Portugals deadliest fire still rages after 62 people killed

first_img PEDROGAO GRANDE, Portugal — More than 1,000 firefighters were still battling Portugal’s deadliest forest blaze on Monday after it killed at least 62 people over the weekend.Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who on Sunday visited Pedrogao Grande, a mountainous area about 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon, called it the biggest human tragedy in Portugal in living memory.Welcome light rain that started on Monday morning brought only modest relief to the shocked population and exhausted firefighters. Water planes, including French and Spanish ones, resumed their missions after stopping overnight.Aerial view of a forest fire is seen from the cabin of a Spanish fire fighting plane near Pedrogao Grande, Portugal, June 18, 2017. (Spanish Defence Ministry-Spanish Air Force/Handout via REUTERS)“There is still a lot of forest that can burn and the rain does not make much difference,” said Rui Barreto, deputy chief firefighter at the makeshift emergency services headquarters in Pedrogao Grande as thunder rolled through the skies over the ash-covered town.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaFirefighters said the weather conditions were still adverse in most areas where the flames were raging. Two army battalions were helping the emergency services.Dozens of fire engines drove back and forth to fight the raging blaze in areas as far as 20km north of Pedrogao Grande. In a sign of help Portugal is receiving from its European neighbors, four Spanish fire engines were seen driving off from the headquarters.At least half the victims died in their cars as they tried to flee along a local motorway while many other bodies were found next to the road, suggesting they had probably abandoned their vehicles in panic.Red Cross and other relief personnel are seen outside a relief centre for people affected by a forest fire in Figueiro dos Vinhos, Portugal, June 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Miguel Vidal)GOVERNMENT ASSURANCESDespite government assurances that the first response by the emergency services was swift and adequate, many media and residents questioned the efficiency of the operation and the strategic planning in a country which is used to wooded areas burning every year.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agency“So what failed this Saturday? Everything, as it has failed for decades,” read a headline in the daily Publico, which blamed a lack of coordination between services in charge of fire prevention and firefighting and poor forestry reserve planning.Police said a lightning strike on a tree probably caused the blaze on Saturday in a region hit by an intense heat wave and dry, gusty winds, which fanned the flames.The regional prosecutor still ordered a criminal investigation into the causes, which he said would be shelved if the police version of events is confirmed. Many forest fires in Portugal are caused by arson or carelessness.A public petition circulating on the Internet demanding an investigation into possible failures by the authorities has gathered about 270 signatures.Local residents said they had been without the support of firefighters for hours as their homes burned. Many blamed depopulation of villages that left wooded areas untended. << Previous PostNext Post >> Portugal’s deadliest fire still rages after 62 people killed By: Axel BuggeSource: Reuters Share Tags: Portugal, Travel Alert Monday, June 19, 2017 last_img read more

Eurostar slashes select fares on summer and fall travel

first_img Share LONDON – Rail travel in Europe will be a lot more affordable this year, thanks to Eurostar’s new seasonal promotion.The high-speed rail company, which links the U.K. and mainland Europe, is offering savings of up to 20% for travel in Standard Premier and 30% in Business Premier this summer.Bookings are available from May 15 to June 19, 2018, for travel between July 16 and Nov. 1, 2018.In Standard Premier, passengers will enjoy a light meal and refreshments served at seat, spacious coaches and complimentary magazines. In Business Premier, benefits include a meal created by Business Premier Culinary Director Raymond Blanc OBE, access to exclusive Business Lounges in London, Paris and Brussels, added flexibility to accommodate changing plans, as well as convenient check-in up to 10 minutes before departure.Included in all Eurostar travel are: 2 for 1 entry to permanent collections and exhibitions at museums and galleries; generous luggage allowance of two free bags plus hand luggage, without weight restrictions; free Wi-Fi and onboard entertainment, no expensive airport transfers, with city centre stations; and free travel for children under four.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthTravel will be onboard sleek new e320 and refurbished e300 trains that travel at speeds of up to 186 mph through the European countryside and under the Channel. For more information go to Eurostar.com. Travelweek Group Thursday, May 17, 2018 Tags: Eurostarcenter_img Eurostar slashes select fares on summer and fall travel Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Rocky Mountaineers new selfdrive combos come with savings

first_imgTags: New Tours, Rocky Mountaineer VANCOUVER — All four of Rocky Mountaineer’s just-announced new packages qualify for the company’s Peaks & Perks deal.With Peaks & Perks clients can receive up to $800 per couple in added value credit valid for anything from hotels, to sightseeing, to cruises.The four new packages include destinations like Canmore, Kananaskis, Sunshine Village in Banff National Park and the Cariboo Mountains. “For the first time ever, guests can do things like hiking and exploring caves, horseback riding, and relaxing at the Nordic Spa” as part of a Rocky Mountaineer trip, says the company.Here’s a quick look at the new packages:First Passage to the West Canmore Self-DriveThe mountain town of Canmore, about 20 minutes from Banff, offers stunning views and a laid back atmosphere where visitors can hike, explore caves, or discover restaurants and boutiques. The new seven-day Canmore Self-Drive package includes lodging at the newly-constructed Malcolm Hotel in Canmore, four days with a rental car to explore the region, and two days onboard Rocky Mountaineer.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoFirst Passage to the West Kananaskis Self-DriveKananaskis is an ideal place to hike, mountain bike, ride horses, play golf, or relax in the Nordic Spa, plus it’s about a 45-minute drive from Banff. The seven-day Kananaskis Self-Drive package includes two nights at Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, four days exploring the area by rental car, and two days onboard Rocky Mountaineer.First Passage to the West Sunshine Village Self-DriveLocated within Banff National Park, Sunshine Village sits at an elevation of 7,200 feet with great views of the mountain terrain. Known as a top hiking areas in Canada, Sunshine Village offers opportunities for nature walks, gondola rides, biking, and swimming in hot springs. The seven-day Sunshine Village Self-Drive package features two nights at Sunshine Mountain Lodge, four days with a rental car to explore the region, and two days onboard Rocky Mountaineer.Journey through the Clouds Mountain AdventuresThe 10-day Journey through the Clouds Mountain Adventures package features three nights at the CMH Cariboos Lodge, where guests arrive and depart via helicopter, two and a half days of guided heli-hiking, and two days onboard Rocky Mountaineer. Rocky Mountaineer’s new self-drive combos come with savings Thursday, September 6, 2018 Posted bycenter_img Share Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Delta tops longrunning ranking of US airlines

