BC dishes out travel inspiration with anniversary celebrations Google Trekker

first_img Posted by Tags: British Columbia, Vancouver Thursday, May 18, 2017 B.C. dishes out travel inspiration with anniversary celebrations & Google Trekker << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img TORONTO — It’s been a banner year in tourism for the province of British Columbia, thanks in large part to two main factors: increased international visitation and Canada’s sesquicentennial.While in Toronto on a media tour, representatives from B.C. tourism boards told Travelweek that visitation has spiked following Canada’s decision to lift the visa requirement for Mexican travellers as of Dec. 1, 2016. Add to that an increase in airlift (Aeromexico going double daily starting June 1) and a renewed interest in domestic travel for Canada’s 150th anniversary, and you get an uptick in inbound markets across the board, including Mexico (up 33% in 2016 over 2015), China (+18%) and the United States (+10.9%).On the domestic travel front, Saschie Maclean, Communications Specialist, North America for Tourism Vancouver, said that year-to-date numbers are slightly down (-0.3%), though traffic is expected to pick up during peak summer months. She hopes that the upcoming fall opening of the brand new Parq Vancouver complex – featuring the first JW Marriott in Western Canada – along with the recent opening of Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver will help fuel interest.JW Marriott parq Vancouver. Credit: JW Marriott.“These two new luxury properties should help with occupancy,” she said. “As luxury hotels, they’ll give Vancouver a nice mix of properties for visitors to choose from.”Vancouver is gearing up for a busy summer season, focusing largely on its Canada Day celebration that’s being billed as the biggest one outside of Ottawa. Party revellers can expect a parade of food trucks, bands, fireworks, a two-day family festival and weekly celebrations taking place at Canada Place.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”As for year-round festivities, Central City Brewers + Distillers has announced a country-wide collaboration with breweries from all 12 provinces, while Edible Canada, the nation’s largest culinary tourism company, will lead a week-long ‘Over the Top’ adventure across the country from June 16-23. Also, Timber Restaurant’s Long Table Canadian Supper featuring make-em-yourself s’mores and gift bags is proving to be a hit among groups of 15 or more, as is The Loden’s virtual reality package, which includes tickets to FlyOver Canada, a virtual flight ride across Canada.The festivities continue in Whistler, located 90 minutes by car from Vancouver and a mere 30 minutes by floatplane. Several hotels are offering commemorative packages, including Pan Pacific Whistler; ‘The Thrill Seeker’ package includes three nights’ accommodation for two and a Via Ferrata Climb tour, Ziptrek Sasquatch tour, and whitewater rafting, while ‘The Cultural Explorer’ also includes three nights’ accommodation for two and entrance to the Audain Art Museum and Squamish Lil’wat Culture Centre, Peak 2 Peak Sightseeing and a Valley of Dreams walking tour.Pan Pacific Whistler. Credit: Pan Pacific Whistler.The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is also getting in on the fun with a new signature Canada 150 cocktail and ‘Wild Canada 150’ package, while the Four Seasons Resort Whistler has a Canada 150 Hunt Gather Fish Menu that features wine pairings with indigenous dishes.Meanwhile in Victoria, Canada 150 celebrations will culminate with the 11-day harbor side festival taking place from June 21-July 1. Every day at Ship Point there’ll be live performances, with special guests playing on the Legislature Lawn on June 30 and Canada Day, plus fireworks, live music, arts and culture and local food truck offerings. Also a source of Canadian pride is Royal BC Museum’s newest exhibit, ‘Terry Fox: Running to the Heart o f Canada’ (now through Oct. 1), which explores the impact Fox had on modern Canadian life.More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesFor those who need more incentive to visit B.C. this year, Sabrina Robson, Media Relations Specialist for Destination British Columbia, said there’s an interactive new way to map out their trip even before they book. Google Trekker, a new joint project by Destination BC and Google Canada, involved a team of explorers who spent 12 weeks mapping 200 treks through B.C. last summer, the biggest trekking mapping project by Google in Canada. Equipped with 40-pound Google Street View Trekker backpacks, they hiked a total of 1,000 kilometres to capture 360-degree images of trails and natural landscapes that are now available at bcexplorer.com/journeys. To complement Google’s footage, Destination BC also compiled interviews and photography that highlight B.C. from a local perspective.“We are keen to encourage residents to explore our own backyard this year,” said Robson. “With Canada 150 increasing interest and Canada Parks’ free Discovery Passes (B.C. has seven national parks), there’s no better time to visit B.C.”For more information on travel to British Columbia, go to destinationBC.ca. Travelweek Group Sharelast_img read more

Category 3 Hurricane Bud heads north off Mexican coast

first_img Monday, June 11, 2018 Travelweek Group Share MEXICO CITY – Hurricane Bud grew to Category 3 force off Mexico’s Pacific coast on Monday, but forecasters said it was likely to weaken before a possible brush with the resort-dotted southern tip of the Baja California peninsula late in the week.The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Bud had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) Monday morning. It was centred about 235 miles (380 kilometres) southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and was moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).Forecasters said Bud was expected to strengthen further before a slow weakening trend starts Tuesday.“Significantly cooler waters around the southern tip of Baja California should reduce Bud’s intensity below hurricane status before it reaches that land,” the centre said.The Hurricane Center said the storm could generate swells that cause life-threatening surf and rip currents over the coming days along Mexico’s southwestern coast. Rainfall of 3 to 6 inches (75 to 150 millimeters), with isolated patches of 10 inches (250 millimeters), was possible into Tuesday afternoon.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencyMeanwhile, Tropical Storm Aletta’s winds were down to 40 mph (65 kph) and it was predicted to dissipate by late Monday or early Tuesday. The storm peaked on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph (220 kph). It was about 600 miles (965 kilometres) southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. Category 3 Hurricane Bud heads north off Mexican coastcenter_img Posted by Tags: California, Hurricane, Hurricane Bud, Mexico << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Air Canada CEO honoured at APEX EXPO

