Month: August 2019

  • Chinas Ministry of Commerce holds up MarriottStarwood merger

    first_img Posted by BETHESDA, Md. — The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) appears to be the final hurdle in the Marriott-Starwood merger transaction.Marriott International, Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. have announced that, at the request of MOFCOM, they’ll be extending phase three of the merger to allow MOFCOM more time to review the transaction. This additional review period could last up to 60 days.Marriott and Starwood continue to believe that their planned merger transaction poses no anti-competitive issues in China. Approval by China’s Ministry of Commerce is the only remaining merger clearance required before the transaction may close. The companies have received unconditional premerger clearances from regulatory authorities representing over 40 countries worldwide, including the United States, the European Union, Canada, Chile, Colombia, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey. Tags: Marriott Interntaional, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Tuesday, August 9, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Share Travelweek Group China’s Ministry of Commerce holds up Marriott-Starwood mergerlast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • PEOPLE Uniglobe appoints Jamie McNair as President Eastern Canada

    first_imgTags: People, Uniglobe One Travel Share MISSISSAUGA — UNIGLOBE Travel (Eastern Canada) has announced the appointment of Jamie McNair as President of the UNIGLOBE Eastern Canada Region, effective May 1.McNair will be based in the Mississauga office and will lead the management team in business development and growth initiatives. Prior to his new role, he was the General Manager, Business Development and Sales, Canada at Sabre Corporation in Dallas.McNair can be reached, starting May 1, at (905) 671-4497 ext. 231 or jmcnair@uniglobe.ca. [PEOPLE] Uniglobe appoints Jamie McNair as President, Eastern Canada Posted bycenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Thursday, March 30, 2017 last_img read more

    READ MORE
  • TICOs new website makes it easier to search for registered agencies on

    first_imgTags: TICO Monday, July 24, 2017 Share TICO’s new website makes it easier to search for registered agencies on the go Posted bycenter_img TORONTO — TICO has unveiled a fresh new look to its website, featuring enhanced functionality and mobile capabilities.The site is not responsive to all mobile devices and features an improved online search feature, allowing consumers to easily locate a TICO-registered travel agency or website while on the go.Other new features include a Learning Centre page containing informational tutorials (with more soon to be added) as well as a one-stop resource for those who wish to start a new travel business. There’s also useful information for those who are winding down their business.“We are very pleased to provide a more effective and friendlier consumer and registrant interface for all visitors of TICO’s website,” said Richard Smart, Registrar and CEO of TICO. “Our website is an essential communication tool to assist in our awareness, compliance and educational programs. We look forward to hearing your feedback on your experiences with our new site.”The new site can be found at tico.ca. Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Heathrows baggage handlers break free to pay tribute to Freddie Mercury

    first_img Share LONDON — Baggage handlers at airports are used to staying behind the scenes. But yesterday at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, they finally got their time in the spotlight with a rousing performance of Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’.Why baggage handlers, you ask? You probably didn’t know that Freddie Mercury, the legendary frontman of Queen, was once a baggage handler for British Airways at Heathrow Airport nearly 50 years ago.And why yesterday of all days? Sept. 5 is the rock legend’s birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, Heathrow Airport and British Airways teamed up to rock out in spectacular Freddie fashion.Following weeks of rehearsals, a team of baggage handlers surprised travellers with Mercury-inspired dance moves choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing and ‘X Factor’ choreographer Lyndon Lloyd.Plus, any traveller landing at Terminal 5 yesterday were greeted with Queen songs on Arrivals boards. And to pay tribute to the late singer’s birthday, any customer named Freddie, Frederick or the legend’s real name, Farrokh, who departed from Terminal 5 on Sept. 5 were invited along with their travelling companions to use British Airways’ First lounge.Good morning! We’ve got some special arrivals at Heathrow today. Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see… #BohemianRhapsody #ForeverFreddie pic.twitter.com/cb6VFnBHMn— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) September 5, 2018The celebrations will continue, with Queen memorabilia going on display in the departures area next month.More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksThe celebrations, which will help raise awareness for Mercury’s charity, ‘The Mercury Phoenix Trust’, are in anticipation of the cinema release of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, a moving tribute to Queen, their music and their lead singer.Adam Dewey, one of British Airways’ baggage managers who stars in the video, said, “Freddie Mercury is an undisputed rock legend and it has been an absolute blast planning his birthday celebrations at Heathrow Airport, where he once worked.“Myself and the other baggage handlers taking part have put everything into these dance routines and we can’t wait to see the faces on holidaymakers when they strut their stuff in the arrivals hall! The new film Bohemian Rhapsody has proved a great inspiration for all of us and we can’t wait to be hot-stepping our way to the premiere next month!” Thursday, September 6, 2018 Heathrow’s baggage handlers break free to pay tribute to Freddie Mercury Travelweek Group center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Heathrow Airport, Music Posted bylast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • WestJet waives PVR change fees as Cat 5 Hurricane Willa aims for

    first_img Travelweek Group Tags: Hurricane, Hurricane Willa, Puerto Vallarta, WestJet Share TORONTO — WestJet has issued a travel advisory for passengers flying in or out of Puerto Vallarta as Hurricane Willa reaches Category 5 status off the Pacific coast of Mexico.The advisory, posted Oct. 21, waives change fees for passengers booked on PVR flights through Oct. 26.Willa now has maximum sustained winds of 260 kph. Earlier this morning the storm was centred about 325 kilometres south-southwest of the Islas Marias and 250 kilometres south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes. It was moving north at 11 kph.The “extremely dangerous” storm is on a path to hit Mexico’s western coast by Wednesday, according to reports.The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit states ordered coastal region schools to close on Monday and began preparing emergency shelters.The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that Willa could “produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday.” It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later Monday, generating life-threatening surf and rip tide conditions.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaA hurricane warning was posted for Mexico’s western coast between San Blas and Mazatlan, including the Islas Marias.Tropical storm warnings ranged from Playa Perula north to San Blas and from Mazatlan north to Bahia Tempehuaya. The centre said Willa is expected make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.The hurricane centre said 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cms) of rain should fall – and some places could see up to 18 inches (45 cms) – on parts of western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states. It warned of the danger of flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.By early this morning Willa’s core was about 310 kilometres southeast of Acapulco with top sustained winds of 75 kph. The hurricane centre said it could produce 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cms) of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states.More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterWith files from The Associated Press WestJet waives PVR change fees as Cat. 5 Hurricane Willa aims for Mexicocenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Monday, October 22, 2018 last_img read more

