Monthly archives: August, 2019

Uniworld announces new itineraries policies services and ship for 2017

first_img Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has announced a dizzying array of new offerings for 2017, including two new Europe itineraries that highlight the best of Munich and Paris.The 10-day ‘Rhine-Main Discovery & Munich’ itinerary introduces the company’s new Jewish heritage programming and exclusive excursions, allowing guests to learn the historic roots of Judaism in Germany spanning from pre-World War II to modern-day culture. As part of the tour, guests will embark on a guided half-day excursion to the Dachau concentration camp in Munich.Also new is the 10-day ‘Paris & Impressions of the Seine’ itinerary, which explores Northern France’s beautiful countryside in a region immortalized by artists like Van Gogh and Monet. On this journey, guests will explore the beaches of Normandy, travel along the Alabaster Coast to UNESCO-designated Le Havre, and visit Étretat, known for its dramatic cliffs and beautiful landscapes.In addition to these two itineraries, Uniworld will implement new policies to its existing all-inclusive guest amenities offered onboard. In 2017, the cruise company will include all port fees in the total cost of the cruise, simplifying the messaging and thus enhancing the overall guest experience. Uniworld will also implement 24-hour room and in-suite butler services, as well as a new onboard Concierge service that will allow guests to personalize their itineraries.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upLastly, there’s a new ship in store for 2017. The S.S. Joie de Vivre, Uniworld’s new French Super Ship, will sail the Seine River on the ‘Paris & Normandy’ itinerary. Built at 125 metres (smaller than the typical 135 metres), the ship will be inaugurated in March and has been permitted to dock in the heart of Paris on the Seine River, making it the first of Uniworld’s Super Ships to do so. The S.S. Joie de Vivre will accommodate a total of 128 guests and feature 54 staterooms, eight Junior Suites and two Royal Suites.“With the addition of two new compelling itineraries, new personalized onboard amenities and a new exquisite ship, Uniworld is excited to enter 2017,” said Ellen Bettridge, president of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. “We look forward to sharing all of these new offerings with guests in the coming year.”For more details go to Wednesday, August 24, 2016 Uniworld announces new itineraries, policies, services and ship for 2017center_img Travelweek Group Tags: Uniworld Sharelast_img read more

Panama lawmakers approve bill allowing the sale of stateowned land

first_imgNo related posts. PANAMA CITY – Panamanian lawmakers on Friday approved a controversial bill that would allow the sale of state land in the Colón Free Zone.The bill was supported by 44 lawmakers and rejected by four. Many members of the political opposition were out of room when the legislation was passed.In addition to allowing the sale of government-owned land in Colón, on the North Atlantic coast, the bill allows the government to adjust rent to raise more money for social investment.Under the new law, 35 percent of proceeds from the sale of government land would go to a trust run by Colón authorities for social investment, while the remaining 65 percent would go into the national treasury.The government claims that in 10 years, Colón will receive investments of $390 million from the sale of land and taxes.Opponents say the initiative will benefit President Ricardo Martinelli, a billionaire businessman, or his relatives.“The sale of national assets is a mistake by this administration and will be amended in 2014,” the leader of the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party, Juan Carlos Navarro, said.Demonstrations, roadblocks and clashes between residents opposed to the project and police have occurred in Colón in the past three days.With more than 3,000 companies in operation, the Panamanian free zone in 2011 generated more than $29 billion and added $1.7 billion to a total of $23.2 billion of the country’s gross domestic product. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Taken by the sea

first_imgI am very pleased to report that Jan and I are alive.On Dec. 29, while swimming at Playa Bejuco – one of the deadliest beaches in Costa Rica, on the central Pacific coast – we were caught in a powerful riptide and swept out to sea. As it turns out, this riptide is responsible for many deaths each year, including, just last year, a group of students. There are no lifeguards, despite the scores of deaths and famous tragedies that have taken place there.One moment we were surf crashing, the next we suddenly realized, to our terror, that we were being sucked out and under with a force that could not be resisted. Life turns on a dime. One second you are immortal, the very next moment it is entirely clear that, barring a miracle, you will be dead in the next short while. Panic swept through me, I could not breathe, and I was drowning. Jan tried to help me, but it was instantly obvious that if she did not let me go she would drown, too. As the current sucked her away from me, we both realized that we were most likely seeing each other for the last time.The ordeal lasted for more than two hours. There was to be no rescue; we were simply swept too far and too fast for anyone to have seen or noticed.In my new incarnation, here in Costa Rica, I am a meditation teacher. On this day, meditation was to be one of the two keys to my survival. My original and unbidden panic, had it lasted, would have killed me, within a minute, maybe less. I was drowning. I was, however, able to still my mind and focus on my breath. Calmed, though clearly understanding that my chances of survival were small, I was able to stay afloat; resurfacing time and time again as I was pulled under and spun about, lungs filling with water and death ever closer. Perhaps, because of this meditative and observing state there was very little “content” to my hours on the water. I understood that I would almost certainly die. I also understood that I am very attached to life. I also knew that it was one attachment that I was unwilling to let go of, at least at this time. What was clear, however, was that as long as I was breathing I was not dead.For the next while, I just focused on breathing and remaining calm. I noted that I was strong. My lungs (ironically for anyone who knows me) were very strong. My heart, slowed through meditation, was very regular and strong. My arms (I never once stopped backstroking though often I was going in the wrong direction, as I kept getting turned around) were powerful and filled with strength (though days after I sure have a sore neck and arms). There was no “white light” experience, nor did my relationship to God or life alter in any way.I also had tremendous confidence in Jan. She is ridiculously fit and athletic. She is strong in her will and body. As I floated and stroked, never moving closer to the land (now just a distant tease) I imagined her having made it back to the beach and summoning help. In my mind, I urged her forward, believing her to be my only hope. I was so grateful to have her in my life. Alone, there is no doubt that I would have died. Even were I to perish, it would be with a profound sense of connectedness and knowing that I have been blessed.There was, however, to be another terrible and disheartening moment when after about 40 minutes, I turned my head to see if I could catch sight of shore, and saw, instead, Jan, maybe 20 meters away, terrified and also struggling to live! I could hear her shouting out words of encouragement to me. At one point we drifted quite close to each other. I wanted to say goodbye (for now I was certain that this was it), to tell her how much I loved her, but I felt to do so might frighten her and sap her will. Instead, our eyes remained locked in desperate and silent communication until, once again, we were swept apart.After another long time, I again caught sight of her. She was much closer to shore than I and seemed to be making some progress (though she was still far too focused, in my opinion, on not losing sight of and calling out to me). It was then that several realizations arose that were to save my life. The first, if she could make progress so could I, and, next, that I did not need to make it to shore, just to where I could stand up; about half that distance. I then put all of my efforts into a renewed energetic backstroke, risking exhaustion for this chance at salvation. Jan kept yelling, “Avtar, away from the sun!” But no matter how I tried, every few strokes I would find myself turned around and heading back out to sea. At one point I was close enough to shore to see where our truck was parked: seconds later I could make out nothing beyond a streak of green.Big waves began taking me, crashing over me, spinning me. I was nothing more significant than a grain of sand: and then, and without really understanding, I found myself standing, supported by the gravity of the Earth and sand beneath the current. I was standing! I could move forward toward the shore! If I were not caught by the riptide again, I would survive! As I carefully and most painfully made my way forward, one cautious footstep at a time, I scanned the beach and water for Jan. And what I saw was frightening. Jan was some 20 meters away, standing shoulder deep in water, but facing the wrong way and diving forward into the waves as if to return to the open waters! At first I could not get her attention. Then she noticed me. I was waving my arms and screaming out “Turn around and walk to the beach”. She seemed to hear me then in an awful moment returned to her efforts toward the sea. I realized that she was disoriented and unless something happened she was going to be swept away again. I started to move toward her, all the time realizing that this could mean facing my own death again. My legs were cramped and I could feel the sucking of the undertow. She now turned toward me and calling out to me out of her own fear began making her way to me. Her eyes, when we were finally close enough that I could see them, were the eyes of a helpless child. We clung to each other and carefully started making our way to the shore.There was to be a last moment of fear when the shallows gave way suddenly to a deep area. There were people not 10 meters from where we were. I could feel Jan’s sudden desperation. But there was just no [expletive] way that I was going to be defeated now. The sea had had her chance and I was not about to give her a second chance with either myself or Jan.It was surreal as we waded up to a group of two strong young men and a woman. We were returning from death, they were strangers in another, unperturbed and ordinary life.Later, as we drove away, we both sang along to the music on our vehicle’s sound system; Jan, along with me, for the first time ever. Suddenly, life was not worries, challenges to be overcome, annoyances, chores or the next thing. It was now, this song, singing along, and singing along with this wonderful partner whose love and determination had just saved my life! Avtar is co-founder of Eden Atenas, a meditation center in the Central Valley ( Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Costa Rican government to aid in plantain production from indigenous Talamanca region

