Love wins Cuba to bring back love motels

first_imgLove wins! Cuba to bring back ‘love motels’ HAVANA — The Cuban government really, really wants you to fall in love, so much so that it is reviving a network of state-run ‘love motels’ in Havana.These private love retreats feature rooms that can be rented by couples by the hour, which the communist government says will “diversify options for love”.Havana, the capital of the Caribbean island, boasted dozens of such ‘posadas’ until the 1990s, when the remaining few were given to Cubans left homeless by hurricanes.Privacy has become all the more elusive for lovers, given a housing shortage that forces many families to live in the same apartment and couples to live together long after their divorce.Private establishments have filled in the gap for some, reports Trabajadores, the official trade union weekly, but many cannot afford to pay around $5, or a sixth of the average monthly state wage, for three hours of bliss.The less fortunate must resort to “parks, dark staircases, the beach and even the Malecon (seafront),” Trabajadores wrote. But now the state wants to make lovemaking easier again.More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perks“We want to revive this service that is in high demand, has a big social impact and without a doubt is very profitable,” Alfonso Muñoz Chang of the Provincial Housing Company of Havana was cited as saying. “We will start with what we call Hotel Vento, a two-storey building with 16 rooms with bathrooms.”“The city needs this,” Hotel Vento administrator Maria Sterling was cited as saying, noting that employees would be “very enthusiastic” as wages would likely rise with the extra work.Next, authorities will restore some once-famous love motels like La Monumental to their former glory and convert another hotel, Muñoz Chang said.“To think about how to diversify options for love is not farfetched,” Trabajadores wrote. “It is a reality that concerns everyone, and cannot become a luxury.” Thursday, July 6, 2017 Tags: Cuba Posted bycenter_img Share Reuters << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

WestJet announces two limitedtime sales

first_img Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Share CALGARY — WestJet has announced two new sales, one for Thanksgiving and another for winter getaways.For its Thanksgiving sale, clients must book by Oct. 5, 2017 for travel from Oct. 17, 2017 to April 30, 2018. Destinations included in the sale are Canada and the United States (blackout dates Dec. 20-24, 26-31, 2017; Jan. 1-7, Feb. 15-20, March 8-11, 22-25, March 29-April 3, April 6-8, 2018), Mexico and the Caribbean (no blackout dates) and Europe (no blackout dates).The Winter getaway sale also runs for just a few days, allowing travellers to save at select Grand Palladium Hotels & Resorts and TRS Hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean. Bookings must be made by Oct. 5.Featured packages on sale include:TRS Yucatan Hotel, Riviera Maya (Royal Junior Suite, Adults Only): For travel from Jan. 3-31, 2018, no blackout dates, savings of $500 per roomTRS Turquesa Hotel, Punta Cana: For travel from Nov. 1-Dec. 20, 2017 and Dec. 24, 2017 and Jan. 31, 2018, blackout dates Dec. 21-23, reduced savingsGrand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa, Riviera Maya: For travel from Nov. 1-Dec. 20, 2017 and Dec. 24, 2017-Jan. 31, blackout dates Dec. 21-23, reduced savingsGrand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa, Montego Bay: For travel from Nov. 1-Dec. 20, 2017 and Dec. 24, 2017-Jan. 31, 2018, blackout dates Dec. 21-23, reduced savingsGrand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta: For travel from Dec. 2-20, 2017 and Dec. 24, 2017-Jan. 31, 2018, blackout dates Dec. 21-23, reduced savings Tags: WestJetcenter_img WestJet announces two limited-time sales Posted by Tuesday, October 3, 2017 last_img read more

Transat issues statement on Canadian Press report

first_img Monday, September 17, 2018 Tags: Air Transat, Statistics, Transat MONTREAL — Transat has issued a clarification of a report by The Canadian Press that said the company has pledged to raise prices next summer following a spike in fuel costs.Published on Sept. 13, the report “mistakenly gave the impression that Transat had voluntarily decided not to increase prices during the summer of 2018 in response to a rise in fuel costs” while its competitors did raise prices for that very reason.The Canadian Press also reported that Chief Operating Officer Annick Guérard said the company “opted not to join” competitors in raising prices. But according to the transcript of Transat’s Third Quarter 2018 conference call, Guérard, in fact, said: “We haven’t been able to see any increase on pricing for the summer.”According to an official statement by Transat, the plan to increase pricing next summer should not have been construed as a “vow” or a “pledge”. Rather, the move to raise prices is not only voluntary, but also an adaptation to competitive conditions.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthThe CP article went onto imply that Transat has kept prices low in a market that “climbed 28% overall in Canada in the first half of 2018.”This, said Transat, was misleading, as it did not see any significant increase in prices on its routes, and has said as much in its investor-relations communications.“If prices have indeed increased by 28%, this no doubt reflects price changes in markets in which Transat is not active, and/or in fare classes specific to competitors (ie. First Class, Business Class) and not Transat,” the company wrote.Moreover, the 28% figure was drawn from a Statistics Canada table of the non-seasonally-adjusted monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI). The table is accompanies by a disclaimer, which states: “Users are reminded that the methodology for the air transportation index was updated in March 2018 as part of the regular review of the CPI methodology. Interpretation of the 12-month price change indicator should be made with caution, particularly in the year following the implementation of the new methodology.” Share Travelweek Group center_img Transat issues statement on Canadian Press report Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Avoya to host 2019 Conference on land and at sea

