Carnival adds Havana on select cruises from Tampa starting this June

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Carnival adds Havana on select cruises from Tampa starting this June Travelweek Group Tuesday, February 14, 2017 Posted by MIAMI — Carnival Cruise Line has been granted approval to sail to Cuba, and will be adding the capital city of Havana to select Carnival Paradise voyages from Tampa beginning in June.The overnight visits to Havana will be featured on 12 four- and five-day cruises aboard Carnival Paradise departing from the Port of Tampa starting June 29, 2017.Four-day cruises will depart June 29, July 13, Aug. 24, Sept. 7 and 21, and Oct. 5 and 19, as well as May 3, 2018, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana. Five-day voyages will depart Aug. 14 and 28, Sept. 25 and Oct. 9. 2017, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana as well as a stop in either Cozumel or Key West.Aboard Carnival Paradise, guests can enjoy an array of amenities and a full schedule of daytime activities and nighttime entertainment. Amenities include two full-service main dining rooms, a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness facility and an exclusive Serenity adults-only retreat. Popular family-friendly programming includes Seuss at Sea in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises and featuring the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and fun, supervised activities for kids in three age groups. Four swimming pools and a 115-foot-long water slide are additional features.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agency“Cuba is an island jewel unique from anywhere else in the Caribbean and we are thrilled to have this rare opportunity to take our guests to this fascinating destination,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “The opportunity to visit Havana, combined with the fun, relaxed ambiance and wide variety of amenities and features offered on Carnival Paradise, will make for a truly one-of-a-kind vacation experience.”The announcement follows the history-making launch of cruises from the U.S. to Cuba on Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand last year. Fathom announced last November that it has ceased operations and will remain a shoreside-only experience in mid-2017. Tags: Carnival Cruise Linelast_img read more

WestJet moves Whitehorse service to Calgary

first_imgTags: Calgary, New Routes, WestJet Share << Previous PostNext Post >> WestJet moves Whitehorse service to Calgary Travelweek Group center_img CALGARY — WestJet will be moving its nonstop seasonal service between Whitehorse and Vancouver to Calgary International Airport (YYC), effective June 29, 2018.For the first time, flights between Whitehorse and Calgary will be available for purchase starting Jan. 29, 2018.“WestJet has been serving Whitehorse with seasonal summer service to Vancouver since 2012,” said Brian Znotins, WestJet Vice-President, Network Planning, Alliances and Corporate Development. “As we continue to expand our Calgary hub, it makes sense to move the service from Vancouver to Calgary to offer residents of Whitehorse more destinations via YYC Calgary International Airport. This is also an opportunity for residents to fly non-stop to Calgary, and this summer will also see an increase to our seasonal service from three times weekly to four times weekly.”Whitehorse-Calgary departs four times weekly at 6 a.m., arriving at 9:32 a.m. Calgary-Whitehorse departs four times weekly at 9:45 p.m., arriving at 11:26 p.m.More news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTThe service is part of the airline’s seasonal summer schedule. Thursday, January 25, 2018 Posted bylast_img read more

DRs hot tourism streak rolls on with 20000 new hotel rooms on

first_img TORONTO — Following the news that it welcomed a record number of Canadians in 2017, the Dominican Republic has announced a slew of new developments across the island.The country has begun a US$195 million development in the Southwest region of Los Corbanitos, Baní called Playa de Puntarena Hotel and Condominiums featuring brand new hotels, luxury apartments, a recreation area, bars, restaurants and a marina. A highway beginning in Santo Domingo will be extended to the Southwest in order to increase tourism connectivity from the capital city.In the South, the Perla de Sur project will bring 1,200 hotel rooms over multiple stages in the coming years. The first stage will be ‘La Casita’ and ‘La Casita Village’, a series of boutique hotels, all featuring an eco-friendly design. The final phase will include a marina and convention centre.A new AMResorts property is coming to Macao, comprising three hotels, a convention centre, green areas, sports facilities and a total of 2,313 rooms.More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterIn addition, Club Med is set to begin development of a hotel project named ‘Miches’ in Altamira. Upon completion in 2019, it will be a 5-Trident rated resort, the highest in the Club med resort rankings, and will offer 343 rooms.Even more accommodations are planned over the next few years – 20,000 hotel rooms, to be exact. Additional rooms will debut over the next years throughout Punta Cana, Bayahibe, Puerto Plata, Samaná and Santo Domingo. This number will add to the current 69,000 hotel rooms available in the country, said the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism.In 2017, a record 837,000 Canadians visited the DR and the numbers show no signs of wavering in 2018. In January and February of this tour, a total of 1,126,776 international tourists were reported, a 4% year-over-year increase from the same two months in 2017. Of this number, 60% were from North America, 25% from Europe, 12% from south America and 2.5 from Central America and the Caribbean.More news:  AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’nsNorth American travellers grew by 5.3% when compared to the same period in 2017, with the majority travelling from Canada and the U.S.In 2017, cruise arrivals to Puerto Plata exceeded 1.46 million, the highest on record, according to the Ministry of Tourism Cruise Department.Minister of tourism Francisco Javier Garciá highlighted the country’s impressive tourism numbers at the International Tourism Fair in Berlin (ITB). He said the tourism sector is steadily increasing and as a result, the country opened 8,400 new hotel rooms over the past year, with another 15,000 under construction. Share Posted by Tags: Dominican Republic, Openings & Renovations Travelweek Group center_img D.R.’s hot tourism streak rolls on, with 20,000 new hotel rooms on the way << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, April 3, 2018 last_img read more