    READ MORE
  • FlamingoPotrero News

    first_imgThe 3rd Annual Gold Coast Women’s Group World Tour of Food, Fashion and Music will be held on Nov. 15 at the Mar y Sol Restaurant in Flamingo on the Northridge from 5-8 p.m.The fashion show will be sponsored by Azul Profundo. Each country being showcased will offer a beverage, food, fashion and music representative. The countries will include Costa Rica, the United States, India, France, Peru, Indonesia and Italy. Valet Parking is gratis, but carpooling is highly encouraged. Tickets for limited seating cost $30 for one or $200 for a table of eight. Tickets may be purchased at ReMax Real Estate office located next to BCR, Azul Profundo in Tamarindo (azulprofundoboutique@yahoo.com), Maureen Thompson (Costaricamom@gmail.com), Anne Scalf (annescalf@gmail.com).Don’t forget the Ruta La Paz 5K & 10K, scheduled for Nov. 10 in Tamarindo. The proceeds will go towards scholarships for kids to attend the La Paz School. For more information email rutalapaz@lapazschool.org.On Wednesday, Nov. 28 the 6th Annual Reserva Conchal Homeowners Charity Golf Tournament and Dinner will be held for CEPIA. If you can help this year, contact Jean Capezza at jean.capezza@comcast.net or 2654-4833 or Maureen Thompson at costaricamom@gmail.com or 2654-5961.Recently, our local physician, Dr. Andrea Messeguer, who owns and operates the Playa Grande Clinic along with Dr. Anwar (her partner and local dentist) were burglarized and suffered significant losses, to the point that they were forced to suspend services. Our communities cannot do without medical and dental services, and so we are asking for financial donations to help Dr. Andrea and Dr. Anwar to return to work, even if they must operate out of a temporary location. Donations are being accepted at Cafe Mocha, located at Paseo Del Mar commercial center. For more information, contact Randy Toltz at rantol@me.com Babe Hopkinstbabehopkins@gmail.com Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Obama to pledge 3 billion for new UN climate change fund

    first_imgRelated posts:Big Oil’s heirs join call for action as climate summit opens China surpasses EU on per-capita pollution, pushes CO2 to record Hundreds of thousands rally worldwide over climate change After 11 days of talks, a climate agreement WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. President Barack Obama will pledge $3 billion to a United Nations climate-change fund that’s intended to help poor nations boost renewable energy and counter the ill effects of global warming.The pledge would make the United States the largest donor to the newly established fund, which is a linchpin of efforts to secure an accord within the U.N. to combat global warming. With pledges in place from Germany and France, and one coming from Japan, the Green Climate Fund is nearing its goal of securing $10 billion in pledges.“This is a really important piece of building towards this international agreement,” said Peter Ogden, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a former Obama administration climate official. “This will be a hugely important moment for the negotiations themselves.”The U.S. funding would need approval of Congress, which for the first time in Obama’s presidency will have both Houses run by the opposition Republican Party after victories in midterm elections last week.The $3 billion pledge “is an unfortunate decision to not listen to voters in this most recent election cycle,” said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a skeptic of climate change who is set to chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next year. “In a new Congress, I will be working with my colleagues to reset the misguided priorities of Washington the past six years.” Obama’s climate change action plans will face stiff resistance from climate change deniers like U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who is set to chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next year, thanks to midterm voters. Mandel Ngan/AFPThe Obama administration is leading efforts among nearly 200 countries at the U.N. to secure a pact to reduce greenhouse gases that scientists blame for global warming. That effort, which has progressed slowly since 2009, got a significant boost this week after the U.S. and China, the two largest emitters of carbon dioxide, announced their targets for the negotiations.In Beijing, the U.S. pledged to cut its emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025 and China agreed for the first time to cap its overall emissions by about 2030, and said it will seek to get 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil-fuel resources. The climate funding has been a sticking point in the talks, which are set to wrap up in Paris next year.“It is in our national interest to helping vulnerable countries to build resilience to climate change,” the White House said Friday in a statement.The pledge was announced just before a Group of 20 summit, which caps a trip to Asia by Obama after his party’s losses in the midterm congressional elections. He is to arrive in Brisbane with policy victories from his stop in Beijing and on the heels of two days spent pressing the government of Myanmar to put its political and economic reform process back on track. “You’re always popular in someone else’s country,” Obama joked at a town hall in Yangon earlier Friday.Obama will include funding for part of the $3 billion in his next budget request, and will spread the funding out over a number of years, according to an administration official who spoke anonymously because budget figures haven’t been decided.Calls and emails to Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who will have jurisdiction over budget requests, weren’t immediately returned.Under the so-called Green Climate Fund, established by the U.N., money will be used to lure private sector investment and help boost global markets in clean energy technologies, according to the Obama administration.That would create opportunities for entrepreneurs and certain manufacturers who are taking steps toward a low-carbon economy, including those in the U.S. such as General Electric Co., according to an administration fact sheet.Officials are scheduled to meet next month in Lima for two weeks of discussions to begin drafting the U.N. climate agreement.Climate funding is key to convincing less developed countries to come on board a global agreement, said Jessica Brown, the former lead negotiator for climate finance at the State Department.“The finance outcomes are so inextricably tied to the rest of the package that you can’t really seal the deal without them,” said Brown, now an analyst with the Climate Policy Initiative, a not-for-profit group that advises national governments. “The U.S. is taking this super-seriously.”Still, Friday’s pledge should be taken with “more than a grain of salt,” said Brown, who left the State Department in May. The funding will likely require both congressional approval and the support of future presidents, she said in a phone interview.The Green Climate Fund was set up to distribute a portion of $100 billion in annual climate aid that Obama and other western leaders pledged in 2009 would be provided to developing nations by 2020. The promise included aid, private financing and funding from the World Bank. It’s aimed at both helping poor countries lower their emissions and fight the effects of climate change.A pledging conference is scheduled Nov. 20 in Berlin to accelerate fundraising efforts.Many European nations have already announced donations. Germany has pledged 750 million euros ($930 million;), France has promised $1 billion, and Sweden has committed to 4 billion krona ($540 million). Pledges from South Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg amount to more than $400 million.Japan is making a pledge of about $1.5 billion, Kyodo News Agency reported.Ogden and other supporters of the funding say it’s the next step from a climate fund that was set up under the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. The U.S. is close to satisfying its $2 billion pledge to that Climate Investment Fund.“Hopefully it’s not DOA. This is something that’s in our interest,” said Jake Schmidt, director of the international program at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington.“The president is a player in the budget process as well,” Schmidt said, noting that Congress had approved funding for a predecessor fund every year. Republicans “can do a lot of things, but they can’t do everything.”Phil Mattingly contributed from Yangon, Myanmar.© 2014, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentslast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • New Costa Rican airline plans to launch with flights to Central and