first_img Share Tags: Avoya Travel, Events Tuesday, October 30, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >> LAUDERDALE — Avoya Travel’s annual conference this year will bring travel professionals together, both on land and at sea.Set to take place from June 2-7, the 2019 Avoya Conference will be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Miami as well as onboard the newly renovated Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas.This year, Avoya will host opening general sessions and a tradeshow at the Hyatt regency before the conference returns to sea for the first time since 2014 onboard the Navigator’s four-night Caribbean sailing. While onboard, the company will introduce its key stakeholders to pioneering advancements and award-winning resources that support travel professionals in the Avoya Network in growing their businesses.On hosting the conference at sea, Royal Caribbean’s Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, said: “Royal Caribbean looks forward to hosting Avoya Travel and the Network of talented Independent Agencies onboard our Royal Amplified Navigator of the Seas and reintroducing travel professionals to the improved experiences travelers can enjoy on our beloved ship. Royal Caribbean greatly values our partnership with Avoya Travel where we share a mutual desire for innovation and together create incredible cruise vacations for travellers.”More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksConference registration recently opened to the Avoya Network and attendance is anticipated to be record breaking with cabin categories already sold out. Details about programing, keynote speakers, and social events will be announced soon.To view Avoya’s 2018 Conference highlights, please visit: Posted by Avoya to host 2019 Conference on land and at sea Travelweek Group last_img read more

Raising hotel rates not an issue Riviera Nayarit wants luxury clients

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Posted by Tuesday, November 20, 2018 Sharecenter_img Raising hotel rates “not an issue”: Riviera Nayarit wants luxury clients TORONTO — If you’re waiting for Riviera Nayarit’s tourism scene to explode the way Cancun and Riviera Maya’s did, you’ll be waiting a long time.According to Richard Zarkin, Public Relations Manager for the Riviera Nayarit Convention Visitors Bureau, the 307-kilometre “tourism corridor”, now in its 12th year as an official destination, isn’t looking to reach the same arrival numbers as their counterparts in Mexico. Instead, the region, which is bordered by the states of Sinaloa and Jalisco, is going niche, with luxury clientele being top of mind.Due to the region’s topography, hotel development must be kept to a minimum, which Zarkin tells Travelweek suits the destination just fine.La Cruz Huanacaxtle“Right now, we have about 15,500 rooms, and in 10 years we probably won’t have more than 20,000,” he says. “We’re not like the Caribbean where you have a lot of rooms at low rates. We don’t do that – we have a good product, with a lot of repeat clients.”Instead of dropping prices to the bare minimum like other Sun destinations, Riviera Nayarit’s hotels are swinging the other way, by actually increasing hotel rates by as much as 30%. The trend started two years ago in Compostela and San Blas as a way to spread economic wealth among locals.More news:  AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’ns“We don’t want 100% occupancy, we’re happy with 85% at higher hotel rates,” he adds. “With a lower density of rooms, yes, occupancy levels go down but this isn’t a bad thing. We noticed that occupancy for three- and four-star hotels went down, but at five-stars they actually went up. It’s been a good way for us to target the luxury market.”SayulitaHigh-end hotel names like Four Seasons, Auberge, Secrets and W have either already opened or will open in the next couple years, lending their names to a region growing in the ranks among luxury clients. At Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort, which ushered in the luxury era with its opening in 1999, a standard room during the high season can go upwards of US$1,200 per night.“Elevating rates has not been a big issue. With hotels constantly reinvesting into their properties, clients are still paying and booking and getting the ultimate luxury experience,” says Zarkin.In 2017, Riviera Nayarit welcomed 2.7 million tourists, and 2018 is on track to record a 3% increase by year’s end. Canada is among its strongest markets, with 21% of market share, compared to the United States’ 22% and Mexico’s 52%.MexcaltitanFrom January to September 2018, Zarkin says numbers from Air Canada, WestJet and Transat were all up due to an increase in capacity.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps up“Airlift from Canada is good, we’ve got great hotels and beaches,” he adds, citing 10 certified beaches and three blue flag recognitions in the region. “Plus, we’re always working towards sustainable practices, which a lot of luxury travellers want nowadays.”Next year, Riviera Nayarit plans to eliminate the use of plastic straws, plastic bags and Styrofoam. Some hotels in the region are already using bio-degradable straws made of avocado seeds.GuayabitosAnd what does Zarkin want travel agents to keep in mind going into the busy winter 2018-2019 season?For one thing, Riviera Nayarit was largely spared from Hurricane Willa, which hit Mexico’s Pacific coast last month. “The northern region was badly hit, but none of the tourist areas was damaged,” he says.Also, agents are reminded to check Riviera Nayarit’s official website at to sign up for webinars and newsletters in order to stay on top of the latest news and learn more about the destination.As Zarkin says, Riviera Nayarit, with its 23 unique coastal developments, is like an ice cream store. “You have to come and try all the flavours.”Marietas Tags: Riviera Nayaritlast_img read more

