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Ruling party loses again as Juan Carlos Varela wins Panama presidency

Ruling party loses again as Juan Carlos Varela wins Panama presidency

first_imgRelated posts:Panamanians vote in tight presidential election Panama president values corruption scandal involving predecessor at nearly $100 million Panama court declares ex-president Ricardo Martinelli in contempt Former Panama VP arrested in widening corruption probe PANAMA CITY — Conservative Juan Carlos Varela, the vice president who broke politically with President Ricardo Martinelli, was officially declared Panama’s next president Sunday, much to Martinelli’s dismay.Varela, who was trailed by fellow conservative and Martinelli loyalist José Domingo Arias, was informed of his win by the electoral court after more than 60 percent of ballots were tallied.Since the United States overthrew dictator Manuel Noriega in 1989, the incumbent’s party has never won re-election.“I thank you, and the beautiful people of Panama,” electoral court chief Erasmo Pinilla quoted Varela as saying.The 50-year-old rum manufacturer, known as a fervent Roman Catholic and member of the conservative church group Opus Dei, had a falling-out with Martinelli after the president dismissed Varela from his foreign minister post in 2011.The move opened a political wound that has yet to heal. But now Varela can savor his political revenge from the presidential mansion.In brief declarations following Varela’s victory, Martinelli said, “I know the candidate (Varela), and truly “‘God have mercy us.’” The president said he couldn’t congratulate Varela because he no longer has his phone number.Martinelli, a supermarket magnate, had been an outspoken supporter of Arias, a former housing minister and a businessman who made his fortune manufacturing ladies’ undergarments.Representing the Democratic Change party, Arias’s running mate was Marta Linares — Martinelli’s wife.Juan Carlos Navarro, the 52-year-old former mayor of Panama City who represented the center-left Democratic Revolutionary party, acknowledged defeat.The race was expected to be among Panama’s tightest. Yet Varela had been running third in polls and scored at least a touch of an upset.In addition to picking a new president, the country’s 2.5 million eligible voters were electing dozens of mayors and members of Congress.Staying the courseLawyer and political analyst Ebrahim Asvat said that whatever the outcome of the vote, the country’s course for the next quarter century already has been mapped out.Panama will continue to focus, he said, on free market policies that maximize economic expansion — the path forged by Martinelli, who is leaving office with a 67 percent approval rating.“Panama has made an extraordinary effort to open up its economy, exercise fiscal discipline and none of the candidates is going to veer from that path,” Asvat said.The country enjoyed blistering growth of 8.5 percent last year, but economic inequality remains a major concern, with about 26 percent of citizens living in poverty.Panama long has traded on its canal, shipping and trade, but increasingly is turning to unconventional exports such as mining, plus tourism and other service industries, such as catering to expat retirees.Uneven patterns of economic distribution have only been reinforced during the current boom, and that is unlikely to change.“Economic growth has benefitted a small elite,” said Jaime Purcell, a political analyst focusing on Panama’s electoral process.“Regardless of who wins, there is not going to be major (policy) change.”Not everyone is thrilled with the status quo, however.“Whoever wins, I still have to go to work on Monday,” shrugged Manuel Domínguez, a sidewalk merchant who makes his living selling batteries and TV remotes in the heart of Panama City.Domínguez grumbled about rising prices, even though inflation in Panama is a relatively modest four percent.“Everything is super-expensive,” he said, adding that his vote was for Varela, who has vowed to curb inflation by imposing price controls, a policy more commonly associated with the left. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Leonard Cohen announces new album for 80th birthday

Leonard Cohen announces new album for 80th birthday

first_img Facebook Comments OTTAWA, Canada – Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen announced Tuesday the release of a new album next month to coincide with his 80th birthday.Titled “Popular Problems,” the album “sets a new tone and speed of hope and despair, grief and joy,” according to his website.It contains nine new songs written in collaboration with Patrick Leonard. The pair worked together previously on Cohen’s 12th album, “Old Ideas,” which was released in 2012 and became the highest charting of Cohen’s career.“Popular Problems” will be released in France on Sept. 22, and in the United States the following day.Cohen was born in Montreal on Sept. 21, 1934. Following a 2005 lawsuit against his ex-manager for stealing from him while he lived in a monastery near Los Angeles, and with his finances in disarray, Cohen returned to performing in 2008 after a 15-year gap.He has since continued to tour with great success, resurrecting his career and reputation worldwide. Related posts:Dylan’s restored basement tapes with The Band set for debut Kevin Johansen and The Nada to join illustrator Liniers in live art-music show in Escazú Singer-songwriter Kevin Johansen makes everyone feel good in Costa Rica debut Selena died 20 years ago – why we’re still talking about herlast_img read more

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Exiles in Costa Rica denounce alleged Venezuelan kidnapping plot

