, state-run food purchaser Alimport calculated it will spend $105 million more than necessary on U.S. imports due to unfavorable credit terms, currency exchanges and logistical losses in shipping.“Since vessels from other countries that dock in Cuban ports must wait six months to go to the United States, the shippers charge high freights,” Alimport vice president Eidel M. Mussi Velazquez said. “The pattern that we see is it’s just continuing to either be lower each year, or if it does increase, it’s just not a lot at all,” said John Kavulich, senior policy adviser to the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. “No executives should be going to a travel agent and buying a ticket to go down to Havana thinking that there’s going to be a change.”U.S. sales of food and agricultural commodities to the communist-run island began more than a decade ago with the Trade Sanctions Reform Act enacted in 2000 under President Clinton. Modest sales of $138 million the following year rose steadily to a peak of $710 million in 2008, according to statistics calculated by Kavulich’s group.The value of U.S. exports to Cuba has since plummeted to just over half that last year at $358 million. It was $250 million through the first six months of 2012, with no sign of improvement.It’s been a tenuous trade from the beginning, partly due to U.S. rules requiring cash payment before goods can even be shipped. Payments must be made through third-party banking systems that take a hefty cut of each transaction, besides the fees levied on multiple currency swaps. Shipping is complicated by U.S. embargo regulations. Moreover, the PR value of buying Made In America faded for Cuba as it became commonplace to see Coca-Cola in tourist hotels and Miller beer on store shelves. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Associated PressHAVANA (AP) – Kellogg’s. Gatorade. Hormel. Hunt.Many of America’s best-known brands were on display at a Havana exposition center this past week as representatives hawked some of the few U.S. products that can legally be exported to Cuba, thanks to an exception to the U.S. embargo allowing cash-up-front sales of food, agricultural goods and medicine.But cold numbers belie the enthusiasm on the convention center floor. Cuban purchases of U.S. goods have plunged as the island increasingly turns to countries like China, Brazil, Vietnam and Venezuela, which offer cheaper deals, long-term credits and less hassle over payment and shipping. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Todd P. Haymore, secretary of agriculture and forestry for Virginia, which shipped $65 million in agricultural goods to Cuba last year, said the island is a consistent top 15 market.But businesspeople back home see bigger possibilities if embargo rules are simplified.“They feel like you might lose out on a sale or capturing additional sales because of these additional fees, additional turns of currency. … Every time you go from one country to the next there’s always a loss,” Haymore said. “Someone’s gaining a piece of that pie that’s not going into your back pocket.”Those at the fair were also jockeying to be in position for an unknown future date when the U.S. sanctions might disappear altogether.“Cuba is becoming a more and more important market for U.S. companies. … Everybody wants to have some kind of presence,” said Hector Rainey, managing director of Intervision Foods of Atlanta. “If something changes all of a sudden, they have an angle here.”___Peter Orsi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Still, those doing business with Havana kept up a cheery tone at the fair, which included 500 exhibitors from overseas and ended Saturday.The pavilion that housed U.S. delegations bustled as workers in matching T-shirts dumped fistfuls of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into the hands of conventioneers and handed out canvas bags stuffed with Skittles candies. Cubans took turns posing for pictures with a person dressed as an oversize Hershey’s chocolate bar.Conventioneers praised Alimport for professionalism and savvy, and played down the importance of the credit restrictions.Richard N. Waltzer, president of Procurement Systems Inc., said a recent U.S. policy allowing Cuban-Americans to send more money to islanders has increased their ability to purchase the U.S. brand names his company distributes.PSI’s Cuba business has grown 30 percent a year for the last decade, and Waltzer was optimistic about Cuba’s expanding tourism industry and growing small private enterprise under President Raul Castro’s reforms.“They’re modeling their new economic model after Vietnam and China, so in the future it’s opening up for capitalism,” he said. “And bringing in these great American brands, I believe, is going to take it to the next level.” Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The company projected $440 million in U.S. purchases this year, well off the $960 million reported in 2008. The Cuban statistics don’t compare directly to the Trade Council’s since they apparently factor in the extra expenditures, but they trace the same depressed pattern.By comparison, according to Cuban figures for 2010, the most recent year available, commercial trade with Venezuela nearly doubled from the previous year to a little over $6 billion. Chinese trade was still down from pre-crisis levels but trending upward to $1.9 billion in 2010.While purchases of some U.S. goods have held steady, such as poultry and soybeans, others have tanked, including branded processed foods and grains.The Spartan booth manned by Kevin McGilton, vice president for sales of Arkansas-based Riceland, was a case in point.U.S. rice exports to Cuba totaled 20,000 to 30,000 metric tons a year before the economic crisis, but were zero last year, he said. Vietnamese government rice companies have long beat out U.S. suppliers by offering “broken” rice that doesn’t look as pretty as U.S. rice but is cheaper. The country also has been extending multiyear credit terms.Cuba “didn’t have the hard currency to pay cash in advance, which is what they have to do with U.S. companies,” McGilton said, adding that the only promising leads he had during the trade show this week came from other countries, such as Mexico. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daylast_img read more