first_img Share Monday, April 8, 2019 Delta tops long-running ranking of U.S. airlines Tags: Delta Air Lines, Statistics WICHITA – Delta Air Lines comes in first in a long-running study that ranks U.S. airlines by how often flights arrive on time and other statistical measures.Researchers who crunch the numbers also say that as a whole, U.S. airlines are getting better at handling baggage and overcrowded flights and are getting fewer complaints.Academics at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University released their annual study, now in its 29th year, on Monday. They used 2018 data collected by the U.S. Transportation Department on rates of on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, bumping passengers and consumer complaints.Delta was the only carrier to improve in all four categories, the researchers said. It rose from second place last year.JetBlue Airways ranked second, followed by Southwest Airlines and last year’s winner, Alaska Airlines.Discount carrier Frontier Airlines ranked last, just behind American Airlines.Overall, the industry improved in three of the four categories in the study, including fewer passengers being involuntarily bumped from a flight. For several years, airlines have been cutting that rate by enticing more customers to take vouchers or other compensation in exchange for volunteering to get off oversold flights.More news:  Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?“They are buying out customers better than ever,” said one of the lead researchers, Brent Bowen of Embry-Riddle.The rate of late-arriving flights rose over 2017, however. “It was computer glitches and it was weather,” Bowen said.There are many surveys of airline passengers and reviews that sometimes come up with different results, perhaps by capturing intangibles such as customer service.Last week, travel site TripAdvisor named its 10 best airlines in the world, and Southwest was the only U.S. carrier to make the cut, landing sixth. Airlines from the Middle East and Asia dominated the list, led by Singapore Airlines. By: The Associated Press << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

CIE Tours launches Those Who Serve promotion

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> CIE Tours launches ‘Those Who Serve’ promotion Posted by Travelweek Group MORRISTOWN, NJ — CIE Tours is offering $200 air credit per couple as well as up to 15% off select tours in Ireland, Scotland and Italy “to all the firefighters, first responders, military members, nurses, police officers, and teachers of all heritages who make our world a better and safer place to live and travel.”The deal is immediately bookable and will remain available through May 17. The deal applies in Canada, says CIE. The air and land promotions can be booked separately or together. The land offer is valid on selected tours and dates throughout May, June, July and August and available to book by phone only; agents are asked to call 1-800-243-8687.Full offer details and restrictions are online at cietours.com/those-who-serve/.Among the eight tours on offer with the deal are:Scottish Dream: 8 days, from $2,580 per person (based on July 24 discounted departure), where clients can immerse themselves in Scotland with castle tours, a trip to picturesque Isle of Skye and the bustling cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.Taste of Italy: 7 days from C$2,515 per person (based on July 14 discounted departure), for the wonders of Venice, Florence and Rome.Irish & Scottish Sampler: 8 days, from $2,965 per person (based on Aug. 5 departure), to Dublin, the Giant’s Causeway, Scotland’s Highlands, Edinburgh and more.Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way: 13 days from $4,000 per person (based on Aug. 19 departure), starting in Shannon and ending in Dublin.Irish Pub Tour: 8 or 9 days from C$2450 (based on June 26 discounted departure), including an exploration of cozy pubs around the country, with story-telling at Dublin’s Oldest Pub, the Brazen Head, and dinner and music at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. Other highlights include a visit to Teeling Whiskey Distillery and Guinness Storehouse and stays in Kilkenny, Killarney and Westport, all known for their pubs.center_img Tuesday, April 30, 2019 Tags: CIE Tours Sharelast_img read more