Virgin Voyages Epic Sea Change 10 commission and elimination of NCFs

first_img Posted by Tags: Ancillary Fees, Commission, Virgin Voyages << Previous PostNext Post >> Virgin Voyages’ Epic Sea Change: 10% commission and elimination of NCFs Tuesday, January 29, 2019 center_img MIAMI — If we needed any proof that Virgin Voyages really does want to work with travel agents, here it is: the cruise line is offering a base commission of 10% and says it will eliminate non-commissionable fees (NCFs).The end of NCFs means agents can earn on everything, says Virgin. The cruise line’s first ship, the Scarlet Lady, sets sail in 2020 with three more ships on the way, all geared to an adults-only market. Agent registration opened Dec. 31, 2018 on FirstMates.com, Virgin’s dedicated online platform for travel sellers.Virgin says its base ticket prices include all food, basic beverages, workout classes, gratuities and more, with 10% commission on the entire transaction.The cruise line says its sales strategy “was built from research conducted with travel professionals and potential Sailors with the specific aim of abolishing long-standing pain-points.”The company confirmed the elimination of NCFs and says it’s banishing nickel-and-diming from passengers.“You asked us to work with you to build a strong partnership, so we’re excited to announce one of the most rewarding travel partner programs ever created,” says Tom McAlpin, President and CEO of Virgin Voyages. “We are committed to delivering an ‘Epic Sea Change’ by getting rid of the things that annoy you and offering incredible value and experiences for your clients.”No part of a booking with Virgin Voyages is non-commissionable, so agents will earn across their client’s entire transaction, he added. This includes all add-ons like flights, hotel stays, voyage protection, ‘Shore Things’ (shore excursions), spa treatments, any premium package, ‘Sailor Loot’ (onboard credits) and even taxes and fees.“While the debate is often about this percent versus that one, the underlying issue travel professionals have is not being compensated for their hard work on the entire sale. With Virgin Voyages you will be,” says Stacy Shaw, Vice President of Sales for Virgin Voyages.More news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWT“With our combination of premium pricing that includes so much more, no NCFs and the ability to earn on everything you sell, total dollars earned on every sale with us will be more. Percentages don’t matter, total dollars do.”Consistent with its aim for no nickel and diming, Virgin Voyages unveiled further details on its value proposition for ‘Sailors’ (passengers) including abolishing a major pain point for consumers – gratuities.The base ticket fare for all Virgin Voyages sailings “will be incredible value for Sailors with all eateries, group fitness classes, basic beverages and now gratuities in the voyage fare,” says the company. “These things are always included and not tied to a short-term promotion.”With a more inclusive ‘Rebellious Luxe’ experience, agents have the opportunity to sell voyages based on the total value proposition rather than price and to reach a new client base, which translates to more commission earned.Continuing with the ‘Epic Sea Change’, Virgin Voyages also confirmed that it is eliminating penalties and change fees.Booking policies have been designed to appeal to passengers who are serious about sailing but also offer flexibility after booking.Passengers and agents can hold cabins for 24 hours with no money down. Once they’ve placed a 20% non-refundable deposit, they’ll have a grace period of seven days where they may change their mind for any reason at all. Passengers and agents may also change voyage dates and names on bookings without penalties or fees.More news:  Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portalVirgin Voyages is introducing a base commission of 10% on the entire transaction, with nothing held back or excluded.In addition, all agents or affiliated organizations can earn a ‘Red Hot Bonus’ paid annually on sailed revenue up to an additional six percent if they meet certain production thresholds.“We’re giving 10 a makeover. Our First Mates asked us for something simple and they’ll be able to earn more total dollars on every transaction with Virgin Voyages. So it simply isn’t the same old 10, we call that ‘The Perfect 10,’” said Shaw.FirstMates.com is currently registering travel agencies and individual travel sellers to do business with Virgin Voyages in advance of the company opening voyages for bookings on Feb. 14.Beginning Feb. 5, FirstMates.com will offer all of the tools needed for agents to become immersed in everything Virgin Voyages has to offer including downloadable digital and in-store marketing materials, interactive learning materials and more.All individual agents who register to do business with Virgin Voyages before Feb. 14, will have the opportunity to enter to win afternoon tea with Sir Richard Branson. Agents must opt in to sweepstakes by 11:59 EST on Feb. 13 to qualify.Virgin Voyages will also host an immersive learning campaign beginning Feb. 6 called Cabin Fever, which will help agents learn about cabins and RockStar suites, a key product differentiator.Any agency or individual seeking assistance with registration from Virgin Voyages’ Sales Crew can reach out at FirstMates@virginvoyages.com or by call 1-833-VVSAILS. Travelweek Group Sharelast_img read more