first_imgNo related posts. The Costa Rican government helped negotiate an agreement for increased plantain production from indigenous groups in the Talamanca region in southern Limón.The government made the announcement Tuesday, noting that the year-long agreement aimed to build a growing industry for an economically struggling region in the south Caribbean. The agreement between Talamanca farmers and Camino del Sol, an agri-business based in the interior city of Cartago, calls for a purchase of at least 15,000 kilograms of plantains per week for a year.William Barrantes, the president of the government’s National Production Council, said the agreement will help to grow an industry that could make Costa Rica a worldwide exporter in plantains.“If the industry in Costa Rica has a market such as North America, Europe or Asia and there are many more possibilities for demand, we can channel and plan a better product,” Barrantes said.Barrantes said the country currently imports some plantains from places like Panama and Nicaragua.Barrantes said the plantains will be bought at a set price above market value, though they were still negotiating the price. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported the current wholesale plantain price is approximately $113 per 1,000 kilograms. The deal could guarantee at least $618,000 in income to Talamanca farmers over the next year, according to these figures.The Costa Rican Agriculture and Livestock Ministry reported a domestic production of 90,000 tons in 2010, the most recent data available.Manuel Hurtado, a representative from the agricultural workers in Talamanca, said the set price was crucial to avoid the problems of past fluctuations.“It’s a way to guarantee so much, for the producers, for the industry, from a serious commitment to protect a serious product,” Hurtado said in an interview.Talamanca is often considered one of the poorest cantons in Costa Rica. In 2011 it had the second lowest human development index of all 81 Costa Rican cantons, according to a study from the United Nations Development Program. In 2009 Talamanca came in last.The canton celebrated the plantain crop in a festival last Saturday. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Pinochet era divided daughters contending for Chilean presidency

first_imgActivists from the Chilean human rights organization “Detained and Disappeared People” rally outside La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, on Sept. 11, during the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet that deposed President Salvador Allende. A demonstrator dresses as Allende. Martin Bernetti/AFP Bachelet’s father, Alberto, and Matthei’s, Fernando, were friends and colleagues in the Air Force in the 1960s. The friendship failed to survive the 1973 coup that overthrew Socialist President Salvador Allende, which Bachelet’s family opposed and Matthei’s supported.The year after the coup, Fernando Matthei became director of the Air Force’s War Academy. It was there where Alberto Bachelet was repeatedly interrogated about his loyalty to the junta by jailers who hooded and threatened to shoot him, according to court documents signed last year by the judge in a trial charging two officials in his death.On March 12, 1974, Bachelet died of a heart attack after being tortured, according to a report released in June 2012 by Chile’s Legal Medical Service.Fernando Matthei, 88, has denied any involvement in the death, and the magistrate in charge of investigating murders at the military academy refused to charge him in July.“My father couldn’t have done more for General Bachelet,” Matthei said Aug. 11.Bachelet said she respected the judge’s decision.Fernando Matthei became a member of the ruling junta in 1976. His daughter studied economics at the Catholic University in Santiago.After her father died, Bachelet said she was detained and tortured by the junta’s secret police before fleeing the country for East Germany, where she began her medical studies.In 1979, the same year that Evelyn Matthei obtained her economics degree, Bachelet returned to Chile and resumed her studies as a doctor. A self-declared agnostic and divorced mother of three in a country where the majority of people are Catholic, Bachelet defied social norms with her rise to power following the end of the dictatorship.She became the second democratically elected female president in South America, after Guyana’s Janet Jagan, with her election in 2006. Bachelet left office four years later with a 78 percent approval rating, according to CEP. Pinera currently has a 31 percent approval rating, according to the July 13 to August 18 CEP poll.Constitutionally prohibited from running for a second consecutive term, Bachelet moved to New York in 2010 to run UN Women, a gender-equality agency created at the United Nations that same year.She returned to Santiago in 2013 to begin a presidential campaign, calling for free education for all Chileans following two years of student protests for cheaper schooling. Her government would boost corporate taxes to 25 percent from 20 percent to finance the initiative, a measure Matthei’s allies say will scare off investors.Finance Minister Felipe Larrain said on June 21 that the proposal was already damping investments. Higher taxes would slow economic growth, crimping tax revenue at the same time Bachelet would raise spending, he said.Three months after Bachelet left office, Moody’s Investors Service gave Chile the only double-A credit rating in Latin America, citing “years of solid macroeconomic policies.”Chile’s dollar-denominated bonds returned 32 percent from March 2006 to March 2010 when Bachelet governed. That’s four times the 7.9 percent return of the bonds under the current Pinera administration, and more than the 27 percent gain on similar Latin American bonds during her tenure, according to Bank of America Corp.Matthei vows her government would add 600,000 jobs to a labor force that currently totals 8.2 million by boosting economic growth through lower taxes than her competitor. SANTIAGO, Chile — One was the daughter of an Air Force official who helped lead the military junta that seized power in Chile 40 years ago today. The other’s father was tortured to death by that regime.On Nov. 17, Evelyn Matthei and Michelle Bachelet will face off along with seven other candidates in a presidential election that personifies how Chilean politics remains marked by the convulsions of the 1970s and ’80s. One side of the political divide still defines itself by its opposition to a dictatorship that ended 23 years ago, while the other struggles to erase its involvement with a regime that killed 3,000 people.“The dictatorship is still a factor in Chilean society, the wounds haven’t healed,” said Robert Funk, a political scientist at the University of Chile in Santiago. “Some people think they never will until the death of all those involved and even their children.”At stake in the election is stewardship of an economy that has achieved economic growth averaging 5.2 percent over the past 30 years and given the country an income per capita of $19,475, the highest in South America. Chile has the slowest inflation among major economies in the region and the cheapest five-year credit-default swaps, which are contracts protecting holders of the nation’s debt against non-payment.The most recent poll on the race, taken July 13 to August 18 by Santiago-based polling company CEP, showed Bachelet leading the field with 44 percent support. Matthei was second with 12 percent in the poll, which surveyed 1,471 people and had a margin of error of three percentage points.Marco Enriquez-Ominami of the Progressive Party, Marcel Claude of the Humanist Party and independents Franco Parisi and Tomas Jocelyn-Holt all garnered support of 4 percent or less.Bachelet, seeking to regain the presidency she held from 2006 to 2010 as the candidate of the opposition Socialists, is campaigning on improving public services through higher taxes.Matthei, the standard-bearer of the ruling coalition, is running on the government’s stewardship of the economy and vowing to accelerate growth by keeping taxes low.“Economic growth will be of primary importance,” her campaign manager Felipe Morande said Aug. 21. “We want to set the foundation to increase potential growth.”During Matthei’s tenure as labor minister under current President Sebastian Pinera from January 2011 to this July, the unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent from 7.3 percent as the economy added more than 300,000 jobs.GDP has expanded an average 5.5 percent during Pinera’s time in office compared with 3.3 percent for Bachelet’s term, which included the global economic downturn that pushed Chile into recession in 2009.Even as the two candidates spar over the country’s future direction, it is their personal and family stories that has captured many peoples’ attention.“The truth is that beyond those good friendships, our lives have been very different,” Bachelet told reporters on Aug. 7, referring to Matthei’s family. “You know the story of my father. He didn’t support the military coup, he was detained, tortured and killed in prison.” The choice of Matthei as its candidate has made it harder for the ruling coalition to distance itself from the past, said Patricio Navia, a political science professor at New York University.“There is an important sector of the right wing that doesn’t seem to understand that in order to win elections, there has to be a distance with the authoritarian legacy,” Navia said.Pinera won the 2009 election in part because he could disassociate himself from the military regime, Navia said. Pinera voted against the dictatorship in the 1988 plebiscite that brought Pinochet’s reign to an end.By contrast, Fernando Matthei campaigned in favor of maintaining the dictatorship in 1988, appearing on broadcasts urging Chileans to vote for Pinochet.“The past mustn’t kidnap the future,” Pinera told reporters last week. “The hatreds of our grandfathers can’t poison the lives of our grandchildren.”With assistance from Sebastian Boyd and Eduardo Thomson in Santiago.© 2013, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentscenter_img A ceremony honors victims of Villa Grimaldi, used as a detention and torture center during the Chilean dictatorship (1973-1990) of Augusto Pinochet, in Santiago, on Sept. 10. Martin Bernetti/AFP No related posts.last_img read more