    first_imgRelated posts:Tico carrier Air Costa Rica obtains air operator permit Canadian carrier WestJet to add flights to Costa Rica from Calgary, Toronto Travelers in Costa Rica can pay departure tax at airports for 3 more months VECA airlines inaugurates El Salvador-Costa Rica route If all goes well with the permitting process, new Costa Rican carrier Air Costa Rica could be jetting people from San José to destinations in the U.S. and Central and South America before the end of the year.Last week, Air Costa Rica had a public hearing before the Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC), concluding the certification process to become an air operator. The company submitted its application in May 2014.Final evaluation and approval from the DGAC normally takes some 30 days. In the meantime, the carrier is launching negotiations with aviation authorities in countries to which it plans to fly, general manager Carlos Víquez Jara said Monday.Air Costa Rica has already filed authorization requests with authorities in Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Colombia. Víquez said daily direct routes from San José to those countries could start as soon as December.The carrier is also preparing authorization requests for opening routes to Quito, Ecuador and Lima, Peru, but those negotiations could take up to six months, Víquez said. And Air Costa Rica is working to submit authorization requests to U.S. authorities to launch a nonstop flight to Miami next year. It also hopes to open routes to New York and Los Angeles.The carrier’s marketing strategy will be based on quality service over discount service, Víquez said.“We are not aiming for the low-cost niche but our rates will be cheaper than those from most current carriers,” he said. “We will be an ‘intermediate-cost’ carrier.”The carrier plans to flaunt its Tico identity: Planes will be painted with the colors of the Costa Rican flag and will sport decorations evoking the country’s natural beauties.“And they will display a big Pura Vida! sign,” Víquez said.In addition, all flight crew members will be Costa Rican and they’ll wear uniforms with the flag colors.On flights lasting more than 90 minutes, passengers will get traditional Tico meals, he said.“The route to Miami, for example, is anticipated to have a 9 a.m. departure, meaning the menu will include a Tico breakfast with Gallo Pinto, tortillas, eggs, sour cream and coffee. For other schedules we will offer casados — Costa Rica’s signature dish — as we want our Tico passengers to feel at home inside our planes,” Víquez said.The company’s staff currently consists of some 30 employees at its offices in San José, but plans are to expand the staff to some 100 employees by year’s end. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Oscar Ramírez looks to restabilize Costa Rica football following turmoil

    first_imgÓscar Ramírez es el nuevo técnico de la Selección Nacional de Costa Rica.¡Un RT de apoyo para el “Macho”! pic.twitter.com/wiNnttr7OF— L.D.A. (@ldacr) August 18, 2015 Many people can go their entire lives without receiving that one desired job promotion. For Óscar Ramírez, it took just two weeks. It’s yet to be determined if that says more about the coach’s supreme qualifications or the Costa Rica Football Federation’s (FEDEFUTBOL) current state of uncertainty.After naming Ramírez the assistant coach for Costa Rica’s national team earlier this month, FEDEFUTBOL interim president Jorge Hidalgo officially introduced “Machillo” as the team’s head coach on Tuesday. It was widely assumed the job would fall to the 50-year-old former Alajuelense manager following Paulo Wanchope’s fateful brawl and subsequent resignation last week.The beloved Ramírez, who steered Alajuelense to three consecutive national titles from 2010 to 2012, now finds himself in the position of taking over a team that has not won a match in nearly a year and faces a litany of off-field scrutinies. At Tuesday’s press conference, he called this upcoming challenge the most difficult of his life.“I know the responsibility of what I’m getting into,” he said. “I understand the commitment and I’m going to give it my best.” La Sele‘s faithful can only hope that “Machillo’s” best is enough to climb the national team out from the mound of controversies and setbacks that have buried it recently. Wanchope’s disgraceful bow out (or chop out) was the culmination of a winless period that saw former FEDEFUTBOL president Eduardo Li detained in Switzerland on corruption and bribery charges and ended with a frustrating loss to rival Mexico in the Gold Cup.On the field, the 2015 version of La Sele looks like the mirror opposite of the 2014 team that enjoyed historic success at the World Cup. A once lock-down defense, one that did not allow a single goal in Brazil that wasn’t on a penalty kick or with a man down, has opened up the way for opponents with constant miscommunications and holes in the backfield.Defenders who were so good a year ago, like Giancarlo González, Michael Umaña, and Júnor Díaz, looked pedestrian under Wanchope’s relaxed, “player’s coach” style.The retooling of the defense now becomes a top priority for Ramírez, and he should be well-suited to make a quick transformation. Over the years, he’s come to be known for strategies that emphasize stout defenses, not flashy forwards, to control possession and limit the other side’s opportunities. And in terms of coaching style, it’s no secret that the strict, often militant demeanor of former headman Jorge Luis Pinto produced impressive results on the field. Though Pinto’s eventual removal after the World Cup had a lot to do with players’ and management’s averse feelings toward the Colombian manager, his aggressive defense neutralized the talent gap between Costa Rica and the world’s premier lineups like Italy, England, and Uruguay.Ramírez, however, enters with the advantage of having coached and known most of these players before. “Machillo’s” stature looms large in the Costa Rican football landscape and merits immediate respect from its top players.The promotion to head coach made sense on so many levels that Hidalgo and FEDEFUTBOL didn’t even waste time putting an interim tag on Ramírez while they looked for other candidates. Plus, as Hidalgo said last week, with friendlies a few weeks away and the all-important 2018 World Cup qualifying games starting in November, the federation had to make a fast choice.On Tuesday, Ramírez asked the press for patience as he works out the team’s problems on the pitch over the next few months. His debut on the sidelines comes Sept. 5 against world power Brazil, followed by a Sept. 8 meeting with Uruguay at National Stadium in San José.“Right now I need some time because its a short turnaround to prepare for these games,” he said. “In these two friendlies we’re going to be going up against two former world champions, so they’re not going to be easy games.”Ramírez said Tuesday that Uruguayan Alejandro Larrea is expected to join his staff as the third assistant next to Luis Marín and Luis Gabelo Conejo. Facebook Comments Óscar Ramírez: “Sé que la gente nos va a brindar el apoyo ” pic.twitter.com/gkrCD1Qlge— FEDEFUTBOL (@FEDEFUTBOL_CR) August 18, 2015 Related posts:La Sele announces 23-man roster for Copa América tournament Copa America Group A: Costa Rica faces stiff opposition Costa Rica heads into must-win game against United States Costa Rica ends year-long winless streak with 1-0 victory over Uruguaylast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Brazil tribes declare war on illegal loggers in Amazon