Haiti opposition cautiously welcomes PMs resignation

first_imgRelated posts:Former Haiti dictator Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier dies of heart attack Anti-government protest turns violent in Haiti US urges Haiti leaders to hold elections soon Haiti postpones presidential runoff vote Facebook Comments PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s emboldened opposition welcomed the resignation Sunday of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who faced repeated calls to go over the failure to hold legislative elections in the past three years.The increasingly unpopular Lamothe’s resignation had been widely expected after President Michel Martelly said Friday that his Cabinet chief was ready to leave “to help find a solution” to the Caribbean country’s dragging political impasse.But it remains to be seen whether Lamothe’s decision to quit will have that effect, in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and one with a checkered history of dictatorship and violent protests.Related: Anti-government protest turns violent in HaitiIf elections are not held before Jan. 12, the legislature will be automatically dissolved and Martelly can rule by decree. His critics have warned he could send back Haiti to dictatorial rule and also are demanding that he resign.A commission set up by the president has recommended forming a consensus government including opposition members, disbanding Haiti’s electoral council and freeing political prisoners.Martelly is scheduled to meet Monday with the presidents of the two legislative chambers to choose a replacement for Lamothe.“I am leaving the post of prime minister this evening with a feeling of accomplishment,” Lamothe, 42, said during a televised speech, touting his government’s “remarkable” record, which he said included reduced poverty and a 50 percent drop in crime.Andre Michel, a young opposition protester and lawyer, branded Lamothe’s departure “too little, too late,” and called for more demonstrations against the ruling elite.Francisco Delacruz, an opposition senator, was more optimistic, saying, “The departure … is a positive signal.”“The crisis can be resolved in a week, but it will take good will and determination from political actors,” he said.He suggested a consensus government be put in place as quickly as possible to organize the stalled elections.Opposition parties boycotted recent talks initiated by the government aimed at resolving the crisis before the end of the year.On Saturday, prior to Lamothe’s announcement, one man was shot dead during anti-government demonstrations in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince calling for the president and Lamothe to resign.Clashes broke out when hundreds of youths tried to break through police barricades to enter the presidential palace. It was not clear who had fired the fatal shot.Haiti, which is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake, has struggled mightily with a difficult post-colonial legacy, corrupt rule, civil unrest, environmental degradation and natural disaster.The country’s former strongman Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier died in October.The January 2010 earthquake devastated vast tracts of the capital killing more than 100,000, and a cholera epidemic affected some 700,000 people, killing more than 8,500.See also: Haiti’s Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier: An overweight, overwhelmed dauphinlast_img read more

Guatemalans take to the streets again as new corruption scandal rocks the

first_imgRelated posts:Resignation rumors of Guatemala’s Pérez Molina grow after fourth week of protests Guatemala’s Pérez Molina could face impeachment Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina dismisses ‘spurious’ corruption case In Costa Rica visit, Guatemala president-elect Jimmy Morales reaffirms opposition to drug decriminalization Related: Resignation rumors of Guatemala’s Pérez Molina grow after fourth week of protestsGUATEMALA CITY – For the fifth consecutive week, protesters gathered in front of the presidential palace on Saturday to demand President Otto Pérez Molina’s resignation after his administration was tainted by yet another corruption scandal.As has become the custom in the country’s recent wave of anti-corruption protests, demonstrators sang the national anthem and waved homemade placards that read: “It’s Otto’s turn to face trial” and “Give us back what you’ve stolen!”The protests began after the U.N.-supported International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) revealed, on April 16, that a number of high-level government officials were involved in a massive customs fraud network known as “La Línea” that was allegedly led by former Vice President Roxana Baldetti’s private secretary, Juan Carlos Monzón.Neither Baldetti’s resignation on May 8 nor Pérez Molina’s recent decision to sack three Cabinet ministers and his head of intelligence in a desperate attempt to clean up his government’s image have managed to placate protesters’ indignation.Far from dying down, a fresh scandal involving another close ally of President Pérez Molina has fanned the flames of discontent.The latest protest was spontaneous and was not organized on social media, which explains why it was considerably smaller than the ones held in previous weeks – Prensa Libre newspaper estimated that 200 people attended this impromptu demonstration as opposed to 60,000 on May 16. But although it was small in numbers, those who took to the streets on Saturday were undeterred by the persistent rain and were determined to make their voices heard.Some donned the stylized Guy Fawkes mask made popular by the Anonymous hacktivist group that has become the symbol of anti-government protesters worldwide.And in a particularly dramatic gesture, a protester, disguised as Jesus, mock crucified himself in front of the presidential palace. On the cross, he had posted the words CACIF corruptores (CACIF– Guatemala’s influential private sector lobby – you are the bribers), a reference to the fact that a number of businesses bribed the customs officials involved in “La Línea” in order to pay less than the legal tariff on imports.Although CACIF has sought to distance itself from the Pérez Molina administration by calling for a “national crusade against corruption” many demonstrators have highlighted the fact that the businesses that greased the palms of corrupt officials should also be held accountable.Another massive demonstration organized on social media is expected to take place on May 30.A government in disarrayGuatemala’s political crisis deepened last Wednesday when another cohort of government officials including the president of the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS), Juan de Dios Rodríguez, and the head of the Bank of Guatemala, Julio Roberto Suárez, was arrested on corruption charges involving a $14.5 million dialysis contract.According to El Periódico newspaper, Rodríguez, a retired army officer, served under the G2 military intelligence unit and was part of a group of officers loyal to Pérez Molina known as “Los Titos” (named after Pérez Molina’s military pseudonym “Tito Arias”). He was allegedly one of the PP’s campaign donors, and in 2012 Pérez Molina made him his private secretary.A year later, he was appointed IGSS president after Pérez Molina controversially used troops to forcibly remove his predecessor, Luis Reyes Mayén, following his involvement in a sex scandal. Pérez Molina justified Rodríguez’s appointment by describing him as “well qualified” and stating that he had “great trust” in him, words that have come back to haunt him following his arrest on corruption charges.Among those arrested was Otto Molina Stalling, son of Judge Blanca Aida Stalling Dávila, who is president of the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court.The Stalling family became embroiled in the “La Línea” scandal after CICIG revealed that key defendants in the case allegedly bribed presiding Judge Marta Josefina Sierra González de Stalling – Stalling Dávila’s sister-in-law – in exchange for obtaining release on bail and unguarded house arrest instead of prison.Stalling Dávila was also mentioned in wiretap recordings although she insists that the names of the two judges were mixed up and voluntarily agreed to cooperate with investigators in order to clear her name.A day after the IGSS scandal hit the headlines, Pérez Molina tried to confront the deepening crisis by firing three ministers, a vice minister, his intelligence chief and the Guatemalan consul in Miami.See also: Guatemalan president sacks 3 ministers amid graft scandal Those sacked are: Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla, a retired lieutenant colonel regarded as Pérez Molina’s right-hand man; Vice Minister for Public Security Edy Juárez Prera; Minister of Energy and Mining Erick Archila Dehesa; Minister for the Environment Michelle Martínez; head of intelligence Ulises Anzueto; and the Guatemalan consul in Miami, Gabriela Aparicio.López Bonilla, Juárez Prera and Anzueto have been accused of granting inflated contracts for the purchase of police surveillance equipment. Archila Dehesa is accused of granting overpriced contracts for the purchase of electricity generators, and Martínez is accused of spending $17.9 million on an Israeli manufactured disinfectant to clean up Lake Amatitlán without carrying out a mandatory environmental impact study.Aparicio, a young make-up artist who had a close friendship with former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, had long been derided by the press for lacking the necessary qualifications for the position.“The president fired ministers involved in dubious public contracts in an attempt to be one step ahead before more scandals are uncovered. It’s a palliative measure but it’s not enough. The protests will continue because he’s regarded as a leader who’s surrounded by corrupt officials,” political scientist José Dávila said.The current crisis has led to a strong perception that ousting a handful of corrupt officials is a merely cosmetic change and that only a a far-reaching political reform can stamp out a deeply ingrained culture of graft and crookedness.“We’re riding on the crest of a wave that will bring about change. Ideally we need a new electoral law,” said sociologist Álvaro Velásquez.The reform would usher in tighter regulations on campaign finance to prevent candidates from being beholden to powerful interest groups and organized crime, measures to punish transfuguismo – or candidates’ habit of repeatedly switching from one party to another – anti-nepotism regulations to prevent parties from becoming dynastic fiefdoms, and a prohibition on the serial re-election of mayors and legislators.Although there is a growing consensus around the urgent need for a systematic overhaul, securing a reform that requires a congressional majority four months before the general elections will not be an easy task. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Finance Ministry could lower Costa Rica income tax brackets

