Unpermited taxi drivers protest outside Casa Presidencial

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rican taxi drivers, language-school workers arrested in fake English diploma scam Taxi fares to increase this month Striking taxi drivers block streets near Casa Presidencial Rates going up for Costa Rica taxis A group of some 50 unlicensed taxi drivers since Sunday night have protested outside Casa Presidencial, in the southeastern San José district of Zapote, demanding the government grant them permits to work.Demonstrators are drivers who do not have permits to work as taxi drivers, but instead work part-time for permit owners. Some of them told local news station Telenoticias 7 that they “want the government to grant them some of the 2,000 permits still available of a total of 4,100.”José Guillermo Martínez, one of the drivers, said permits “are usually sold to the highest bidder [by permit-owners], and also rented while government officials turn a blind eye.”Protesters spent the night in tent camps, and the street in front of Casa Presidencial remains blocked to traffic. Police officers placed barriers at two main access points to the area. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Jairo Mora murder suspect posed with AK47 on Facebook

first_img“I am going crazy, but I will charge forward like an elephant,” he wrote in the post.The Judicial Investigation Police declined to comment on the recent post. A Jairo Mora murder suspect with the last names Cash López posted photos of himself wearing a jacket and hat similar to one seized during raids earlier this month, the Spanish-language online dailycryoy.com reported Wednesday.According to crhoy.com two photos from June 7 and June 25 show Cash López in a camouflage jacket and a hat that investigators say he could have been wearing the night of the May 31 murder. The news site also found a photo of the suspect holding what appears to be an AK-47 in another photo.At 3:20 p.m. on Wednesday, when The Tico Times checked Cash López’s Facebook page, the photos had been deleted.Seven suspects are now in preventative detention awaiting trial. Cellphones and Internet access is forbidden in Costa Rican jails, but another suspect with the last names Salmón Meléndez posted on Facebook on Aug. 19 via a mobile device, weeks after his detention. The Judicial Investigation Police seized a jacket and hat similar to these during raids on July 30 that led to the arrest of eight suspects. Courtesy of CRhoy.com Facebook Comments Related posts:8 suspects arrested in Jairo Mora case, but motive remains unclear Why Jairo died Suspects in slaying of sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora will stand trial Court hears testimony from key witnesses in the Jairo Mora murder triallast_img read more

Colombians angry after 32 children killed in bus fire

first_imgBOGOTÁ, Colombia – Colombians voiced anger Monday after 32 children burned to death when an overcrowded bus burst into flames as authorities arrested the driver who was seen fleeing the inferno.Authorities have arrested the driver who, according to a survivor, had gotten off the bus to refuel with a jerrycan when flames suddenly engulfed the vehicle on Sunday.The children, aged 3 to 12 years old, were returning from evangelical church services in the small northern town of Fundación. The driver lost two of his own children in the tragedy.Fundación Mayor Luz Stella Durán said another 20 were hospitalized. Most of the injured have second- or third-degree burns. She declared three days of mourning and banned alcohol consumption.President Juan Manuel Santos, who rushed to the scene to console grieving families, said an investigation was underway while many Colombians denounced the accident as an example of the country’s poor enforcement of road safety.“I am shattered, the entire country is in mourning for the death of these children,” Santos said.  “We will go through everything with a fine-toothed comb.”Crews at the scene pulled little charred bodies from the blackened wreckage before transporting them to the medical examiner’s office in the regional capital of Barranquilla to be identified — a task which could take days.Authorities said the explosion occurred around noon, and that the fire was so intense they had problems determining the number of casualties.Driver without license flees The bus driver turned himself in to police after the relatives of victims chased him and hurled rocks at his home.He was due to appear at a court hearing to explain himself.The prosecutor’s office said the driver lacked a license to drive and was under investigation.Transport Minister Cecilia Álvarez said the bus had lacked the authorization to provide services since 2012.“It is an illegal vehicle that also lacked transport insurance,” Álvarez told RCN radio, adding that the initial investigations are leaning toward “driver recklessness.”The driver apparently used contraband gasoline to refuel the bus, the minister said.Local media quoted an 11-year-old girl who lost two brothers as saying that, at one point, the driver got off the bus to refuel while his young charges remained on board.“Sparks flew,” she recalled. “It was then that the driver went to get water and then he left,” she said. “I broke a window and got my little sister out but I couldn’t save my two brothers.”The tragedy became a political issue ahead of Sunday’s presidential election, in which Santos is seeking a second term.Leftist candidate Clara Rojas said the accident “shows the country’s backwardness.”“It is not only the driver’s irresponsibility. It is also the lack of rigor and presence of the authorities,” she said.Colombians vented their fury on Twitter, one user with the handle @manialolita calling it “another tragedy foretold” while @ALCISERRATO said “the state does not fulfill its duty.” Facebook Comments Related posts:32 children burn to death in Colombia bus accident Cúcuta: Colombia’s city of contraband and a broken Bolivarian dream Colombia suspends peace talks with FARC after general kidnapped Demining Colombia will take ‘a generation’: ministerlast_img read more