Assessment of fire damage at Princess Cays now underway

first_imgAssessment of fire damage at Princess Cays now underway Share Travelweek Group Wednesday, January 30, 2019 ELEUTHERA ISLAND — Princess Cays, Princess Cruises’ private destination in the Bahamas, has been damaged by a fire that ravaged the area, according to local media.According to an article in The Bahamas Press, the fire started shortly after 11 p.m. on Monday night. The fire reportedly started in the generator and spread rapidly to the centre of the island. Beyond that, few details are available regarding the fire and the damage done to the island.Émilie Giguère, Business Development Manager for Princess Cruises, told Travelweek’s sister publication Profession Voyages that she has no more information. “The only press release we have announced is that teams are currently assessing the damage on site and will make the necessary decisions to know, temporarily close the island and / or modify our routes,” said Giguère.The 20-hectare Princess Cays at the southern end of Eleuthera Island is used by Princess Cruises as well as sister cruise line Carnival when Holland America ships are at Half Moon Cay.More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaPrincess Cays’ facilities were renovated last year with the addition of several shore excursions, the construction of a new water sports rental service and the enlargement of the marina.The first ship to arrive at Princess Cay after the fire is Carnival Pride, scheduled to arrive Jan. 30. According to a statement from Carnival’s headquarters, “Carnival Pride will be traveling to the private island of Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, Wednesday following a fire at her scheduled stopover, Princess Cays.”center_img Tags: Bahamas, Carnival Cruise Line, Fire, Princess Cays, Princess Cruises Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Costa Rican astronaut Franklin Chang mourns death of Neil Armstrong

first_imgNo related posts. Franklin Chang, the Costa Rican astronaut, mourned the death of Neil Armstrong with a statement onhis Facebook page. Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, died Saturday at age 82.Chang, who was inducted in the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame earlier this year, called Armstrong “one of my greatest heroes.” Chang currently works for his technology company Ad Astra Rocket. He and Armstrong had discussed the Tico astronaut’s ambitions to build a plasma engine with his company. Armstrong “immediately understood and appreciated” the technical details of the plasma rocket, Chang said.In the note, Chang stated:“[Armstrong’s] legacy is extraordinary and in his latter years as an educator undoubtedly touched many young minds. His words upon landing on the Moon representing the entire human race ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ will resonate in history forever. Godspeed Neil. We’ll miss you.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Ticos hold funeral for perished police pooch

first_imgIn a small and moving funeral ceremony Sunday, officers with the Costa Rican Public Security Ministry laid to rest one of their fellow officers, a Belgian Malinois named Kindra. The dog had passed away just hours before, from an illness.Kindra served as an official police dog for eight years. Her breed is commonly used in police work and search and rescue missions around the world. She was born in to the Costa Rican canine unit and started training as a puppy. She lived to be nine human years, about 68 in dog years.In 2013 alone, Kindra completed more than 70 jobs, including 25 site reviews for President Chinchilla and 15 searches in Juan Santamaría International Airport. She was in charge of site inspections for the areas that Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping visited. Her searches produced 88 flares, 40 makeshift smoke bombs, six M40 grenades, guns and rifles.The funeral was conducted on the premises of the MPS Special Unit, in the company of other dogs and their official guides.“We regret this loss,” said Roberto Ortega, head of the Canine Unit. “Kindra was … a companion, a living being who accompanied us on many jobs and for eight years.”The Costa Rican Canine Unit was created in 1988 and currently employs 38 dogs. Officers bid farewell to their loyal friend and colleague. Courtesy of the Public Security Ministry  Facebook Commentscenter_img No related posts.last_img read more

Honduras gets new anticorruption commission

first_imgTODAY 12:30 PM | #OAS Mission Vs. Corruption #Honduras #MACCIH 2 be presented Tegucigalpa https://t.co/k9FfHxbnkN pic.twitter.com/4orHAgusWX— OAS (@OAS_official) February 22, 2016 TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – The Organization of American States on Monday established an ambitious new corruption-fighting commission in Honduras aimed at replicating the success of a similar, U.N.-backed body in Guatemala that brought down that country’s government.The Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras, known by its Spanish initials MACCIH, will target graft and organized crime through a corps of judges, prosecutors and police officers.Its task will be a big one. Honduras ranks 112th out of 168 countries on a global corruption index put out by Transparency International, a watchdog group. MACCIH is led by a Peruvian lawyer, Juan Jiménez Mayor, who attended the inauguration ceremony with dozens of civil servants, leaders of unions and associations, and diplomats. He noted that the OAS considers corruption to be “a risk factor for democracy” and said Honduras was now on a “new path” by seeking to combat it.Guatemala’s example was illustrative of the hopes borne by MACCIH. Last year, the president of that Central American nation was forced to stand down as a scandal over officials taking bribes to cut import duties for some companies engulfed his administration.Guatemala’s new president, Jimmy Morales, is a former TV comedian with almost no political experience. But he rode a wave of popular disgust with corruption to take office. Thousands of people participate in a demonstration demanding the resignation of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in Tegucigalpa, on June 26, 2015. Protesters also demanded the creation of an International Commission against Impunity in Honduras. Orlando Sierra/AFPIn Honduras, mass demonstrations were held weekly to install a similar body, and MACCIH was agreed to under a convention signed a month ago in Washington by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.Its text sets out four areas of action: preventing and fighting corruption, reforming the criminal justice system, political and electoral reform, and public security.Although helping to create MACCIH, Hernández could end up ruing its existence.The president has admitted his electoral campaign that brought him to power two years ago took $94,000 of some $330 million embezzled from the country’s social security agency. However, he maintains that he did not know the origin of the money at the time. Facebook Commentscenter_img Related posts:Guatemala-Honduras customs union first step in regional development plan Brother of Guatemala’s ex-VP Roxana Baldetti, 12 others arrested for fraud In Guatemala, anti-establishment presidential candidate benefits from corruption scandals In Guatemala, Pérez Molina claims US conspiracy behind corruption prosecutionlast_img read more

