Posted by Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Travelweek Group Contiki’s new 2017-18 Europe program on sale now TORONTO – Contiki’s full suite of Europe 2017 trips officially go on sale today, with a 10% discount for clients who book by Jan. 12, 2017. This represents a savings of up to $820, making Europe hard to resist for young Canadians.The new 2017-18 Europe program includes five brand new trips, including four itineraries in and around the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Two ‘Adriatic Unearthed’ trips (one starting in Split, the other in Rome) are 15-day journeys taking in the Amalfi Coast, Port Bar, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Ljubljana, Venice, Rome and Corfu. The shorter ‘Adriatic Horizons’ and ‘Adriatic Spirit’ trips span eight and seven days, respectively.“For our travellers, the Adriatic represents a lesser known and therefore exciting and unexplored part of Europe,” said Sheralyn Berry, Director of Sales at Contiki Holidays Canada. “Our exciting new Adriatic trips bring together iconic traveller favourites, sites of natural beauty, off the beaten track experiences and some truly stunning beaches. We’re excited to spend some time in the Adriatic next year, and to continue offering a best in class experience in the rest of Europe as well.”More news: Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaAdding to the mix of immersive and authentic experiences is Contiki’s new nine-day ‘Greek Week’ itinerary, visiting the top three hotspots favourited by guests including Athens, Mykanos and Ios. This new ‘Easy Pace’ trip focuses on two of Greece’s most iconic islands, offering clients stunning beaches, water sports and some of the best parties in the world. With Greece being a top seller with Canadian guests, this new trip will undoubtedly please those looking for a bit of relaxation, good food and lots of fun.In 2017, Contiki will operate more than 142 trips across Europe that visit 42 countries. For more information go to contiki.com. << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Contiki
Tags: Trafalgar TORONTO — Trafalgar has added six new itineraries to its 2018 USA & Canada brochure including ‘From Cuban Cigars to American Cars’, a first for the tour operator.Clients can save 10% with Trafalgar’s Early Payment Discount on the land portion when paid in full by Jan. 11, 2018, plus returning guests receive an additional 5% off. There are 43 itineraries and six trip styles in all.“Agents can make effortless sales with our new program that caters to all Canadians’ types and tastes. With 43 itineraries and six itinerary styles, we are giving guests more choice and the chance to discover the Americas worry-free,” says Trafalgar Canada President Wolf Paunic. “We take care of every detail and uncover our continent’s true essence with our carefully crafted vacations. And with Trafalgar’s genuine 97% guest satisfaction rating, which reflects reviews that are uncensored and transparent, agents and guests can trust us to deliver, simply the best holidays.”The nine-day ‘From Cuban Cigars to American Cars’ puts the spotlight on Cuba’s vintage rhythms, varied landscape and rich heritage of literature, dance and art. Cultural Insight experiences include interactions with artists and dancers, plus travellers will dine with local Miguel Rojas and his wife Yamila Lopez at their home, featuring a meal of home-grown vegetables during a Be My Guest experience. Later a Local Specialist and architect takes guests on a walking tour through iconic plazas and architectural facades.More news: Kory Sterling is TL Network Canada’s new Sales Manager CanadaOther new itineraries include:Coastal California with Yosemite National Park: Picture-perfect California is the star of this new 10-day Country Explorer itinerary along the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco. This itinerary features a Be My Guest Experience with the opportunity to sample blended olive oils during an authentic meal in Paso Robles, and a stay in Authentic Accommodations at the historical Fairmont San Francisco. For 2019 departures, this itinerary offers the option to extend the trip by a day to attend the 2019 Rose Parade Special in Pasedena.Geysers and Glaciers: Unwind on this new 10-day trip through the astounding western wilderness of Canada and the U.S., to the Rocky Mountains, Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon, Lake Louise and glaciers remaining from the last Ice Age. This itinerary features a Local Specialists who will show guests how expert-trained smokejumpers parachute into forests to help fight the spread of wildfires. Another Local Specialist and member of the Blackfoot tribe teaches clients about life at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.Spirit of the South: Travellers visit six charming southern states on this new 17-day Country Explorer guided vacation. Trafalgar promises that “clients will experience the extraordinary”, including an evening with Muhammad Ali’s brother during a Be My Guest experience at the boxing great’s childhood home museum, and a traditional four-course Deep South dinner from a former Four Seasons chef.More news: AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’nsFor more information agents can contact their local Sales Manager, or visit trafalgar.com/can/usa-and-can-2018. Posted by Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Trafalgar puts Cuba in its 2018 USA & Canada lineup Thursday, June 29, 2017 Travelweek Group
DA NANG, VIETNAM — Move over San Francisco, there’s a new golden bridge that’s got everyone talking.Vietnam’s newly opened Golden Bridge, located 1,400 metres above sea level on the Ba Na Hills, has been making the rounds on social media for its remarkable design. Not the bridge itself, mind you, although it looks pretty sleek and shiny with its trademark golden hue. No, this bridge has immediately soared to iconic status, thanks to the two giant hands that seemingly hold it upright.Pretty cool, right? Is this the world’s coolest bridge? Tuesday, July 31, 2018 Travelweek Group Tags: Asia, Vietnam The bridge, which opened in June, is reportedly part of a US$2 billion project by TA Landscape Architecture to increase tourism in Vietnam. Spanning 150 metres, the bridge is divided into eight spans, each of which is lined by Lobelia Chrysanthemum flowers. As for the massive pair of hands, pedestrians are meant to feel like they’re being held up by a giant stone god.Following last week’s story about China’s incredible skyscraper waterfall, we can’t help but think that Asia really does have the coolest stuff.Vietnam’s new Golden Bridge pic.twitter.com/5eU5INqGmP— Urban Society (@UrbanSociety__) July 27, 2018 Posted by Share << Previous PostNext Post >>