    first_imgARARIBOIA INDIGENOUS LAND, Brazil – A beat-up sign on the edge of this Amazon reserve warns strangers not to enter. For years, loggers ignored it and barreled straight into the protected indigenous territory, cutting tracks ever deeper into the diminishing forest.But on a recent day, visitors approaching Jucaral village, just inside the reserve, encountered an improvised checkpoint operated by a militia called the Guardians. Wearing disheveled uniforms and face paint, members of the 48-man militia sauntered out, shotguns in hand, to check every arriving vehicle.The Guardians are from one of two indigenous groups on this eastern fringe of the Amazon that have taken radical action to reduce illegal logging. They have tied up loggers, torched their trucks and tractors, and kicked them off the reserves.As a result, such logging has sharply declined in these territories. But the indigenous groups have faced reprisal attacks and death threats for their actions, raising fears of more violence in an area known for its lawlessness.The clashes highlight the continuing grave threat to the Amazon, the world’s biggest remaining rain forest, which plays a crucial role in maintaining the world’s climate and biodiversity. From 2005 to 2012, deforestation plunged in Brazil, as the government increased its conservation efforts and cracked down on illegal loggers. But since then, the numbers have begun to creep up again. In 2014 alone, almost 2,000 square miles of Amazon rain forest were cleared by farmers, loggers and others.Indigenous groups play an important role in preserving Brazil’s Amazon rain forest; their reserves make up roughly one-fifth of its area. Silvio da Silva, a village chief from Arariboia and an employee of the Brazilian government’s indigenous agency, said that a year ago as many as 130 logging trucks left the southern end of this reserve a day. Thanks to the Guardians, that has fallen to around 10 to 15 trucks a day.In a rare visit to the reserves permitted by the indigenous tribes, Washington Post journalists found that many residents support the militias. But others are uneasy about relying on informal armed groups to resolve a problem that should fall to the Brazilian government.“I am very scared of a serious incident,” said Nonato Sales, 65, a local cattle farmer.The Guardians formed in 2012 “to minimize the critical situation of illegal deforestation” on this rain-forest reserve, said Olimpio Iwyramu Guajajara, 42, the group’s general coordinator.The militia contains men from the Guajajara, an indigenous tribe. A smaller Guardians militia operates in the nearby Caru reserve, also in the northeastern state of Maranhão. In 2013, a second group of indigenous people, the Ka’apor, began using similar tactics on their reserve, Alto Turiacu, 150 miles away. Members of the Ka’apor tribe have been expelling loggers from their Alto Turiacu reserve, action that has led to threats and violence. Bonnie Jo Mount | Washington PostIndigenous groups like those in Arariboia have faced a growing threat to their livelihoods as loggers have pressed into their territories, where most of the remaining hardwood in this part of the Amazon is concentrated.The threat has been even worse for the Awá people, hunter-gatherers who roam through remote areas of the 1,600-square-mile reserve. The loggers were “expelling the isolated Indians, finishing the food supplies that sustained them, all the hunting, fruits and fish,” Iwyramu said. Brazil is home to more isolated or “non-contacted” indigenous groups than anywhere else in the world, around 80, according to Survival International, a British-based group that champions the rights of tribal peoples.President Dilma Rousseff recently promised to end illegal logging in the Amazon by 2030. A report last year by the World Resources Institute, a nonprofit group based in Washington, concluded that indigenous communities were highly effective at conserving their own forests. “They say the forest is their life,” said Sarah Shenker, who works at Survival.Yet the government’s agency for indigenous affairs, the National Indian Foundation, or FUNAI, has a budget this year of just $159 million to protect 900,000 indigenous people. With such limited resources of its own, the agency has decided to provide support to the Guardians in Arariboia, including ammunition, boots and fuel for their motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles.The armed groups are using aggressive tactics to protect their land.A few weeks ago, a team of Guardians surrounded some loggers in their hammocks in the Arariboia reserve. “We tied them all up,” said Fernando Marciano Guajajara, 30, one of the Guardians. The militiamen went on to burn the loggers’ vehicles.“They were very angry,” he said. A logging truck moves through the Arariboia reserve. Bonnie Jo Mount | Washington PostConflict builds as loggers fight backThe reaction to the raids has been fierce. Indigenous leaders have received death threats, Iwyramu said. The Ka’apor people have especially suffered: In April, Eusébio Ka’apor was shot and killed just outside the Alto Turiacu reserve. “He was one of the oldest and best-known leaders,” said a 28-year-old member of a Ka’apor leadership council, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of security concerns. Another Ka’apor leader narrowly avoided an ambush attempt in July, and three other members of the tribe were shot and wounded in January 2014.The close relationship between the government and the Guardians is not replicated on the Alto Turiacu reserve. There, local leaders said they had not had any support from the indigenous agency, which they distrust.Antonio de Oliveira, 48, a federal police officer on assignment to the agency, has been working with the Guardians in Arariboia for 19 months. Normally, he and police officers from an environmental unit accompany the Guardians on their missions. He has repeatedly told the men that their weapons are for self-defense.But during one mission, Oliveira said, he had to stand in front of a captured logger to deter a Guardian who was threatening to kill the man. The Guardian has since left the troop. “We don’t want any more of him,” Oliveira said. Antonio de Oliveira, a federal police officer on assignment with the National Indian Foundation, shows a tree that was cut by loggers. Bonnie Jo Mount | The Washington PostIn Arariboia, many people in the indigenous villages of mud-brick houses said they supported the Guardians. But some alleged that the militia members had seized possessions from indigenous people they believed were selling wood. The indigenous communities are legally allowed to cut down some trees but can’t do commercial logging.Lourenzo Guajajara, 60, chief of Bom Jardim village, complained that the Guardians provoked powerful loggers. “It is bringing problems to us,” he said, citing villagers’ fears of reprisal attacks.In the past, many towns have accepted money to let logging vehicles pass into their lands. The Guardians have persuaded most to stop. But one village, Cigana, continues to charge $26 a truck to let them rumble through it and over a tumbledown bridge.“In our village, there is no work,” said Cigana’s chief, Joacyr Muni Guajajara, 45. “We need it.”The illegal logging in Arariboia has been reduced but continues. One recent afternoon, a battered truck with no license plates lurched down a dirt path that led out of the reserve, laden with logs. Seven more passed nearby after the sun had set.Oliveira said many trucks took a looping route to Buriticupu, a town between the reserves where dozens of sawmills operate. “In terms of environmental crime in Brazil, crime pays,” he said. “The state is not fulfilling its role.”Logging has also declined in the Alto Turiacu reserve, a spokesman for the leadership council said. Residents in the town of Centro do Guilherme, near the reserve, said the flow of logging trucks down the main street had almost ceased in recent months.There are currently three indigenous groups of 30 people each, armed with bows and arrows and shotguns, doing monitoring and surveillance work of possible illegal logging in Alto Turiacu, a spokesman for the leadership council said. In August, the groups carried out two operations in which they torched tractors and trucks belonging to loggers, the spokesman said.But community leaders are also pursuing other strategies to protect their 2,406-square-mile reserve. They have founded villages like Jaxipuxirenda, a compound of huts, at strategic points to keep loggers out.Two years ago, the area on the edge of the reserve shuddered to the buzz of chain saws, and dozens of trucks a day ferried logs away. But on a recent day, the only sound came from children scampering down a path into the forest.One man said he had been scared to move to the village. “It was difficult. Just a few people,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. But the loggers had left, and now it was home. “It’s a good place,” he said. “It’s very beautiful.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon surges 450 percent, says environmental group China throws Brazil multi-billion dollar lifeline for jets, oil Lula’s bridge to nowhere hints at global reach of Brazil graft To conserve the Amazon, the forest must become an economic ‘asset’last_img read more