Christmas Throwback What if Jesus had been born in Costa Rica

first_imgThis article was originally published on Dec. 22, 2014.I wrote last time about the luxuries of a Costa Rican Christmas, but I recently realized that my absolute favorite part of this time of year is something very simple, and also one of my favorite dichos: hablando paja.Literally translated as “talkin’ straw,” it can have a negative connotation, because if you’re hablando paja (or a little stronger, pura paja, which can describe what people say or the people themselves), it can mean that you’re full of hot air, making promises you won’t keep. But it also has a meaning closer to “shooting the breeze,” and to me connotes the lazy, laid-back, meandering conversations of late December, when the crazed shopping and End-of-Days traffic has ended, and life is slow.I had just such a conversation a few Christmases ago. A group of my husband’s friends and I were sitting around, drinking coffee, eating tamales and admiring the portal of the couple whose house we were in. Like many things Costa Rican, the Nativity scenes here are bigger and bolder than the version I grew up with: our crèche was a sedate affair the size of my hand, while I’ve seen several here that take up half the living room. This one was particularly elaborate.The Three Kings were poking along on the floor, their plaster steeds gazing balefully at the steep journey ahead up a winding mountain road to Joseph, Mary and Jesus, perched at eye level. On their way, they’d pass lights, sloping fields of sheep, even a bridge over a little river. The couple was celebrating their first Christmas in their own place, and they’d obviously put a lot of work into this scene.See also: A love letter to Costa Rica’s second languageLooking at their river, I said idly, just hablando paja and thinking of a half-century-old bridge whose failed repairs had made it a symbol of the country’s roadway woes, “I’d love to see a portal with La Platina. The Wise Men are waiting there, all impatient, and there’s a tiny construction crew. Now there’s a real portal a lo tico.”“Uuuy, cierto,” said our host. “If Jesus is born in Costa Rica? Mae, one of the Wise Men falls straight through the crack, burro and all.”There was a little pause, the unmistakable sound of brains whirring. I knew it well.“The next one falls into that pothole that swallowed the car,” someone ventured.“The last one calls Joseph. Mae, I’ll be there later, ya casi llego. Traffic, mae. Es que vieras que en La Uruca hay UUUUna presa…”They were off. “Yeah, and Joseph’s all bummed, like, mae, que ahuevado, you three were supposed to bring the chifrijo, birrillas and Tronaditas.” “Take off those shepherds and put on a guachimán watching over his cars by night.” “Put in a sloth instead of sheep.” “No, no animals!They would all be hiding under the bar because of the fireworks. It’s Christmas!” “Yeah, instead of animals, all the neighbors! ‘Cause you KNOW they’d all be there vineando. Teenage pregnancy, the baby’s in a manger, pero ¡qué pecado! He looks so cold! Those swaddling cloths, so flimsy! Get us three fleece blankets and a woolen hat, stat!”“¡De fijo!” said our host again. “And take away Joseph.”There was general assent. “Why?” I asked, the lone Gringa.“Because Joseph would be at the bar!”“Noooooombre, his guíla just had a baby with the Almighty. He’s already lit up and in the bullring in Zapote!”That’s hablando paja. It’s a perk of a season that seems to get shorter and shorter each year as Costa Rica shuts down less and less during the holidays, but that is still a welcome breather, a time to be aimless.Of course, where I come from, it’s the season of Hallmark, very special sitcom episodes and goofy sincerity, so I can’t close without saying that whether you’re in Costa Rica this holiday or far away; whether this is your patria, your adopted home or just a twinkle in your eye as you dream of vacations to come; whether you celebrate Christmas with midnight explosions or heaps of snow or not at all – I wish for you the best parts of a portal a lo tico.What does that even mean?  Much more than just a guachimán and a drunk Joseph, that’s for sure. A Nativity set in Costa Rica means wry steadfastness in the face of the Platinas of life. It means an ability, an eagerness, even, to laugh at yourself during a holiday that otherwise sets the bar too high.It means space and time to shoot the breeze, languid conversations meant to go nowhere, pure straw, pure air. It means a deep breath we need in late December, that cherished respite between “One More Shopping Day ‘Til Christmas!” and the unrelenting cheerfulness of New Year’s Resolutions, this year all coming on the heels of a series of particularly heartbreaking, troubling and violent events for many people around the world.It means that I wish we will all give ourselves a break, because we deserve that, despite our many failings. We deserve it if, like Costa Rica itself, we are struggling upwards past litter and crime and potholes and bureaucrats, but struggling nonetheless, climbing still, brave enough to set our sights on peace.Read previous Maeology columns hereThanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years. Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Hablando paja: What if Jesus had been born in Costa Rica? Polls reveal Ticos thoughts on Chinchilla, crime and the environment What’s open, closed for the holidays President Solís demands explanation for spike in traffic jamslast_img read more