Environment officials warn of wildfire risk due to strong winds

first_imgRelated posts:Wildfire destroys 5 hectares of Costa Rica’s Palo Verde National Park More than 500 hectares of protected areas destroyed by wildfires this year Costa Rica sees increase in wildfires this past season Environment Ministry officials report increased damage of wildfires inside protected areas The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) on Tuesday urged the population to refrain from starting fires in open spaces as strong gusts in various parts of Costa Rica could cause wildfires.Gusts caused by a cold front that entered the country from the Caribbean on Monday likely will remain throughout the week, according to forecasts from the National Meteorological Institute (IMN).Strong winds on Tuesday morning reached speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) in the northern Pacific region and up to 90 kph in the Central Valley.Wildfires usually spike during the country’s dry season, December to May. SINAC’s coordinator of the National Commission on Wildfires, Luis Diego Román Madriz, said firefighters have already had to put down three fires inside protected areas in Guanacaste province this year.IMN experts warned that dry and windy conditions are also expected to increase due to the influence of an El Niño weather phenomenon. This year is expected to see higher temperatures, stronger winds and also a drop in humidity levels.Strong gusts on Tuesday morning also knocked down a street sign at a McDonald’s restaurant in Guadalupe, northeast of San José, but there were no reports of injured people or further damaged property. Facebook Commentscenter_img Fuertes vientos en Guadalupe provocan la caída de este “rótulo” de @McDonalds pic.twitter.com/AmxFhD3m60— David Roverssi (@droverssi11) January 19, 2016last_img read more

Pope and Russian Orthodox leader to hold historic encounter in Cuba

first_imgRelated posts:Pope Francis brings a forceful new tone on sexual abuse cases 5 things Pope Francis gets totally right about climate change Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit Pope Francis asks ‘forgiveness for the scandals’ Facebook Comments MOSCOW – Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet in Cuba for the first time next Friday as part of an effort to heal a schism that has divided Christianity between East and West for nearly 1,000 years.The meeting, the first ever between a sitting pope and Russian patriarch, will take place at Jose Martí International Airport, where the two will sign a joint declaration. Pope Francis will fly to Cuba before traveling on to Mexico for a six-day tour of the country.“This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches,” said a joint press release.“The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that it will also be a sign of hope for all people of good will. They invite all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits,” it added.Patriarch Kirill is scheduled to arrive next Thursday in Havana for an 11-day tour of South America, which will also include stops in Paraguay, Chile, and Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil.The meeting would culminate decades of overtures seeking to bridge suspicions and rifts that span both historical and contemporary grievances, which have so far blocked any papal visit to Russia.Among the obstacles that have complicated deeper dialogue are long-held claims by Moscow that the Roman Catholics have been seeking to expand Rome-affiliated churches in traditional Christian Orthodox areas.Eastern Rite churches — which retain Orthodox traditions but are loyal to the Vatican — have been one of the thorniest issues blocking attempts to heal the divisions between the world’s Roman Catholics and more than 200 million Orthodox.Orthodox Christians are spread among various churches and patriarches. But the Russian church is the largest and carries major influence among the Orthodox heirarchy.Although Catholics and Orthodox remain estranged on other issues — including married clergy and the centralized power of the Vatican — there have been significant moves over the generations toward closer interactions and understanding.The first major breakthrough came in 1964 when Pope Paul VI met in Jerusalem with Patriarch Athenagoras in the first encounter between a pope and Orthodox patriarch in more than 500 years. The meeting led to the lifting of mutual excommunication edicts and the Catholic-Orthodox Joint Declaration of 1965 that called for greater harmony among the churches.An apostolic letter by John Paul II in 1995 encouraged unity between the two branches of Christianity and opened the way for a historic visit to Rome by Bartholomew I, who is based in Istanbul and is considered the “first among equals” of the Orthodox patriarchs.In 2001, Pope John Paul II made a landmark trip to mostly Orthodox Greece and issued an apology for the ravages of the Fourth Crusade, which in the early 13th century sacked Constantinople, now Istanbul, the seat of the Eastern church.In 2006, Benedict XVI was hosted by the Bartholomew, known as the ecumenical patriarchate, in Istanbul in a visit that brought protests from some archconservative Orthodox but generally opened room for more exchanges.The Cuba encounter also appears to show evolving views by the Kremlin toward the Vatican under Francis, the first pope from Latin America, who has been critical of Western-style capitalism and other social ills.The Vatican has been careful with its comments against Russia’s actions in Ukraine, including its annexation of Ukraine in 2014, but has indirectly criticized Moscow and others over failures to end Syria’s civil war. Russia is a key backer of Syria’s government and last year began airstrikes to aid Syrian forces.Previous pontiffs, meanwhile, have been appraised with a possibly harsher eye by the Kremlin. The Polish-born Pope John Paul II directly challenged the former Soviet Union during his early years in his papacy. His successor, Benedict, was often seen through the prism of his former role as the Vatican’s chief overseer of Catholic doctrine.—Murphy reported from Washington. The Associated Press contributed to this report.© 2016, The Washington Postlast_img read more