France will implement an ecotax on plane tickets from 2020

first_img PARIS — The French government will implement an “ecotax” on plane tickets for flights departing from France from next year.Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said Tuesday that the tax will be between 1.50 euros ($1.7) and 18 euros ($20).The tax is expected to raise over 180 million euros ($200 million) from 2020 to invest in eco-friendly transport infrastructure, including rail.She said the only exceptions from the tax will be for domestic flights to Corsica and France’s overseas territories, and connecting flights that pass through France. It will not apply to flights arriving in France.For domestic and European flights, the tax will be 1.50 euros for economy tickets and 9 euros ($10) for business class, up to 18 euros for business flights outside the EU. Tags: Ecotax, France Tuesday, July 9, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >> France will implement an ‘ecotax’ on plane tickets from 2020 Share By: The Associated Presslast_img read more

Costa Rica arrests five suspected drug traffickers with links to Gulf Cartel

first_imgCosta Rican police on Thursday arrested five Mexican nationals suspected of having ties to Mexico’s Gulf Cartel.Authorities also arrested four Costa Ricans in 10 separate raids on homes in San José and three towns in the Southern Zone, according to Attorney General Jorge Chavarría and drug czar Mauricio Boraschi.The arrests included Juan Manuel García Hernández, alias “El Güero,” considered the leader of the operation in the Costa Rican capital.Officials accused the defendants of transporting shipments of cocaine from Panama to Mexico.Police followed the group for a year, and recent shipments of cocaine belonging to the Gulf Cartel were seized at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.Garcia “moved throughout Central America, made the decisions and facilitated the drug shipments,” Boraschi said. “He kept a low profile, moved quickly and spent little time in each country.”Along with the arrests, authorities found 45 kilos of cocaine at a San José residence that apparently the suspects planned to send to Mexico. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Hundreds of dead sea turtles could be headed for Costa Ricas northwestern

first_imgRelated posts:Thousands of sea turtles arrive on Playa Ostional Green turtle links Costa Rica’s Cocos Island with Ecuador’s Galapagos Police find 9,400 sea turtle eggs in car trunk outside Nicoya US government sued over sea turtles snared in shrimp nets Hundreds of dead Eastern Pacific green sea turtles could be headed for the shores of Costa Rica’s northwestern province of Guanacaste, say biologists and officials from the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC).At least 70 dead turtles were spotted on beaches and in shallow waters in northern Guanacaste on Tuesday, but reports from fishermen indicate that the death toll may be much higher.“We have reports from fishermen whose boats are surrounded by hundreds of dead turtles,” Roger Blanco, the lead investigator for the Guanacaste Conservation Area with SINAC, told The Tico Times. “They say they are headed for shore.”With its black shell and dark body, the rare Eastern Pacific green sea turtle sub-population is considered a separate species from the green sea turtle by some scientists. The sub-population is critically endangered both in Costa Rica and worldwide.According to data from the conservation group the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network, or Widecast, the population of Eastern Pacific green sea turtles has declined by 40 percent in the last several years in Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce, in the southern Pacific, where at least 280 Olive Ridley turtles died in a mismanaged longline fishing expedition in January. Little data is available on Guanacaste’s green sea turtle population.“This type of turtle is nearly extinct,” said Didiher Chacón, the Costa Rican director of Widecast. “The death of this many turtles is extremely severe for this species. We don’t know if the population can survive a massive loss like this; at the very least it will extremely hurt the population.”Two badly wounded turtles were pulled from the carcasses and taken to the National University (UNA), north of the capital, in an attempt to save them. Veterinarians were able to save one of the turtles, which will be released tomorrow in the coastal province of Puntarenas. The other turtle died on the operating table.UNA veterinarians are now studying some of the dead turtles to determine causes of death. The results are expected within the next two days, but Widecast workers found turtles with longline hooks in their mouths and others that had sustained blows to the head.“This is very simple. If a turtle has a hook in its mouth, if it has been hit in the head, then it didn’t die of natural causes,” Chacón told The Tico Times. “Not all of the turtles had these types of injuries, and it is not fair to say that we are 100 percent sure that it was fishing in every case, but this is basic deduction.”According to Blanco, northern Guanacaste has had a successful mahi mahi season, increasing the number of longline fishermen in the area. Longline fishing is legal in most of Costa Rica and is used primarily for catching mahi mahi. Although longliners are the main suspect for most environmental agencies, an official from the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) has another theory.Roberto Umaña, the head of Incopesca in Guanacaste, told The Tico Times in an interview that he has seen no evidence that would point to longline fishing. Later, in an email, Umaña revealed another suspect: dynamite. Some turtles were found swimming in circles as if they were dazed, Umaña wrote. According to the Nicaraguan Newspaper La Prensa, there was an incident of dynamite fishing in San Juan del Sur, just north of Playa Jobo in Costa Rica, where a number of dead turtles appeared, in September.This story is developing. Read an update on the investigation into the turtle deaths here.  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica to cash in on 2014 World Cup with TV print