    READ MORE
  • FIFA corruption probe expands with arrest of two top executives

    first_imgRelated posts:FEDEFUTBOL official: FIFA scandal won’t affect Costa Rica’s upcoming matches Chuck Blazer: The whistleblower at epicenter of FIFA arrests FIFA’s Blatter shocked by US anti-corruption tactics FIFA-Gate: Just days after his re-election, Blatter resigns Two FIFA vice presidents were arrested Thursday at dawn at their luxury Zurich hotel, signaling that U.S. prosecutors have widened a seven-month corruption investigation that’s led to the biggest crisis in football’s history.Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and Juan Ángel Napout of Paraguay were arrested at the Hotel Baur au Lac at the request of U.S. authorities on suspicion of accepting millions of dollars in bribes for selling marketing rights to football tournaments in Latin America. The pair are opposing extradition to the United States, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was scheduled to detail the charges on Thursday afternoon in Washington.On May 27, seven FIFA officials gathered in Zurich for FIFA’s congress were detained in a dawn hotel sweep as part of a U.S. federal indictment of 14 sports officials for racketeering and bribery. Prosecutors accused U.S. and South American sports marketing executives of paying more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks for media and marketing rights to football tournaments.The arrests are the latest by the U.S. Department of Justice and Switzerland’s Attorney General as they crack down on corruption on the sport’s governing body. Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into a 2 million-Swiss franc ($1.96 million) payment from Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, who’s overseen FIFA for nearly two decades, to Michel Platini, European football’s head. Both were suspended in October.“As it stands, FIFA is not corrupt,” Issa Hayatou, FIFA’s acting president told reporters at a building known as the Home of Football at the organization’s headquarters in the hills above Zurich. “We have individuals who have shown negative behavior, so do not generalize the situation.”Napout, the head of the South American Football federation known as Conmebol, didn’t answer an email seeking comment. A spokesman for Concacaf, the North and Central American association headed by Hawit, said the organization is cooperating with authorities, and would continue with reforms made earlier this year. FIFA Reform Committee chairman Francois Carrard looks on during a press conference at the FIFA headquaters on Dec. 3, 2015 in Zurich. The unprecedented corruption scandal engulfing FIFA widened with the arrests of two more top officials in another dramatic dawn raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich. Fabrice Cofrini/AFPThe New York Times, which reported the arrests, said more than a dozen people are expected to be charged by U.S. authorities. A BBC sports reporter tweeted that the number may climb to 16.“According to the arrest requests, some of the offenses were agreed and prepared in the U.S.,” the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said. “Payments were also processed via U.S. banks.”The Swiss authorities said they’ll ask the U.S. to submit formal extradition requests within 40 days.Among those charged in May were Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner, both former presidents of football’s governing body for North America, Central America and the Caribbean, or Concacaf. They deny wrongdoing. The U.S. has secured guilty pleas from Chuck Blazer, Concacaf’s former general secretary; Brazilian sports-marketing executive Jose Hawilla, who agreed to forfeit $151 million; and Warner’s two sons, Daryll and Daryan.Blazer secretly pleaded guilty in 2013 to racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering charges and income-tax evasion. The 70-year-old forfeited more than $1.9 million at the time of his plea and agreed to pay more money when he’s sentenced.Since those arrests, more turmoil has shaken the South American football establishment. Last month, Chilean football association president Sergio Jadue resigned from his post and headed to New York to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation, La Tercera and El Mercurio reported. The head of Colombian football, Luis Bedoya, also resigned in November.The head of Brazilian football, Marco Polo Del Nero, stepped down last month from his role on FIFA’s executive committee. He hasn’t left the country since returning hurriedly from Zurich a day after May’s arrests. Del Nero, already facing a probe by Brazil’s parliament, is now the subject of proceedings by FIFA, according to a statement Thursday by the investigatory chamber of its ethics committee.Former Brazilian football official José María Marín is subject to house arrest at New York’s Trump Tower after putting up $15 million in bail. Webb, who was released on $10 million bail after agreeing to return to the U.S. in July, is living in the Atlanta suburb of Loganville, with electronic monitoring. Both have pleaded not guilty.FIFA released a statement early Thursday, saying the Zurich-based body pledged to “continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General.”As the U.S. expanded its investigation, Swiss authorities began their own criminal probe into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. A spokesman for Switzerland’s Attorney General declined to comment Thursday and referred all questions to the Federal Office of Justice, which handles requests for extradition and other judicial assistance from foreign bodies including the U.S. Department of Justice.Reporters and TV camera operators were gathering outside the Baur au Lac, although there was no police presence or signs of the earlier raids. Attention has now shifted to FIFA’s headquarters, located on a hill above central Zurich, where a reform committee responsible for crafting proposals to overhaul FIFA is scheduled to hold a press briefing Thursday at around 2 p.m. local time. The U.S. Department of Justice said it will discuss the arrests during a media event in Washington, D.C. at 1:30 p.m. local time.FIFA’s executive committee will make a decision on corporate reforms including term limits for senior officials, salary disclosures and an increase in women on the organization’s board. Most of the changes will require a vote of FIFA’s full membership at an emergency congress in February.Bloomberg’s Paul Verschuur, Ting Shi, Jeffrey Vögeli and David Voreacos contributed.© 2015, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentslast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • FIFA enacts reforms chooses new president