Worlds happiest goalie Keylor Navas hopes to attract more European tourists

first_imgTourism Minister Mauricio Ventura told La Nación that the spot is the first stage of a new tourism promotional strategy focused on attracting more European tourists.“Keylor Navas is the main star of the upcoming campaign that we hope will allow us to further reach a market that is very important for Costa Rica’s tourism sector,” Ventura told the daily.According to ICT records, Europe is Costa Rica’s second largest tourist market, just behind the U.S.The board reported the arrival of 400,000 European travelers in 2015, with more than 300,000 of them arriving by air. That figure represents an increase of 22,633 visitors from the continent over 2014.European tourists stay the longest here with an average visit of 17 nights. They also are the ones who spend the most, an average of $1,660 during their stay.Ventura said that ICT expects a sharp increase in Europeans visiting Costa Rica this year, driven mainly by recent openings of new airline routes.In the past two years airlines including British Airways, Air France, Iberia and Condor launched new routes to both Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber international airports. Facebook Comments Related posts:Limón sees 60 percent jump in cruise ships British Airways to fly direct London-Costa Rica in 2016 VIDEO: President Solís invites Oscar nominee Emma Stone to celebrate in Costa Rica Costa Rica’s country brand is the fastest growing in the Americas Keylor Navas is the star of a new advertising campaign from the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) that that seeks to draw more European tourists here.The Real Madrid and “La Sele” goalkeeper posted a message on his Twitter account with a link to the website “The World’s Happiest Goalie” where a teaser message over a picture of the keeper reads: “Keylor Navas is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. But, did you know that he is also the world’s happiest goalie? Find out why on May 24 and win a lifetime experience.”A spot shows some of Keylor’ Real Madrid teammates wearing goalie gear while a voiceover —with a Spanish accent— explains how hard it is to be a goalkeeper, “but not for everyone” the narrator says over an image of a smiling Navas.last_img read more

Critics Biggest UN summit heading toward failure

first_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Seth insisted that the protracted pre-conference negotiations didn’t bode poorly for the success of the event; despite the probable absences of Obama, Merkel and Cameron, it is still expected to attract some 135 heads of state and government or vice presidents, he said.That could top the 2009 Copenhagen summit, attended by 110 heads of state or government and with about 15,000 delegates.“Some want to see (the extra round of talks) as a dark cloud that shows the difficulties ahead. But it also shows the importance which all the countries attach to this outcome document and to the conference,” Seth said.For urbanist Vinicius Netto, Rio is once again resorting to stopgap measures instead of investing in lasting solutions.“Instead of addressing the serious infrastructure problems, including urban mobility, the government is proposing to unplug the city and its economy,” said Netto, a professor at the Universidade Federal Fluminense’s architecture school.The official explanations also didn’t cut it for Greenpeace’s Mittler.“There is no question that the preparations for this conference have been a shambles in every respect,” he said. “It will be very difficult for them to pretend that they have succeeded. But you can be sure that they’ll try.” A U.N. statement quoted Rio+20 Secretary General Sha Zukung slamming the text as “a far cry from the `focused political document’” called for.Sticking points include fears among developing countries that the conference’s environmentalist economic approach could stymie their economic development. Other countries have “voiced concern over accountability and implementation of the commitments made,” the U.N. statement said.“This meeting should be delivering transformational change,” said Daniel Mittler, a political director at Greenpeace who is heading the environmental group’s 11-strong delegation at Rio+20. “What is on the table is business as usual _ completely inadequate goals and a total lack of urgency.”The likely absence of top-tier leaders suggests that many governments have already written the conference off. German Embassy officials in Brasilia said earlier this week that Chancellor Angela Merkel had sent her regrets. As did British Prime Minister David Cameron, a British Embassy spokesman said. However, France’s President-elect, Francois Hollande, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will be attending, the Brazilian government said Thursday. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressRIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – The largest-ever United Nations conference, a summit billed as a historic opportunity to build a greener future, appears to be going up in smoke.U.S. President Barack Obama likely won’t be there, and the leaders of Britain and Germany have bowed out. The entire European Parliament delegation has canceled.And with fewer than six weeks to go until the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, negotiations to produce a final statement have stalled amid squabbling. Logistical snags, too, threaten to derail the event. Though the conference’s host city, Rio de Janeiro, is also slated to stage mega-events in the 2014 World Cup final match and the 2016 Olympics, its hotel infrastructure is still woefully lacking. With a total of 33,000 beds for the estimated 50,000-plus visitors expected to flood the city for the June 20-22 summit, the mayor has resorted to asking residents to leave town and rent out their apartments to delegates.Critics contend such stopgap measures will prove too little, too late.The conference is the follow-up to the U.N.’s 1992 Earth Summit, also held in Rio, which helped put climate change on the world agenda. Twenty years later, climate change remains such a divisive subject that the anniversary conference will focus instead on the more palatable topic of sustainable development: economic growth that meets humans’ present needs without devouring resources to derail the future.But even that has proven a hard sell.Talks to hammer out the lion’s share of the conference’s outcome document have failed. The U.N. announced on May 5 that a last-ditch round of negotiations has been scheduled after two previous ones yielded a rambling, repetitive text. Top Stories Comments   Share   Obama has not yet officially declined the invitation, but a U.S. Embassy spokesman said all indications suggested the president, in the midst of his re-election campaign, would also not attend.The spiraling cost of accommodations during the conference has prompted other cancellations. The European Parliament scrapped its entire 11-person delegation because of the breathtaking rise in hotel prices, which a spokesman said were 10 times initial estimates.The average cost of a room in Rio during the conference has risen to $818 per night, according to a report this week by Agencia Brasil, the state-run news agency. And some hotels are taking advantage of the shortage of accommodations by requiring guests to book for an entire week, even if they intend to stay for just three or four nights.“The huge increase in the estimated cost of attending the summit is simply not justifiable at a time when many Europeans are faced with economic hardship,” said Matthias Groote, a German legislator who chairs the European Parliament’s environment committee.In a Twitter post, the man who was slated to head the European Parliament’s delegation, Holland’s Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, urged the Brazilian government to “control the costs to avoid a huge failure.”center_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The stratospheric prices could even spell cuts in the Brazilian government’s own delegation. Agencia Brasil quoted House leader Marcos Maia as saying that taxpayers wouldn’t foot the housing bill for the 100 delegates slated to take part in the conference. Only those who agree to pay for their own lodging would take part, the report said.Maia also called for a parliamentary investigation into the rise in prices, and Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota told journalists the government was “worried about” it.“We want Rio+20 to be inclusive,” Patriota said, speaking Thursday in the capital, Brasilia.The logistical meltdown is shaping up as a dress rehearsal for worse problems during the World Cup in 2014, when nearly 80,000 visitors are expected, according to the city’s tourism authority. Even more people, some 200,000, are expected to visit the city during the Olympics.World Cup organizer FIFA has already expressed misgivings about Rio’s dearth of hotel rooms, even with hotel construction under way ahead of the 2014 soccer tournament. The Brazilian city is planning to build 17,000 more hotel rooms for the 2016 Olympics, 2,000 more rooms than the city had promised in its bid to host the games. ___Associated Press reporters Marco Sibaja in Brasilia and Bradley Brooks in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Sponsored Stories By comparison, London will offer 110,000 hotel rooms ahead of this summer’s Olympics, more than three times Rio’s current capacity.Meanwhile, with a nearly 20,000-bed shortage expected during Rio+20, according to estimates by a group representing Brazil’s hotel sector, Mayor Eduardo Paes appealed to citizens to rent out their apartments to delegates.To facilitate what the city sunnily dubbed “home guest houses,” the tourism authority had planned to launch a dedicated website by early April. The website is still not online.Paes has also pushed to have the conference dates decreed a three-day mid-week holiday, with the closure of schools and public institutions, in a bid get cars off the streets and ease the city’s notorious gridlock.Nikhil Seth, director of the U.N.’s Division for Sustainable Development, defended the government’s handling of preparations for the conference, which he said was the largest ever organized by the U.N.“We were quite happy with all the interaction we had with the local government there and with the central government and the efforts they’re making to make the logistics work,” Seth said. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img