first_img Facebook Comments Costa Rica’s abundant tourist attractions and business opportunities will be on full display during the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 in the U.K., U.S., Germany and Spain.The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER) will launch a publicity blitz for the tournament, with print ads and TV spots in those markets.Tourism Minister Wilhelm von Breymann on Thursday said the plan was designed to reach key markets for Costa Rica, but also to maximize resources by advertising to audiences of millions of people.PROCOMER General Manager Jorge Sequeira said the strategy is to send a unified message to tourists, potential buyers of local products and international investors.“The 30-second spot shows the full attributes of Costa Rica: its natural beauty, warm and talented people and the quality of its export products. But also it shows a natural, innovative and competitive Costa Rica,” Sequeira said.The campaign launches on Sunday, June 8, with a print ad in a World Cup special in The New York Times Magazine, which will reach four million readers.TV spots will air on sports shows broadcast by the BBC in the U.S. and Canada, and during 55 World Cup matches on ESPN, beginning on June 12.As the main source of tourism in Costa Rica, the U.S. is a key market. The U.S. also buys more than 37 percent of Tico exports and is responsible for 46 percent of foreign direct investment, according to PROCOMER.Promotions in Spain, Germany and the U.K. – including England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – will focus on local team matches, which are expected to be viewed by an average audience of over 10 million fans.According to Costa Rica’s Immigration Administration, some 142,000 citizens of England, Spain and Germany entered the country in 2013.In addition to tourism, Europe is the third biggest market for Costa Rican exports, and Germany, Spain, England, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland account for 20 percent of foreign direct investment in the country, according to PROCOMER.Watch a TV spot of the country’s brand campaign, “Essential Costa Rica”: Related posts:Tourism sector extends ad buy during World Cup quarterfinals Tourism officials approve first licenses for use of country brand ‘Essential Costa Rica’ Costa Ricans racked up credit card debt on TVs, travel during World Cup Construction of Discovery Costa Rica set to begin in 2018last_img read more

Nearly onequarter of car owners fail to pay marchamo on time

first_imgRelated posts:Insurance Institute begins collecting marchamo payments this week Collection of ‘marchamo,’ vehicle circulation fee, starts Monday Marchamo payments begin this week Deadline Looming For Marchamo Payment At noon today, the National Insurance Institute (INS) Wednesday closed collection at their facilities of the year-end auto registration fee and mandatory vehicle circulation permits, known asmarchamos, and reported that some 78.9 percent of motorists made the payment on time.As usual, many of them waited until the last minute to make the payment, as demonstrated by large lines at INS offices in downtown San José.At closing time, a total of 990.774 vehicle owners had paid the marchamo, while 264.616 were still pending, the INS reported.The deadline for paying the marchamo ends at midnight on Dec. 31, but payments after noon can only be made online on the INS website; motorists who pay that way will not receive their marchamo sticker until Jan. 5, meaning they are subject to a ₡49,000 (some $92) fine if caught without the sticker before that date.All vehicle owners paying after Dec. 31 will also have to pay daily interest.According to INS reports, one of the main reasons for not paying the marchamo on time is that motorists also failed to pay or pass the mandatory technical vehicle inspection (RITEVE).RITEVE SyC, the Spanish-Costa Rican company in charge of the inspections, also closed their offices at noon. According to their spokeswoman Jennifer Hidalgo, some 100,000 vehicles are still pending inspection.Starting on Jan. 1 all motorists caught without the RITEVE sticker will be fined ₡51,000 ($95) plus daily interest. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Bolivias Evo Morales Obama should lift the embargo and return Guantánamo Naval