On Pacific beaches dancing the hermit crab conga

first_imgRelated posts:Looking back: A microscopic wasp and other amazing Costa Rica wildlife stories 6 Costa Rican animal names decoded The secret lives of leaf-cutting ants It’s frog orgy season Also Recommended: 6 camouflaged Costa Rican creatures you probably haven’t seenIf you’ve ever picked up a shell from a beach in Costa Rica, you may have found it was already occupied. Millions of hermit crabs inhabit Costa Rica’s shores and tend to quickly scoop up the limited number of shells washing up on the beaches, but the process of finding the right shell is far from easy.Of the 800-plus species of hermit crabs in the world, only 15 live on land. Sea-dwelling hermit crabs can easily find a new home thanks to the high number of predators capable of sucking snails from their intact shells. No such predators exist on land, forcing surface-dwelling crabs to wait patiently for a suitable shell-ter to wash ashore. The Ecuadorian hermit crab (Coenobita compress), the most common terrestrial hermit crab on the Costa Rican Pacific, are notoriously picky about their shells.The crabs face threats from pollution and human seashell collection, which have restricted the number of usable homes. This is particularly challenging, as the crabs are forced to switch shells multiple times as they outgrow old shells. When a rare shell does wash ashore, Ecuadorian hermit crabs have to hollow out extra space in the shell to accommodate their legs, claws and eggs. The remodelling process is laborious, and the crabs prefer to use the pre-fabricated shells of other crabs, but Ecuadorian hermit crabs live like, well, hermits, and rarely socialize except to breed. Over the years as shell shortages have increased, scientists uncovered one other activity that makes the hermits come out of their shells.A 2012 study conducted in Costa Rica’s southern Pacific Osa Peninsula found that Coenobita compress had been forced to abandon its loner ways over the years as shells became harder to come by. Researchers tied individual hermit crabs to a post and watched as other crabs gathered, looking to trade up to a larger shell. The study found that once three or more hermit crabs are in the same place, other nearby hermit crabs quickly converge on the spot for a shell-swap.The crabs form a sort of conga line, ordering themselves by size, with each crab grasping the shell of the crab one size up. At some point, the hermits pry the largest crab from its shell spurring a chain reaction. Each crab moves up a shell after it is vacated.The adorable game has a dark side, however. Hermit crabs may be all armour and claws on the outside, but their body inside the shell is soft and unprotected. One crab always always loses out and takes the smallest shell, which is often not large enough to protect its vulnerable abdomen. A too-small shell is usually a death sentence for a hermit crab, which can be picked up by a predator or baked in the sun.In hermit crab world, upgrading to a bigger house is a fight to the death.Watch hermit crab musical chairs  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Tico Times Letters to the Editor Dec 21 2018