Bahrain PM Gulf union push expected

first_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   The vital role family plays in society The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 ways to recognize low testosteronecenter_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – The prime minister of unrest-wracked Bahrain says Gulf Arab leaders are ready for closer ties on security and foreign policy issues to confront pressures such as Arab Spring uprisings and tensions with Iran.The Gulf Cooperation Council is scheduled to meet Monday in Riyadh to examine ideas for greater union. Proposals have included more open borders and a regional defense force.Bahrain’s prime minister, Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, was quoted Sunday by a Saudi newspaper as saying that he expects union plans to move ahead. Calls have intensified during the 15-month uprising against Bahrain’s monarchy. Iran’s nuclear program has also stoked concerns. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Tunnel blast kills 20 at Chinese construction site

first_imgTwenty workers died in the blast and one body has been recovered, Xinhua said. Four other workers escaped with injuries, and one was hospitalized in critical condition.Accidents and explosions are common in China due to lax enforcement of safety standards.In November, an explosion in southwestern China killed at least seven people and injured about 200. It was caused by three explosives-laden vehicles that caught fire and also destroyed a garage and a food warehouse.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Men’s health affects baby’s health too More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 4 sleep positions for men and what they meancenter_img Comments   Share   3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family BEIJING (AP) – A blast in a tunnel has killed 20 workers at a highway construction site in central China.The explosion Saturday in Hunan province also injured one person, said two officials from the provincial work safety bureau. They would only give their surnames, Li and Yang, a common practice among Chinese government employees.The blast occurred when a vehicle was unloading explosives in the tunnel on a highway under construction between Yanling and Rucheng in Hunan, the official Xinhua news agency said. Top Stories last_img read more

Hugo Chavez says hed vote for Obama

first_imgCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has weighed in on the U.S. presidential race, saying he prefers President Barack Obama.“If I were American, I’d vote for Obama,” Chavez said in a televised interview that aired Sunday.The Venezuelan leader called Obama “a good guy” and said if the U.S. president were a Venezuelan, “I think … he’d vote for Chavez.” Chavez is running for re-election, seeking another six years in office in an Oct. 7 vote. Obama faces Republican Mitt Romney in his November re-election bid.Venezuela has had tense relations with the U.S. government for years, even though the United States remains the top buyer of oil from the country.“I wish we could begin a new period of normal relations with the government of the United States,” Chavez said in the interview on the Venezuelan television channel Televen.Chavez and Obama shook hands at a 2009 summit, but relations have since cooled.The U.S. Embassy in Caracas has been without an ambassador since July 2010, with Chavez rejecting Washington’s nominee for ambassador, Larry Palmer, and accusing him of making disrespectful remarks about Venezuela’s government. That led Washington to revoke the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Quick workouts for men Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 ways to recognize low testosterone The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Druze villagers kill wounded Syrian in Israeli ambulance