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:As talks with US begin, Cubans anticipate changes in their lives Cuba, Venezuela likely to overshadow Central American issues at Panama summit US, Cuba said to have reach deal to reopen embassies US opens greater channels for trade, air links with Cuba U.S. President Barack Obama should take part in the next Summit of the Americas in Panama, he should work to lift the six-decade embargo against Cuba, and while at it, return the U.S. Naval base in Guantánamo to the Caribbean island nation, Bolivian President Evo Morales said Thursday.Obama would thus make credible his announced will to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries, Morales told a press conference on the sidelines of the Third Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which ended today in Costa Rica.Morales said the diplomatic breakthrough between the two former Cold War foes should not be viewed as a concession from the U.S., but rather a development that stems from the United States’ need to not be left out of international investment taking place on the island.“Let’s hope Obama goes to the next summit of the Americas in Panama and lifts the economic blockade,” he said. “Then we’ll believe if diplomatic relations will benefit both countries.”However, lifting the U.S. embargo against Cuba requires action from the U.S. Congress, not the White House. Morales seemed to either ignore or brush off that crucial point in the U.S. political process. “When there’s political will, it is done,” he said.“Other countries are in solidarity [with Cuba], and there’s investment. The United States is being left out of that investment, [and] it hurts them,” he said. “Restoring relations becomes a must.”The South American leader noted that some political commentators have called the U.S.-Cuba announcement “a concession by Obama.”“I don’t see it that way,” he said, instead attributing it to “the Cuban people’s conscientious struggle.”And in a nod to Latin America’s swing to the left in recent years, Morales said: “Before it was just Cuba, Fidel and his people. Now we’re so many countries sharing the principle [of revolution].”On the Organization of American States, Morales said Fidel Castro and Cuba were expelled because they “were communist reds.” “I, too, am a communist red,” he said. “Let’s see them expel me.”Morales said Cuba would have become a “model state” if not for the U.S. embargo, and several U.N. resolutions backed by 180 member countries were against it.In his address on Wednesday, Raúl Castro noted that the embargo is a key issue that has yet to be resolved before diplomacy moves forward.The White House responded Thursday by saying it would not hand over control of Guantanamo Bay to Havana.“The president does believe that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed down,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “But the Naval base is not something that we wish to be closed.”The base, on Cuba’s southeastern tip, is currently the site of a large Naval base as well as a deeply controversial prison used to detain terror suspects without trial.The U.S. took control of Guantanamo following a treaty in 1903.Obama has repeatedly stated that holding prisoners at Guantanamo is a recruiting tool for terror groups, but has failed to close down the facility.last_img read more

Airlines announce new flights to Costa Rica from US Mexico

first_imgThe Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) confirmed the opening of a new route to Costa Rica from Boston and a seasonal flight from St. Louis, Missouri. Both will arrive at Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, the capital of the northwestern province of Guanacaste.U.S. low-cost carrier JetBlue starting in January will add a second weekly non-stop flight on the Boston-Liberia route every Sunday. The new flight will use A320 aircraft type with capacity for 150 passengers. JetBlue currently offers a weekly flight on that same route on Saturdays.Travel company Apple Vacations will open a seasonal flight between St. Louis and Liberia. The route will be available from March 18 to Aug. 5, 2016.The new flight will be operated by charter carrier XTRA airways using Boeing 737-400 aircraft with seating for 150 passengers. According to ICT, the company agreed to open the new route because research found strong market demand from travelers in St. Louis.ICT’s director of investment hunting, Hermes Navarro, said the operation of charter flights is important for any destination, because it helps airlines test a new market prior to extending operations permanently.“Just last year, charter operations mobilized nearly 70,000 passengers to Daniel Oduber International Airport,” Navarro said.New daily San José-Mexico flights starting next weekThe Tourism Ministry on Wednesday reported that Mexican carrier Interjet will start a new flight on their Mexico-San José-Mexico route beginning July 1. Flights will depart Mexico City from Sunday to Friday at 8 p.m. and will arrive in San José at 9:50 p.m.From Juan Santamaría International Airport flights will depart Monday to Saturday at 6:30 a.m. and arrive in Mexico City at 10:35 a.m. The carrier will open with special fares, the ministry stated.Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said the announcements are proof that a current strategy for opening new routes and attracting new airlines is paying off.“Clearly we are seeing a spike in travelers from the Mexican market that has traditionally been among the most successful in Costa Rica,” Ventura said. “Mexico is currently the country’s main source of tourists entering by air from Latin American cities, and all of these route openings keep us moving forward to the consolidation of air traffic between our two destinations.” Facebook Comments Related posts:New charter flights to Costa Rica from Chicago, Minneapolis JetBlue announces new flight to Costa Rica from Boston starting in November Canadian carrier WestJet to add flights to Costa Rica from Calgary, Toronto Avianca now offers San José-San Andrés flights on weekendslast_img read more

Photo of Tico astronaut Franklin Chang with Barack Obama among best White

first_imgA photograph of Tico physicist, entrepreneur and former NASA astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz helping President Barack Obama move a sofa back in place in the Oval Office was chosen as one of the year’s best by White House photographers.The image was taken by Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza, and published by the White House in a photo gallery called “Behind the Lens: 2015 Year in Photographs.”Souza explained that the photo shows astronauts from the Columbia Space Shuttle crew during a meeting with President Obama. NASA director Charles Bolden and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, both Columbia alumni, also appear in the photo.The meeting took place June 9 when Obama invited members of the 61-C mission, Chang’s first aboard Columbia in January 1986. Astronauts were in Washington celebrating the anniversary of the mission.Souza said of his photos, “I not only found key historic moments from the year, but also chose moments that give people a more personal look at the lives of the President and First Lady.” Franklin Chang Díaz, center, on board of the Columbia Space Shuttle mission in January 1986. (Courtesy of NASA) Facebook Comments Related posts:Ex-NASA astronaut Franklin Chang talks about ‘The Martian,’ Hollywood’s take on his VASIMR engine NASA selects Franklin Chang’s Ad Astra Rocket for $50 million contract Costa Rica to host UN meeting on space technology Costa Rica’s Franklin Chang pushes space agenda in Washingtonlast_img read more