first_imgRelated posts:Tico Times: Letters to the Editor (Dec. 28, 2018) Tico Times: Letters to the Editor (Jan. 4, 2019) Letter to the Editor: Costa Rica reflections ‘School of second chances’ opens in Costa Rica To share editorial ideas, comments or news tips, please email Katherine Stanley Obando, Editor, Facebook Comments The Tico Times is proud to be an independent, English-language news source in Costa Rica. Our readers regularly submit editorials and responses to our articles; we appreciate your opinions and feedback.Below is a selection of editorials we have received recently.Immigration is a human rightBy Carolina Díaz; University of Costa Rica English Teaching majorDear Tico Times:The Crisis in Latin America, especially in Honduras and Guatemala, leads its citizens to abandon their country due to several factors such as: Poverty, violence, criminality, and issues with democracy. The news report published on October 16, 2018 titled Trump warns Honduran president to stop migrants in route to U.S., lacks reference to the article since it is not mentioned from the beginning that the former president of the United States warned the Honduran president that if the migration emergency continues, the money transferred from U.S.A. would be reversed. The current situation of migration viewed through the article implies that our world runs if money is involved. The article gives the impression that Trump will cease all economic support to Honduras and Guatemala if more migrants decide to leave their native country and avoid these to cross the border, which is restricting human rights.However, this article lacks context and information because it is not explained adequately why migrants from the countries mentioned above are leaving behind families, properties, etc.  Honduras is a country that has suffered economic crisis, high of violence rates, criminality and poverty. For this reason, many of its citizens have decided to migrate themselves to other countries, especially United States, where life expectation seems better for raising kids and finding a job were the pay will allow them to have a decent life because their own country does not provide the basic tools to live. Nevertheless, Honduras’s government needs to modify the way they operate their country economically and socially since in the month of October around 2000 migrants have routed themselves to the U.S. to seek a better life.On the other hand, the United States government continues to sanction human rights against migrants. Back in July 2018, Donald Trump and his administration decided that in order to stop more immigrants to coming to his nation, he came up with “the brilliant” idea of separating families in the borders by splitting children from their parents. The so-called “zero tolerance” policy has been one of the most shocking situations our world has seen this 2018. Many may wonder, didn´t the world learn nothing from what happened in the cold war, where a huge wall was built to divide a country.  Berlin´s wall was built around 50 years ago. Currently, Donald Trump has the idea of building one on the border to stop these migrants from crossing to U.S. Hopefully, a lot has changed during those 50 years; human rights policies and documents are major keys in this crisis because migrants do have programs and institutions that guide them throughout their journey.In the opinion of informed readers of “America Civil Liberties Union” “Immigrants workers are often abused, exploited, and have become scapegoats and victims of racism and stereotyping”. The situation goes beyond money; many may say that most people going to U.S. are criminals, which is a generalization. When the true is that most of them are looking for asylum.Finally, this news story should have informed readers with complete information and context. The current situation of migrants trying to cross the border does not seem to end. Brian Blanco, the writer of the article, has to investigate and give a more profound news where all details have to be explained and show the audience of the newspaper the crisis itself. As an important means of communication in Costa Rica, you should contribute to educate adults and youngsters and inform that in terms of the immigrant’s situation, the U.S. former president is willing to break all human rights policies to stop migrants to crossing the border.***Understanding a secular state By Jeilyn Bustos Alvarado; University of Costa Rica English Teaching major“Why to march for a secular state,” published on January 19th of this year by Zulay Martínez, is an interesting article that calls for the separation of religion and the state by briefly explaining some of the reasons that Costa Rica should make such changes; however, it is important to correct and extend this information as well as the evidence to defend it.The confessional nature of the Costa Rican state has distorted people’s perception of human rights, and religion is the main doctrine that manipulates various regulations and even the economy of the country by providing money to churches, money that can be used in other areas such as education or health. The article needs data from experts who can confirm that secularism does not affect a country’s well-being. The Costa Rican government should definitely be secular, and citizens should understand all the benefits related to a secular state and fight for it. First, people need to have a clarified concept of what a secular state is in order to avoid misunderstandings and imprecise assertions. Many conservative people have assumed that secularism is the same as atheism, but the truth is that this is not accurate. Actually, according to the file “La urgencia del Estado laico” published by La Nación, secularism is simply a form of government that proposes neutralism of religion (2012). Moreover, it is necessary to emphasize that secularism calls for an universal position of respect and equality of citizens regardless of their position on religious issues, and this is an essential part of equality in legal terms, as was explained by Mora Pérez in the article “La necesidad de un Estado Laico”. In addition, in order to follow up on Martínez’s article, it would be relevant to deepen the benefits that would come with this reform. Other important points to highlight is that the religious holidays would not be prohibited, catholic educational institutions would continue to function as usual, and religion would not be part of the education system as a subject, which has been actually changed since 2012, as Cascante mentioned in the article “Seis puntos para entender el proyecto de Estado laico en Costa Rica”. In other words, Costa Rica would continue to be the same country that we know, but more inclusive in terms of general beliefs and rights, and Martínez should have included this in her article.Apart from this, all citizens, without any exclusion, would have equal rights in relation to sexual orientation, gender identity, and use of medical treatments such as fertilization or therapeutic abortion. Indeed, the LGBTIQ community is discriminated and excluded in many nations due to religious and conservative ideologies that diminish people because of their differences, and this affects the reputation of the country in many areas such as tourism. In Costa Rica, tourism income is definitely important, but religious and conservative ideologies could have repercussions on how international tourists see our country, and this directly affects the economy. According to German sociologist Max Weber has argued that changes in religion drive economic productivity because of the relation to tolerance and respect of the individual rights. Article 75 of the Constitution says that the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman religion are the religions of the state, which contributes to its maintenance, without prohibiting the free practice forms of worship in the republic that do not oppose universal morality or traditions (Recio, 2018), but many catholic leaders take time during their pilgrimage speeches to spread “anti-gay” practices such as marriage between same-sex couples, which are in fact laws necessary to guarantee equal rights in our society. Costa Rica has been penalized in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for not applying the recognition of same-sex unions as a law.Moreover, to support the article with evidence and data, it is relevant to have evidence; for this reason, the interesting article “Secular Societies Fare Better Than Religious Societies” (Zuckerman, 2014) could be mentioned. The author explains how conservative religious ideologies impact nations. It is interesting to see the connection between religion and the well-being of certain countries in which the hypothesis that religion would keep the society together failed. For instance, Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands are nations that have more positive indicators (social, economic, political aspects) over religious nations such as El Salvador, Yemen, and Pakistan.It is important to analyze the article to correct ungrammatical aspects because readers can judge the seriousness and reliability of the article by the writing and mechanics on it, starting by the title. Another relevant aspect is to provide clarified and extended arguments to defend the secular state, so the readers who are new with the topic can understand it as a whole.***Seeing the whole picture By David Ward; Worcester, Mass. If Costa Ricans think their president and government aren’t doing a good job, they should not think that raising taxes on goods is a sign of selfishness, greed or incompetence.  Compare this to what is happening in the United States.  When the US Government needs money for any reason, it merely asks the Treasury Department to sell bonds to raise money.  The taxes that are collected each year on April 15 have already been spent before they ever get to the treasury.  You may have noticed that the US Treasury recently sold about $1.3 Trillion in treasuries (Treasury bonds) just to keep the government running.  That’s only for one year!!  As you read this, the US Government has a debt of over $21 Trillion.  These US government bonds are sold to banks, governments, corporations, people and just about anyone who will buy them.  You want to buy a US Treasury bond?  No problem.  China owns over 1 Trillion of them, and Japan almost as much.  The only thing is, who pays the interest on these bonds?  The US Treasury department does.  And where does it get the money to pay three percent interest on $21 Trillion in bonds?  It makes up more bonds and sells them, to pay the interest on bonds already sold.How did it ever come to this?  When did this seemingly irresponsible practice start?  It started in 1968, when Lyndon Johnson signed legislation to get rid of the gold standard in the United States.  The dollar had been pegged to gold at $35/ounce, but Johnson needed money to finance the Vietnam War and his “Great Society.”  After Johnson, in the seventies, the dollar went into hyperinflation because of all this bond selling and global currencies, whose strength had been determined by exchange rates to the dollar, went into fiscal chaos.  You have the right to ask, how does the dollar, then, maintain its status as the world’s reserve currency?  Well it isn’t because of its frugality and austerity, that’s for sure.  On paper the US dollar should be very weak.  It’s the reputation of the United States that keeps the dollar strong.  In the minds of people around the world, the United States is a great country, therefore its currency must be great also.  However, countries around the world, especially Japan, are also in similar precarious situations with respect to fiscal matters.  China has ramped up bond selling for years and its economy exists almost solely on debt.  All those empty cities, its markets and just about everything has been created out of Bank of China debt.  China’s Debt/GDP is about 50%.  Most central banks around the world are in a similar situation, (especially Japan, with a Debt/GDP of 250%).  Russia, surprisingly, has a Debt/GDP ratio of only 12%.  However, don’t be surprised to see a massive global currency collapse at some point in the future.Compare this to what is happening in Costa Rica.  The government debt of Costa Rica is only about $25 billion, which is about 65% of its gross domestic product.  This debt is probably held mostly by the Costa Rican central bank.  Compare that with the US debt of $21 Trillion, which is 107% of its GDP.  In other words, the economy can’t keep up with the debt in the United States.  The thing is, Americans are fat and happy, since there are no tax increases, completely unaware and oblivious of the situation.  You think ignorance is bliss?  This is why Costa Ricans should think before denouncing higher taxes.  The government may be falta in the minds of Ticos, but it looks like it is trying to keep debt down.  The question is:  which do you want: lower prices, or lower sovereign debt? last_img read more