first_img 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Sponsored Stories Two Israeli soldiers in the ambulance were also lightly wounded, and the other injured Syrian was evacuated to an Israeli hospital in critical condition. It was the second incident in one day in which Druze villagers confronted an ambulance that they believed was transporting injured Syrian militants.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday harshly condemned the attack.“We will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands. We will not allow anyone to disrupt Israeli soldiers in their missions,” he said. “We will locate those who carried out this mob killing and bring them to justice. We are a country of law and are not a part of the anarchy that is spreading around us.”The Druze, a religious sect that began as an offshoot of Shiite Islam, are among Israel’s most loyal citizens and serve in its military. But they are also increasingly worried about the plight of their brethren in Syria. Earlier this month the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, killed as many as 20 Druze citizens.Druze residents of Israel have also been angered by the Israeli government’s policy of extending medical aid to injured Syrian rebels, suspecting that some of those treated have been Islamic militants. The Israeli military did not identify whether the injured Syrians in the ambulance on Monday were rebel fighters or civilians, but the military has denied treating Islamic militants in the past. Israeli media on Tuesday reported that the injured Syrians were rebel fighters. Comments   Share   Top Stories JERUSALEM (AP) — Dozens of Druze residents of the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights attacked a military ambulance carrying two injured Syrians Monday night, beating one of the Syrians to death on suspicion that they were Islamic militants. The incident displays the spiraling anger inside Israel’s Druze community — which has been pushing for the Israeli government to do more to help Druze Syrians caught up in that country’s civil war. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Israel’s estimated 130,000 Druze live mostly in the north of the country, where some have taken to the streets, demanding more decisive action to help the Syrian Druze. Some of demanded that Israel provide weapons and air support; others have proposed that thousands of Syrian Druze be allowed to take shelter inside Israel, if necessary, or that they themselves be allow to cross the border and fight on behalf of the Syrian Druze.The Israeli government insists it will not allow the Druze to be massacred but has stopped short of major action.The Druze leadership in Israel condemned the pair of attacks Monday and was convening Tuesday for an emergency meeting to address the growing anger in their community.In Israel, the Druze have a particular tight bond with Jews that dates much farther back than helping them win independence in 1948. The Druze revere Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, whose tomb in northern Israel is one of their most sacred sites. In recent days the community has enjoyed widespread solidarity from other Israelis, though that has partially been replaced by outrage after the violent attacks on military ambulances.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 Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

China will be top tourism destination research

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J China will be the most visited country said Hong Kong Polytechnic University Professor Haivan Song at the 18th World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa. Professor Song, lecturer at the world’s second largest university teaching travel and hospitality courses, declared earlier this month that the travel industry would see big changes over the next twenty years and expects China to be the most popular tourism destination worldwide by 2030. According to the university’s research, within the next five years arrivals into China will increase from 150 to 385 million. “At current rate, China will be an economic power equal to Europe and the US combined,” Professor Song said. “China’s role in international tourism will be similar.” The lecturer also stated that once the current visa regulations weaken in China, citizens will contribute to the future of the country’s tourism by undertaking domestic tours. Professor Song warned that while China will greatly benefit from its status, the country will also face challenges. “A massive effort will be needed in China to train people for jobs in the travel and hotel industry.” Up to 50 tourism experts attend the annual World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa to present statistics and trends. last_img read more

Aussies choosing Melbourne over Sydney

first_imgMore travellers may have been booking hotels in Sydney over the Christmas holidays, but ultimately Melbourne is the preferred holiday destination among Australians.According to the latest Roy Morgan Holiday Tracking Survey, 22 percent of Australians said they want to take a holiday in Melbourne over the next two years, ahead of Sydney with only 12 percent.The Gold Coast came in second favourite amongst Australian travellers, winning 18 percent with its surf and sun while the Sunshine Coast was favoured among 12 percent.Roy Morgan international director of tourism, travel and leisure Jane Ianniello said Melbourne’s appeal has increased over the past decade, particularly among Australians under 30.“The shopping, dining, nightlife, and special events all appeal to this younger age group,” Ms Ianniello explained. More travellers choosing Melbourne over Sydney. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

China eases Tibetan travel restrictions

first_imgThe Chinese Government has relaxed restrictions on travel to Tibet.There are no longer a minimum number of travellers required per nationality within a tour group.Permits will be granted for tour groups comprised of travellers from three nationalities or less, when entering Tibet from China.When entering Tibet from Nepal, there are no restrictions on the number of nationalities permitted per group.“Previous policies made it logistically difficult to confirm travellers on our Tibet tours,” G Adventures Australia and New Zealand managing director Peter Rawley said.Tours from China will not be able to enter Tibet with four or more nationalities per group. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T. Logistically easier for agents to confirm travellers.last_img