Exiles in Costa Rica denounce alleged Venezuelan kidnapping plot

first_imgA group of Venezuelan exiles in Costa Rica are allegedly the target of akidnapping plot by President Nicolás Maduro’s government, according to the ex-governor of the state of Monagas, José Gregorio Briceño, the Nuevo Herald reported on Thursday.The Miami-based newspaper reported that sources inside the Venezuelan government confirmed that a team of intelligence operatives posing as members of Maduro’s advance team for the upcoming January meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) arrived in Costa Rica to abduct “Gato” Briceño and other prominent exiles.It is common for security and logistics teams to arrive in a country in advance of a world leader to prepare for the visit like the CELAC event, but in this case there was supposedly another purpose in mind, the newspaper reported. According to an anonymous intelligence source cited in the story:“Another group arrived under the cover of the advance team, but their task was to locate the majority of those in Costa Rica as political refugees with an emphasis in Gato Briceño, who they wanted to make into a trophy.”Costa Rica is the current president pro-tempore of CELAC and is set to host a meeting of Latin American leaders in January.Government-sponsored abductions are evidently not new for the Venezuelan government:“They tried to do the same thing [Hugo] Chávez did when he was alive, to take a target they wanted by force in Panama,” said Briceño, referring to the Venezuelan businessman Gustavo Arráiz, who was kidnapped in that country in 2007 and later transported to Venezuela where he spent eight years in prison.During Chávez’s last years, the then-chief of Military Intelligence reportedly prepared to kidnap an important union leader in Panama and a Venezuelan banker with the aim of handing them over to a leader who was already quite ill, said the source.Briceño was once a pro-Chávez governor until an oil spill put him at odds with the government oil monopoly PDVSA. Bucking government pressure to keep the facility open despite the spill, the governor found himself in the political wilderness.Briceño told the Nuevo Herald that Venezuelan agents planned on taking him across the border into Nicaragua, where Nicaraguan officials would detain him and send him back to Venezuela.Costa Rica is home to a small but vocal population of Venezuelan immigrants. San José was the scene of several days of peaceful demonstrations in support of protests against the Maduro government in February. Under ex-President Laura Chinchilla’s administration (2010-2014) the Central American country released a statement as CELAC president rejecting the violence that engulfed the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. Former Costa Rican President Óscar Arias (1986-1990, 2006-2010) met with supporters and condemned the Maduro administration’s handling of the anti-government protests.There are nearly 5,000 permanent and temporary Venezuelan residents living in Costa Rica, according to 2013 figures from the Immigration Administration. More than 55,000 Venezuelans entered Costa Rica in 2012. Facebook Comments Related posts:Venezuela gives US 15 days on embassy staff cuts US arrests relatives of Venezuela first lady over drug-trafficking allegations Struggles loom as Venezuela opposition vows to fix crisis Former Colombian, Bolivian leaders warn of looming humanitarian crisis in Venezuelalast_img read more

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This week in the Peace Corps Celebrating a scout anniversary

This week in the Peace Corps Celebrating a scout anniversary

first_imgMany Peace Corps Volunteers across the country have the opportunity to work with the Guías y Scouts, including the troop pictured above, which was formed one year ago.Volunteer Xavier helped celebrate with them by participating in various scout activities including learning how to build a tent, build a fire, team building, and leadership games.Coming up soon, these kids in Guías y Scout will get to experience their first camping event ever. For many of them, this will be the first time away from their parents and their communities. Courtesy of Peace Corps Costa RicaThe Peace Corps photo series in The Tico Times Costa Rica Changemakers section is sponsored by the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA), a proud financial supporter of Peace Corps Volunteer projects nationwide. Learn more here. To donate to support the Peace Corps Costa Rica, visit the official donation page.  Volunteers’ last names and community names are withheld from these publications, per Peace Corps policy.Connect with the Peace Corps Costa Rica on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Brought to you by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). Courtesy of CRUSA Facebook Comments Related posts:This week in the Peace Corps: Keeping up with computers This week in the Peace Corps: Training to be a Peace Corps Volunteer This week in Peace Corps: Protecting national parks and endangered species This week in the Peace Corps: Connecting with the community, one goal at a timelast_img read more

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Tico Times Dispatch Love at First Monkey