ACV adds Catalonia Hotels & Resorts to winter Sun Collection Share Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Tuesday, August 7, 2018 Tags: Air Canada Vacations MONTREAL — Air Canada Vacations has expanded its Mexico and Caribbean resort lineup with Catalonia Hotels and Resorts.ACV’s 2018-2019 Sun brochure includes properties from the Spanish-owned Catalonia Hotels and Resorts, which has 67 hotels in total including 55 in Spain.ACV says the family-friendly Catalonia Bavaro Beach & Golf Resort and Catalonia Playa Maroma, and the adults-only Catalonia Royal Bavaro and Catalonia Royal Tulum, are all-inclusive properties with “something that will please every traveller”.In the D.R. Air Canada Vacations is offering 4-star Catalonia Gran Dominicus in La Romana, Catalonia Bavaro Beach & Golf Resort in Punta Cana, and 4.5-star Catalonia Royal Bavaro in Punta Cana.As part of ACV’s ‘Spotlight Collection – Marvelous’, Catalonia Bavaro Beach & Golf Resort and Catalonia Royal Bavaro offer exclusive benefits to clients when they book an ACV package, including:Bottle of rum in room20% spa discount15% discount for romantic lobster dinner10% discount for hotel shops,US$100 room upgrade credit (minimum 7-night stay)25% discount on food and drinks at Pearl Beach Club15% discount on golf cart rentalMore news: Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaIn Cancun/Riviera Maya, Air Canada Vacation is offering 4-star Catalonia Playa Maroma, Catalonia Riviera Maya, and 4.5-star Catalonia Royal Tulum.Also part of the ‘Spotlight Collection – Marvelous’, Catalonia Gran Dominicus, Catalonia Playa Maroma, Catalonia Riviera Maya, and Catalonia Royal Tulum offer exclusive benefits to ACV clients:Bottle of tequila in room20% spa discount15% discount for lobster dinner10% discount for hotel shopsUS$100 room upgrade credit (minimum 7-night stay)“We’re so excited about this new expansion of our Sun product line. Air Canada Vacations’ goal is to provide more options for our customers to plan their dream vacation!” says Dana Gain, ACV’s Senior Director of Sales, Groups & Partnerships.Early bookers can benefit from significant savings on their 2018/2019 holiday to Mexico and the Caribbean with ACV’s Early Booking Bonus, says the tour op. Reservations made by Sept. 9 represent savings of $600 per family ($200 per adult and $100 per child ages 2 to 12) with an additional eight free days of airport parking.More news: Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoMeanwhile there’s still time to take advantage of Air Canada Vacations’ promotion with AMResorts, offering 4X ACV&ME points with package or group bookings to any AMResorts properties for travel until Oct. 31.Participating resorts include Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets Resorts & Spas, Breathless Resorts & Spas, Dreams Resorts & Spas, Now Resorts & Spas and Sunscape Resorts & Spas.ACV’s limited-time offer includes:4X 600 points per room for flight-inclusive packages of seven nights or more4X 400 points per room for flight-inclusive packages of three to six nights4X 300 points for every passenger of a group.
MONTREAL — Softvoyage has acquired a majority stake in Pythagoras, a Buenos Aires-based travel technology company.Softvoyage co-founder Moise Levy says Pythagoras, as one of the leaders in travel technology in South America, is very similar to Softvoyage in terms of its products and customer bases.Levy adds: “Travel e-commerce is rapidly increasing in South America and with Softvoyage products and expertise in this area, we will be focusing on working with Pythagoras to improve and increase travel distribution for all of their clients. We also forecast good growth opportunities for the Pythagoras product in North America. They have developed over the years very innovating technology. Both parties feel this agreement is a win-win for both companies and its employees but most importantly, for our customers.”Paolo Setien, managing director of Pythagoras says the Pythagoras business is “better than ever” and adds that the company is thrilled with the new opportunities that lie ahead. The Pythagoras team of travel specialists will now collaborate with the Softvoyage team and will integrate Softvoyage’s technology for the benefit of Pythagoras clients in South America. “Our clients will now have access to many new possibilities and opportunities,” says Setien.More news: Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?Levy says the Pythagoras leadership team will continue to run the day-to-day business from Buenos Aires and will remain active in the company, keeping their existing roles. Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Softvoyage expands with Pythagoras acquisition Tuesday, April 2, 2019 Tags: Acquisitions, Pythagoras, Softvoyage Share Travelweek Group
Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by ‘Imagine Your Korea Specialist’ Learning Centre course available now Wednesday, July 3, 2019 TORONTO — The Korea Tourism Organization has launched its newest training program on Travelweek’s Learning Centre, offering the opportunity for agents to learn about the unique experiences available in Korea.With more than 190,000 Canadians travelling to the destination in 2018, Korea is a hotspot for travellers. The ‘Imagine Your Korea Specialist’ course touches on topics ranging from Korea’s history and culture to its UNESCO World Heritage Sites.“The travel tips section will help agents prepare themselves for questions from consumers about the destination, and make it easier to sell the destination whether or not they have visited Korea,” says Randy Snape, National Marketing Manager, Korea Tourism Organization.By taking the course, agents will learn about what sets Korea apart from its neighbours, and the numerous highlights incorporated in the cuisine, culture as well as the DMZ, he adds.“As the only divided country on earth and so many changes taking place along the DMZ, given the warming tensions between the two Koreas, there may be little time left before the opening of the border between this divided nation.”More news: Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaGeneral information, transport, accommodation, activities, events and all that’s needed to sell the destination is available on the Learning Centre in four modules.The program also highlights the best ways to do custom itinerary planning for Korea-bound clients, including the tour operators that are able to sell and create packages, as well as information on flights and other details.For agents who complete the course by Oct. 31, 2019, there is a chance to win a $30 Tim Hortons gift card.Visit travelweeklearningcentre.com to get started today. Tags: Imagine Your Korea Specialist, Korea Tourism Organization, Travelweek Learning Centre Travelweek Group
The Blind Pigs Blues Band has been around for two decades, and in some ways has evolved over that time. But vocalist David Scott, who founded the band, says its always been about the blues.He grew up listening to the blues in a post-WWII London, and during that time, England’s music scene was heavily influenced by the States. Merchants and seamen brought albums over from U.S. ports, including blues albums.Costa Rica, on the other hand, has more recently come to embrace the blues. When Scott arrived here in 1990, there was no blues music whatsoever, he recalls. He eventually established a blues and jazz bar in San José, but soon got another idea. “Having no money and being a blues musician, I thought, ‘Ah, I’ll start a blues band,’” he says with a smile.He came in contact with a local bass player, a German drummer, and an Italian guitar player to form The Blind Pigs Blues Band.Over the years, though, members of The Bling Pigs have come and gone. “All the musicians [in Costa Rica] who are capable of playing blues music have passed through my band at one time or another,” Scott says. When one of the members is travelling, he will have another friend