Solstice celebrates birthday in style

first_imgSolstice will be joined by Celebrity Century in September for the 2014/15 summer season. The evening’s theme, Modern Luxury, was brought to life, as the ship’s crew served a stunning array of canapés and cocktails, designed to showcase the diversity of on-board dining experiences. Celebrity Solstice commemorated her fifth birthday in true Australian style, entertaining guests high above Sydney Harbour at an exclusive cocktail event held at the ship’s alfresco Lawn Club. “Not only are we celebrating the fifth birthday of Celebrity Solstice, we’re also celebrating the ship’s eleventh arrival into Sydney, as it fast becomes a recognisable feature of the Australian landscape.” The ship’s highly-skilled chefs were enlisted to bake a sumptuous lamington cake, moulded in the shape of Australia, as decided by Celebrity Cruises’ impassioned Facebook fans.center_img “The Celebrity brand has enjoyed tremendous success in Australia over the past five years,” Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines regional vice president APAC Gavin Smith said. The ship’s own Aussie musical troupe – Sonic Duo – serenaded guests during the event. Source = ETB News: P.T.last_img read more

Air NZ extends Sunshine

first_imgThe 42 return flights are scheduled for service between June and October, during which time the Sunshine Coast will leverage the opportunity to boost leisure, business and conference travel. “Tourism is one of the four pillars of the Queensland economy and increasing aviation access is key to helping the industry reach the goal of growing overnight visitor expenditure from AU$15 billion to AU$30 billion by 2020,” Queensland Minister for Tourism and Major Events Jann Stuckey said. Air New Zealand will extend the length and frequency of its annual seasonal flights from Auckland to the Sunshine Coast for another three years, following two successful seasons. Source = ETB News: L.B. This year, the service delivered 8,351 passengers to the Sunshine Coast, 85 percent of which were Kiwis, with total expenditure in the region by visitors estimated to be AU$9 million, with an overall economic impact of AUD $22 million, a figure expected to grow by 500 percent over the next three years.last_img read more

46 percent more people flying to Australia with Airberlin

first_imgSource = Airberlin airberlin #seeaustralia46 percent more people flying to Australia with AirberlinAustralia attracts ever more tourists each year: since the launch of joint airberlin and Etihad Airways codeshare services to Australia in 2012, the airlines have seen leaps in growth on their current 39 weekly one-stop connections via Abu Dhabi to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. In 2015, the number of passengers booking a flight to Australia with airberlin increased by 46 percent over the previous year.To support this positive trend, airberlin, in cooperation with Tourism Australia, has now selected a genuine Australian for its latest decal. The outer skin of the A320 bearing registration number D-ABNM now features a kangaroo peering curiously from an additional cockpit window. The #seeaustralia Airbus will be deployed on short and medium-haul airberlin flights for at least a year.“Australia is booming and we are proud that, together with Etihad Airways, we can offer the fastest one-stop connection to Sydney from Berlin. The continuous increase in demand for travel to Australia in recent years has been a constant factor in a very dynamic travel market. Our long-haul flights with Etihad and around 500 weekly codeshare flights with Virgin Australia on 14 routes within Australia offer our passengers plenty of opportunity for comfortable travel across the continent,” said Stefan Pichler, Chief Executive Officer, airberlin.Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan, said he was delighted to see its successful partnership with airberlin and Etihad Airways continue to develop: “Our relationship with Etihad Airways and airberlin is one which has grown significantly in    recent years, and has seen us work closely and collaboratively to sell seats and build demand for Australia in some of our most important international markets.“The kangaroo is synonymous with our country. It has always played an important role in how we promote Australia to the world, so we couldn’t be happier that airberlin has given us the opportunity for our very own ‘skippy’ to welcome their German passengers as they step on board the plane,” he said. Fly Airberlinlast_img read more

Australias first ever newbuild ship reaches next milestone in constr

first_imgAustralia’s first ever new-build ship reaches next milestone in constructionOvation of the Seas, Australia’s newest, biggest and most technologically advanced cruise ship which is being constructed at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, has completed its conveyance. The conveyance is a unique process for ships built at Meyer Werft as the shipyard is situated inland along the banks of the River Ems and the ship must make the trip from Papenburg down the river backwards to get to the North Sea. The journey took 12 hours.At 346 meters long and 41 meters wide, this 167,800 gross ton ship is one of the largest ever to go through conveyance. Thousands of revellers from the surrounding local villages lined the 26 mile route along the river bank to watch and celebrate the ship’s journey.Ovation of the Seas will be officially launched in April 2016, when she departs Southampton, England for Tianjin (Beijing), China on a 52-day Global Odyssey, before commencing her Chinese season on 24 June 2016. On 30 November 2016, she will set sail on a 15-night Singapore to Sydney voyage via Fremantle, Adelaide and Hobart, repositioning to her new home down under for her maiden Australian season from December.The world’s most revolutionary cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas  features a new set of first-at-sea onboard experiences, such as Ripcord by iFLY, a heart-pounding skydiving experience; North Star, a thrilling adventure that transports guests more than 300 feet in the air on a breathtaking journey; cutting-edge transformative venues including SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; the robotic Bionic Bar; and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever.Guests also will enjoy a landscape of 18 restaurant concepts as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, including Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian. Technology has also been amped up on Ovation of the Seas with high speed internet offering more bandwidth so guests can connect and stream as quickly as they would onshore, while the Royal iQ app makes keeping track of your onboard schedule simple with all bookings and cruise details stored and updated automatically. Ovation spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms. Royal CaribbeanSource = Royal Caribbeanlast_img read more