first_imgA decrease in Costa Rica’s Consumer Price Index over the past year could mean more of the country’s low-income workers will have to pay taxes next year, and some middle-income workers may have to pay higher taxes.Finance Ministry officials are evaluating whether to lower Costa Rica income tax brackets because of a 0.74 percent annual decrease in the CPI, the main indicator used to calculate tax adjustments. The ministry updates income brackets every September, which then apply starting Oct. 1, the day the new fiscal year begins.Currently some 952,000 workers earning a monthly salary of ₡793,000 ($1,460) or less are exempt from the tax, while 242,000 workers make enough to pay income tax. Those with monthly salaries between ₡793,000 and ₡1,190,000 ($2,195) pay 10 percent, and those with salaries equal to or greater than ₡1,190,000 pay 15 percent on income above that amount.Finance Vice Minister Fernando Rodríguez said Thursday he does not remember a recent period where the country recorded a year of deflation (decrease in price levels of goods and services). Costa Rican law states that, if deflation occurs, income brackets must be lowered accordingly.Albino Vargas Barrantes, Secretary General of the National Association of Public and Private Employees, said Friday that he’s strongly against what he called “the unfortunate and untimely attempt by the government to reduce the income figure used for calculating tax exemptions.”The leader of the country’s largest labor union said the decision would be worse than “the government’s equally deplorable decision to yield to the pressures of big business owners,” in reference to some lawmakers who fiercely oppose a series of fiscal reforms that seek to establish harsher sanctions for tax fraud and tax dodging.Vargas also questioned why, in a period of deflation, the government hasn’t implemented any price cuts on basic goods and public transportation fees. Facebook Comments Related posts:Finance Ministry updates income tax brackets, raises tax-exempt salary limit Restaurant owners say 2 percent bank charge on credit, debit transactions could cause problems Tax on Costa Rica corporations is unconstitutional, says court Finance Ministry submits tax reform bills to Legislative Assemblylast_img read more