Israeli court sentences Palestinian protest leader

first_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day The court said he was convicted mostly on the basis of a confession given by a 15-year-old. The teen was interrogated without a lawyer present, his relatives and activists said.The case against him sparked European Union criticism of Israel’s policy of imprisoning Palestinian protest leaders.Many of those protests turn into clashes between stone-throwing youths and Israeli soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Typically, youths appear to act on their own, while protest leaders do little to halt them.Al-Tamimi said the sentence highlighted the “absurdity” of the case, matching the time he spent in prison before his 85-year-old mother suffered a stroke, prompting his conditional release in April.Al-Tamimi said he was at the mercy of statements taken from vulnerable youths interrogated by Israeli forces.“Any child who is threatened could say my name in any matter, and I’ll go back to prison,” al-Tamimi said after the trial.An Israeli military spokeswoman said al-Tamimi was also given a 17-month suspended sentence, but the term was canceled because of his clean prison record and “irregularities in the trial.”She was referring to the judge’s decision not to use evidence from two other Palestinians, including a 14-year-old, because of contradictions in their confessions. The spokeswoman spoke anonymously according to military regulations. Al-Tamimi is among several protest leaders arrested in recent years for organizing what Israel defines as illegal demonstrations. Rights groups say the arrests are an attempt to stifle expression. Those cases also relied on confessions from minors.In al-Tamimi’s case, evidence was chiefly taken from a confession by a teen relative who was detained after he was caught throwing rocks. Activists and relatives protested that a lawyer was not present when he gave his evidence.Israeli officials say the interrogations are necessary to quell violence. They say Palestinians are offered fair trials. Most Palestinians take plea bargains instead of going to trial, because few are cleared after a lengthy legal process.___Additional reporting by Diaa Hadid in Jerusalem. Follow Hadid on http://twitter.com/diaahadid Quick workouts for men New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories center_img (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressOFER MILITARY BASE, West Bank (AP) – An Israeli military court Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian protest leader to 13 months in jail, time he already served for urging youths to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers.Bassem al-Tamimi, 45, walked free because he already spent that much time in jail while awaiting trial. The activist led weekly marches in his West Bank village of Nabi Saleh for years to protest Jewish settlers seizing a nearby well for their own use, mirroring other protests in Palestinian villages. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

Kazakh soldier detained after mass border deaths

first_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates On Friday, President Nursultan Nazarbayev described the soldiers’ deaths as the outcome of a “terrorist act,” but gave no specific details.Kazakhstan is marking a national day of mourning.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Check your body, save your life Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   4 must play golf courses in Arizona Parents, stop beating yourself up ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) – Kazakhstan’s interior minister says a border guard who went missing after the death of 14 fellow soldiers at a remote frontier outpost last week has been detained and is being questioned.Interior Minister Kalmukhanbet Kasymov said Tuesday that the man was found in possession of the platoon commander’s weapon.The charred bodies of 15 people _ 14 border guards and a park ranger _ were found at a burned-out frontier station near the border with China. While the exact circumstances that led to the deaths are still unclear, Kasymov hinted the deaths might have been the result of an internal dispute.last_img read more

Convicted Bahrain doctor starts hunger strike

first_img Sponsored Stories The 58-year-old Samaheeji remains free while he considers appealing his one-year sentence. He said Thursday that he went on a hunger strike to protest “brutal and fabricated charges” and draw international attention to the plight of all the doctors, hoping their sentences would eventually being thrown out.Authorities say the doctors sided with protesters last year and tried to topple the country’s ruling system. The doctors said they were only doing their jobs during the protests and subsequent bloody crackdown.“We are doctors, not criminals, and we were trying to save lives, and these sentences are political convictions. … We are innocent,” al-Samaheeji told reporters.The cases against the doctors and nurses were among the most sensitive for Bahrain’s leadership as it struggles with near daily clashes and protests by the kingdom’s majority Shiites. The state-run Salmaniya Medical Complex was thrust into the forefront of the unrest after security forces stormed a protest encampment in the early weeks of the uprising.Initially, 20 medical personnel were sentenced to prison terms of between five and 15 years by a now disbanded security tribunal, set up by the Sunni monarchy as part of crackdowns against Shiite-led protests that began in February 2011. A retrial in civilian court was ordered earlier this year following intense pressure from international rights and medical groups. Parents, stop beating yourself up Comments   Share   (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Even the most recent court ruling drew complaints from the Americans, who count Bahrain as a close ally since it hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, told reporters last week that Washington was “disappointed” by the ruling. He appealed for reconciliation talks in Bahrain but acknowledged that the nation remains deeply divided.Bahrain’s Shiites comprise about 70 percent of the island’s more than half-million citizens. They claim they face systematic discrimination and are barred from high-level political and security posts. The government has offered some concessions, such as boosting the powers of the elected parliament, but Shiite leaders demand the monarchy also give up its tight grip on all key policies and political appointments.At least 50 people have died in the unrest, and hundreds of other protesters, activists, athletes and Shiite professionals have been tried in the court. Among them is Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, whose ended a more than 100-day hunger strike earlier this month to protest his life sentence for anti-state crimes. A retrial has since been ordered for a 21-member group that includes al-Khawaja. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist The difference between men and women when it comes to paincenter_img Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressMANAMA, Bahrain (AP) – A doctor sentenced on charges of aiding anti-government protests in Bahrain went on a hunger strike Thursday.Saeed al-Samaheeji was among nine medical professionals sentenced last week to prison terms ranging from one month to five years, a decision that has been condemned by international rights groups and the U.S.Nine others were freed, and 15-year sentences were upheld against two doctors who fled Bahrain.last_img read more