    first_imgZURICH, Switzerland — Gianni Infantino made his name as UEFA’s master of ceremonies until scandal forced his boss Michel Platini out of the race for the FIFA presidency.On Friday, after a remarkable journey, the shaven-headed Swiss-Italian lawyer ascended to the job that Platini coveted so much — the most powerful man in world football.Since becoming UEFA general secretary in 2009, the 45-year-old Infantino became best known to the football public as the man who takes out the lottery balls when the draw is made for the Champions League.Behind the scenes he also played a key role in giving the European confederation the financial power to rival FIFA.He was very much a behind-the-scenes figure much valued by Europe’s leading clubs who battle for Champions League honors and riches each season.Infantino was born in Brigue, less than 10 kilometers from Viege, the home village of Sepp Blatter, the man he has now replaced as FIFA president.But his rise would not have come without Platini’s downfall over a suspect 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) payment that Blatter approved to the Frenchman in 2011.Platini is currently serving a six-year ban imposed by FIFA.“We will restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA and everyone in the world will applaud us,” Infantino told Friday’s FIFA congress after his election. “I want to work with all of you together in order to restore and rebuild a new era of FIFA where we can put again football at the center of the stage.”Infantino is multilingual, speaking English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. He is also a workaholic trusted by the big clubs who were Platini’s major backers.Infantino has proposed increasing the 32-team World Cup to 40 countries while saying FIFA should consider allowing two or more countries to host the event.In his campaign, he said he wanted to give $5 million every four years to each member association and $40 million to each of the six continental confederations.“He was named as a manager, but he knows how to do politics,” said one member of Platini’s entourage recently.Infantino has Swiss and Italian nationality and is an Inter Milan supporter.Former secretary general of the International Centre for Sports Studies at the University of Neuchatel, Infantino joined UEFA in 2000 to take charge of its legal and commercial affairs and gradually rose through the ranks.According to his UEFA CV, Infantino handled contacts with the European Union and governments as well as clubs.He helped create UEFA’s financial fair play rules that have aimed to rein in profligate clubs by stopping them spending more than they earn. Michael Buholzer/AFPFIFA reformsBefore electing a new president, FIFA’s scandal-tainted governing body passed a raft of reforms at the Zurich congress. All the candidates were warned before the election that the result and the reforms must convince a doubting world after several years of mounting scandal with corruption and doubts about World Cup bidding.“This congress will quite certainly mark a watershed moment in the history of FIFA,” acting president Issa Hayatou said in his opening speech.The reform package was adopted by 179 members, while 22 voted against and six abstained.The measures are designed to limit the authority of top leaders and end patronage and waste that prevailed during Sepp Blatter’s 18-year term.The president’s job has been altered to function like a corporate chairman of the board, providing strategic guidance but with less management authority.FIFA’s executive committee, which had become an epicentre of graft allegations, has been re-branded as a FIFA council. It will operate like a corporate board of directions.FIFA’s secretary general, previously number two to the president, will serve as world football’s CEO.Measures to improve financial transparency at the multi-billion dollar organization were also included.FIFA’s sponsors, who are holding out on deals, were waiting on the result for signs of commitment to reform.The scandal that erupted after seven top officials were arrested at a FIFA congress in May “shook the very foundations of our organization,” Hayatou told FIFA delegates.Secretary general Markus Kattner said “general uncertainty” following the crisis created tough economic times and that FIFA was roughly $550 million behind in its 2015-2018 budget plan.International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said football and all sports federations had to improve governance.“Today you have this great chance to turn the page,” he said.Blatter, 79, was the big absentee at the congress. The Swiss sports baron suffered a spectacular fall over the last nine months.Swiss police, acting under U.S. warrants, arrested seven FIFA officials in Zurich two days before his re-election last May.Blatter has since been banned from football for six years for ethics breaches and could face criminal charges. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s ex-football chief Eduardo Li gets house arrest Football: US releases three FIFA guilty plea transcripts Eduardo Li’s bail request denied by New York judge FIFA ex-VP Hawit pleads guilty in corruption caselast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Ministry of Education Introduces Rules to Use Cell Phone in Classes

    first_imgThe time has arrived for the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) to determine the use of devices in classrooms.Therefore, MEP presented the regulations for the use of cell phones for high school students last Monday. Costa Rica is the first Latin American country to develop such a guide.The authorities created these regulations through a process that involved students, parents, teachers, administrative staff and school directors of Cartago, the Department of Technological Services of MEP, Fundación Omar Dengo and Fundación Telefónica.“Movilizate”, a strategy developed by the MEP in 2016 after a directive allowed the use of cell phones in classes.“We are aware that our country requires a curricular transformation that encompasses all educational processes and is involved in educating the young,” said Alicia Vargas, Vice Minister of Education. She said that the use of cell phones requires cultural, educational and other changes.Vargas highlighted the pioneering contribution of the regulations, and stated that it is not possible to demonize technological resources that are of daily use for students, but must be used in development.For Leda Muñoz, director of the Omar Dengo Foundation, this alliance seeks to promote the appropriation of technologies for the development of people’s skills. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Bright Lights Boat Parade inaugurates holiday season in Quepos

    first_imgOpen doors, bright lights: Marina Pez Vela’s community outreach in Quepos The Bright Lights Boat Parade marked the official kickoff of the holiday season in the Central Pacific town of Quepos on Saturday. The Marina Pez Vela offered its traditional parade with a total of 17 boats decorated with beautiful lights.See also: Open doors, bright lights: Marina Pez Vela’s community outreach in QueposThis is the fourth edition of the Bright Lights Parade. This year, participants competed with their finest decorations for the title of best illuminated boat. Courtesy of Didier FernándezThe winner for this year was the Gallo Pinto boat with a perfect score, followed by Happy Ending and Armattore.“Marina Pez Vela thanks all the people from the town of Quepos for their support year after year… and we pay tribute to those who supported the people affected by Tropical Storm Nate,” Jeff Duchesneau, Marina Pez Vela’s manager, said in a press release. Courtesy of Didier Fernández Facebook Commentscenter_img Related posts:What to do on the 4th of July in Costa Rica Marina Pez Vela sailed a rough sea to calmer waters Brazilians take ‘World Cup’ of sportfishing in Quepos Marina Pez Vela: Luxury and authenticity in onelast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Iran says diplomat target of German smear campaign

    first_imgTEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran on Sunday said one of its diplomats was confronted by German police and is the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by an Iranian opposition group and German newspaper Bild.State-run Press TV quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hasan Qashqavi as saying that the mass-selling tabloid and the People’s Mujahideen, an opposition group outlawed in Iran, were behind a “fabricated scenario” to discredit the diplomat by accusing him of molesting a girl in Frankfurt. Top Stories But a Paris-based spokesman for the opposition group, Shahin Gobadi, rejected the official’s allegation as “preposterous and baseless,” calling it a “desperate attempt to whitewash the wicked conduct of Tehran’s diplomat.”Iran says it summoned the German ambassador to Tehran, Bernd Erbel, last Monday to protest the confrontation. Tehran says the diplomat was attacked by an African woman while he was returning home from work.A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the ambassador met officials at the foreign ministry in Tehran this week, describing the encounter as part of regular talks. The spokeswoman, who declined to be named in line with German government policy, declined to discuss the content of the meeting or the allegations against the Iranian diplomat.German media reported over the weekend that an investigation was opened into the affair, in which the diplomat is said to have caressed a 10-year-old girl and followed her up to her family’s apartment late last month, allegedly trying to kiss her. The Frankfurt prosecutors’ office could not immediately be reached for comment.The media reports say that German police detained the diplomat only briefly but released him after he proved diplomatic immunity. Comments   Share   3 international destinations to visit in 2019 New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths ___Associated Press writer Juergen Baetz contributed to this report from Berlin.(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 The difference between men and women when it comes to pain More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Four benefits of having a wireless security system Sponsored Stories last_img read more