Costa Rica to host Central Americans seeking asylum in US

first_imgRelated posts:FARC cease-fire could change Costa Rica’s refugee population Deporting 600 migrants back to Africa could be expensive, and impossible More Central Americans seek asylum in Costa Rica  ‘I feel like they cut me down to the roots’: A Salvadoran refugee’s story The governments of the United States and Costa Rica announced Tuesday that Costa Rica would begin hosting Central American refugees applying for asylum in the United States and other countries as part of a protection transfer arrangement with the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration.As many as 200 refugees at a time from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — the so-called Northern Triangle — will be allowed to stay in Costa Rica for up to six months while they are processed for potential asylum in the U.S. or elsewhere, UNHCR chief in Costa Rica Carlos Maldonado told reporters during a news conference at Casa Presidencial in San José on Tuesday. The U.S. State Department announced the agreement in a news release.Working with the UNHCR and the IOM, the United States will pre-screen “vulnerable applicants” in the region seeking asylum. Applicants in need of immediate protection can then be sent to Costa Rica for processing before traveling to the U.S. or another country.Pre-screened refugee applicants will be housed near or in San José while they are processed and will receive English classes and information about their destination. All costs associated with the program will be covered by IOM and UNHCR.Just two weeks ago, the U.S. State Department’s top official on refugee and immigration matters, Anne Richard, told The Tico Times that the Central American refugee program was “still on the drawing board.” The agreement with Costa Rica to house vulnerable applicants is a breakthrough on one of the key issues holding up the program.One outstanding question is whether six months will be enough time for Central American refugees to be processed for travel to the U.S. Richard said processing refugees for resettlement in the U.S. takes on average 18 to 24 months worldwide.News of the agreement comes a day before the president of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, arrives in Costa Rica to meet with President Luis Guillermo Solís. Asylum applications from El Salvador make up nearly half of the some 1,500 applications Costa Rica has received so far this year.The U.S. also announced Tuesday an expansion of a program that allows Central American minors to apply for protection in the U.S. from their home countries. The program, which began in December 2014, allows a parent who is legally in the U.S. to request refugee status for their child living in a Northern Triangle country so that the child can avoid the dangerous journey north alone or with smugglers.Under the newly-announced expansion, the following categories of people can also be considered for the program when accompanied by a qualifying child: adult children of legal U.S. residents; a biological parent of a qualifying child if the parent is still living in a Northern Triangle country; caregivers of a qualifying child who are relatives of the child’s legal U.S.-resident parents.Hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans have fled gang violence and organized crime in their home countries in recent years. Most seek refuge in the U.S. but many have also fled to Costa Rica. The Northern Triangle countries have some of the world’s highest homicide rates and most pervasive gang presence.According to figures from UNHCR, nearly 150,000 Central Americans are expected to seek asylum in 2016.The agreement announced Tuesday does not apply to African, Asian and Haitian migrants, who have been traveling through Central America in increasing numbers this year to reach the U.S. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica pledges to improve protection of its wetlands

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rican court orders effective protection for Corcovado National Park Alleged gold miners camp outside Corcovado National Park, demand compensation  Sea lions found at Costa Rica’s central Pacific beaches Environment Ministry officials report increased damage of wildfires inside protected areas President Luis Guillermo Solís and other government officials have officially launched the new National Wetlands Policy, a road map to the preservation of Costa Rica’s more than 2,000 water sources and reservoirs.At a signing ceremony held on Monday at Casa Presidencial, environment officials said they have already started working on some of the plan’s actions including a National Wetland Inventory, a project to compile an updated list of all water sources in the country.The plan, for the first time, proposes measures to protect wetlands at risk and to rehabilitate those facing deterioration. The document outlines tasks, goals and responsibilities distributed among various ministries and public agencies. Various non-govermental organizations also are part of the plan’s goals.Environment Minister Édgar Gutiérrez said the plan will help the government improve the supervision and protection of all the country’s bodies of water. The plan focuses on five main areas: conservation, climate adaptation, ecological rehabilitation, strengthening of environmental agencies and inclusive participation. The last area is designed to involve indigenous people and residents of rural communities in the decision-making process.Essential ecosystemsThe drafting of the government’s plan took almost two years. The final document lists a series of actions to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change on Costa Rica’s ecosystems, particularly on wetlands.Measures aim at protecting ecosystems in rivers, creeks, lakes and lagoons, as well as marshes, flood plains, mangroves, coral reefs, the seabed and marine waters.Wetlands represent nearly seven percent of Costa Rican territory. All these natural water reservoirs are key to counteracting the effects of climate change here, Gutiérrez said. They also provide food, fresh water, fiber, biochemicals and genetic materials.“Wetlands also fulfill recreational, aesthetic, educational and spiritual functions that are part of our culture,” the minister said.The plan also involves a promotion strategy, including some informative videos that will air in coming days.Watch one of the videos about Palo Verde, one of Costa Rica’s most famous wetlands (in Spanish): More neededPresident Solís highlighted the importance of the new plan, but stressed that the country will need a intense effort to turn the plan into concrete actions.Solís said that despite Costa Rica’s successful actions regarding conservation, protected lands are still in a very vulnerable situation due to a lack of resources.Among others challenges, the president acknowledged that there are not enough park rangers and that current guards don’t have appropriate or sufficient resources.Alice Shackelford, resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme, said at the event that the government’s plan is critical for highlighting the role of wetlands in Costa Rica’s sustainable development ,as well as their importance for women, children, Afro-descendants, indigenous people, coastal communities and other groups.The Costa Rican Federation for Environmental Conservation (FECON), in a written response, was less optimistic about the government’s plan. The group’s president, Mauricio Álvarez, said that “what the country needs is actions and not words.”He noted that in August 2016, the administration of President Solís approved Executive Decree #39838, which allows the Environment Ministry to authorize intervention inside wetlands “for repairing, constructing or expanding infrastructure.”Álvarez said that the decree would primarily benefit private contractors by allowing them to build and expand public roads and other projects that would pass through protected areas. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

53 rescuers saved from China mine tunnel collapse

first_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Patients with chronic pain give advice Comments   Share   BEIJING (AP) – Fifty-three rescuers have been freed after becoming trapped while trying to save five coal miners stuck underground when a tunnel collapsed at a southwest China mine.The official Xinhua News Agency said the rescuers had been trying to help five miners trapped since the tunnel at the Anlilai mine in Guizhou province collapsed on Wednesday.But as they tried to enter the mine, the tunnel collapsed a second time and trapped the rescuers. Xinhua said the 53 were pulled out Thursday through a freshly-dug tunnel. Top Stories ErrorOKFree Rate QuoteCall now 623-875-9940 ErrorOK Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of The work to reach the five trapped miners was continuing.China’s coal mines are among the world’s deadliest and have frequent explosions, cave-ins and floods. Repeated safety crackdowns have lowered the death rate, but hundreds of fatalities still occur every year.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