Tico Times Dispatch Love at First Monkey

first_imgRelated posts:New tournament in Quepos to crown Best Fisherwoman Worldwide The follow was originally recorded as an interview between Tico Times reporter Alejandro Zúñiga and his mother, Marcy Sacks. Listen to this story in our podcast, The Tico Times Dispatch, below. You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play Music.Alejandro: Ok so one more time. Do you want to give me some background about who you are and what your relationship is to me?Marcy: I am Marcy Sacks. I am a US history professor at Albion College in Michigan. I am also your mother. A: This is very exciting. I’ve never interviewed my mom before. Can you tell us about your relationship with Costa and why you might be an appropriate candidate for our Valentine’s Day episode at the Tico Times?M: I have the best Costa Rican love story in the history of Costa Rican love stories. When I graduated college, a long, long, long time ago, I decided I was going to travel before going to grad school. I was thinking about where I would go and I opted for five months of traveling in Ecuador and then Costa Rica, since they were countries that were safe places for a young woman to travel alone. Though I did not speak any Spanish! I got to Costa Rica after two months of traveling in Ecuador. I spoke a tiny bit of Spanish at that point. I decided I would volunteer in the national park system. In the second park I landed in I wound up in Manuel Antonio – a really wonderful place for a love story…Do I just keep going?A: I’ve heard this story quite a few times. But our listeners have not. So you got to Manuel Antonio — what happened from there?M: I was planning on 3 weeks of volunteering at Manuel Antonio. I walked into the park with my big backpack on.I hiked into the park up to the ranger house, where apparently two park rangers saw me coming. One elbowed the other saying, “look who’s coming”. The other took one look and left for the week. I spent a week in the park getting to know my way around it.About a week in, this tall, very handsome man walked into the ranger park where we were having dinner, acting like he owned the place. He had a motorcycle helmet under his arm. He strode in and I was attracted to him. He was very handsome.In the next few days, I tried to get to know him. He really wasn’t all that interested. He was doing interesting work with insects, collecting them and mounting them in these wooden boxes. I wanted to find out what he was doing. Most of the time he acted like I was annoying him when I sat down and tried to have not very good Spanish conversations (because my Spanish was poor). After a couple days, the rangers found a Capuchin monkey in Quepos; somebody had kept this monkey at their house, which is not allowed. Wildlife has to remain in the park. They brought the monkey back into the park to arrange to find a reserve where they could send this little monkeyI thought this monkey was really cute and decided I would take care of it for the day. I took him and I was cuddling him and enjoying taking care of him. But after a while I had to go get some work done. So I decided to hand off the monkey so I could get my work done. This fellow, who had not really paid any attention to me, said he’d take the monkey while I worked.I came back an hour and a half later and I found this baby monkey on the roof of the ranger house screaming and crying. I was heartbroken. This poor little monkey was really upset. It turned out the monkey had peed on him. He put the monkey in a tree and the monkey had climbed to the roof and couldn’t get back down. I decided this park ranger was really not worth my time. He was not such a nice guy after all. I was done.He, on the other hand, was so moved by how upset I was over the poor little baby monkey that he took his motorcycle, drove off to Quepos, bought me a chocolate and a Tico Times newspaper, which he brought into the park that evening. Now we’re married. A: And now some number of years later, I work at the Tico Times and you’re recounting your story for the podcast.M: …Which is a little crazy. I have told everyone that I brought home the best souvenir that a person could possibly find in all of Costa Rica!Listen and subscribe to The Tico Times Dispatch on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play Music.This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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One of worlds largest planes visits Costa Rica Photos

One of worlds largest planes visits Costa Rica Photos

first_imgAn Antonov An-124, among the world’s largest planes, landed at Juan Santamaría International Airport in Costa Rica on Friday night.The Ukrainian cargo jet delivered a 30-ton transformer that will be installed at APM Terminals Moín in Limón.The An-124, flying for Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Airlines, departed Saturday at 10:20 a.m. en route to Houston Bush International Airport.Our friends at AviacionCR.net shared the following photos of the aircraft’s visit to Costa Rica: Related posts:Antonov An-124 expected in Costa Rica on Friday afternoon [Updated] Air France to start direct flights between Paris and San José Construction to begin on new terminal at Limón Airport American Airlines expanding service to Costa Rica You can track the An-124’s journey to Houston here.For more about the Antonov An-124’s visit to Costa Rica, check out AviacionCR.net on Facebook or at their website.  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Theft trial for papal butler starts next week

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated PressVATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI’s ex-butler and another Vatican lay employee will go on trial next week in the embarrassing theft of papal documents that exposed alleged corruption at the Holy See’s highest levels.Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre said Monday the first session would begin Saturday, Sept. 29.Paolo Gabriele, who as butler in the papal apartments had served for several years as one of Benedict’s closest aides, is accused of grand theft. Claudio Sciarpelletti, who has been temporarily suspended from his post as a computer specialist in the Holy See office of secretariat of state, will be tried on a lesser charge, that of aiding and abetting the crime.center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day According to last month’s indictment, Gabriele, who is under house arrest in Vatican City and who was relieved of his post, said he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to take the documents to shed light on what he called evil in the church.The documents, which have painted a picture of alleged infighting and corruption at the Vatican, were revealed in the Italian media this year after Gabriele allegedly passed them on.The Vatican has promised a public trial by a three-judge panel but said no still or video cameras will be permitted.Vatican officials say they are still looking into the possibility of other accomplices.Conviction on the theft charge could bring up to six years in jail.Besides allegedly pilfering the documents, Gabriele is also accused of taking a check for (EURO)100,000 (then about $125,000) made out to Benedict and donated by a Spanish Catholic university.(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 Top Stories How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

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Fuel and potential fires for the US economy ahead