    READ MORE
  • UN Sudan refugees suffering without adequate aid

    first_imgThe World Food Program says the latest influx of refugees into Ethiopia _ from both Sudan and Somalia _ is straining its operations there.“With the current number of people we have enough food to cover August, September and most of October distributions, and after that we start to have shortfalls of cereals, beans and pulses,” said Lynne Miller, WFP’s deputy country director.While appealing for more refugee aid, Guterres also said a political solution was needed in Sudan.“The international community needs to make sure that everything is done for a political solution to be found and for peace to be re-established because these people are suffering in a terrible way and they don’t deserve that,” he said.___Associated Press reporter Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Sudanese troops are fighting rebels, who were once aligned with what is now South Sudan, in two states near the countries’ shared border. Guterres said more than 200,000 refugees have fled the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile and into neighboring Ethiopia and South Sudan.“It is absolutely essential that the international community mobilizes itself to support the refugees themselves and South Sudan and Ethiopia that are hosting them, having kept their borders open in a very, very generous way,” Guterres told The Associated Press Monday while visiting a refugee camp in western Ethiopia.Seasonal rains have set in at refugee camps in South Sudan, and Lane Hartill of Save the Children said conditions “are getting quite bad.” Heavy rainfall has made dirt roads impassable, making aid delivery difficult and expensive.“I think things are going to deteriorate in the weeks to come,” he said.Save the Children says that up to 2,000 children a day are arriving at overcrowded camps in South Sudan. Some were forced to abandon elderly and weak relatives on the way to the camp, it said.Because of the fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, families did not plant crops, fearful that Sudanese bombers would target them while in the field. That has forced residents to eat roots and leaves to survive. Comments   Share   Check your body, save your life Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementscenter_img Associated PressASSOSA, Ethiopia (AP) – Sudanese refugees who fled fighting between rebels and Sudan’s military are suffering in primitive camps without enough aid because the international community has not provided the needed funds to help, a top United Nations official said.Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, urged donor nations to ease “the enormous humanitarian tragedy.” “People are coming just as heavy rains make it virtually impossible to access these areas to provide aid. The resources are not in place to meet the needs of everyone. The worst-case scenario is now a reality; we are witnessing a full-blown humanitarian crisis in one of the most remote places on earth,” said Jon Cunliffe, Save the Children’s South Sudan country director.In the Ethiopian camp of Bambasi, aid workers on Monday registered about 600 new arrivals from a nearby transit center that holds 14,000 people who need to be relocated to healthier living conditions. However, Bambasi doesn’t have the funds to accept all the refugees.Representatives of the refugees told the visiting U.N. delegation that they are in desperate need of more food and clothing. Guterres promised them he would “knock on all the doors” when he will be back at his office in Geneva, but also admits that it’s more difficult than the refugees hopes for.“All of our operations in Africa are now dramatically underfunded and in particular this operation is severely restricted,” said Guterres. “It breaks my heart because when I see these people suffering I would like to do much more but unfortunately we don’t have enough resources.” Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debateslast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Popes Lebanon visit made urgent by Syrias war

    first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories The Vatican initially stressed Benedict’s push for inter-faith dialogue in the wake of Ambassador Chris Stevens’ death in a mob attack on the consulate in Benghazi. But on Thursday the Holy See toughened its response, firmly condemning the attack and saying nothing can justify such acts of terrorism or violence.The papal visit comes amid fears that Syria’s conflict might spill over to Lebanon. Clashes in Lebanon between Syrian groups over the past months have claimed the lives of more than two dozen people and left scores wounded. The Christian community in Lebanon is divided between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.Among Assad’s supporters is former prime minister and army commander Michel Aoun, a strong ally of the militant Hezbollah group. Hezbollah’s leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah welcomed the visit, describing it as “extraordinary and historic.”“I am not unaware of the often dramatic situation endured by the populations of this region which has been torn for too long by incessant conflict,” Benedict said in his weekly remarks to pilgrims Sunday. He assured them the visit “comes under the sign of peace.” Lebanese authorities are enacting stringent security measures, suspending weapons permits except for politicians’ bodyguards and confining the visit to central Lebanon and the northern Christian areas.Several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have recently urged their citizens not to visit Lebanon because of security concerns over the recent violence.But the pope’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told reporters this week that the trip has never been in question and that Benedict has made clear he expects to be warmly welcomed. The government has declared Saturday an official holiday in Benedict’s honor and given the day off to tens of thousands of workers and students so they can greet him.Benedict, the third pope to visit Lebanon after Paul VI in 1964 and John Paul II in 1997, will be addressing concerns by the region’s bishops over the plight of Christians in the Middle East. War, political instability and economic hardships have driven thousands from their traditional communities dating to early Christianity in the Holy Land, Iraq and elsewhere.Some clerics in the region have blamed the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories; others have said the rise of “political Islam” has become a threat to their well-being. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The turmoil stemming from the Arab Spring has deeply unsettled the Middle East’s Christian population, which fears being in the cross-fire of rival Muslim groups.The 85-year-old Benedict is likely to get a full briefing on the region’s problems when he meets with Lebanese political and religious leaders and his own bishops from the region.Vatican spokesman Lombardi did not rule out that the pope would meet some supporters of Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group that has risen steadily over the decades from anti-Israel resistance group into Lebanon’s most powerful military and political force. The U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Lombardi declined to say what the Vatican’s position is on the group.Syria’s Assad is a crucial ally of Hezbollah and Iran its most important patron.Lombardi said Benedict may also meet with Syrian refugees, but it is not confirmed. The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday that the number of Syrian refugees seeking its help now tops a quarter-million, with at least 66,915 in Lebanon.The main public event of the visit is Mass on Sunday on the Beirut waterfront.The Lebanese army has imposed a 10-day ban on gliding over the coastal town of Jounieh and the mountain area of Harisa and its surroundings. Harisa, famous for its giant statue of the Virgin Mary, is the site of the Vatican ambassador’s residence, where Benedict will reside. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Associated PressVATICAN CITY (AP) – The brutal civil war in Syria and the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya have given a sense of urgency to Pope Benedict XVI’s trip this week to Lebanon, a mission he describes as a pilgrimage of peace for the entire region.The three-day visit starting Friday will take the pope to the nation with the largest percentage of Christians in the Middle East _ nearly 40 percent of Lebanon’s 4 million people, with Maronite Catholics the largest sect. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Mubarak loyalists acquitted in attack on protest