Top Honduran parties chose presidential candidates

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The National and Liberal parties, which have long dominated Honduran politics, fielded multiple candidates.Late Sunday, Honduras’ Supreme Electoral Tribunal said preliminary results showed Mauricio Villeda ahead as presidential candidate for the Liberal Party while the National Party was favoring Juan Orlando Hernandez.It was unclear when the official final results would be announced.A mission of 40 Organization of American States observers said the voting process had been “normal.”Supporters of Libre, which was formed after the 2009 coup d’etat that toppled Zelaya, hope it will break the lock on power held by the Liberal and National parties.“Libre will break the bi-party system,” said Zelaya on the eve of the primaries. “Libre is a peaceful, revolutionary, socialist and the hope for this country.”Honduras’ army flew Zelaya out of the country after he went forward with plans for a referendum on changing the constitution even though the Supreme Court ruled the vote illegal. The coup was widely condemned by other nations.Zelaya returned from exile in May 2011 under a deal brokered by Colombia and Venezuela, paving the way for Honduras’ reintegration into the world community. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated Press WriterTEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) – Three Honduran political parties chose their candidates for next year’s general elections in primary voting Sunday that heralded the return of ousted former President Manuel Zelaya to politics in this Central American country.Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro, is running uncontested as the presidential candidate in 2013 for the leftist Liberty and Refoundation party, or Libre, while the ousted president is seeking to be a congressional candidate. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Sponsored Stories Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Sunday’s voting was to choose candidates for the presidency and vice presidency, and open seats in the Central American Parliament, National Congress, and municipal councils.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

Turkey says US criticism of leader unacceptable

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has criticized the United States for rebuking the Turkish prime minister over his comments linking Israel to the Egyptian president’s ouster.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested this week that Israel was behind the overthrow of Egypt’s Islamic leader Mohammed Morsi, prompting condemnation from the White House which said the comments were offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy In an interview aired on Kanal 24 station late Wednesday, Davutoglu said Erdogan’s comments were about Israel and not the United States and said such public condemnation of Turkey’s leader by “a friend and ally” was unacceptable.Davutoglu also says Erdogan’s comments were misinterpreted and that Erdogan was referring to a “mentality” that had led to a coup in Egypt and not a plot hatched by Israel.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Top Stories Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous oflast_img read more

Germany urges Russia to put more pressure on Ukraine rebels

first_img Sponsored Stories Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk away after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, May 10, 2015. (Host photo agency/RIA Novosti Pool Photo via AP) 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist As Western sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine continue to bite, Russia has appeared to pivot away from Europe and focus more on developing relations with China.For the World War II commemoration, Merkel laid a wreath Sunday at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the walls of the Kremlin.On Saturday, Russia showed off its new war machines, including a highly sophisticated tank, in the annual Victory Day military parade through Red Square.The Armata tank drew strong applause as it rumbled past, part of a convoy that ranged from WWII-era equipment to the most modern. Also on view for the first time at the parade was a lumbering RS-24 Yars ICBM launcher, along with several new, smaller vehicles.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   How do cataracts affect your vision? Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Speaking alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference, Merkel said the past week’s creation of groups to negotiate a lasting settlement of the dispute in Ukraine provided a “glimmer of hope” but that progress was lacking elsewhere.Ukraine says more than 8,000 people have died in the conflict that began in April 2014 between government forces and Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.Putin and Merkel on Sunday met for the first time since mid-February, when they both participated in painstaking cease-fire negotiations that led within days to a sharp diminution in the fighting. The agreement required the warring sides to pull back heavy weapons from the front line and exchange all prisoners, but progress in those and other areas has been piecemeal.Putin said Ukraine continued to carry the bulk of responsibility for bringing about a settlement.“We will use all the influence we have on the leadership in Donetsk and Luhansk to ensure the process proceeds at the required pace and attains the necessary level,” Putin said.The West accuses Russia of giving separatists in Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainian regions vast amounts of weapons and manpower. Russia denies those claims. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober MOSCOW (AP) — Russia must do more to persuade separatists in eastern Ukraine to abide by a cease-fire that has been strained in recent weeks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday during a visit to Moscow.Merkel’s trip was timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany, which has been celebrated with particular exuberance in Russia this year despite the fact that many western leaders have not attended due to tensions over Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Palma de Mallorca to be next Royal Caribbean base

first_img<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1d392/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Royal Caribbean International announced last week it would base a ship in Palma de Mallorca in a strategic move to attract more U.K. and Irish passengers and families.It is the first time the cruise line will base a ship in the port and marks a departure from its usual homeports of Venice, Barcelona, Rome and Southampton.Royal Caribbean said the Grandeur of the Seas ship would operate 7-night cruises from the Mallorcan capital during summer 2011.”Our research has found that Royal Caribbean International is now the brand of choice for families choosing to cruise” said Royal Caribbean GM Jo Rzymowska in a statement.She also told Cruise Critic that the company was “very much targeting the 14-night family market over the main summer period.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.Llast_img read more