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — The US economy should get better after a sputtering first quarter, but how much better? It’s complicated.Steady hiring and low gas prices should help power solid growth through the rest of 2015. The harsh winter and a labor dispute that slowed trade at West Coast ports are both over. Home sales and construction are rebounding, along with business investment.But risks remain: A stronger dollar will likely continue to keep the trade deficit wide. And further cutbacks in oil drilling could depress spending in the energy industry. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here are three reasons the economy is likely to post solid grow this year, followed by three reasons growth might disappoint.CONSUMER REBOUNDWhile the overall economy went into reverse, the labor market has been steaming ahead. The U.S. added 223,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent — the lowest level since the fall of 2008.Theoretically, more people working means more income to spend. Economists are forecasting that the modest 1.8 percent growth in consumer spending in the first quarter will climb. And since consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of overall activity, the acceleration will lift economic growth back into positive territory.Analysts project the overall economy to grow at an annual pace of around 2.5 percent in the second quarter and rev up to 3 percent in the second half of the year.TEMPORARY SOFT PATCHEconomists believe a lot of the bad things that happened in the first quarter are fleeting.The Northeast has emerged from the frigid cold and record amounts of snow that hit the region in the first quarter. The winter blizzards that curtailed trips to the mall and auto dealerships could even lead to a surge in pent-up demand in coming months. While gas prices have risen recently, they are still about $1 below the levels of a year ago. Economists believe these continued savings will spur stronger consumer spending in the months ahead. If they are wrong, then the expected growth in consumer spending may be modest.UNWANTED SURPRISESThe economy has muddled through with sub-par growth averaging just 2.2 percent since the recession ended in June 2009. Economists have repeatedly forecast that the economy was on the verge of breaking out to faster growth above 3 percent, only to be disappointed.When this year started, they were predicted 2015 would be the strongest in a decade, topping the 3.3 percent growth of 2005. However, with the surprisingly weak start to the year, they have scaled back those estimates.There could be more unwelcome surprises. One of the biggest could be volatility in financial markets once the Federal Reserve starts raising interest rates. It has kept a key rate near zero since late 2008.At the moment, rate hikes are expected to begin in September. While the central bank has done a lot to prepare markets, there could be a possible repeat of the 2013 “taper tantrum,” which sent markets tumbling for a time. Turbulent markets might then undermine consumer and business confidence and push growth lower. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The widening deficit is a reflection of the dollar’s increase in value against other major currencies since last year. The stronger dollar hurts U.S. exports by making American-made goods more expensive in overseas markets. It also increases the competition domestic producers face from foreign-made goods by making imports cheaper for American consumers.It was a surge in imports that played the biggest role in widening the trade deficit in the first quarter. Economists believe the drag from the trade deficit will ease in coming months. But if they are wrong, that could mean their forecasts of a rebound will turn out to be overly optimistic.ENERGY BUSTThe big drop in oil prices since last year was supposed to be a net positive for the U.S. economy. But so far, the economy has felt more pain than gain.Energy companies have slashed their spending on drilling activity, pushing it down by 48.6 percent in the first quarter — the sharpest fall since the depths of the 2007-2009 recession. While drilling rig counts are still dropping, economists hope that the drag from these cutbacks will begin to lessen.Analysts are also hopeful that the gains they have been forecasting in consumer spending will start to emerge. They have been puzzled that consumers so far have chosen to bank their savings from lower gas bills rather than spend the money. A labor dispute that disrupted shipping at many West Coast ports has been resolved, which should alleviate supply bottlenecks that depressed manufacturing activity.Economists also believe they are seeing signs that business investment is starting to rise after falling for a number of months. Gains in housing construction and sales are also fueling hopes.SEASONAL ADJUSTMENTSThe GDP decline in the first quarter this year followed a similar decline last year. In fact, since the country pulled out of the Great Recession in 2009, there have been three quarters when GDP has gone negative — all in the first quarter.That has raised questions about whether the government is having trouble seasonally adjusting activity in the winter and is over-stating first quarter weakness. The Bureau of Economic Analysis, which prepares the GDP, has agreed to look into the issue and says it may adjust the figures later this year.Any gains would make the start of this year look better and mean the economy had less of a hole to climb out of going forward.STRONGER DOLLARA bigger-than-expected trade deficit was a key reason that the GDP was revised from a tiny 0.2 percent gain to the 0.7 percent decline. Sponsored Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

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US Capitols Confederate statues prompt renewed debate