Official Security foils robbery at Bahamas resort

first_img Quick workouts for men NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) – Resort security personnel on Sunday foiled an attempted robbery inside the casino of one of the Caribbean’s largest and best-known destinations.Three bandits tried to rob a cashier’s cage in the casino of the Atlantis mega-resort in the Bahamas after inundating it with pepper spray, according to a statement from Kerzner International Bahamas, which manages the resort.Resort officials said the robbery attempt was not visible to casino patrons. It occurred in an employee-only area behind the kiosks where people collect winnings. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Top Stories The three Bahamian suspects were quickly caught by resort security and taken into custody by the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Their identities were not immediately disclosed.As a precaution, 16 resort employees were taken to a local hospital after breathing in pepper spray. They were all expected to be treated and released.Kerzner executive George Markantonis said “security teams did an outstanding job in apprehending the perpetrators.” Earlier in the day, Markantonis had said the robbery did not involve the casino.With roughly 4,000 rooms, Atlantis is among the largest Caribbean resorts. It is known for its water slides and fantastical pink towers and covers about three-quarters of Paradise Island, just off the capital of Nassau. It’s the largest employer in the Bahamas, with more than 7,000 workers.It is owned by Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management and managed by Kerzner.Bridge access to Paradise Island was reportedly restricted following the botched heist.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

NKorea claims strength after removal of filth

first_img Top Stories Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Kyungnam University, said there was a stronger push in this year’s message for improved ties with Seoul, but that doesn’t mean North Korea will take any dramatic steps anytime soon.Observers say Kim’s vow to improve his people’s living standards could be linked to the comments on better inter-Korean ties, which are seen as necessary to winning badly needed investment and aid.Robert Carlin, a North Korea expert and contributor to the 38 North website, said Kim’s speech suggests more concrete North Korean proposals are coming. “Many times over the past 30 or 40 years, the two sides have started dialogue by agreeing to stop slander of the other,” Carlin said in an email. “It’s a relatively easy (and verifiable) first step.”In comments that mirror past North Korean propaganda, Kim also warned of an accidental conflict that could trigger “an enormous nuclear catastrophe,” which would threaten U.S. safety.The 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula technically in a state of war. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea to help deter North Korean aggression. Patients with chronic pain give advice The public announcement of Jang’s fall opened up a rare and unfavorable window on the country’s inner workings, showing an alleged power struggle between Kim and his uncle after the 2011 death of Kim Jong Il.Jang’s public downfall was seen as an acknowledgement of dissension and loss of control by the ruling Kim dynasty. That has caused outside alarm as Kim Jong Un simultaneously tries to revive a moribund economy and pushes development of nuclear-armed missiles.Seoul worries that instability could lead to provocations meant to help consolidate internal unity. Attacks blamed on North Korea killed 50 South Koreans in 2010, and tension on the Korean Peninsula still lingers, although Pyongyang has backed away from war rhetoric from early last year that included threats of nuclear attacks against Washington and Seoul.Recent indications that North Korea is restarting a mothballed reactor that can produce plutonium for bombs has left Washington and Seoul skeptical about Pyongyang’s recent calls for a resumption of long-stalled nuclear disarmament talks. The country conducted its third nuclear test in February. It’s estimated to have a handful of crude nuclear devices and to be working toward building a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, although most experts say that goal may take years to achieve. Quick workouts for men SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Kim Jong Un boasted Wednesday that North Korea enters the new year on a surge of strength because of the elimination of “factionalist filth” _ a reference to the young leader’s once powerful uncle, whose execution last month raised questions about Kim’s grip on power.Kim’s comments in an annual New Year’s Day message, which included a call for improved ties with Seoul but also a warning of a possible “nuclear catastrophe,” will be scrutinized by outside analysts and governments for clues about the opaque country’s intentions and policy goals. __Follow Foster Klug on Twitter at twitter.com/APklug(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Already widespread worry about the country has deepened since Kim publicly humiliated and then executed his uncle and mentor, one of the biggest political developments in Pyongyang in years, and certainly since Kim took power two years ago after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.North Korea’s “resolute” action to “eliminate factionalist filth” within the ruling Workers’ Party has bolstered the country’s unity “by 100 times,” Kim said in a speech broadcast by state TV. He didn’t mention by name his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, long considered the country’s No. 2 power.But Kim included rhetoric that some analysts saw as a first step to renewing dialogue with rival Seoul. Kim called for an improvement in strained ties with South Korea, saying it’s time for each side to stop slandering the other and urging Seoul to listen to voices calling for Korean unification.That language, which is similar to that of past New Year’s messages, is an obvious improvement on last year’s threats of nuclear war, though there is still skepticism in Washington and Seoul about Pyongyang’s intentions.North Korea’s authoritarian, secretive government is extremely difficult for outsiders to interpret, and analysts are divided about the meaning of Jang’s execution on treason charges. Many, however, believe that the purge shows Kim Jong Un struggling to establish the same absolute power that his father and grandfather enjoyed. How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Cannes swoons for Carol Todd Haynes 50s lesbian romance