join in the fun, so “the band always keeps going”.One of those artists was Costa Rican Minister of Culture and Youth Manuel Obregón. “He can play rock ‘n’ roll and blues that will make your hair pop off,” Scott says. Another is Nancy Buchan, a violinist. Scott is pleased she could be a part of the band, as “she can play it all.” In addition he feels the violin is a unique addition to a blues band.The common denominator in all the band members is their love for the stage and entertainment, Scott explains. “[Blues] is not all together a sad thing, because you can go out play the blues and make people dance and laugh and sing.”The Blind Pigs Blues Band plays original songs, but also classics from Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others. “First of all you learn the song that they wrote, the way they wrote it,” he says. “Then we change it to our style of blues.”The Blind Pigs Blues Band has released three albums and is recording a fourth with all new material. The curious name is a reference to speakeasies (illegal establishments that sold booze) in Philadelphia called “blind pigs,” which often featured a blues piano player.The Blind Pigs Blues Band holds a series of concerts at Jazz Café venues. They’ll play a “Blue Valentine” special on Feb. 14 in San Pedro and then another concert in Escazú on Feb. 27. Facebook Comments No related posts.
No related posts. José María Villalta of the Broad Front Party, the current presidential front-runner in the latest poll in Costa Rica, had to defend his redistributive policies to a pro-business crowd during a debate at the Costa Rican Union of Private Business Sector Chambers and Associations (UCCAEP) Thursday afternoon.The left-leaning candidate said that Costa Rica’s tax system should be more progressive, demanding that some sectors, especially, finance, should pay more taxes to offset the country’s rising inequality rate.Villalta, who currently leads in the polls, raised eyebrows earlier in the campaign when he spoke about pulling Costa Rica out of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, and reassessing the country’s other trade agreements. On Thursday, however, the candidate took a step back, saying that it was not “viable” to revoke Costa Rica’s participation in CAFTA, despite his personal distaste for the free trade agreement.Costa Rica exports more than any other country behind only the United States within the regional trade alliance.Villalta clarified a question from the audience that nationalization was not part of the Broad Front’s government plan.Besides taxes, Costa Rica’s presidential candidates addressed the high cost of electricity and the country’s deteriorating infrastructure.Libertarian Movement Party candidate Otto Guevara hammered on his campaign promise to open Costa Rica’s electricity market to private generators as a solution to high prices, which he and UCCAEP agreed drives businesses and investment out of Costa Rica.“Opening the energy market will benefit everyone,” Guevara said, referencing the positive affects of CAFTA on the liberalization of the telecommunications and insurance industries.Several candidates pushed back against this idea, from National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya to Guillermo Solís and José María Villalta of the Citizen Action Party (PAC) and the Broad Front Party, respectively.Electricity in Central America is three times higher than in other regions, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. The bank estimates the wholesale price of electricity in Central America at $150 per megawatt compared to $50 in other “similar systems.”PAC’s Solís said that infrastructure investment was the most “urgent” problem facing Costa Rica, and that it was synonymous with competitiveness. Several candidates spoke about the need to repair Costa Rica’s crumbling bridges and build new highways. Villalta said that the country needed a holistic infrastructure approach that looked beyond new highways as the only solution to congestion, including trains connecting the cities of the San José metro area, and other public transportation options.UCCAEP vice president and debate moderator Luis Mesalles challenged several of the candidates’ claims that large infrastructure projects would generate jobs in the quantities they promised.Mesalles also noted that most candidates sidestepped the issue of Costa Rica’s ports in favor of highways. According to the World Bank, Costa Rica has the worst ports in Central America. Facebook Comments
SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean President-elect Michelle Bachelet vowed to reduce inequality in Chile by providing free education for all after winning the biggest majority in at least 40 years in Sunday’s vote.Bachelet will take office March 11 after obtaining 62 percent of the ballots, compared with 38 percent for ruling-alliance candidate Evelyn Matthei, the electoral service said. The 62-year-old who was president from 2006 to 2010 is the first to win a second term since the return to democracy in 1990.Bachelet promised $15.1 billion in extra spending after three years of protests over the quality of schooling pushed the popularity of President Sebastián Piñera to a record low. While Chile is the wealthiest country in Latin America, students said the cost of education was fueling the highest income inequality in the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.“Through the prism of education we have been able to dream of a fairer Chile,” Bachelet said in a speech to supporters Sunday night. “Profit cannot be the motor of education, because education is not a commodity. Dreams are not sold on the market.”Bachelet’s coalition won a majority in both chambers of Congress last month with a big enough margin to push through her proposal of increasing corporate taxes to fund social spending.“We have the majorities in parliament and the regions and we have the political, social and economic conditions,” Bachelet said. “Those who want change are a broad majority and it’s time to put them into action.”She will come to power as policy makers at the central bank forecast slower growth for the second straight year in 2013. The Imacec, a proxy for gross domestic product published monthly by the central bank, expanded 2.8 percent in October from the year earlier, the slowest pace in more than two years.While the Finance Ministry is forecasting expansion of 4.9 percent for next year, former central bank presidents Vittorio Corbo and José De Gregorio say that weaker copper prices and higher global borrowing costs could lead to growth of less than 4 percent.Since 1983, Chile has averaged economic growth of 5.2 percent a year, raising income per capita to about $19,100, the highest in South America, according to the International Monetary Fund.Slower growth will make it harder for Bachelet to fulfill her pledges to boost spending on health and education without widening the fiscal deficit, said Jorge Errazuriz, a partner at BTG Pactual.