US Capitols Confederate statues prompt renewed debate

first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The move in South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds is prompting members of Congress to take a new look at Confederate images that surround them every day, including statues of Stephens, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and a number of other Confederate leaders or fighters.“I want to see it go. I want to see it go,” Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a leader during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, said of the statue of Stephens, who also served as Georgia’s governor.“Young children, school children, walk by these statues, and those of us who serve in the Congress, we have to get our own house in order,” Lewis said. “We have to have a cleansing in this place.”Some of Lewis’ Republican colleagues disagree.“He did a lot of other great things in Georgia other than being vice president of the Confederacy, and that’s just one of the things he did in life and you can’t change that,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., said of Stephens. “To me it doesn’t equate. The flag is a very divisive symbol that people take very much offense to.” A statue of Alexander Hamilton Stephens is on display in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. The statue was given to the National Statuary Hall Collection by Georgia in 1927. Stephens was a dedicated statesman, an effective leader and a powerful orator but he renewed debate about symbols of the Confederacy in the wake of the horrific shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, raises new questions about whether he will. The move in South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds is prompting members of Congress to take a new look at Confederate images that surround them every day, including statues of Stephens, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and a number of other Confederate leaders or fighters. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) In a similar debate, the House considered a resolution from Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., on Thursday calling for the removal of any state flag depicting the Confederate battle flag from the House portion of the U.S. Capitol and from House office buildings.Thompson said his measure would affect only Mississippi, the sole state whose flag still contains the rebel insignia — “a symbol that represents bigotry, hatred, and everything this country is not,” Thompson said. Over Thompson’s objections but at the urging of House GOP leaders, the House voted 240-184 to refer the measure to committee, where Republicans pledged it would be fully considered.Some 10 figures in the National Statuary Hall Collection are of Confederate leaders, or people who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.Apart from Stephens, Lee and Davis, they include Edmund Kirby Smith of Florida, a general who “surrendered the last military force of the Confederacy,” according to the Architect of the Capitol’s description; James Zachariah George of Mississippi, a Confederate colonel who was imprisoned and taught law to fellow prisoners; and Joseph Wheeler of Alabama, a noted cavalry general in the Confederate army. Calls to remove Confederate statues seem to be coming mainly from Democrats.Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., issued a statement calling for Smith’s statue to be removed. “A wave is sweeping the country to revisit symbols and representations that better reflect the accuracy of our nation’s history and a more inclusive legacy,” she said.Others thought differently. Sen. Tim Scott, a black Republican from South Carolina, embraced his state’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds but said he didn’t think the move should extend to statues at the U.S. Capitol.“I don’t think there should be another look on this, to be honest with you,” Scott said. “The South has a rich and provocative history which includes a lot of things that were good and a lot of things that were not.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Each state donates two statues to the Statuary Hall Collection and they are selected by individual states, not by the federal government or Capitol officials. Decisions on whether to keep or remove them are up to state officials.In the case of the statue of Stephens, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said it was already under discussion by the state, and he declined to declare his own views. “I’m going to share my input with the governor and the committee as he puts that together and we’re going to do the right thing in Georgia,” Isakson said.Apart from the Statuary Hall Collection, numerous other statues, portraits and busts dot every corridor and office of the Capitol. Among them is a bust of John Cabell Breckinridge, who served as vice president under President James Buchanan and went on to join the Confederate army and become secretary of war to the Confederacy. There is no comprehensive list that shows whether any other Confederate figures number among the Capitol images.The Pentagon has also found itself reckoning with the legacy of the Confederacy. The Army’s top spokesman issued a brief statement Wednesday defending the past practice of having forts and posts named after Confederate generals, saying they represent individuals, not causes. Sponsored Stories center_img WASHINGTON (AP) — Alexander H. Stephens, onetime vice president of the Confederacy, sits memorialized in stone, right leg crossed over left, staring sternly into the distance as summer-clad tourists mill about him in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. Solemn and cold, he looks like he could sit there for eternity.But the renewed debate about symbols of the Confederacy in the wake of the horrific shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, raises new questions about whether he will. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Mesa family survives lightning strike to home 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Top Stories last_img read more

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Police 10 killed as gunmen storm 2 hotels in Somali capital

first_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Somalia’s special forces intervened shortly after the assault began, engaging in a firefight with the gunmen, he said. The 10 people killed during the attacks included hotel residents and the gunmen, he said.The attacks started with suicide car bombings before gunmen fought their way inside the hotels, said Hassan Ali, a police commander in Mogadishu.The Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which has vowed to step up attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, claimed responsibility for the attacks.Although hotel guards and security forces ended the Weheliye hotel attack soon after it started, the attack on the Siyad hotel attack lasted more than one hour, according to Hussein.The wreckage of a burned-out vehicle littered a nearby street, and the facade of the Siyad hotel was pockmarked by bullets.Rescue workers carried wounded victims into ambulances as nervous soldiers fired in the air to disperse the nearby crowd.Al-Shabab militants have been pushed out of much of the territory they once controlled across the Horn of Africa nation, including Mogadishu. But they remain a lethal threat, carrying out guerrilla attacks on government and civilian targets. The group frequently targets public places believed to be frequented by foreigners as well as bases used by African Union forces. On Friday, suspected militants also launched mortar attacks on a military base for the African Union forces in Mogadishu, although no casualties were reported, according to police officer Dalmar Haji.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — At least 10 people were killed as gunmen stormed two hotels in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Somali police officials said Friday.Suspected Islamic militants entered the Siyad hotel, which is located opposite the presidential palace, as well as the Weheliye hotel on Makka Almukkaramah Road, as hotel residents were starting to break the Ramadan fast on Friday evening, according to Capt. Mohamed Hussein. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

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Nazi hunter asks police to probe Dane over murder of Jews

Nazi hunter asks police to probe Dane over murder of Jews

first_img Parents, stop beating yourself up Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff talks to the media outside a Copenhagen Police Station in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday, July 21, 2015.Nazi hunter Ephraim Zuroff of the of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has asked Denmark to investigate a 90-year-old Dane suspected of being involved in the mass murder of Jews in Belarus during World War II . (Anthon Unger/POLFOTO via AP) DENMARK OUT Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies HELSINKI (AP) — A leading Nazi hunter has asked Denmark to investigate a 90-year-old Dane suspected of being involved in the mass murder of Jews in Belarus during World War II.Ephraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center filed the request Tuesday with the Copenhagen police after the Justice Ministry last year turned down a similar request saying it was not their matter.Zuroff told the AP they had a strong case against Helmuth Leif Rasmussen because of documents found by Danish historians published in a book last year, and that they were looking at other cases. The book, “En skole i vold” (A Book of Violence), claims that 1,400 Jews died in Belarus when Rasmussen, now known by the name Rasboel, was in the “inner circle” of the Bobruisk camp run by the SS. “Some of these people were involved in terrible crimes,” Zuroff said. “Now we’re looking for additional Danish Waffen SS who served in this camp. This might only be the tip of the iceberg.”Some 6,000 Danish volunteers joined the SS during World War II after the German army invaded the country in 1940.Prosecutors said they would review the material before deciding if they need further information.“It is a matter we take very seriously,” Morten Nils Jakobsen from the state prosecutor’s office of serious economic and international crimes told Danish news agency Ritzau.Rasboel, who lives in Copenhagen, has acknowledged in interviews that he had been a guard and a member of the SS, but has denied involvement in killings.One of the authors of the book, Dennis Larsen, who has interviewed Rasboel twice, says he admitted seeing Jews “being killed and thrown into mass graves.”“But he always said he was a bystander,” Larsen said. “He said he was just a guard, nothing else.”Copyright © 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 milklast_img read more