Óscar Duarte signs with Spanish club Levante

first_imgRelated posts:Who’s taking the reins in Costa Rica? Mexico defeats Costa Rica 3-2 in international friendly Costa Rica announces provisional 40-man roster for Gold Cup ‘La Sele’ draws Nicaragua, Haiti and Bermuda in Gold Cup group Costa Rican footballer Óscar Duarte will continue his professional career in Spain.The 30-year-old defender has signed a contract with Levante U.D., which plays in La Liga, Spain’s top-tier league.“Levante UD has reached an agreement with the player Oscar Duarte to join the club until June 2021, with the option of one additional season,” Levante announced Thursday morning.Duarte, who was born in Nicaragua, recently finished a four-year stint with the Spanish club Espanyol.In a video shared by his new club, Duarte said he recently spoke with Tico goalkeeper Keylor Navas, a former Levante player, and was excited to join the side.“I will do my best,” Duarte said, “and I hope it is a great year for everyone.”With the Costa Rican men’s national team, the defender has participated in two Copas América, two World Cups and two Gold Cups.He’s perhaps best known for scoring the go-ahead goal that helped La Sele beat Uruguay in their opening match of the 2014 World Cup.Duarte, overcome with emotion after the goal, became the first Nicaraguan to ever score in a World Cup and received a warm welcome in both countries upon his return. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

GE signs 1 bn contract with Brazils Petrobras

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories U.S.-based GE says the contract builds upon its existing relationship with Petrobras. In 2009 GE signed a $250 million contract to supply Petrobras with sub-sea wellheads.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project SAO PAULO (AP) – General Electric has signed a $1 billion contract with Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras to provide offshore equipment.GE says in a Tuesday statement that the contract includes delivery of about 380 sub-sea wellhead systems and installation tools needed in oil well exploration. The company emphasized that 75 percent of the parts will be made in Brazil.It’s part of the Petrobras push to develop some of the largest oil finds discovered in recent decades. The reserves off Brazil’s southeastern coast are thought to hold at least 50 billion barrels of oil in hard-to-reach deep waters. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