“Bachelet will run into a problem if the economy doesn’t grow at current levels and copper, mining and private companies’ income fall,” he said in a telephone interview from Santiago before the vote. “In that case, her tax reform won’t be enough.”Bachelet plans to raise the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 20 percent and end a 30-year incentive to reinvest profits that she says is being used to avoid taxes.The changes will bring Chile more into line with its counterparts in Latin American, where Colombia has a corporate tax rate of 25 percent, and Peru and Mexico have 30 percent. Five years ago, Chile had a tax rate of 17 percent, half Colombia’s 33 percent.Bachelet denies Matthei’s allegation that her tax proposal would put Chile’s economic success at risk. During her previous presidency, dollar-denominated bonds returned 32 percent, three times more than under the current administration and more than the 27 percent gain on similar Latin American bonds, according to Bank of America Corp.While Bachelet won by the biggest majority since at least 1990, she also obtained the fewest ballots of any winning candidate over the same period as voter turnout declined to less than 50 percent.Bachelet won 3.47 million votes, compared with the 3.59 million Piñera won in 2009 and the 3.72 million she won in her first election victory in 2005.“It’s not quite the mandate she wanted,” said Patricio Navia, a political science professor at New York University. “There isn’t a majority of Chileans that want radical changes, the majority stayed home and didn’t vote.”Piñera, in a speech to congratulate Bachelet’s victory, said politicians would have to listen to those Chileans who voted and those that didn’t.Piñera’s popularity fell to a record low 27 percent last year as students took to the streets demanding free education from primary school to university. Chile has the most socially segregated schooling system in the OECD, with few of the poor entering the top performing schools, according to research released by the organization on Sept. 13, 2011.Chile’s Gini index, a measure of the income gap in which zero represents perfect equality and 1 complete inequality, is 0.501, compared with 0.38 in the U.S. and 0.466 in Mexico, according to the OECD.Bachelet said her victory was partly due to “the citizens who have marched through the streets in recent years.” We must “especially thank the young who have shown their desire to build a free, public education system with high standards,” she said.With assistance from Sebastian Boyd in Santiago.© 2013, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments No related posts.
Six out of 10 tourism businesses expect this year’s high season to be better than last year’s, according to a study released Wednesday by the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR).Yet greater demand won’t necessarily translate to new jobs. Some 70 percent of surveyed tourism business owners said they would not be hiring new workers this season, which began in December and ends in March.CANATUR said that 59 percent of employers believe the high season will be “much better” or “better” than the same period last year, while 34 percent expect tourism business to remain unchanged.Only 7 percent of respondents said tourism demand would be “worse” or “much worse” than last year’s high season.“This season represents a big opportunity, as a bigger flow of tourists entering the country is expected, and they will be requiring a lot of services. However, the country must address challenges like increasing investment in security, infrastructure and other areas in order to maintain Costa Rica’s status as an attractive destination that offers a unique experience for our visitors,” CANATUR President Isabel Vargas said.The chamber study also indicates that job creation in the tourism sector has stagnated.“Our industry has been hit hard by high energy bills and operating costs, so employers now are very cautious about creating new jobs,” Vargas added.CANATUR surveyed 205 business owners from hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, car rentals and restaurants. The study was conducted from the last week of November through early December. Facebook Comments Related posts:Delta to add new Minneapolis-San José flight New Costa Rican airline, Ticos Air, now hiring Avianca-Taca drops five nonstop flights to Costa Rica, lays off 261 employees Costa Rica to promote adventure tourism at fairs in Los Angeles and Boston
Alan Gross, the U.S. government contractor who has been imprisoned in Cuba for more than four years, began a hunger strike last week to protest his treatment by both the Cuban and U.S. governments, his lawyer said Tuesday.“I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal,” Gross said in a telephoned statement to his legal team.As he has many times before, Gross called on U.S. President Barack Obama to become personally involved in efforts to free him from “inhumane treatment” in a Cuban prison.Gross was arrested in 2009 for distributing Internet and other communications materials in Cuba under a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was sentenced to 15 years for crimes against the Cuban state and is said to be in poor health.His case moved back into the limelight last week following revelations about a separate USAID program to undermine Cuba’s communist government with a Twitter-like network designed to build an audience among Cuban youth and push them toward anti-government dissent. While unclassified, administration officials have described the program as “discreet.”The “Cuban Twitter” program, called ZunZuneo before it was discontinued in 2012, caused an uproar among U.S. lawmakers who charged they had never approved spending for it. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who heads the appropriations subcommittee in charge of the USAID budget, called the program a “cockamamie” idea during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.Others have praised the program, which they called laudable effort to circumvent Cuban restrictions on Internet freedom. Such efforts help “provide uncensored access to information and communications for the Cuban people and others struggling around the globe against repression, censorship and the denial of basic human rights,” Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.Since 1996, Congress has appropriated more than $200 million for “democracy assistance” programs in Cuba. USAID has been given wide discretion in deciding what the money is used for. Most of the programs are subcontracted to firms like Development Alternatives, Inc., which received a $6 million contract, under which Gross was working.On Tuesday, USAID Administration Rajiv Shah said the ZunZuneo program was lawful and part of the agency’s efforts to promote the free flow of information in the island nation.In a statement, Gross’s lawyer, Scott Gilbert, said the program had put Gross’s life in greater jeopardy. “Once Alan was arrested, it is shocking that USAID would imperil his safety even further by running a covert operation in Cuba,” Gilbert said. “USAID has made one absurdly bad decision after another. Running this program is contrary to everything we have been told by high-level representative of the Obama administration about USAID’s activities in Cuba.”Gross, a 64-year-old Maryland resident, has lost more than 110 pounds since his arrest and is held in a small cell with two other prisoners for 23 hours a day. His lawyers said Gross told them that the “Cuban Twitter” effort “was the final straw for him” and prompted his decision to go on a hunger strike.Even as he has criticized the program that landed Gross in prison, Leahy has criticized what he and others have called the administration’s inattention to the case. In a November letter to Obama, Leahy spearheaded a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 66 senators urging the president to “act expeditiously to take whatever steps are in the national interest to obtain [Gross’s] release.”A separate letter, signed by 14 lawmakers led by Cuban-American Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Menendez, exhorted Obama to continue his policy of demanding Gross’s “immediate and unconditional release.”© 2014, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:USAID’s ‘Cuban Twitter’ draws criticism, derision Controversial US micro-blog targeting Cuban regime operated clandestinely out of Costa Rica, angering officials USAID sent young Costa Ricans undercover to Cuba in anti-government scheme, AP reports ‘I’m free’: Alan Gross returns to US after 5 years in Cuban prison