first_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes CANNES, France (AP) — “Carol,” Todd Haynes’ 1950s lesbian romance with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, had the Cannes Film Festival swooning after its premiere.The long-in-development adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel was received rapturously at Cannes for its tale of an illicit love between two women in conservative ’50s New York. Speaking to reporters Sunday, Blanchett said “Carol” is more than a period piece. The screenwriter Phyllis Nagy didn’t contradict her, but added a note of optimism.“Nothing has changed and everything has changed,” Nagy said. “We can have this movie now.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories 0 Comments   Share   From left, Rooney Mara, director Todd Haynes and Cate Blanchett pose for photographers at the photo call for the film Carol, at the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Top Stories “We’re living in deeply conservative times,” said Blanchett, noting that in many countries, homosexuality is still illegal. “And if we think otherwise, then we’re very foolish.”“Carol,” based on Highsmith’s 1952 novel “The Price of Salt,” was one of the most anticipated films at Cannes and emerged a likely contender for the Palme d’Or and, later in the year, the Academy Awards. The Weinstein Co. will release it Dec. 18 in the U.S.The eroticism of “Carol” comes largely through subtle, hidden gestures, but Blanchett and Mara were asked about shooting the film’s tasteful sex scene. Blanchett, a mother of four, said being naked hasn’t been as much an issue for her since giving birth with “a lot of strangers.”“It’s an important scene,” she said.Mara added: “I’m nude quite often so it wasn’t a big deal for me.”Blanchett also added her voice to the growing chorus over sexism is Hollywood.“It’s important to keep talking about it,” said Blanchett. “It fell off the agenda and I think we lost a lot of ground.” The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Army announces troop cuts says they could expand

first_imgThe Army estimates that the overall cut of 40,000 soldiers will result in savings of $7 billion over four years.Congressional delegations have been waiting for word on how the cuts would be distributed and timed; troop reductions can inflict significant economic pain on communities reliant on military base populations.If a new round of automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, goes ahead in the budget years beginning Oct. 1, the Army says it will have to reduce even further, to 420,000 soldiers by 2019. As recently as 2012, the Army had an active-duty force of 570,000.Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, has said he can accept the planned reduction of 40,000 soldiers over the next two years. In his view, being forced to shrink the Army is not the hardest part of coping with years-long budget wrangling between the Congress and the White House. Even more difficult, he says, is the uncertainty for military planners and the nation’s soldiers.“The thing I worry about is it has put a lot of turbulence in the Army and brought a lot of angst to our soldiers,” he told reporters May 28. As he nears the end of his tenure as Army chief, Odierno said the only thing that could push the service off its course toward modernization is more budget uncertainty. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army said Thursday that six domestic bases will lose 1,200 or more soldiers as part of a cost-saving plan to reduce the active-duty force by 40,000 troops over the coming two years. If Congress and the White House cannot avert another round of budget cuts this year, even deeper troop reductions would result, Army officials said.The decision to shrink the Army from 490,000 active-duty soldiers to 450,000 was made months ago, but details on how it would be accomplished were briefed to Congress only in recent days. The proposal is drawing fire from many lawmakers, especially those whose states or districts are hit hardest, as critics point to fears of a military crisis with Russia and the prospect of being at war with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria over an extended period. Comments   Share   Quick workouts for men Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 “The unpredictability is killing us,” he said.Defense Secretary Ash Carter agrees.“We’ve been going one year at a time budgetarily now for several years straight, and it’s extremely disruptive to the operations of the department,” Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. “It is managerially inefficient, because we’re in this herky-jerky process.”It may not get any smoother anytime soon. Congressional Republicans are proposing to give President Barack Obama the extra billions he wants for defense in the budget year starting Oct. 1. But Obama says he can’t accept their plan because it maneuvers around spending caps in a way that does not also provide spending relief in non-defense areas of the budget. This portends a September showdown between Congress and the White House.The Army says it needs to start moving ahead with planned troop reductions, although most will be accomplished through attrition and forced retirement of officers rather than layoffs or other forms of forced departures.Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the cuts make no sense. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories A portion of the Army’s 40,000-troop reduction would be achieved through attrition and adjustments to recruiting, but an undetermined number of soldiers — officers as well as enlisted — would be forced out of uniform, the Army said.The Army’s civilian workforce would be cut by as many as 17,000 over the same period.Army officials said the plan calls for cuts at nearly every installation in 2016 and 2017, with Fort Benning, Georgia, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, taking the largest reductions. Benning is to lose 3,402 soldiers, or 29 percent of its current personnel, as the Army converts the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division to a smaller unit known as a battalion task force. Elmendorf-Richardson is to lose 2,631 soldiers, or 59 percent of its personnel, as the 4th Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division undergoes the same conversion, according to figures released by the Army.Fort Hood, Texas, the Army’s largest base, would lose 3,350 soldiers, or 9 percent of its personnel. Among others, Fort Bliss, Texas, would lose 1,219 soldiers, or 5 percent; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, would lose 1,251, or 5 percent, and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, would lose 1,214, or 8 percent. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Mesa family survives lightning strike to home FILE – In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration on national security. In the midst of a war against the Islamic State that the Obama administration says will last many years, the Army is moving ahead with big troop cuts that could grow even larger unless Congress and the White House find a way to stop more across-the-board budget cuts this fall. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf) Sponsored Stories “Any conceivable strategic rationale for this cut to Army end-strength has been overturned by the events of the last few years from the rise of ISIL, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Ebola crisis, and more,” McCain said Wednesday.At a hearing Thursday, McCain said the problem is broader than the Army.“The Air Force is the oldest and the smallest it has ever been,” he said. “The Navy’s fleet is shrinking to pre-World War I levels. With the present operational tempo and drastic reductions to defense spending, we will continue the downward spiral of military capacity.”Members of Congress generally oppose shrinking the size of the military, especially if the cuts might affect bases in their states or districts. But they also have opposed other forms of savings proposed by the Pentagon, including reforming the military health care or retirement systems, eliminating older weapons systems or closing bases.Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, told Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at Tuesday’s hearing that he was opposed to shrinking the size of the 4th Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division, an airborne infantry unit based at Fort Richardson, Alaska, because he wanted to save the Army from a “strategic blunder.” Dempsey told Sullivan that Congress has been “telling us ‘no’” to money-saving changes that could reduce the need for troop cuts.“We have $1 trillion — that’s a T, not a B — a trillion dollars less in budget authority over 10 years. We’ve said from the beginning, it’s a disaster,” Dempsey said.___Follow Robert Burns on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/robertburnsAPCopyright © 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 facilitylast_img read more