Australia and New Zealand best wine tours in the world

first_imgAustralia and New Zealand best wine tours in the worldTripAdvisor®, the travel planning and booking site, treats wine lovers worldwide by unveiling the best rated wine tours not only across the world but across Australia and New Zealand, according to travellers on TripAdvisor. Between Yarra Valley and the beautiful west coast of Auckland to tranquil Californian and Tuscan vineyards, these wine tasting tours will make your trip unforgettable.“It’s no surprise Australia and New Zealand feature highly in the top 10 best rated wine tours worldwide with our spectacular scenery and ideal climate,” commented Joanne Kershaw, TripAdvisor spokesperson. “Combining travel with great wine and local produce is a great way to explore a new destination. There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to researching Wine Tours on TripAdvisor and you can book in advance to ensure you don’t miss out!”Wine tours: Australia and New Zealand conquer the World Top 10!Australian and New Zealand wine tours are being recognised across the globe hosting two positons in the World Top 10: Vinetrekker Wine and Food Tours, Melbourne in 4th and Bubbly Grape Wine Tours, Blenheim in 7th. Australia and New Zealand wineries are making waves amongst US and European counterparts.To the discovery of Australian and New Zealand winesNo. 1 across Australia and New Zealand is Vinetrekker Wine and Food Tours, Melbourne showcasing the delights of the sought after Yarra Valley! The top 10 list also includes other renowned wine regions including Hunter Valley and Marlborough, but also the likes of Margaret River, where delicious local produce is also being recognised by travellers. Across the list, all regions can boast wine tasting proposals that are appreciated by travellers world-wide.“We’re thrilled to be acknowledged as the number one TripAdvisor Wine Tour operator throughout Australia and New Zealand and number four on the world list!” said winner Vinetrekker’s Tour Director, Paul Robinson. “It’s a great reward for the Vinetrekker team and all our suppliers. To be recognised in this way confirms for us that we need to continue to offer a product that doesn’t compromise on quality.”If you are looking for the perfect wine get-away, here is a rundown of Australia and New Zealand’s best wine tours and for those trips abroad, check out the top 10 world list!1. Vinetrekker Wine and Food Tours – MelbourneWith a combined total of 80+ years of wine-touring experience, Vinetrekker offers a variety of different food and wine tours, suitable for any traveller. The Yarra Valley Food and Wine Day Trip includes travelling to a variety of vineyards, whilst being transported through beautiful scenic routes of Melbourne.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “We had a wonderful day roaming around the Yarra Valley. Our guide, Stephen, was an absolute delight and we had an absolute ball. If you’re looking for a great day trip, I couldn’t recommend this more”.2. Bubbly Grape Wine Tours – BlenheimLocated in the beautiful Marlborough region of New Zealand, Bubbly Grape offers wine tours that highlight the Marlborough region. Each tour recognises and highlights how the local wines of the region are produced and showcases why they are recognised globally.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “The wineries and the wines were great and the tour guide was not only knowledgeable in relation to the wines but also other little niche businesses along the journey. A great experience in an area that grows and makes exceptional wines”.3. McLeod Tours – Margaret RiverMcLeod Tours highlights the remarkable natural surrounds of the Margaret River region, whilst also showcasing the delicious local produce that the region has to offer. With 30 years’ experience in the touring business, the family business will have you feeling like a local after you leave.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “Definitely the best wine Tour Company in the Margaret River region. Sharing lots of local knowledge and shown a great respect from each winery we visited, the McLeod family are the nicest people you could ever meet. A tour not to be missed! In fact we have taken friends & family on 7 occasions!”4. NZWINEPRO – Auckland Wine Tours – AucklandNZ Wine Pro Auckland Wine Tours visit a variety of scenic vineyards located in the West Auckland regions as well as Matakana and Waiheke Island. Each tour is amended specifically to the location, highlighting the scenery, the location and the wines on offer.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “By far one our favorite adventures in Auckland! My husband and I took a private coast to coast tour. We saw so many sites that we would have never seen! Our tour guide John was extremely knowledgeable and has a great persona. We would gladly recommend this tour to anyone visiting”.5. Highlight Wine Tours – BlenheimA locally owned wine tour that highlights the Marlborough wine region. Highlight Wine Tours offers a wealth of local knowledge and experience, whilst taking travellers around to sample some of the best Marlborough wines available. Treat yourself to a Classic Mustang Tour, cruising around wineries in an Iconic 1960’s American Classic.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “My wife and I do a lot of cruising and, when visiting wine producing parts of the world, we always endeavour to arrange wine tours. The Highlights Wine Tour, which picked us up at the port in Picton, was, without exception, the best wine tour we have ever taken”.6. Auckland Wine Trail Tours – AucklandAuckland Wine Trail tours specialise in personalised day and half day scenic wine tours that are 100% New Zealand owned and operated. Most of the tours highlight the beautiful West Coast of Auckland, showcasing hand-picked and exclusive to the cellar door wines.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “We had a great day with John on the Wine and waterfalls tour. The tour was very relaxed, informative and varied as we travelled around Auckland. John was flexible, allowing us plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The drive was comfortable and the wineries we visited were amazing”.7. Yarra Valley Wine Tasting Tours – MelbourneYarra Valley Wine Tasting Tours specialises in small personal wine and food tours to the Yarra Valley wine region. The day trip not only stops off at local wineries, but also includes a visit to Yarra Valley Dairy where travellers get the chance to taste an assortment of hand-made cheeses.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “From the minute we stepped on the Coach to the minute we alighted at the end of the day, we experienced nothing but joy, elegance and a sense of being thoroughly looked after and spoilt. It will go down as being one of the most memorable and special things I have done in my life”.8. Kangarrific Tours – Hunter ValleyLocated in Australia’s oldest wine growing region, this tour is a must for any traveller searching for food, wine and history. Kangariffic Tours offers an itinerary like no other, with not only beautiful wine but also delicious food. Relax with your morning tea and watch as kangaroos and koalas graze past at the Walkabout Wildlife park stopover.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “We could not be happier with our choice to do this tour. Sam was incredibly knowledgeable, hilarious, and able to customize the tour to our group. Not only do you get A LOT of wine tastings but he sets up cheese, chocolate, and beer tastings to break it all up”.9. All Hunter Wine Tours – RothburyHunter Wine Tour consists of a full day tour that transports travellers around to visit 5 different boutique quality wineries as well as giving travellers the chance to try local gourmet cheese and chocolate.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “Michael was a great tour guide, friendly and wanted us to relax and enjoy our time. He took us to wineries that were boutique and private. Stunning views, wine, food and great company”.10. Zepher Tours – SydneyZepher Tours provides groups of friends with a variety of different tours located around the Hunter Valley. Packages can be tailored to suit individual needs and suit budgets, with each tour bringing great stories, music and wine.TripAdvisor Review Comment: “I highly recommend this tour to anyone, regardless of your wine preference and exposure to wine drinking. The variety, quantity of wine tasted, quality of lunch, fun thrills in the distillery and chocolate factory make your every cent worthwhile”.Best Wine tours: World1.    Squire Livery Tours – California, USA2.    Wine Tour in Tuscany – Siena, Italy3.    Santorini Wine Adventure Tours – Fira, Greece4.    Vinetrekker Wine and Food Tours – Victoria, Australia5.    Seattle Wine Tours – Washington, USA6.    Tuscan Wine Tours by Grape Tours – Florence, Italy7.    Bubbly Grape Wine Tours – Blenheim, New Zealand8.    Rustic Vines – Bordeaux, France9.    Cape Town Wine Tours – Milnerton, South Africa10. Trout & Wine Tours –  Mendoza, ArgentinaMethodology*All tours must have at least 20 reviews. Wine tours are filtered to only those in the Wine Tours & Tastings and Wineries & Vineyards attraction categories. Ranking is a combined score of average user rating and the total number of reviews, with more recent reviews given a higher weight. TripAdvisorSource = TripAdvisorlast_img read more