Investigation starts on cargo plane crash in Ghana

first_imgAssociated PressACCRA, Ghana (AP) – Officials opened an investigation into the Boeing 727 cargo plane that crashed at Ghana’s international airport killing at least 10 people after it slammed through a fence and onto a nearby street, the country’s transit company said Sunday.Doreen Owusu Fianko, the chief executive of the Ghana Airport Co., said the group has discounted airport equipment failure as one of the causes of the crash. She said they were open to outside help on the investigation. “We are grateful to all of them,” Mills said at the clinic.Dr. Nana Ako-Bruce, the medical director of the clinic, said the four crew members were Nigerian.Billy Anaglate, spokesman for the Ghana Fire Service, said that all 10 people were killed on impact. He identified the plane as an Allied (Air) Cargo plane.Fianko said the plane was coming from Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, when it crashed after a failed landing attempt. She said that operations at the airport had returned to normal after the crash Saturday.Ghana, a nation of more than 25 million in West Africa, has not had a major airplane crash in recent years. The last air emergency the country had was in June 2006, when a TAAG Linhas Aereas De Angola flight to Sao Tome hit birds during takeoff. The plane landed safely and none of the 28 people onboard were injured.(Copyright 2012 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 Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements “We would not hesitate to seek external assistance to unravel the cause and to take lessons from that,” she said.Saturday’s crash occurred in Accra near Kotoka International Airport, which sits near newly built high-rise buildings and hotels. Witnesses said the plane first smashed through the fence that runs around the airport before hitting a bus.Randy Banahene, a taxi driver who saw the crash, said an explosion sound was heard when the plane hit a wall. He said the plane landed on its belly across a road, its nose nicked and tail bent with punctures on its side, just yards from a residential neighborhood.Families gathered at the hospital mortuary late Saturday night to identify bodies. Among them were family members of 27-year-old Castro Abuchor, who they said was riding a motorcycle when he was hit by the plane and killed.The others were killed while riding in the minibus that was hit by the plane, officials said.Mortuary manager Woi Boamah Mensah at the 37 Military Hospital said that eight of the 10 dead have been identified. Hospital staff had earlier said that nine of the dead were men, and one was a woman.Ghana President John Atta Mills on Sunday visited the four plane crew members who are receiving treatment at the airport clinic after surviving the crash. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familylast_img read more

Ricard took family liquor firm global dies at 67

first_img Sponsored Stories Ricard, who was chairman of the board of directors, is survived by his wife and three children.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories PARIS (AP) – Patrick Ricard, who transformed a small firm based on his father’s anis-flavored liquor into a global entity with some of the most famous names in alcohol, has died. He was 67.The company, Pernod Ricard, said in a statement that he died on Friday.Ricard’s father founded the company in 1932 and developed pastis, beloved in France as an aperitif but relatively unknown outside the country. His son joined the company in 1967 and became chairman and CEO in 1978, turning Pernod Ricard into a global brand with the acquisition of some of the world’s best-known liquors, including Absolut Vodka, Jameson Irish Whisky and Perrier-Jouet champagne. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonacenter_img Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

German minister future Greek aid package smaller

first_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “So I am glad that the public has now paid close attention to what I have been saying again and again for a long time … we will have to concern ourselves in the middle of next year with new measures for Greece.”(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Schaeuble was quoted as telling Germany’s Handelsblatt daily that the prospect of further aid is being held out on condition that Greece fulfills its obligations “and in the expectation that this will be about far smaller sums than to date, because Greece will then already have a primary surplus.”He said he can’t name any specific figures or measures and that decisions will have to be made next year, but again rejected the idea of a second debt writedown for Greece following a massive debt restructuring deal agreed with private sector bondholders last year.Asked where the money for a further Greek aid package would come from, Schaeuble said that hasn’t been decided but noted that the eurozone’s rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, “is far from exhausted.”Germany’s opposition has seized on Schaeuble’s comments about Greece to attack the government’s credibility ahead of Sept. 22 elections. But officials are insisting the minister was really saying nothing new, noting that they have long said more aid was likely.Schaeuble said it was “nonsense” to assert that he was hiding anything.“I don’t want it said of me after the election, independently of how it goes and what I personally do afterward, that I didn’t tell the truth before the election,” he was quoted as saying. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s finance minister said in an interview published Friday that he expects a future aid package for Greece to be much smaller than the country’s existing rescue deals.In two bailout packages so far, Greece’s European partners and the International Monetary Fund have committed 240 billion euros ($320 billion) in loans. This week, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said there will have to be another aid program after the current one expires next year.last_img read more

Iran to hold air force drill over strategic strait

first_img Comments   Share   Top holiday drink recipes New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies ErrorOK ErrorOKBarkhor says the two-day drill is to begin on Friday.Iran’s air force has U.S. and Russian-made fighter planes as well as their home-made replicas.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breachescenter_img Sponsored Stories Top Stories TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – The acting chief of Iran’s air force says his pilots will hold a military drill over the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the waterway for one-fifth of the world’s oil tanker traffic.Gen. Ali Reza Barkhor says the maneuvers are part of annual exercises meant to show off Iran’s air defense capabilities and military readiness.Barkhor told state TV on Thursday that the exercise will also extend into the Persian Gulf waters. In past years, Iran had threatened to block the waterway in retaliation for international sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, but Tehran no longer issues such warnings. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Quick workouts for menlast_img read more