    first_img Parents, stop beating yourself up The Feb. 2, 2011 assault left nearly a dozen people killed and was a major turning point in the 18-day wave of protests that led to Mubarak’s downfall.It came a day after Mubarak spoke on national television, saying he would eventually step down. The emotional speech won him sympathy and drained the numbers of protesters in a days-long sit-in in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the heart of the uprising.But then the attack came. A crowd of Mubarak supporters waded into the young activists at the sit-in. Amid the melee, a number of men on horses and camels swept in, trying to beat and trample protesters. The assault, widely aired on TV, turned into an all-out battle that lasted two days, with more protesters flooding into the square to defend it in clashes that saw the two sides pelting each other with stones, bricks and firebombs. In the end, the Mubarak supporters were driven away.The attack and the images of young protesters fighting back reversed sympathies and galvanized the uprising. Many Egyptians who were sitting on the fence saw it as a desperate last ditch attempt to crush the revolt, and many accused Mubarak officials and pro-regime businessmen of paying thugs to carry out the attack. The wave of protests grew and on Feb. 11, 2011, Mubarak was forced out. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Judge Mustafa Abdullah said the defendants were acquitted because the testimony of the witnesses was weak and “driven by grudges between witnesses and the defendants due to partisan differences.”Abdullah also said some of the witnesses had criminal records, including one who had a record of perjury. Despite the list of known victims, the judge said he trusted the testimony of a general who was a member of the council that ruled Egypt during the transition, who said that no one was killed in the square during the battle.The defendants’ lawyers had asked for an acquittal because they said there was not enough evidence incriminating their clients. An official in the prosecutor general’s office said an attorney has been commissioned to review the reasons for the verdict, a sign it will likely appeal.A senior figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed el-Beltagi, said in comments published on its party’s online newspaper that the acquittal is a “farce” and called on Egypt’s new president, the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi to intervene to retry the defendants.Gamal Eid, a human rights lawyer whose center was involved in the case, said some evidence presented to the court was not taken into consideration and other evidence was tampered with. Some witnesses in the case changed their testimony from what they had given earlier to investigators, Eid said, blaming pressure from still powerful ex-regime loyalists. “The eyewitnesses said that there was a specific assignment to clear the square by any means,” the report said.Sorour paid thugs anywhere from 50 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($9 to $90) and provided them with meals and drugs to attack the crowd, the commission said.Witnesses told the investigators they saw ruling party members among the assailants, inciting them against the protesters, and even some on the camels and horses, the report said. “Snipers also took positions on rooftops of residential buildings overlooking the square and they opened fire at protesters.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 5 treatments for adult scoliosiscenter_img Associated PressCAIRO (AP) – An Egyptian court on Wednesday acquitted 24 loyalists of ousted President Hosni Mubarak who had been accused of organizing one of the most dramatic attacks on protesters during last year’s uprising, the “Camel Battle,” in which assailants on horses and camels charged into crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.The 24 were found innocent on charges of manslaughter and attempted murder. The defendants included some of the biggest names of Mubarak’s regime, including the former parliament speaker and the head of the now-dissolved ruling party, along with government ministers and businessmen. A 25th defendant died during the course of the trial. Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   “The acquittal doesn’t mean this didn’t happen or that so and so did not commit the crime. It means the evidence is not enough,” he said. “This is the case in most of the other trials concerning the killing of protesters, because the police, who are accused in the killings, are the ones collecting evidence.”Ragheb said the fact-finding mission has collected new evidence, but that anything short of an overhaul of the judicial system would not mete out justice for the protesters.“The current judicial system is not qualified to try the state. It is part of it,” he said. “We need a new justice system that can protect the revolution,” and implement a system of transitional justice to bring former regime officials to trial.Chief among the defendants in the “Camel Battle” trial was Safwat el-Sherif, one of Mubarak’s most trusted aids and secretary-general of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, and Fathi Sorour, who served for decades as speaker of parliament.Last year, a government-appointed commission investigating the Feb. 2 events released findings, based on testimony from 87 witnesses. The commission said el-Sherif masterminded the attack, making phone calls to ruling party lawmakers and their supporters and telling them to “curb anti-Mubarak protests in Tahrir Square with violence.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Activists are planning a large rally on Friday criticizing Morsi’s 3-month-old rule, and the acquittals of some of the most hated figures of Mubarak’s regime are likely to fuel calls for justice.Nearly 1,000 protesters were killed in the uprising against Mubarak, mostly during clashes with security forces in the early days of the protests, which began on Jan. 25, 2011. But almost none of the officials and policemen brought to trial for the deaths have been found guilty. Most were released for lack of evidence and poor investigation. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for failing to stop the violence.Lawyers and activists have questioned the impartiality of the investigations into the killings, which were conducted in the days following the uprising by Mubarak-era officials who still held their posts and by police officers embittered by the protests. The multiple acquittals have fueled calls for reforming the judiciary, which is still made up of judges appointed under Mubarak.Morsi has promised to hold new trials on new evidence and appointed a new fact-finding mission to investigate the deaths of protests.Ahmed Ragheb, a human rights lawyer who is participating in the fact-finding mission, said Wednesday’s verdict was not a surprise, considering numerous flaws in the procedures leading up to the trial and reported pressures on witnesses and investigating judges from ex-regime officials.last_img read more

    READ MORE
  • US computer graphics scientist wins Kyoto Prize

    first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Comments   Share   TOKYO (AP) – An American regarded as a father of computer graphics, an Indian literary critic and a Japanese molecular cell biologist have received the Kyoto Prize, Japan’s highest private award for global achievement.The Inamori Foundation awarded its advanced technology prize on Saturday to U.S. computer scientist Ivan Sutherland, who developed the graphic interface program Sketchpad in 1963.Gayatri Chakrovoty Spivak , an Indian literary critic and professor at Columbia University, won the arts and philosophy prize. The vital role family plays in society 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Yoshinori Ohsumi, a molecular biologist at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, received the basic sciences prize for his work on autophagy, a cell-recycling system that could be used to help treat neurodegenerative and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.The Kyoto-based Inamori Foundation was set up in 1984 by Kyocera Corp.’s founder, Kazuo Inamori.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

    READ MORE
  • Puerto Rico lawmakers give final nod to sales tax increase

    first_img Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober If approved, it would be the highest sales tax compared with any U.S. state.Officials said the proposed increase could help generate $1.2 billion in revenue as Puerto Rico struggles through its eighth year of recession and faces a $72 billion public debt. Officials previously warned the government could shut down soon if emergency measures were not taken.The approval ends a months-long heated debate where legislators rejected other proposals to generate money including a 14 percent value-added tax as the U.S. territory’s economic crisis worsened.If Garcia signs the measure, it will help Puerto Rico access the market and issue up to $2.95 billion in bonds as planned, said economist Jose Villamil, a former U.N. consultant and CEO of an economic and planning consulting firm. But government officials still need to take other steps to help boost the economy, including implementing a tax reform, he said in a phone interview.“Clearly, the fiscal situation will not be solved by this bill,” he said, adding that the sales tax increase could have been lower had legislators approved it earlier this year.“We would be in a much better position today,” he said. “A lot of important revenue was lost during that time.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Check your body, save your life Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Legislators on Tuesday narrowly approved an increase in the U.S. territory’s sales tax to help generate more revenue and offset a deep fiscal crisis.Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla is expected to sign the bill that would increase the tax from 7 percent to 11.5 percent, as well as create a new 4 percent tax on professional services. The sales tax increase would go into effect July 1 and the new tax on Oct. 1, with a transition to a value-added tax by April 1. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like The measure received the minimum 26 votes needed in the island’s House of Representatives after the Senate narrowly approved it with amendments on Monday.Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi of the main opposition party said the measure would have a negative impact on Puerto Rico’s economy.“It will kill your own pocket and our economy little by little,” he said. “This new tax will keep leading to closures and lost jobs.”Legislators are now expected to debate a proposed $9.8 billion budget that calls for $674 million in cuts. It also sets aside $1.5 billion to help pay off Puerto Rico’s debt, an increase of $400 million from the current fiscal budget. The government has announced that it plans to close nearly 100 schools and 20 public agencies in a bid to save money and cut costs.___Danica Coto on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danicacotoCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

    READ MORE