Rare labor petition in Iran shows economic alarm

first_imgAt a square in downtown Tehran, laborers gather to be picked for day jobs at construction sites, making about 300,000 rials ($9.50) a day.“I wish I was among signatories. I was not aware of it prior to reports,” said Abbas Hodavand, an unemployed construction worker. “Every day, in heat and cold, we wait to be picked up by a possible employer. This is not a life.”___Murphy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The rare protest document _ described to The Associated Press this week by labor activists and others _ suggests growing anxiety among Iran’s vast and potentially powerful working class as the ruling system struggles with the latest sanctions, which have targeted critical oil exports and blackballed Iran from international banking networks.It also appears to reinforce the U.S. and European assertions that the economic squeeze is bringing increasing pressures on Iranian authorities. President Barack Obama and others argue that sanctions and diplomacy are the best way to wring concessions over Iran’s nuclear program even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushes for a “red line” declaration that could trigger military action.While Iran’s leadership still has broad-based public support in the nuclear standoff with the West, the petition and sporadic street demonstrations over the slumping economy suggest a growing distinction between the national pride of nuclear technology and the economic hardships from Tehran’s defiance. The Iranian currency, the rial, hit another all-time low against the dollar Monday, which is certain to further drive up prices of imported goods. Sponsored Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Associated PressTEHRAN, Iran (AP) – For weeks, a manifesto complaining about Iran’s stumbling economy circulated in secret among factories and workshops. Organizers asked for signatures and the pages began to fill up.In the end, some 10,000 names were attached to the petition addressed to Iran’s labor minister in one of the most wide-reaching public outcries over the state of the country’s economy, which has received a double pounding from tightening Western sanctions and alleged mismanagement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories center_img “It’s not ideology that is the weakest link for Iran’s ruling system,” said Sami al-Faraj, director of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies. “It’s the economy. This, of course, was an important element of the Arab Spring, and that fact is definitely not lost on Iran.”Iran’s factory workers and laborers have provided the tipping points at pivotal moments. They gave vital populist backing to the 1979 Islamic Revolution and generally sided with the ruling clerics when they were under threat by riots after Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.The petition contains no warnings or ultimatums against the Islamic system, or references to the nuclear program, activists say. But the scope of the signatures _ representing several Iranian cities _ is an unusual show of grassroots unity without umbrella organizations such as unions.“When we do not have rights for major protest rallies and strikes, petition is the only way,” said Parvin Mohammadi, a retired metal industry worker and one of the organizers. She said the workers wrote a protest petition about irregular pay of their wages earlier in June.Another labor activist said signatures were gathered clandestinely at factories and work sites. “Sometime we collected signatures through the mail,” said the activist, who would only give his first name of Sadegh because of fear of reprisals from authorities. The signatures included mine workers in the mineral-rich center and west, food and textile producers in Tehran and central Iran, and bus drivers in Tabriz, in northeastern Iran. Conspicuously absent, activist said, were workers in the oil industry, which provides up to 80 percent of Iran’s foreign revenue. Iranian oil workers usually receive better wages than others.Labor groups also object to changes in Iran’s labor law, which give employers a freer hand in firing workers and would cut annual leave to 20 days from 30 days. Ali Reza Mahjoub, a representative of workers in the parliament, said he would lead fights against the changes with possibly more street protests.“This is an exercise for unity of workers,” said Hamid Reza Shokouhi, editor of independent Mardomsalari daily. He said the petition demands are not directly political but carry a whiff of dissent since “activities of workers were blocked because they were interpreted in the past as opposition to the ruling establishment.”Iranian officials have made no comment on the petition, which was only reported by the semiofficial ILNA news agency and pro-reform Shargh daily. But some lawmakers have thrown the petition their support. Abbas Ali Mansouri, a parliament member, said higher wages are needed “while workers are falling under the poverty line.” Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Jafar Azimzadeh, a labor rights activist and gas-pipe fitter, warned of stronger fallout if the government does not find ways to prop up salaries and rein in prices. “Workers would not stay at the level of writing petitions,” he said. “They would go toward street gatherings and other actions.”U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the drop in the value of the rial “speaks to the unrelenting and increasingly successful international pressure that we are all bringing to bear on the Iranian economy. It’s under incredible strain.”Iranian officials have repeatedly said Iran can ride out the sanctions through measures such as keeping oil flowing to Asian markets that include China and India. But Ahmadinejad last month acknowledged that Iran faces “barriers” to sell oil and make international banking transfers critical to keep commerce flowing.In May, Ahmadinejad was cheered in the northeastern city of Mashhad as he promised to create 2.5 million new jobs and boost worker benefits. It was a welcome reception after facing mounting criticism for policies that include scattershot privatizations and allowing inflation to surge. But the petition sent to his labor minister, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, offered a far more bleak assessment of a country burdened by rising prices and increasing economic isolation.“A staggering increase in prices has been biting over the past year as wages of workers have only increased 13 percent this year,” said the petition, whose full text was not made available to the AP, although selected parts were viewed. It added: “Millions of workers cannot afford their monthly housing costs.”Unskilled factory workers in Iran make an average monthly wage of 3 million to 7 million rials, or about $95 to $220 at Monday’s exchange rate. The official poverty line is about 10 million rials, or about $315, a month.Meanwhile, prices keep rising _ partly due to sanctions _ and the rial keeps falling. A 1.5-kilogram (52-ounce) container of yoghurt has doubled to about 24,000 rials (75 cents) since early September. Various meats and rice, both staples of Iranian kitchens, have risen 48 percent and 34 percent, respectively, since last year.Official reports put Iran’s inflation rate at 23 percent, but Iran’s parliament speaker last week estimated it was close to 29 percent. The unemployment rate is officially 12 percent, but some economists place it nearly three times higher. Comments   Share   last_img read more

Russian military helicopter crashes crew survives

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Quick workouts for men 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Russian television showed burning debris of the helicopter behind a concrete fence.The Interfax news agency quoted a Kamov representative as saying the helicopter was preparing to land when it developed an uncontrollable twist, hit the ground and caught fire. One of the crewmen got out of the cockpit himself and the other one was quickly pulled out by rescuers.The Ka-52 is a two-seat attack helicopter that was commissioned by the military in 2008. About 20 have been built so far, and the Defense Ministry has signed a contract for 140 more Ka-52s.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) MOSCOW (AP) – A Russian military helicopter on a test flight crashed near apartment buildings on the outskirts of Moscow on Tuesday, but both pilots survived and there was no damage on the ground, officials said.The crashed Ka-52 helicopter gunship belongs to its developer, the Kamov company, and was undergoing tests as part of a program to develop a version for use on navy ships.It crashed on Kamov’s helipad in southeastern Moscow just a few hundred meters (yards) from the apartment buildings. Comments   Share   Top Stories last_img read more