NASA to test commercial jets of the future

first_imgNASA will this year begin testing passenger planes of the future, enabling faster, quieter and greener travel by as soon as 2025. According to the Australian, three concept designs will fly up to 1,050 kilometres per hour, cover a range of around 11,265 kilometres and carry between 22,700 and 45,400 kilograms of payload, either passengers or cargo. The designers, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and Boeing, have each won a contract with NASA to research and test their concepts, the newspaper reported.”Standing next to the airplane, you may not be able to tell the difference, but the improvements will be revolutionary,” NASA project scientist Richard Wahls said.”Technological beauty is more than skin deep.”According to the newspaper, Boeing’s design, the Sugar Volt, employs hybrid propulsion technology that can use both fuel to burn in the engine’s core, and electricity to turn the turbofan when the core is powered down. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

How to score a free upgrade…

first_imgDress smartly59% are more likely to upgrade a well-dressed passenger Good luck! Look your best31% are more likely to upgrade a well-groomed, attractive passenger Point out that sprained ankleHaving an injury or illness is likely to increase your chances of an upgrade according to 65% of crew Source = e-Travel Blackboard: NJ Join the airline’s frequent flyer scheme80% of crew said that this helps to improve your upgrade chances A friendly smile greets you as you step onto the aircraft, following directions you casually stroll to your allocated seat. After placing your bag in the overhead storage you get comfortable by reclining your ‘oh so very spacious’ seat until you’re almost completely horizontal. You pick up the remote, select your entertainment of choice and enjoy the flight in your own personal bubble.Well that is until a child’s cry from row 15A snaps you back to reality and your jerk reaction causes you to spill your glass of water from the tiny drink tray.We all dream of being in first class – but not many of us know the tricks to get there for free.A Skyscanner study found that two-thirds of cabin crew have admitted to giving a free upgrade on a flight, so we know the possibility is out there.However, according to crew, the most likely passenger to receive that upgrade is a smartly dressed, single guy in his 30s.But don’t worry, if you don’t fit that criteria there are small things you can do to get crew to notice, like and maybe upgrade you: Travel alone72% are most likely to upgrade a lone travellercenter_img Give the crew a sob story to gain their sympathy35% of crew say it can sway their decision The tricks behind getting a freeupgrade on your next flight. Travel at unpopular timesIf there are lots of seats available in premium class, you’re more likely to have that request accepted according to 47% of crew Be friendly and politeA massive 82% of crew say it makes a difference Make friends in high places55% of crew admit that they are more likely to upgrade a friend or family If you’re on your honeymoon, make the crew aware58% would be more likely to upgrade newlywedslast_img read more

Air NZ Virgin Australia transTasman alliance receives conditional ap

first_imgDraft approval to continue their trans-Tasman alliance. Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have received draft approval to continue their trans-Tasmania alliance for another three years.Although originally hoping to continue to the relationship for another five years, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) commissioner Jill Walker said due to potential impact of competition on certain routes, it would be appropriate to review the alliance earlier than the five years requested by Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand.She said allowing Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand to continue linking network and sales will likely benefit the travelling public through “enhanced products and services”.Dr Walker noted that without the alliance, competition between Australia and New Zealand would be more limited, particularly with the recent cooperation between Qantas and Emirates.However, the ACCC commissioner did request certain conditions be put in place on certain services that may experience reduced competition as a result of the union, by maintaining capacity on the routes.Routes include Christchurch-Melbourne and Christchurch-Brisbane; Wellington-Brisbane; Queenstown-Brisbane; Auckland-Gold Coast; and Dunedin-Sydney, Dunedin-Melbourne and Dunedin-Brisbane.“The ACCC notes that the weighing up of likely public benefit and detriment was finely balanced and it was only with the proposed conditions that the ACCC reached the preliminary view that the alliance is likely to result in a net public benefit,” Dr Walker said.Submissions on the draft decisions are welcome.Source = ETB News: N.J.last_img read more