Related posts:Life jackets not distributed before Costa Rica catamaran began sinking, killing 3, says president’s office Costa Rica police arrest 4 suspects in alleged rape of US tourist Lonely Planet guide documents a changing Central America Costa Rica tourism minister sees no threat from Cuba, Nicaragua Norberto Arredondo, from Antigua, Guatemala, arrived at the Pacific coastal town of Nosara two days ago to vacation with his family. Shortly after, thieves robbed valuables left momentarily unattended on the beach.“This is a beautiful country and we thought that there would be no trouble if we left our things while we swam in the sea when this happened. Despite this, Costa Rica is still a great place,” Arredondo told The Tico Times.On Monday, two teenagers in the central Pacific beach town of Jacó threatened a U.S. woman with a knife, stealing her purse, $300 and a cellphone before police arrested the thieves, according to a statement from the Public Security Ministry.Cases like these are not uncommon along Costa Rica’s famous beaches and mountain destinations, but despite these unfortunate events, Tourism Police Director Xinia Vásquez told The Tico Times in a telephone interview that crimes against tourists have shown a downward trend since 2010.Vásquez, citing figures from the Judicial Investigation Police, said that the number of thefts — the most common crime committed against tourists — dropped 6.5 percent from 735 between January and November 2013 to 687 during the same period in 2014. In San José, the ministry reported a 55 percent decrease in thefts in December 2014 compared to the same month in 2013.Costa Rica remains a relatively safe destination and boasts the region’s lowest homicide rate, but travelers are still targeted by thieves. Vásquez recommended that tourists keep a close eye on their belongings and not leave them unattended, like Arredondo’s family did. The police director advised that guests take preventive measures, like not walking alone at night, and ensuring that any excursions they do — from zip lining to horseback riding — be with a a registered agency.The National Police and Tourism Police have increased their presence in tourist destinations for the tourism high season, which lasts from November through the Easter holiday at the end of April. Police said they have mobilized 3,000 officers, 350 of whom are tourist police, to heavily touristed areas like San José, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limón, according to a statement from the ministry. Facebook Comments
On Saturday, Sept. 8, while reporters around the world were celebrating the International Day of Solidarity of Journalists, reporters, and directors of independent media organizations in Nicaragua stated that Daniel Ortega’s government is a “dictatorial regime” that considers “those fighting for freedom are enemies.”The journalists spoke out at the end of a forum of independent journalists, where they also debated the state of the press in relation to the crisis provoked by state repression.“The dictatorship wants to impose a reign of silence, so that you can only hear government’s voice and its wild version of the facts, especially concerning the events of the last five months,” the journalists stated.Since last April, due to the violent repression against peaceful demonstrations, somewhere between 322 and 481 people have died, including a journalist from Bluefields, Ángel Gahona.The International Day of Solidarity of Journalists is celebrated in honor of Julius Fucik, a Czech journalist arrested by the Gestapo and executed 75 years ago.In Nicaragua, that day is commemorated in the midst of aggression against journalists. The panel consisted of Danilo Lacayo, from Canal 12, Wendy Quintero, Elízabeth Romero from La Prensa, Miguel Mora from 100 % Noticias, Mauricio Madrigal from Canal 10, and Patricia Orozco from Onda Local.Watch the Tico Times’ video featuring Elízabeth Romero:The third statementSaturday’s statement was the third by independent journalists. The first one was read on May 9, and the other on July 28. Since the beginning, they condemned the massacre and asked that the right to inform be respected. Later they denounced the violent attacks against critical journalists and mentioned the specific cases of 100 % Noticias, as well as the burning of facilities of the official government stations, Radio Ya and Radio Nicaragua.In June, while he read the position of the independent media, the director of La Prensa, Jaime Chamorro Cardenal – who signed the document – compared the current moment with the Somoza dictatorship.“I believe what’s happening today is worse than what happened under [Anastasio] Somoza because he was fighting against armed people and now they’re fighting against children and teenagers, who are disarmed,” explained Chamorro Cardenal.Constant assaultThe new statement by journalists explained that during the months of crisis, started by the repression of the civil protests, media organizations have faced government harassment.Because of the courage journalists demonstrated when reporting during the crisis, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) recently presented the 2018 Press Freedom Grant Prize to Nicaragua’s independent journalists.The statement on Sept. 8 claims that the attacks by Ortega’s government are “a blow to the freedom of the press” and a “blow the freedom of information for the people of Nicaragua.”The forum of independent journalists denounced every single one of the attacks by Ortega’s dictatorship against the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press and the freedom of information.The case involving the Acción 10 team was also presented. Mauricio Madrigal, the channel’s head of information said they “confronted the channel’s management, who, for the first days of protests, opted – because of its policy – to ignore news that was considered political.”Canceled sit-inIndependent journalists decided not to conduct a sit-in in the Journalist’s Roundabout in Managua, which was occupied by government media.These party militants were guarded by a strong contingent of police that stayed near the roundabout, close to the hotel where the independent journalists read their statement.Read the original story in Spanish at La Prensa, first published on Sep. 8 2018.This story was translated into English and republished in The Tico Times as part of a partnership with La Prensa to help bring their coverage of the Nicaraguan crisis to an English-speaking audience. Facebook Comments Related posts:Threats against independent journalists in Nicaragua continue Soy pico rojo: the new form of protest in Nicaragua Three brothers jailed in Jinotepe for supporting protests with music Álvaro Conrado, the young martyr of Nicaragua’s protests