Report Exspeaker Hastert quietly tried to boost income

first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   5 ways to recognize low testosterone According to the indictment, however, Hastert was heavily tapping his income that summer, withdrawing $50,000 at a time and making secret payments every six weeks.The Times obtained documents from a lawyer for John, who had a falling out with Hastert and has sued him.A person familiar with the allegations told The Associated Press that the payments were intended to conceal claims that Hastert sexually molested someone decades ago. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Hastert is charged with evading bank regulations by withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in smaller amounts and lying about why. The indictment says Hastert agreed in 2010 to pay $3.5 million to a person to compensate for and conceal past misconduct. He is scheduled to appear at his arraignment on the two charges in federal court in Chicago on Tuesday. If convicted, he could face a maximum five-year sentence and a $250,000 fine on each charge.The Times posted emails and other documents showing efforts by Hastert to grow his slow-starting lobbying and consulting business after he left politics.A collection of emails, many between John and a Hastert assistant, suggests the former Republican congressman’s schedule was picking up as he traveled to Singapore, Montreal and other sites of projects he was helping clients advance. Among them were efforts to move a golf tournament to the Middle East from the U.S., to bring Formula One racing to Chicago and to engage in a California land development.In June 2010, John received an email from a financial adviser who was consulted about how to generate more cash for Hastert but given only limited details of the former congressman’s finances and nothing identifying him. Hastert had amassed wealth in real estate but those investments were largely tied up. “In general, he can probably get 4-6 percent in the annuity world,” the adviser told John. “This would provide him a steady stream of income and more than likely a guarantee that he would not run out of income in his lifetime.” WASHINGTON (AP) — Former House speaker Dennis Hastert looked for ways to increase his income around the time he is accused of paying someone to stay quiet about decades-old misconduct, according to a former business associate.J. David John told The New York Times that he asked a financial adviser in 2010 how investments could be arranged to yield more cash and that he inquired on Hastert’s behalf, without identifying him. John said he doesn’t know whether the attempt to set up an annuity relates to the payoffs Hastert is accused of making. 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

US developing Plan B for deporting convicted plane bomber

first_img Top holiday drink recipes But efforts to deport Rashed have stalled amid diplomatic complications since his March 2013 release from prison. He remains at an immigration detention facility in Batavia, New York, and his lawyer has complained to a judge that the government appears to have failed to satisfy its end of the plea deal.At a court hearing last month in Washington, Justice Department lawyer Christopher Dempsey said the government was developing a “Plan B” strategy to remove Rashed from the country. The details of that plan were not publicly disclosed in court, and lawyers involved in the case have declined to discuss it.“The government wants him out of here, and would love it if we could effect his removal,” Dempsey said, according to a hearing transcript obtained by The Associated Press.The AP reported in November, based on documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, that Rashed had requested to be sent to the West Bank, where he has family, and that the Obama administration sought Israel’s permission to send him there via a bridge connecting the territory with Jordan. Israel captured the West Bank in 1967 and controls access into and out of the territory. The attack on the Pan Am jetliner was set in motion when Rashed, on a flight to Japan, tucked a bomb beneath a seat cushion, pulled the pin, engaged a timer and then disembarked when his flight landed in Tokyo. The device exploded as the plane continued on to Honolulu, killing a 16-year-old boy who occupied the same seat on the flight’s next leg.Rashed was arrested in Greece in 1988 with a phony passport and implicated in the bomb attack. He was prosecuted in that country and released in 1996, but was arrested in 1998 by U.S. authorities in another country and brought to Washington for prosecution.He pleaded guilty in 2002 and was released from prison in 2013, after roughly 25 years behind bars in both Greece and the U.S.___Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of FILE – In this Dec. 12, 1991 file photo Mohammed Rashed, center, convicted of the 1982 PanAm jetliner bombing, listens to his interpreter, left, during his appeals court hearing in Athens, Greece. The federal government has been exploring a “Plan B” option to deport a man who placed a bomb on a Hawaii-bound airplane in 1982 and who has remained in immigration custody since being released from prison two years ago. Rashed pleaded guilty in 2002 to his role in the bombing of Pan Am 830, which killed a Japanese teenager and injured more than a dozen others. Under the terms of his plea agreement, the U.S. government said it would work to deport the Jordanian-born Palestinian to the country of his choice after he finished serving his sentence on murder and conspiracy charges. (AP Photo/Aris Saris, File) Sponsored Stories But the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a June 2013 memo that Rashed’s Palestinian passport and birth certificate contained “material discrepancies” about his date and place of birth.Dempsey said in court that even after the U.S. fixed the problem and submitted a correct passport, Israel demanded that Rashed be added to a Palestinian population registry — a step he said was still in progress.“But we do have a Plan B to remove him, if we can’t get him to the West Bank, to get him to a second location,” Dempsey said. “The problem is we hit a snag with that operation, but it is a temporary thing, not a permanent obstruction. So that will happen. It is just not imminent, but it is certainly foreseeable.”Rashed was a onetime top lieutenant to Abu Ibrahim, a Palestinian bomb maker who formed 15 May — a terrorist faction that took responsibility for several attacks in the 1980s — who was known for making sophisticated plastic explosives that could be smuggled in bags and suitcases. Abu Ibrahim, also known as Husayn Muhammad Al-Umari, remains on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists and was indicted in 1987 in the U.S. along with Rashed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Check your body, save your life WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government has been exploring a “Plan B” to deport a man who placed a bomb on a Hawaii-bound airplane in 1982 and who has remained in immigration custody since being released from prison two years ago.Mohammed Rashed pleaded guilty in 2002 to his role in the bombing of Pan Am 830, which killed a Japanese teenager and injured more than a dozen others. Under the terms of his plea agreement, the U.S. government said it would work to deport the Jordanian-born Palestinian to the country of his choice after he finished serving his sentence on murder and conspiracy charges. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   last_img read more