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Aurora launches new ship expeditions at Russian Coast in 2011

first_imgAurora Expeditions has launched their Russian Coast voyages for 2011, all on a new ship, with three of the five voyages being inaugural expeditions.“Na zdorovia!” the travel industry crowd echoed before downing shots of Russian vodka with triangles of rye bread as chasers. The chesty warmth from the vodka was a welcome reprieve from the icy winds that had swept The Rocks in Sydney on the evening of Wednesday 11 July – fitting weather for Aurora Expeditions’ launch of their brand new Russian Coast 2011 voyages. As the rhythms of the gusli (think: harp played as xylophone) came to a halt, Aurora CEO Lisa Bolton welcomed the crowd. Aurora Expeditions was proud to announce the launch of the 2011 Russian Coast brochure, which included three inaugural expeditions, she continued.“Our new Russian program delivers a unique combination of history and culture set against a backdrop of incredible natural beauty and wilderness.” The three new expeditions are entitled The Secrets of the White Sea, Voyage to the End of the Earth – featuring the remote Franz Josef Land – and the 26-day adventure Across the North East Passage. The other two itineraries see Aurora Expeditions returning to the Russian Far East – The Bering Sea Explorer, which discovers the volcano-rich Kamchatka Peninsula and The Ring of Fire, which explores the Kuril Islands. “These are not conventional cruises, they are expeditions to some of the most remote and least visited destinations on the planet,” Ms Bolton said. Three of the expeditions will be led by Howard Whelan, who took over the microphone from Ms Bolton to deliver a passionate concoction of Russia’s history, terrain, and culture. All present at the launch received an insight into the detail and enthusiasm in which the expeditions will be led. Also a journalist and cinematographer, Mr Whelan was a founding editor of Australian Geographic and led film crews to Antarctica for the Academy Award-winning feature Happy Feet. He spoke eagerly of the new ship Akademik Shokalsky – sister ship of the famed Polar Pioneer – which will sail on all the expeditions.Following the formalities, the crowd returned to mid-week chatter and the circulating finger food, which included blini (traditional Russian buckwheat pancakes with smoked salmon and roe garnish) and pelmeni (Russian dumplings). Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C GM Lisa Boltonlast_img read more

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Quickbeds TripAdvisor in new review services partnership

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W A partnership between travel review site, TripAdvisor, and online accommodation booking site, Quickbeds.com, is  set to create a platform for travellers to make better decisions on where to stay based on guest reviews.Under the agreement, Quickbeds has implemented TripAdvisor’s review collection platform to encourage traveller reviews and opinions.Customers of Quickbeds will be sent an email after their stay, directing them to a survey powered by TripAdvisor, with the results to be posted on both websites, subject to TripAdvisor’s submission policies.Quickbeds marketing manager, Tony Huddy said for something as experiential as travel, everyone understands the value of peer feedback.“Partnering with TripAdvisor allows us to take this one step further and embrace reviews by our site’s users,” Mr Huddy remarked.According to TripAdvisor APAC director of partnerships, Aaron Hung, Quickbeds is the latest to join a growing number of global travel brands that are partnering with TripAdvisor.“Research shows that 81 percent of travellers find user reviews important when determining which hotel to stay at during their trip, and nearly half won’t book a property if it doesn’t have reviews.” Quickbeds.com encourages travellers to give feedback and review their hotel staylast_img read more

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Qantas goes daily to Queenstown

Qantas goes daily to Queenstown

first_img4 July – 24 October: Daily Source = Qantas Qantas currently operates three flights per week between Queenstown and Sydney and will add two extra services per week to support demand over the Easter school holidays and support the Queenstown ski season with daily flights through to the end of October. 6 June – 02 July: 4 per week (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday) The additional services will commence on 7 April and finish on 24 October 2014. The amended schedule as follows: “Our seasonal services reflect the continued popularity of the surrounding ski fields and will represent a boost to the New Zealand tourism industry, particularly as Emirates will codeshare on all the existing and additional services.”  The additional* services will be operated by Qantas’ fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft and offer inflight entertainment, food and wine and checked luggage as part of our full service offering. 7 April – 2 May: 5 per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday) Qantas CEO International Simon Hickey said the additional services would meet increased demand over Queenstown’s busiest periods. The Qantas Group currently operates more than 200 flights each week between New Zealand and Australia. 3 May– 4 June: 3 per week (Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday) Qantas today announced it will increase its services between Queenstown and Sydney during the Easter school holidays and peak ski season. Qantas also operates a weekly Queenstown – Brisbane service on Saturdays during the peak ski season from 28 June to 27 September. *Operated by JetConnect for Qantas “Qantas will add more than 650 seats each week and the additional services will mean greater flexibility and a premium experience for our customers travelling to Queenstown during the ski season,” said Mr Hickey.last_img read more