4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top Stories Comments Share Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The soldier and his dog were brought back to Britain on the same military flight.Since 1943 the Dickin Medal has recognized wartime gallantry by animals, from carrier pigeons to a World War II commando collie.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice LONDON (AP) – A bomb-sniffing army dog who died in Afghanistan on the day his handler was killed has been honored with Britain’s highest award for animal bravery.Springer spaniel mix Theo was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal on Thursday at a London ceremony.Theo worked for five months in Afghanistan with Royal Army Veterinary Corps Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker, searching out roadside bombs.Tasker was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Helmand Province in March 2011. Theo suffered a fatal seizure hours later at a British army base, likely brought about by stress. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone
How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share “This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country,” May said in a statement. The Home Office then posted a picture on Twitter of Abu Qatada climbing the steps of a plane.Abu Qatada was wanted in Jordan for retrial in several terror cases in which he was sentenced in absentia. Britain had tried since 2001 to deport Abu Qatada _ whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman _ but courts have blocked extradition over concerns that evidence obtained under torture could be used against him.After years of successfully fighting the numerous attempts to expel him from the U.K., the 53-year-old preacher recently indicated he would voluntarily return to Jordan if that country and Britain ratified a treaty on torture.That treaty _ which explicitly bans the use of evidence “where there are serious and credible allegations that a statement from a person has been obtained by torture or ill-treatment” _ was ratified by Britain and Jordan last month.It paved the way for the long-awaited removal of the man described in courts in Britain and Spain as a senior al-Qaida figure in Europe who had close ties to the late Osama bin Laden. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories LONDON (AP) – Radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada was deported early Sunday from Britain to Jordan to face terror charges, ending over a decade-long battle to remove a man described as a key al-Qaida operative in Europe.The move comes after Britain and Jordan ratified a treaty on torture aimed at easing human rights concerns that had blocked previous attempts to deport the Palestinian-born Jordanian preacher.British Home Secretary Theresa May announced Abu Qatada’s departure in a statement early Sunday, expressing confidence that the public in the U.K. would welcome the conclusion of efforts dating back to 2001 to remove the radical cleric. Abu Qatada is accused by Britain of links with Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and with shoe bomber Richard Reid. Audio recordings of some of the cleric’s sermons were found in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, used by some of the Sept. 11 hijackers.Authorities first tried to deport Abu Qatada in 2001, then detained him in 2002 under anti-terrorism laws, which at the time allowed suspected terrorists to be jailed without charge.Though he was released in 2005 when the unpopular law was overturned, the cleric was kept under close surveillance and detained in various ways. He most recently was being held at London’s Belmarsh prison after breaching a bail condition in March which restricted the use of mobile phones and communication devices.The British home secretary acknowledged the delays in the legal process in her statement announcing that “at last” Abu Qatada had been deported, saying it is “clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport.”(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Quick workouts for men
Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian booster rocket on Friday successfully launched an unmanned cargo ship to the International Space Station, whose crew is anxiously awaiting it after the successive failures of two previous supply missions.A Soyuz-U rocket blasted off flawlessly from Russia-leased Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan, placing the Progress M-28M ship into a designated orbit, safely en route to the station. On Sunday, it’s set to dock at the station currently manned by Russians Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko and NASA’s Scott Kelly. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Sponsored Stories The ship is carrying 2.4 metric tons of fuel, oxygen, water, food and other supplies for the crew, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.The previous Progress launch in April ended in failure, and on Sunday a U.S. supply mission failed too when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket broke apart shortly after liftoff. The mishaps were preceded by last October’s launch pad failure of Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket, also carrying station cargo for NASA.Despite the failures, NASA said the station is well-stocked, with enough supplies for the crew to last at least until October.However, the trouble-free launch Friday was essential for the station program, which has exclusively relied on Russian spacecraft for ferrying crews after the grounding of the U.S. shuttle fleet.SpaceX still hopes to meet the target of launching astronauts from U.S. soil again aboard the Falcon-Dragon combination in December 2017, which would allow NASA to stop buying seats from Russia to get astronauts to the space lab.The Soyuz rocket is used to propel both Soyuz manned spacecraft and Progress cargo ships to orbit, so the launch of the station’s next crew of three has been pushed back from late May to late July as space officials have looked into the reason for the rocket failure in April. Russian space officials eventually have traced the failure to a leak from fuel and oxidizer tanks in the booster’s third stage, which they said was caused by a yet unspecified flaw in the interface between the cargo ship and the latest Soyuz modification, called Soyuz 2.The Soyuz-U rocket used Friday is an older sub-type of the rocket, which has been the workhorse of Soviet and Russian space programs for nearly half-a-century. Last month, the Interfax news agency reported that the Russian space agency will only be using that Soyuz modification until experts fully understand the reason behind April’s failure and fix the flaw.The station program has been one of a few sectors where ties haven’t been hurt by a bruising Russia-West showdown over the crisis in Ukraine.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Four benefits of having a wireless security system How do cataracts affect your vision?