TravelManagers Announce Exclusive Partner Supplier Agreement

first_imgTravelManagers’ Finance & Commercial Manager – Tanyu CilekTravelManagers Announce Exclusive Partner Supplier AgreementMore than 230 personal travel managers (PTMs) and NPO staff were joined by 90 suppliers representing 53 partner supplier brands at TravelManagers’ annual national conference, which took place in Honolulu this weekend.The conference was the ideal forum in which to announce TravelManagers’ newest supplier partnership: with e-commerce travel provider, Luxury Escapes.TravelManagers’ Finance and Commercial Manager, Tanyu Cilek, says the new partnership will provide PTMs with access to Luxury Escapes’ offering of great deals in amazing places.“Currently no other retail travel network has direct access to Luxury Escapes’ prominently advertised and promoted holiday content, which is a real coup for both our PTMs and our clients,” Cilek explains.Luxury Escapes’ Co-Founder and CEO, Adam Schwab, says from his company’s point of view, the value of partnering with one of Australia’s most experienced retail travel networks is indisputable.“Luxury Escapes is proud to be associated with TravelManagers in this pilot program and excited to be working with a network of personal travel managerss who are highly respected within the travel industry.”Luxury Escapes is a B2C business that has a community of 2.6 million travelers who influence the global travel ecosystem and with whom they communicate daily, via online, print, TV and radio.“Luxury Escapes is not only a travel e-commerce site: we see great value in supporting a trade partner who deals with its existing and potential consumers on a face-to-face basis,” Schwab adds.According to Cilek, over half a million travellers will enjoy a Luxury Escapes experience this year, and the new partnership will allow PTMs the opportunity to add value via flights, insurance and pre and post arrangement for clients who want Luxury Escape product.“In the past, customers have been able to browse holidays and pick their Luxury Escapes experience, but now they have the additional benefit of being able to process their Luxury Escapes experience and book related supplementary arrangements via their very own personal travel manager.”“It’s fitting that our exciting new partnership with Luxury Escapes was announced at our annual national conference, at which the overall theme was ‘success’” Cilek adds. “For our PTMs, success comes from constantly striving to offer our clients great products and experiences, more choice and great value – which this partnership will deliver in abundance.”For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599.About TravelManagersTravel Managers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $2 billion for 2018. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 540 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are secure and only used for client purchases. Source = TravelManagerslast_img read more