Sheraton accelerates growth in Asia Pacific

first_imgSheraton accelerates growth in Asia PacificSheraton Hotels & Resorts, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., has announced accelerated growth plans for Asia Pacific, continuing its sharp focus on Sheraton 2020, a comprehensive 10-point plan designed to put Sheraton Hotels & Resorts firmly back into the global spotlight.Following the most recent designation of Sheraton Grand Macao, Cotai Central in January, the brand is continuing its rapid expansion of Sheraton Grand by welcoming three properties to the premier tier: Sheraton Grand Shanghai Pudong Hotel & Residences, Sheraton Grand Guangzhou Huadu Resort and Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City Hotel.Sheraton also revealed plans to open more than 20 properties in the region by mid-2017, supporting the brand’s Sheraton 2020 goal of adding 150 new hotels by 2020.“As we complete the first year of our bold new vision for Starwood’s most global brand, Sheraton 2020 initiatives are already underway to establish Sheraton as the hotel brand of choice everywhere,” said Vincent Ong, Senior Director, Brand Management, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Asia Pacific.“We are making tremendous progress in Asia Pacific, continuing to provide Sheraton guests with effortless travel experiences so they can experience more, from offering the new lobby bar menu Paired to leading the expansion of the brand’s new premier tier, Sheraton Grand.”A Grand Welcome Introduced in August 2015 as part of Sheraton 2020, Sheraton Grand is a new premier tier that recognises exceptional Sheraton hotels and resorts for their enticing destinations, distinguished designs, and excellence in service and guest experiences. As part of the burgeoning network, these new Sheraton Grand hotels in Asia-Pacific represent the high-touch elements synonymous with the new elevated tier:Sheraton Grand Shanghai Pudong Hotel & Residences – Ideally located in the heart of Pudong New District with easy access to Shanghai’s central business district, the property features stunning views of the Huangpu River and the city and includes more than 16,000 square feet of function space.Sheraton Grand Guangzhou Huadu Resort – Surrounded by serene greenery and calming panoramic views of the resort’s lake, the hotel features lake and mountain-view villas with a contemporary design, as well as two swimming pools that blend into the natural landscape. The Hotel also features an on-site organic farm where poultry and vegetables are reared and grown for the hotel’s restaurants.Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City Hotel – Opened last October, this new hotel is connected to a mega-mall and features one of Jakarta’s largest function spaces at close to 40,000 square feet with a glamourous grand ballroom. The hotel is also conveniently located just five kilometers from the flourishing commercial hub of South Jakarta.Strengthening Sheraton GloballyIn addition to welcoming three new Sheraton Grand properties, the brand continues to march toward its Sheraton 2020 goal of adding 150 hotels by 2020, with the aim to open more than 20 properties alone in Asia Pacific by mid-2017. Sheraton will debut in countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Myanmar over the next several years, as the brand continues to expand its global reach across every corner of the world.“As Starwood’s most global brand, Sheraton enjoys the long established recognition that many owners have already come to know and expect of the brand,” said Rajit Sukumaran, Senior Vice President, Acquisitions & Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Asia Pacific. “We are confident that Sheraton will continue to enjoy significant footprint growth as we power through Sheraton 2020.”A Clear VisionSince announcing the Sheraton 2020 plan in June 2015, Sheraton has revealed its multi-million dollar marketing campaign; introduced a new imaginative lobby menu, PairedSM; announced the richest SPG® promotion in the history of the brand, along with a promotion for travel professionals; launched the brand’s new visual identity and re-designed Sheraton.com web and mobile sites; and introduced Sheraton Grand, a new premier tier that recognises exceptional Sheraton hotels and resorts.A nod to the plan’s clear five year vision, Sheraton 2020 also promises continuous innovation of the Sheraton guest experience; an unwavering commitment to service excellence; the implementation of revenue and profit-driving initiatives to benefit owners and developers; and a goal of adding more than 150 new Sheraton hotels worldwide by 2020. Sheraton 2020Source = Sheraton Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

No such thing as a digital detox for mobile addicted Aussies

first_imgAs Australians become more reliant on their mobile devices with each day, the Hotels.com™ Mobile Travel Tracker* uncovers the impact mobile technology is having on the nation’s behaviour when it comes to travel.According to the Hotels.com™ Mobile Travel Tracker, a global study of 9,200 travellers across 31 countries, today’s modern Australian traveller makes three trips a year and stays in a hotel 11 nights of the year. For 7% of Aussie travellers, the hotel becomes their home for a month, spending more than 31 days a year in a hotel room^.Number one travel accessorySixty four per cent of Australians ranked their mobile device as the most important thing to travel with, ranking it higher than taking a best friend or loved one with them (42%).After unlocking their phones on their trips, it appears that Aussies are using their phone to search for restaurants and food markets (57%), followed by using maps and directions apps to get around (54%).Lust drives lovers to book hotelsLust is driving Aussie lovers to hotels, with 20% of those surveyed admitting to having made a same day hotel booking due to a successful date that they wanted to carry on.Twice as many men (8%) as women (4%) admit to using dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr while travelling. Valentine’s Day is the most popular day for a last minute hotel booking at 16%.Social media show-offsNearly half of 18-29 (44%) and 30-39 year olds (47%) primarily use social media on their phones while on holiday – to show off their snaps to friends and family back home.The most popular social media networks to surf while on holiday are Facebook (74%), YouTube (26%) and Instagram (24%).Travel more thanks to mobileAlmost a third of Aussies regularly book their hotel stays on a mobile device (32%) with this number rising to 40% for the 30 – 39 year olds, according to the survey. Short interstate breaks (25%), intrastate short breaks (24%) and short breaks abroad (23%) are the main occasions in which hotel bookings are made on mobiles.Secret bookers – From the bedroom to the bathroomOf all the places where Aussies book hotel rooms, 20% say they’ve booked whilst in bed with their partner. Just over a sixth (16%) of people admitted to booking a hotel on their daily commute and 12% even confessed to booking a hotel whilst sitting on the toilet!How Aussies will use mobile in the futureWith mobile technologies developing at such speed, there’s no doubt mobile usage when it comes to travel will change and evolve this year. The Hotels.com™ Mobile Travel Tracker looked at what activities travellers would be prepared to do in the future on their mobile devices whilst travelling. The most popular future usage requests were leaving an instant hotel review and checking in using their device (33%). Hotels.com has already launched real time reviews, so this technology isn’t far away.Dan Craig, Senior Director of Mobile at Hotels.com said: “We pride ourselves on the booking experience we offer today’s modern traveller through our mobile app. As one of the market leaders in the mobile space, we’re constantly innovating and adding new features to make our app more personal and improve both hotel shopping and the customer experience.”The Hotels.com mobile app is available for IOS, Android, Windows and Amazon Kindle devices, and already has over 50 million downloads worldwide. More insights here *9,200 adults from 31 countries were polled by One Poll, commissioned by Hotels.com in May 2016.^300 Australians were polled as part of the One Poll survey, commissioned by Hotels.com in May 2016Source = Hotels.comlast_img read more