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Hoteliers criticise Australian visa regime

Hoteliers criticise Australian visa regime

first_imgAustralia could miss the boat on an anticipated expansion in Chinese travellers if tourist visas are not made clearer, according to executives from two leading Australian hotel groups.Presenting at the Hilton Sydney, Accor Asia Pacific chairman Michael Isenberg and InterContinental Hotels Asia chief executive Jan Smit said that overly difficult visa requirements were keeping Australia back from what it could be achieving with Chinese travellers.Other hoteliers complained about having to pay AUD $120 fee and having to fill out a 20 page form which can’t be done online was too onerous.Chinese government figures showed 97 million travellers abroad last year, up from 14 million in 2012.Tourism Australia managing director said the agency would focus on high net worth individuals were more likely to stay around in Australia and spend more.Ms Smit also lambasted the government for not appointing a Tourism Minister and said that Tourism Australia is not performing as well as it should.“Living in Singapore, there is no better example than the airline, the government, the tourism bureau and the industry absolutely synched up on a 10-year plan, and you can see the results,” Ms Smit told The Australian.“Having one minister is important because you need to link it all up and have a long-term ­vision.”Source = ETB News: Tom Nealelast_img read more

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AccorHotels has strongest pipeline in Asia Pacific

AccorHotels has strongest pipeline in Asia Pacific

first_imgAccor HotelsAccorHotels has strongest pipeline in Asia PacificAccorHotels has the largest hotel pipeline in Asia Pacific outside of China, with more than 230 hotels and 48,000 rooms in the pipeline.AccorHotels is number one in terms of its development pipeline for South East Asia, Indonesia, Thailand and Australia/New Zealand. For example, in Indonesia the group is already the largest operator with 100 hotels and has over 80 in the pipeline.  Accor Hotels opened 70 hotels with over 14,000 rooms in Asia Pacific in 2015 with just over half of them being outside of China, demonstrating a balanced growth across the region.“Our teams work very hard to grow our network and I am proud to say we have an extremely active pipeline right now across Asia Pacific with over 330 hotels and 70,000 rooms committed in the pipeline when we include China, which is itself one of the fastest-growing regions worldwide in terms of the number of projects,” said Gaurav Bhushan Global Chief Development Officer, AccorHotels.“We are strongly committed to ensuring our footprint expands throughout Asia Pacific,” he said. “AccorHotels has a very evenly balanced portfolio with 34% of our pipeline in the luxury and upscale segment, 33% in midscale and 33% in the economy segment.”China also continues to be a key focus for the group. Since finalising a strategic alliance with Huazhu Hotels Group, AccorHotels expects its pipeline in China to strengthen considerably in the coming years, with Huazhu saying it plans to open 350 – 400 hotels under AccorHotels brands in the next five years.Globally, AccorHotels opened 228 hotels (36,000 rooms) in 2015. AccorHotels currently has 691 hotels (133,715 rooms) in 17 countries across Asia Pacific. AccorHotelsbook your accommodation hereSource = AccorHotelslast_img read more

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Brit backpacker campaign puts back the welcome mat

Brit backpacker campaign puts back the welcome mat

first_imgSource = Australian Tourism Export Council – ATEC Brit backpacker campaign puts back the welcome matWith the number of backpacker and youth visitors to Australia in severe decline, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) welcomes a new Tourism Australia campaign launched by the Minister for Trade, Steve Ciobo in London overnight, aimed at re-engaging this market, including working holiday maker (WHM) visitors from the UK and Ireland.“We have seen Australia’s international backpacker numbers, particularly visitors from traditionally strong WHM markets like UK and Ireland, experiencing a steady decline over recent years which was accelerated by the Government’s decision to introduce increased taxes on these visitors,” ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley said today.“Thanks to the strong resistance of the tourism industry, the Federal Government recently amended its decision to tax WHM visitors and more pro-actively address the decline in the number of backpacker visitors coming to Australia.“We are pleased the new campaign, which will highlight the valuable experience gained by a backpacker working holiday in Australia, will re-engage these visitors and build a stronger market into the future.Mr Shelley said this was the first campaign to directly target the international youth market through specific social media platforms and using high profile personalities who appeal to this particular market.“Australia has long been a favourite destination of youth travellers and we still have one of the best travel destinations on the planet – evidenced by the strength of our overall international visitor market.“Youth and backpacker visitors however, are motivated by more than the attractiveness of the destination with considerations such as affordability, work options, visa accessibility and social media cred all important elements of their final destination choice.“This campaign brings a fresh, modern approach to capturing the contemporary youth market and helps to put Australia’s ‘welcome mat’ back.“While much has been made of the contribution WHM visitors make to regional labour needs, these visitors are primarily here to experience Destination Australia and the wonderful lifestyle, natural beauty and wildlife we have to offer.“Their contribution goes well beyond providing a valuable labour force and connects to the heart of travel which is expanding cultural understanding, creating new experiences and building new friendships – which is what the WHM visa was set up to achieve.”Whilst ATEC welcomes this campaign aimed at positioning Australia as a welcoming youth traveller destination, the industry continues urge the Government to reconsider its shock decision to increase the Passenger Movement Charge.last_img read more