UN report warns of widening climate gap

first_img Comments   Share   “Yet the sobering fact remains that a transition to a low-carbon, inclusive Green Economy is happening far too slowly and the opportunity for meeting the 44 Gt target is narrowing annually,” Steiner said.The report confirmed scientific observations that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is growing, not shrinking. On Tuesday the World Meteorological Organization reported that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high last year.Climate activists said the reports underscored the urgency in advancing clean technologies, such as wind and solar power.“The only way we are going achieve the necessary cuts in emissions is to move away from fossil fuels and towards a world of renewable energy,” said Kaisa Kosonen, climate policy adviser at Greenpeace.The Kyoto Protocol, the only international agreement to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from industrial countries, expires this year. Talks in Doha will focus on extending it for another term while negotiators work on a more comprehensive climate pact that would also include developing countries, whose share of global emissions is growing.___Follow Karl Ritter at http://www.twitter.com/karl(underscore)ritter Scientists say those emissions are contributing to climate change and that failure to contain them could have dangerous consequences, including rising sea levels inundating coastal cities, dramatic shifts in rainfall disrupting agriculture and drinking water, the spread of diseases and the extinction of species.Emissions levels, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, need to come down by 14 percent by 2020 for the world to reach a pathway that could keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, compared with pre-industrial levels, UNEP said. That’s the stated goal of U.N. climate negotiations, which resume next week in Doha, Qatar.But it won’t happen if countries don’t come ahead with more ambitious plans to cut emissions than what’s currently on the table.The U.N. agency said if no swift action is taken, emissions are likely to hit 58 gigatons in 2020 _ 14 gigatons too much to have a chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees. The projected gap is now bigger than it was last year and in 2010.UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said that bridging the gap remains doable and that there are many “inspiring” actions at the national level on renewable energy, energy efficiency, protecting forests, and vehicle emissions standards. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Patients with chronic pain give advice Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressSTOCKHOLM (AP) – A U.N. report on rising greenhouse gas emissions reminded world governments Wednesday that their efforts to fight climate change are far from enough to meet their stated goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).The report by the U.N. Environment Program, released just days ahead of a major climate conference, said the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is up about 20 percent since 2000. 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Myanmar pardons 93 including political prisoners

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix In February, Thein Sein appointed a 16-member committee to review the cases of inmates identified by opposition groups as prisoners of conscience. Some cases are complicated because they involve bombings or threats to state security or national stability. Rights groups say many other people were wrongfully convicted and given extreme sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes elsewhere.Ye Aung, a former prisoner and a member of the government committee, said at least 59 political prisoners were released Tuesday and that at least 300 others remain incarcerated, most of them members of ethnic minorities.Opposition leaders and rights groups have accused the government of using political prisoners as “bargaining chips” _ releasing some to prove progress, holding others to push the West to ease more sanctions.The last major prisoner release coincided with a visit to the country by President Barack Obama. Tuesday’s pardon came after the European Union dropped all political and economic sanctions against Myanmar to support the country’s “remarkable process” in democratic reforms, while warning that it must control recent ethnic violence. Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Parents, stop beating yourself up Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Men’s health affects baby’s health too Comments   Share   YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Myanmar’s president pardoned 93 prisoners, including at least 59 political detainees, a day after the European Union lifted sanctions against the Southeast Asian nation.The pardon was announced on state television Tuesday amid renewed calls for President Thein Sein’s government to release hundreds more political prisoners still believed to be behind bars.Myanmar has routinely denied the existence of political prisoners, saying all people sentenced to jail have been convicted legitimately of breaking the nation’s laws. Nevertheless, hundreds of prominent political detainees have been freed since the former general took office two years ago after a long-ruling army junta was dissolved. Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day “Amnesties almost always coincide with international events. Today’s amnesty coincides with the lifting of EU sanctions,” said Ko Ko Gyi, who was released from jail last year and is one of the country’s most prominent former political prisoners.“The government should acknowledge the existence of political prisoners and release them all,” he said.One of those released Tuesday from Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, Zaw Moe, said he was among at least five political prisoners freed there. But he said he could not be content because “many of my friends remain” behind bars. “I’m worried about them.”Zaw Moe had been sentenced to an 18-year term in 2008 for alleged links to dissident groups fighting against the former military government.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

Kenya police charge 5 suspects for university attack

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean The prosecution alleges that the five suspects colluded to carry out the attack but have not said what their roles were.Prosecutor Daniel Karuri urged the court to deny the suspects bail. Magistrate Daniel Ochenja directed that they be detained until June 11, when the court will determine whether they will be granted bail.The five suspects complained they were tortured for 10 consecutive days as the anti-terrorism police tried to force confessions from them.Speaking through an interpreter, the four Somalis and a Tanzanian claimed their heads were forced into buckets full of water, that they were electrocuted and whipped after they denied involvement in the attack in which 148 people, mainly students, were killed.Al-Shabab has vowed to carry out attacks against Kenya for sending its troops to Somalia to fight the militants. Kenya has experienced a wave of explosive and gun attacks since October 2011 when its troops went into Somalia.Late last month, the Kenyan government said an al-Shabab attack on a convoy of vehicles carrying 59 policemen left one officer dead.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan police Thursday charged five men with participating in an attack by militant group al-Shabab on a university in eastern Kenya in which 148 people were killed.The five men pleaded not guilty to 152 counts of committing acts of terrorism in a Magistrates Court.Four al-Shabab gunmen stormed the Garissa University College at dawn on April 2. The attack went on for hours before it was finally ended by a specialized police unit and the four gunmen were killed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Top Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Four benefits of having a wireless security system Comments   Share   last_img read more