Appeals court grants bail to Indian movie star

first_imgBollywood actor Salman Khan, center, hugs Maharashtra Navanirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray who called on him at his residence in Mumbai, India, Thursday, May 7, 2015. One of India’s biggest and most popular movie stars, Khan, was sentenced to five years in jail Wednesday on charges of driving a vehicle over five men sleeping on a sidewalk and killing one in a hit-and-run case that has dragged for more than 12 years. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)n New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility MUMBAI, India (AP) — A court on Friday granted bail to one of India’s biggest movie stars until it hears his appeal challenging his conviction in a drunk-driving hit-and-run case more than a decade ago.Salman Khan was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday on charges of driving over five men sleeping on the sidewalk and killing one of them in Mumbai in 2002.Justice Abhay Thipsay said the Mumbai High Court would start hearing Khan’s appeal in July, according to prosecutor Abha Singh. He asked Khan to pay a bail bond of 30,000 rupees ($500). Bollywood filmmakers were worried about the court case because Khan has several films in the pipeline. Film industry analysts said Khan had projects worth 2.5 billion rupees ($40 million) depending on him.It could take years more for Khan’s case to wind its way through India’s overburdened legal system. The system is plagued by a shortfall of judges, corruption, police delays and excruciating layers of paperwork.Even if the Mumbai High Court upholds his conviction, the actor could go to India’s top court, the Supreme Court, seeking reversal of his sentence.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.center_img Men’s health affects baby’s health too Khan, 49, is one of Bollywood’s most popular stars, appearing in more than 90 Hindi-language films in his 27-year career.A large crowd of Khan’s supporters danced with joy outside his house in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital.However, one of his fans tried to commit suicide by consuming poison just before the start of the court proceeding on Friday, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Police rushed him to a hospital in an unconscious state.The fan, an aspiring script writer named Gourango Kundu, said in a pamphlet that he was hoping Khan would give him a break in Bollywood movies. If the actor was sent to the prison, he would not be able to help him, the pamphlet read.In convicting Khan on Wednesday, the trial court accepted the prosecution’s plea that Khan was drunk when he rammed his SUV into a group of homeless people and found him guilty of culpable homicide. The trial had dragged for more than 12 years.Khan began his career in 1988, playing a romantic action hero with many of his movies becoming box office hits. In recent years he turned to philanthropy, establishing a charitable trust called “Being Human” which works in education and health care for the poor. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

After 2 disasters on Everest Sherpas worry about future

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Just when Nepal’s climbing industry was recovering from last year’s deadly avalanche on Mount Everest, another avalanche triggered by last month’s earthquake killed 19 people, ending yet another climbing season.Sherpa guides and those in the climbing business say they are worried that the disasters will have a devastating impact on mountaineering in Nepal, a vital source of income for guides and for the impoverished nation’s economy. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Sponsored Stories Business was looking up after 118 people who had climbing permits for 2014 returned to Everest this year, and the total number of climbers swelled to nearly 400.Weather predictions were good, and expeditions planned to launch their attempts on the summit around the second week of May.The Sherpas had already set up camps 1 and 2 above the base camp when the earthquake struck, unleashing an avalanche that tore into the tent city at the base camp, burying climbers and camp staff. Nineteen people were killed, 61 were injured and the climbing route set up by guides known as “icefall doctors” above the base camp was destroyed.The Sherpas refused to rebuild the route, saying it was unsafe and there was not enough time to transport all the aluminum ladders there, tie ropes, dig a path and then finish climbs before the end of the season later this month.Nepal’s government has not formally canceled the climbing season and permits are valid until the end of May, but with the Sherpas refusing to rebuild the route, there can’t be any more attempts.There are hopeful signs. Ang Tshering of the mountaineering association said they have received hundreds of messages from people saying they will return, and that all the publicity is likely to bring curious tourists to trek to the base camp. Tsheri, who owns Dreamers Destination Trek and Expedition in Kathmandu, said the two disasters would probably scare away foreign climbers as well as Sherpa guides. “It will take years for me and other businesses to recover,” he said. “I don’t even know if I am going to be able to bear the loss and spring back.”Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, an umbrella group, agrees.“These disasters are certainly going to have a longtime impact on mountaineering in Nepal,” he said. “It is going to take a long time for the industry to recover.”Both avalanches hit Everest right at the beginning of climbing season, when expeditions had gathered at the base camp and were preparing their summit assaults, which typically take place in May.After last year’s avalanche, which hit April 18, the surviving Sherpas refused to work, resulting in the cancellation of the season.Over the past year, the government implemented policy changes and safety pledges to bring climbers back to Everest. Officials were stationed at the base camp, Sherpa guides were given more insurance, a welfare fund was set up and rescue plans were worked out. Comments   Share   Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Each year, thousands of foreigners to attempt to conquer the country’s soaring peaks. Sherpa guides can earn up to $7,000 after a successful summit bid, while those who work at Everest base camp can receive half that amount — huge sums in a nation where the annual per capita income is around $700.Still, many Sherpas — an ethnic group that many also use as a last name — say they aren’t going back to Everest to work.“You can be lucky once or maybe twice, but I am not risking a third time,” said Nima Sherpa, who was at base camp at the time of last year’s disaster, when 16 guides were killed on the treacherous Khumbu Icefall while carrying client’s gear up the mountain before the peak climbing season.Sherpa said he would try to find work elsewhere — or head to the Persian Gulf like thousands of others Nepalis to find a job there.Temba Tsheri, who started his own business organizing expeditions after he became the youngest person to stand atop Mount Everest at age 16, lost three foreign clients and two Nepali employees in the April 25 avalanche caused by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake.“I have lost everything I have earned in the past five years. I am ruined,” he said. “All my tents, climbing gear are gone and the money I spent for transport is also gone.”center_img Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement FILE – In this April 26, 2015 file photo, injured Sherpa guides sit inside a bus after they were evacuated from Mount Everest Base Camp, in Kathmandu, Nepal. Just when Nepal’s climbing industry was recovering from the 2014 deadly avalanche on Mount Everest, another avalanche triggered by the country’s massive earthquake killed 19 people, ending yet another climbing season. Sherpa guides and people in the climbing industry say they are worried about the impact of the disasters on mountaineering in Nepal, which has eight of the 14 world’s highest mountains.(AP Photo/Bikram Rai, File) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

Poll Opposition forces runoff in Polands presidential vote

first_imgThe vote was a test for Poland’s two major political forces, represented by Komorowski and Duda, ahead of the country’s parliamentary election in the fall. Duda’s Law and Justice party backs a mix of national pride, Catholic values and social welfare programs and is more conservative than the current government. They both advocate a stern stance toward Russia and support neighboring Ukraine in its conflict with Moscow.Komorowski, who has served as president since 2010 and made harmony his trademark, called for a debate with Duda and vowed to urgently present new reforms. Thousands of young people emigrate and seek jobs abroad as Poland’s jobless rate remains well above 10 percent and earnings are much below the EU average.“The result of the exit poll is a serious warning for the entire team in power,” Komorowski said. “We should listen to the voters, because it’s evidently necessary to mobilize all rational forces in Poland.”He appealed for energy and cooperation with the “large group of voters evidently disillusioned and waiting for fast, much faster change and modernization.”A beaming Duda appealed to voters for more support in the runoff. WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Nationalist opposition candidate Andrzej Duda made a surprisingly strong showing Sunday in the first round of Poland’s presidential election, apparently forcing a runoff with incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski who faces a tough re-election campaign, according to exit poll results.Duda, who is no fan of the European Union, was predicted to receive 34.5 percent of the vote to Komorowski’s 33.1 percent, according to the IPSOS exit poll released by the private TVN24 and the state-run PAP news agency. The poll results suggest rising dissatisfaction with the ruling pro-EU establishment led by the center-right and pro-business Civic Platform party, which has been in power since 2007. Komorowski was a member but left in order to be a non-aligned president. The dissatisfaction was also reflected in the unexpectedly high support — 20.5 percent of the vote — predicted for punk rock star Pawel Kukiz, an anti-establishment candidate critical of the government.Official results could be announced late Monday, the State Electoral Commission said.The results mean that Komorowski is in “gigantic trouble and must fight very hard to survive” in the May 24 runoff, said political analyst Antoni Dudek.“The fact that (Komorowski) comes from the Civic Platform and defended all their decisions and never protested on any key issue has worked against him,” Dudek said. “He also lost a lot by a poor campaign start and by underestimating the opponent.”He said Duda is a “dynamic candidate who has had a very good campaign,” and could do well in the runoff by drawing support from Kukiz’s voters. The exit polls indicate that the combined total for Duda and Kukiz tops 50 percent. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The vital role family plays in society “We want to have a dignified life in a safe Poland, which needs to be mended in many areas,” Duda said. “Today this primarily means a change at the presidential office.”“We will win,” he said.The exit poll forecast that no candidate would win more than 50 percent of the votes needed to avoid a runoff. It put turnout at 48.8 percent of Poland’s more than 30.2 million voters.Eight other candidates received single-digit support in the exit poll, including the main left-wing candidate, former actress and TV commentator Magdalena Ogorek, who had a mere 2.4 percent, reflecting the decline of the Democratic Left Alliance that she represented, the successor to the once powerful communist party.With most power in the hands of Poland’s prime minister and the government, the presidency has largely ceremonial duties but the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and has the power to propose and veto legislation.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 Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski greets supporters during a meeting ending his campaign ahead of a Sunday’s presidential election, Warsaw, Poland, Friday, May 8, 2015. Komorowski, who his running for his second term and right wing candidate Andrzej Duda are the main contenders in the upcoming vote. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz) Sponsored Stories Top Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