Beijing city govt to move part of its functions to a suburb

first_img Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes BEIJING (AP) — Beijing’s city government said Sunday that it is going to move part of its administrative functions out of the city center as part of a plan to better integrate the Chinese capital with its surrounding areas.The municipal government’s Communist Party committee also agreed at a meeting Friday and Saturday to stick to its target to limit Beijing’s population to 23 million, according to the government’s information office microblog. Its population was 21.5 million at the end of 2014.center_img The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The “subsidiary administrative center” will be in Tongzhou, a district in Beijing’s eastern suburbs about a 40-minute car ride from downtown Beijing without heavy traffic, and will take shape by 2017.The new center is part of a plan to integrate Beijing with neighboring Hebei, an industrial province from where much of the capital’s pollution wafts in, and the port city of Tianjin. Officials want to develop high-quality resources such as hospitals and universities in the whole area, rather than have them concentrated in downtown Beijing.Moving part of the municipal government and its services out of central Beijing and to neighboring regions will help ease traffic congestion and population growth.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 academieslast_img read more

Egypt close to recovery Tourism Authority

first_imgIn a bid to restore tourism into Egypt, the Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) has assured Australian agents that the political turmoil has subsided. Speaking at AIME 2011 ETA tourism counsellor Ibrahim Khalil said the majority of the country was unaffected by the events of the past few weeks and those that were are quickly returning to normal. “Many tourists have continued and are continuing to holiday in the Red Sea areas and other parts of Egypt which is great and very much indicative of their confidence in the security and safety in Egypt,” Mr Khalil said. Aiming to match last year’s 14.7 million visitors, Mr Khalil said the country is looking at various ways to restore tourism traffic. “The country has gone through many tough times, and we have always pulled through and proved our capabilities to recover as a top tourist destination for travellers,” he said.Last year up to 72,000 Australians travelled to Egypt last year, a 14 percent increase from 2009. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Tiger adjusts rosters for fatigued pilots

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Tiger Airways has re-rostered its pilots’ flight schedules after receiving complaints of being too tired from the crew.The carrier’s director of operations Captain Tim Berry told a Senate inquire into the airline’s safety late last week that up to 17 staff had filed a complaint since the beginning of last year, stating that their hours were causing fatigue.Captain Berry added that the carrier had last year put new rosters into place and said the carrier was keen to receive feedback from pilots over rostering and their health.Despite re-arranging staff, Captain Berry said that while Tiger was not working with a “world-class fatigue management system” that would notify the company on outside sleep disturbance, such as pilots that care for small children. “There are airlines that are much further down the track of fatigue management than we are,” he said.Captain Berry concluded that the carrier had complied with Australian fatigue management requirements. last_img read more

Wotif profits fall

first_imgWotif.com experienced a minor 3.8 percent drop in profits after tax for the full financial year from $53 million last year to $51 million.While revenue experienced a slight growth of 1.7 percent to $138.3 million from $136 million, the company’s profit before depreciation, amortisation and taxation fell two percent to $77.7 million from $79.3 million.Despite the strong Aussie dollar and weather disruptions earlier this year, the group’s underlying bookings improved in the second half of the financial year, according to Wotif.com chief executive Robbie Cooke.Mr Cooke explained that at a group level, room nights stayed experienced a four percent increase in the fourth quarter, over the corresponding quarter.The Group’s flight transactions and accommodation bookings also picked up during the year by 35 percent and 12 percent compared to the previous financial period.“The strong Australian and New Zealand dollars continued to fuel the surge in outbound travel throughout most of the year,” Mr Cooke said.“In fact, ABS data shows an unprecedented 27 percent increase in offshore travel by Australians over the last two year.“This seemingly insatiable appetite for “the Overseas Holiday” has definitely been to the detriment of the domestic break – which has always been our of our key booking sources.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more