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IHG® appoints Rajit Sukumaran as Chief Development Officer

IHG® appoints Rajit Sukumaran as Chief Development Officer

first_imgIHG® Appoints Rajit Sukumaran as Chief Development OfficerInterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) today announces the appointment of Rajit Sukumaran to the role of Chief Development Officer in the Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region.IHG has an established reputation as a valued partner for successful hotel owners and investors globally and currently operates across nearly 40 countries and territories in AMEA. In his new role, Rajit will head the Development team and lead the Group’s growth strategy.Rajit brings more than 12 years’ experience in Development, Acquisitions, Feasibility from his previous role as Senior Vice President, Acquisitions & Development, Asia Pacific at Starwood Hotels & Resorts.Jan Smits, Chief Executive Officer AMEA said: “Rajit brings with him vast knowledge, a stellar reputation and the ability to drive development success across brands which will prove invaluable as he drives the acceleration of IHG’s growth strategy across AMEA.”Rajit Sukumaran, Chief Development Officer AMEA added: “I am thrilled to join the IHG family as it continues on the growth journey in the region. The AMEA region has seen unprecedented growth in the past decade and still has a long runway. I look forward to working with some of the best talent in the industry as we forge ahead with both our existing and new partners across the region.”Prior to joining Starwood, Rajit worked in the Corporate Finance division of PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore where he was involved with several cross-border corporate transactions including mergers, acquisitions and initial public offerings.Rajit graduated from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University with a degree of Bachelor of Accountancy.IHG currently operates 271 hotels across six brands in AMEA, including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites with a further 149 hotels in the development pipeline due to open within the next three to five years.Source = InterContinental Hotels Grouplast_img read more

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SeaLink WA celebrate new Rottnest Island service

SeaLink WA celebrate new Rottnest Island service

first_imgSeaLink WASeaLink WA celebrate new Rottnest Island serviceTo celebrate the new SeaLink Rottnest Island ferry service, commencing Sunday 5th November 2017, SeaLink WA is offering an amazing 2-for-1 ferry deal throughout the month of November, making family access to Rottnest Island more affordable this summer.The new Rottnest Island ferry service will operate seven days a week, offering six return ferry services from Freemantle to Rottnest Island daily. Adult fares start from only $22.50 one-way or $45 return (not including landing fees).According to Andrew Lane, General Manager of SeaLink WA, SeaLink has made a very significant strategic investment, aimed at growing the size of the Rottnest Island tourism market.“We are really excited to commence our Rottnest Island Ferry service that we believe will meet growing local and international demand, especially during peak periods such as school holidays and island events.” Explains Mr Lane.“The Rottnest Island Authority, has forecasted visitation growth to the Island to increase by 12% in the 2017/18 period, with this growth attributed to our lower prices and additional ferry services that will provide an extra 700,000 seats to the island each year.” Continues Mr Lane.Not only will the new ferry service bring more tourists to Western Australia and Rottnest Island, but it already has created more jobs.“I am incredibly proud that twenty new jobs have already been created within our SeaLink and Captain Cook Cruises business because of our new passenger ferry service to Rottnest Island. These jobs represent a 30% growth in our WA workforce over the past 6 months.” Says Mr Lane.“SeaLink will continue to invest in Western Australian tourism as we are confident of the growth in the state’s tourism potential.  We want to make sure we have the best possible services to cater for the forecasted increased demand and consumer expectations. In fact, SeaLink are already in discussions with various government departments regarding potential local infrastructure development opportunities.” Continues Mr Lane.SeaLink is an ASX listed public company with a strong history of investing heavily into destinations it services, including Kangaroo Island, Magnetic Island, Sydney Harbour and the Tiwi Islands.For timetable information or to book Rottnest Ferry tickets visit: rottnest.sealink.com.au or call 1300 QUOKKA/1300 786 552.Source = SeaLink Rottnest Islandlast_img read more

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Myanmar to develop caves to lure travellers

Myanmar to develop caves to lure travellers

first_imgIn order to welcome international travellers, the tourism authorities of Myanmar are planning to develop an ancient limestone cave, Hpa Baung, in Kyaikmaraw township, Mon state as an eco-tourism zone within a year. The tourism authority will also develop an artificial spring in the area as part of the eco-tourism site.The Hpa Baung limestone cave is the largest natural one of its kind in Mon state conserved by the Archaeology, National Museum and Library Department. The tourism department of Myanmar is seeking approval from the state government for the project implementation.Hpa Baung and its surrounding areas are likely to be extended to 446 acres (180 hectares) as a forest reserve, according to the Forestry Department. Meanwhile, the authorities had also planned to boost tourism with another ancient limestone cave, Esathara, in Hpa-an, eastern Kayin state while ensuring not to damage the natural environment.Hpa-an is a cynosure in Kayin state. It houses the natural caverns, scenes of the state’s traditions and culture, waterfalls, hot spring and other tourist destinations, for which Hpa-an received the ASEAN Sustainable Tourism Award-2018.last_img read more

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