US urges SE Asian nations to save lives of stranded Rohingya

first_img Patients with chronic pain give advice Sponsored Stories No country appears willing to take them. Malaysia on Thursday turned away two crammed migrant boats and Thailand kept at bay a large vessel with hundreds of hungry people.Asked if the U.S. would provide direct help, Rathke said: “This is a regional issue. It needs a regional solution.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is urging Southeast Asian countries to work together to save the lives of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants who are stranded at sea.State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Thursday that many lives are in danger, and that U.S. ambassadors are raising the issue with governments in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.He said Myanmar also needs to fulfill its commitments to improve the humanitarian situation in Rakhine State, where tens of thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims have fled sectarian violence. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   center_img Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Quick workouts for menlast_img read more

Taliban attack underscores difficulties facing Afghan leader

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Some 60 people were held hostage until the early hours of Thursday morning. Sporadic gunfire and a series of muffled explosions were heard over about five hours, before Kabul police chief Gen. Adbul Rahman Rahimi announced the siege was over. Firefighters quickly moved in to clear the building, which was cordoned off as residents moved out.The Taliban claimed responsibility in an emailed statement that said the hotel was targeted because of the presence of foreigners, including Americans. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said it was carried out by a lone attacker armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, a suicide vest and a pistol. However, authorities in Kabul said three gunmen were involved and all were killed in the shootout with Afghan security forces.Ghani condemned the attack and lashed out at the Taliban in a statement Thursday, vowing the insurgents would not derail his plans to bring peace to his war-ravaged nation. He said he had spoken to the leaders of the nations whose citizens were killed, adding: “The terrorists and enemies of Afghanistan cannot harm our country’s relationships with other countries with these activities.”Since taking office in September, public support for Ghani has rapidly evaporated, along with faith in his promises to bring reform and peace. His cabinet still lacks a defense minister and plans to kick-start a moribund economy, creating much-needed jobs after the withdrawal late last year of foreign combat forces and many non-government organizations, have stalled. Sponsored Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona In the months immediately after his inauguration, Ghani embarked on a diplomatic offensive aimed at winning the support of neighboring nations for his vision of transforming Afghanistan from a war-torn no-go zone into a hub for regional economic cooperation. Central to his plan was drawing the Taliban into a dialogue that would eventually lead to peace talks and its possible inclusion in government.Earlier this month, representatives of Ghani’s government and the Taliban met informally in the Gulf state of Qatar. During discussions there, both sides emphasized that peace talks were not on the agenda. Nevertheless, the Taliban issued a statement that implied a new flexibility on previously intractable issues, such as the presence of foreigners in Afghanistan and acceptance of a constitution.At the same, violence continues to escalate.The U.N. mission in Afghanistan condemned Wednesday’s assault as an “atrocity,” and said it had documented a record high number of civilian casualties — 974 killed and 1,963 injured — in the first four months of 2015, a 16 percent increase over the same period last year.“Taliban statements on avoiding civilian casualties ring hollow when we set them against the latest killings,” the mission’s human rights director, Georgette Gagnon, said in a statement. KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An audacious Taliban attack on a Kabul guesthouse that left 14 people dead, including nine foreigners, underscores the difficulties President Ashraf Ghani faces in providing even basic security following the withdrawal of international combat troops from Afghanistan.The hourslong siege, which ended early Thursday, was the deadliest in Kabul since the insurgents launched their annual “spring offensive” against Ghani’s administration in late April, sparking fierce battles that have forced the government to concentrate resources on security at the expense of desperately needed reforms. ___Associated Press writer Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The attack also shows how the Taliban have been able to adapt to the tightened security situation in the Afghan capital, where smuggling in large amounts of weaponry has become increasingly difficult.“Everyone had been expecting a big Taliban attack on Kabul to mark the launch of the spring offensive, something like a truck bomb, but that didn’t happen,” said a diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. “So they come with smaller weapons and firearms.”At the same time, the Taliban has used the government’s preoccupation with internal machinations, including disputes between Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah over cabinet appointees, to formulate a strategy aimed at crippling plans for reform, said Mir, the analyst.That strategy “is now rolling out across the country, with attacks across the east and north — we don’t know what they will do from one day to the next,” Mir said.“The Taliban know that the government coffers are empty. Any attack will force the government to spend on security. The government is not yet fine-tuned and it needs to be fine-tuned to function properly,” he said. “This strategy of insurgency undermines its ability to fine-tune. Its focus has to be on security. It can’t do anything else.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Afghan security forces inspect the site of the Park Palace Hotel attacked by gunmen, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, May 14, 2015. Gunmen stormed the guesthouse on Wednesday night as it hosted a party for foreigners. An hourslong siege ended early Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan) How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top Stories An American, a British citizen, an Italian, four Indian nationals and two Pakistanis were among the dead. Five Afghans were also killed and seven were wounded, including a policeman.By targeting a guesthouse popular with international residents and visitors, the Taliban also stoked fears they were renewing their strategy of killing foreigners, which will further undermine Ghani’s credibility in his efforts to bring peace, stability and prosperity not only to Afghanistan but to the broader region.“The attack shows that Kabul is very vulnerable. An increase in attacks on Kabul can paralyze life here, and if there is a cascade of attacks in Kabul, it can hurt the government,” said Haroun Mir, an independent political analyst.Gunmen stormed the Park Palace Hotel in downtown Kabul as guests gathered Wednesday evening for a concert by a popular Afghan musician attended by an audience that included diplomats, business people, charity workers, academics and others.As gunfire echoed around the guesthouse in the Shar-i-Naw neighborhood — near United Nations compounds and a foreign-run hospital — the area was rapidly surrounded by heavily armed police and special forces in armored Humvees.last_img read more