Mesa family survives lightning strike to home KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide car bombing near a military base in eastern Afghanistan that once hosted CIA employees killed at least 26 people Sunday, local officials said, the latest insurgent attack after foreign forces ended their combat mission there.The bombing hit a checkpoint manned by members of the Khost Provincial Force, an Afghan unit that guards Camp Chapman, said Youqib Khan, the deputy police chief in Khost province. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the bomber was trying to get onto the base or what led to his attack, Khan said. A U.S. defense official said Chapman is an Afghan base with some American special operations forces there. A local hospital received the bodies of at least 26 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children including eight members of a single family, said Dr. Hedayatullah Hamedi, the province’s health director. He said the blast wounded nine civilians.“The explosion was so loud and strong that almost all of the city of Khost was shaken by the blast,” provincial police chief Gen. Faizullah Ghyrat said.A statement issued by the Khost provincial governor’s office offered different casualty numbers, saying that 33 people were killed — 27 civilians, including 12 children, and six members of the Afghan security forces. Another 12 members of the Afghan security forces were injured, according to the statement. The discrepancy in the casualty numbers could not immediately be reconciled.The suicide bomber carried out his attack when many civilian vehicles were waiting to pass by on a main road, said an Afghan police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the attack. He said the civilians killed and wounded in the attack were in vehicles waiting for their turn to pass.Foreign and Afghan forces blocked journalists and police from accessing the site after the blast. Pentagon officials referred comment to NATO authorities in Afghanistan. In a statement, NATO said “no U.S. or coalition personnel were injured as a result of the attack,” without elaborating. Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility ___AP National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.___This story has been corrected to show that the military base is Afghan, not American, with some U.S. special operations forces there.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments Share No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast in the city of Khost, near Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan. Since U.S. and NATO troops ended their combat mission at the end of last year, local troops have been taking the brunt of attacks by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.Camp Chapman, named after the first U.S. soldier killed in combat in the war in Afghanistan, sits near Forward Operating Base Salerno, a large Soviet-built airfield that was targeted by a Taliban truck bombing in June 2012.Camp Chapman was the site where seven CIA employees and a Jordanian intelligence officer were killed in a Pakistani Taliban suicide bombing in December 2009. Six more agency personnel were wounded in what was considered the most lethal attack for the CIA since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001 and possibly even since the 1983 embassy bombing in Beirut. It’s not clear whether the CIA still operates out of Camp Chapman.Meanwhile Sunday, Afghan security officials said a pair of roadside bombings killed at least 12 civilians in the country’s east and north. The Taliban frequently uses roadside bombs and suicide attacks to target Afghan army or police forces across the country. How do cataracts affect your vision? Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches
Top Stories Tenzin Delek was arrested in 2002 in relation to an April 3, 2002, blast in Chengdu city that injured three people. He was sentenced to death on charges of terror and incitement of separatism a few months later. His death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2005, and later to 20 years’ imprisonment. He continued to maintain his innocence.He was being held in a prison in Dazhu county in Sichuan province, which borders the Tibetan region.A woman from the Public Security Bureau in Dazhu confirmed that Tenzin Delek died Sunday. She refused to identify herself.Students for a Free Tibet said his family members had been informed by police in Chengdu city, the capital of Sichuan province, on Sunday, but were not told how he died.Last year, they had applied for medical parole for him on the grounds that he suffered from a heart condition, high blood pressure, dizzy spells and problems with his legs that had caused him to fall on a number of occasions.Born in 1950 in a Tibetan area of Sichuan, Tenzin Delek stayed in India from 1982 to 1987 to study under the Dalai Lama.During that time, the Dalai Lama recognized Tenzin Delek as a tulku, or a reincarnated lama.In 1987 he returned to China, where he worked to establish monasteries, health clinics, small schools and orphanages, rising in prominence. Human rights groups have said his relationship with Chinese officials took a turn for the worse when he rolled back attempts to clear forests and because of his support for the Dalai Lama, who is considered a separatist by the government.In India, exiled Tibetans marched Monday in New Delhi and in Dharmsala, where the Dalai Lama has lived since fleeing Tibet in 1959, carrying placards reading, “We want justice,” and “Murdered in Prison.”His family called for authorities to release his body.“Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was an innocent monk who suffered over 13 years of unjust imprisonment, torture and abuse in a Chinese prison for simply advocating for the rights and well-being of his people and for expressing his devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” his India-based cousin, Geshe Nyima, said in a statement released by Students for a Free Tibet.“The Chinese government must immediately release his body so that our family and community may perform the last Buddhist religious rites,” the statement said.___Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. BEIJING (AP) — Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has died in prison 13 years into serving a sentence for what human rights groups say were false charges that he was involved in a bombing in a public park. He was 65.Relatives were informed of the death Sunday, New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said Monday. Police in Sichuan province in southwestern China confirmed the death but declined to give further details. Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Check your body, save your life
Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories The case has drawn widespread criticism from human rights and press freedom groups around the world.The case came to trial following the discovery in May of dozens of bodies buried at several jungle camps on the Thai-Malaysian border where traffickers held migrants as prisoners. Many of the migrants are ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar who face persecution at home. In many cases, the migrants pay to be smuggled by ship, but are then detained by traffickers in Thailand who hold them until their families pay ransoms.Human rights activists and foreign governments have long accused Thai authorities of collusion in the trafficking industry, but police, military and government officials have denied the allegations.However, the recent publicity about the camps prompted a Thai government crackdown on trafficking, and several dozen people were arrested, including a Thai army general and local officials.The U.S. State Department downgraded Thailand in its 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, designating it as a country that has not made sufficient progress in tackling human trafficking. It recommended that Thailand stop bringing criminal defamation cases against researchers or journalists who report on human trafficking. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Morison, 67, a native of Melbourne, Australia, said he believes the case was filed because Phuketwan had been reporting extensively on the Rohingya boat people for seven years, “and a couple of officers within the service have just become annoyed, perhaps a little paranoid and reacted in a strange way.”“More than once we’ve been asked to apologize and we’ve resisted that at every opportunity,” he told The Associated Press, describing the lawsuit as “a vindictive overreaction.”Capt. Pallop said the navy had talked with Phuketwan over the possibility of dropping the defamation charges, but the negotiations failed.“We had asked them to hold a press conference to apologize publicly for the article, but they said they would only express regrets. Therefore, a deal wasn’t struck,” he testified.He said the allegations against the navy had been investigated and “so far we have not found any wrongdoing.”Thai courts rarely rule against the military, which is in an even stronger position than usual since staging a coup in May last year that deposed an elected civilian government.The court is expected to set a date for the verdict after three days of testimony from witnesses this week. PHUKET, Thailand (AP) — Testimony began Tuesday in a criminal defamation lawsuit filed by Thailand’s navy against a small news website over a report it posted saying naval forces accepted money to assist or turn a blind eye to the trafficking of refugees from Myanmar by sea.The navy also accused two journalists from the Phuketwan website with violating Thailand’s Computer Crime Act by publishing the article online. If found guilty, Australian editor Alan Morison and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathien could each face up to seven years in prison and fines totaling 300,000 baht ($8,815). New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 0 Comments Share Sponsored Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall “The real message of this trial to Thailand’s journalists is report at your own risk because big brother in Bangkok is watching — but fortunately, when they went after Alan and Chutima, the navy and the ruling military junta came up against two courageous journalists who are not afraid to fight for their principles,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, said Tuesday. “They deserve the international community’s unstinting support.”___Associated Press writer Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The New York-based literary and rights advocacy group PEN American Center urged the Thai government to “refocus its energies on curbing collusion in human rights abuses by members of its own navy, rather than frivolous attempts to camouflage them by shackling the press.”The contested report on the Phuketwan website was excerpted from an extensive story published by the international news agency Reuters in July 2013. The Reuters story was one of a series about persecution of the Rohingya that won the agency the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.The trial’s first witness, Capt. Pallop Komalodaka, said the navy also filed a lawsuit against Reuters, but that case remains with the prosecutor’s office pending any further action.Phuketwan earlier said most of the legal costs of the case are being met by the London-based Media Legal Defense Initiative. But the navy’s action threatens to sink the website, it said.“Our reporting on vital matters about Phuket and Thailand will come to an end next week and may never resume,” it said. “Phuketwan’s future is uncertain because of a highly controversial criminal defamation action.” The vital role family plays in society Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Alan Morison, right, Australian editor of the website Phuketwan and his colleague Chutima Sidasathien speak to the media ahead of their appearance in court to face charges of violating Thailand’s Computer Crime Act in Phuket, Thailand, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Testimony begins Tuesday in a criminal defamation lawsuit the Thai navy has filed against a small news website over a report it posted alleging naval forces accepted money to abet or turn a blind eye to the seaborne trafficking of refugees from Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thanyarat Doksone)
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A With 80 per cent of its last class having been referred by past International Tour Management Institute (ITMI) graduates, one could conclude there’s a lot of love for ITMI. The fact that two of its graduates serenaded the group at its 25th Anniversary Symposium and Reunion probably sealed the deal.At ITMI’s welcome reception in the Grand Ballroom of the Doubletree by Hilton Sacramento, ITMI president Ted Bravos swayed with ITMI staff and graduates as You raise me up and Wind beneath my wings was sung by two talented and obliging tour directors.While others didn’t literally sing the praises of ITMI, both tour directors and tour operators commended the Symposium’s program, particularly the highly anticipated ‘Marketplace’ which allowed tour operators to interview ITMI certified tour directors.“Here, I can actually interview with more than one tour operator. That’s worth every dollar I spent to get here,” tour director John Martin told e-Travel Blackboard.In a lunchtime introduction to the attending tour operators, one tour operator congratulated the vision of Mr Bravos and the ITMI staff, saying: “Imagine what it would be like trying to staff tours without an organization like ITMI!”