Pentagon says US antiarmor weapons due in Iraq next week

first_img How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Sponsored Stories Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The difference between men and women when it comes to pain How do cataracts affect your vision?center_img Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the shipment of shoulder-fired AT-4 weapons was not in response to the fall of Ramadi over the weekend, although the militants’ effective use of enormous car bombs there put a spotlight on Iraqi army deficiencies and prompted the White House to consider ways of strengthening U.S. support for Iraq.A senior State Department official on Wednesday said the IS offensive in Ramadi over the weekend included about 30 suicide vehicle bombs, including 10 with a great deal of explosive power. Some of the vehicles used in the attacks were armored trucks that Iraqi defenders could not stop.The AT-4 is relatively lightweight and is designed to penetrate armor, making the weapon useful in stopping what the military calls vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or car bombs, before they approach their intended target.In an update to the overall cost of U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Syria, Warren said that as of April 9 the U.S. had spent $2.1 billion since it began bombing in Iraq in August. The Syria bombing campaign began the following month.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   WASHINGTON (AP) — An expedited shipment of 2,000 lightweight shoulder-fired weapons intended to help the Iraqi army stop the Islamic State group’s increasingly effective use of car bombs should arrive in Iraq as soon as next week, the Pentagon said Thursday.The shipment is among a variety of weaponry and equipment the U.S. agreed to send to Iraq on an expedited basis after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Washington in April to plead for more help in fighting the extremists.last_img read more

Senators quiz military chiefs criticize US fight against IS

first_imgSen. John McCain, chairman of the committee and a persistent critic of Obama’s foreign policy, wasn’t convinced.“I got to tell you that after four years, Mr. Secretary, that is not an impressive number,” McCain, R-Ariz., said in one of several testy exchanges with Carter and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.So far, Congress has approved $500 million to train Free Syria Army fighters. The Associated Press reported last month that the number of trainees involved in the program at bases in Jordan and Turkey had dropped below 100, with dozens of recruits fleeing the program.At the hearing, Carter agreed that 60 was not a significant number but said there were 7,000 prospective recruits in the pipeline. The U.S. goal is to train and equip 5,400 rebels a year for three years.At the Pentagon on Monday, President Barack Obama conceded difficulties in fighting “opportunistic” and “nimble” IS militants, but he defended progress that had been made in combating the extremists in Iraq and Syria.However, McCain, who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election, argued that there is no compelling reason to think that anything the U.S. is doing will achieve the president’s goal of degrading and ultimately destroying IS. He accused the president of engaging in a “disturbing degree of self-delusion” when it comes to battling IS. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean “We must see a greater commitment from all parts of the Iraqi government,” Carter said.There are about 3,300 in Iraq assisting the nation’s security forces. Moreover, the U.S.-led coalition has conducted more than 5,000 airstrikes to counter IS. U.S. troops are now at a new base in the Anbar province of western Iraq, mainly to advise the Iraqis on planning and execution of a counteroffensive to retake Ramadi.Dempsey said that about a month ago the Iraqi forces were poised to start a counteroffensive in Ramadi but were persuaded by U.S. military leaders that they should wait to make sure their forces were ready.“The Ramadi campaign, which about a month ago was about to be executed precipitously, has actually (become) — with our help — now a very deliberate campaign first to isolate it and then to go back and recapture it, with a supporting effort in Fallujah,” Dempsey said.Carter said Ramadi needs to be retaken, but that it has to be done under competent Iraqi command and control, “which has been a challenge.”“This will be a test of the competence of the Iraqi security forces,” Carter said. “It is a test that they must pass.” Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing blistering criticism from Republican senators, Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged on Tuesday that the U.S. has only 60 trainees in a program to prepare and arm thousands of moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against Islamic State militants.“That is a small class,” Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This is the number that got through a very vigorous vetting and selection process that we have. … We expect that number to improve.” Sponsored Stories Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Ash Carter take their seats as they arrive at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 7, about Counter-ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) Strategy. Carter and Dempsey face questions from members of the Senate panel about President Barack Obama’s strategy to defeat Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Separately, the House passed by voice vote a bill to improve economic and defense cooperation between the U.S. and Jordan, which is suffering from an influx of 622,000 Syrian refugees.___Associated Press writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helpcenter_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   “We have conducted thousands of airstrikes, taken out many ISIL fighters and much equipment and pushed it out of some territory,” McCain said, using an acronym for the Islamic extremist group. “None of the so-called progress that the president cited suggests that we are on a path to success.”The Iraqi military, which was equipped and trained by the United States, has struggled to recover from its collapse a year ago when IS militants captured the country’s second largest city, Mosul, and swept over much of northern and western Iraq. Iraqi commanders fled, pleas for more ammunition went unanswered, and in some cases soldiers stripped off their uniforms and ran.McCain said that since U.S. and coalition airstrikes began last year, IS has seized control of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq and other key terrain in Iraq and holds more than half the territory in Syria.“Our means and our current level of effort are not aligned with our ends,” he said. “That suggests we are not winning, and when you’re not winning in war, you are losing.”Carter acknowledged that more needs to be done to strengthen the mission to train local forces to combat IS. “The strategy is the right one, but its execution can and will be strengthened, especially on the ground,” Carter said. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Reports Turkish jets hit IS targets in Syria Kurds in Iraq

first_img Comments   Share   Patients with chronic pain give advice New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Sponsored Stories Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish jets flying from a base in Turkey’s southeast have struck Islamic State group targets across the border in Syria for the second straight night, Turkish news reports said Saturday. The fighter jets also hit camps of Kurdish PKK militants in northern Iraq, the reports said.There was no immediate official confirmation of the airstrikes reported by the state-run TRT television and other media. If confirmed, it would be the first time Turkey has struck Kurds in northern Iraq since a peace deal was announced in 2013 between Ankara and the rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The private Dogan news agency said the Turkish jets were targeting PKK training facilities, shelters and anti-aircraft batteries in northern Iraq.Tensions have flared with Kurds in recent days after an IS suicide bombing in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc on Monday killed 32 people. Kurdish groups blame the Turkish government for not combatting IS.On Wednesday, the PKK claimed responsibility for the killing of two Turkish policemen near the Kurdish majority city of Sanliurfa, near the Syrian border.In other attacks, seven police officers were injured after suspected PKK militants hurled a small bomb at a police station in Bismil town, near the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, the Dogan news agency reported Friday. Assailants also hurled a small bomb at officers inside a police vehicle in the town of Semdinli, near the border with Iraq, the agency said.Turkey started attacking IS positions after the suicide bombing and an IS ambush that killed a Turkish soldier.On Friday, three F-16 jets struck IS targets that included two command centers and a gathering point near the Turkish border in Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine IS militants were killed in the raids. In a related development, Turkey announced Friday that it was allowing its air bases to be used by the U.S.-led coalition forces for operations against IS extremists.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Parents, stop beating yourself up Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywalllast_img read more

Naughty snaps of BA cabin crew surface

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L Cheeky photos of British Airways flight attendants lifting up their skirts have surfaced on a porn website, just weeks before a proposed union strike over pay and working conditions.The pictures show cabin crew in BA’s distinctive red, white and blue uniforms exposing their bare bums and suspended stockings.According to The Sun, the pictures were taken by staff “fooling around” on an aircraft so they could send the pictures to their friends.”They were never intended to get out and it would never have occurred to the girls they would end up on a porn site” a source told the newspaper.British Airways said Thursday it would launch an investigation into any employees found posing for such snaps.However, BA said there was no evidence any of the girls snapped in the pictures actually work for BA.last_img read more