first_imgTags: Air Canada, Awards, Events Posted by Tuesday, September 25, 2018 Air Canada CEO honoured at APEX EXPO Travelweek Group center_img BOSTON — It was a night to remember for Air Canada’s Calin Rovinescu at the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) EXPO in Boston.The long-running President and CEO was recognized with the CEO Lifetime Achievement Award, marking the first time a CEO from the Americas has won the honour.“I am pleased to accept this award on behalf of all Air Canada’s 30,000 employees who work hard every day to deliver a superior customer experience, and who are committed to continuing to improve it,” he said. “This award is significant because APEX is an international association and it further affirms our status as a leading global carrier.”Rovinescu also added that the award validates the investments Air Canada has made in fleet renewal, onboard amenities and in the services it provides in airports.In presenting the award, APEX cited Air Canada’s significant global expansion and many product enhancements during Rovinescu’s tenure.“As CEO and President of Air Canada, Calin Rovinescu successfully advanced the airline to new heights while having an incredibly positive impact on air travel in Canada, North America, and the world,” said Joe Leader, APEX CEO. “Air Canada was the first North American airline with lie-flat seats, in-seat screens, signature service and special inflight entertainment options for those with disabilities.”More news:  A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passengerAt the award ceremony, Rovinescu also accepted APEX’s 2019 Five Star Official Airline Rating for Global Airlines Award. Air Canada is the only airline in Canada to be rated by APEX with a Five Star Global Award, which is based solely on customers’ verified feedback.APEX is the only non-profit membership trade association dedicated to improving the entire airline passenger experience. APEX EXPO attracts more than 5,000 industry professionals, including representatives from more than 100 airlines. Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Tico accountant sentenced to 45 years in prison in US insurance scam

first_imgNo related posts. A U.S. court in Richmond, Virginia, on Friday sentenced Costa Rican accountant Jorge Luis Castillo to 4.5 years in a federal prison for cooking the books of a company owned by businessman Minor Vargas as part of a $485 million life insurance scam, Business Week magazine reported.Castillo received a reduced sentence after testifying against Vargas in the trial. Castillo admitted to fraudulent accounting practices on behalf of Provident Capital Indemnity Ltd., and apologized for his role in the global scheme that claimed thousands of victims, including many who lost their life savings.“I regret from the bottom of my heart the consequences of this unscrupulous scheme of which I was a part,” Castillo told U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney.Castillo is the ninth and final defendant sentenced in Virginia in a pair of related cases involving the life settlement industry. Most pleaded guilty, but Vargas and two principals of Houston-based A&O went to trial and were convicted.In October, Vargas was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the crimes of fraud and money laundering. He was president and owner of Brujas Football Club and Club Deportivo Barrio Mexico, both in Costa Rica. He also was president of powerhouse soccer club Saprissa, and the owner of publishing company Icon Group and a synthetic turf business. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Van Goghs Ear a storytelling festival and other happenings around Costa Rica

first_imgMusic: La Oreja de Van GoghWith its pleasant pop sound and poetic lyrics, La Oreja de Van Gogh (Van Gogh’s Ear) has wooed the Spanish-speaking world since the mid-1990s. Based in Spain, these Latin Grammy winners arrive in San José to play at the Melico Salazar Theater on Monday.La Oreja de Van Gogh plays Nov. 10 at the Melico Salazar Theater, downtown San José. 8 p.m. ₡18,000-56,000 ($32-112). Info: Theater website.Music: The Costa Rican Festival of Women in MusicFestival celebrating female musicians in Costa Rica includes ColorNoise, The Great Wilderness, and The Beagirls, among others. Proceeds benefit children and adolescents with mental disabilities.Festival takes place Nov. 8 at Jazz Café, San Pedro. 9 p.m. ₡4,000 ($8). Info: Event Facebook page.Music: “If You Don’t Live It, You Don’t Understand It”This all-day concert includes such Costa Rican bands as El Guato, Republica Fortuna, and Passiflora.“Si No Lo Vives, No Lo Entiendes” takes place Nov. 8 at CENAC, downtown San José. 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. ₡2,000-3,000 ($4-6). Info: GAM Cultural.Film: International Cinema FestivalCatch more than 70 feature films and shorts at the International Cinema Festival. Read our preview here.Festival Internacional de Cine takes place Nov. 8-15 at Cine Magaly and Sala Garbo, downtown San José. Info: Official website.International Storytelling FestivalFor a full week, Alajuela will be overrun with tale-tellers and yarn-spinners, thanks to its acclaimed annual storytelling festival. Want to practice your Spanish listening skills and learn Costa Rican culture to boot? This is the best possible way.Fiesta Internacional de Cuenteros continues through Nov. 14 in various locations, Alajuela. All events free. Info: RedCultura. Courtesy RedCulturaMusic: Ritmo TECThe rhythm-infused contemporary dancers of Ritmo TEC perform for two nights in Cartago.Performance takes place Nov. 7 & 8 at Casa de la Ciudad, Cartago. Fri. & Sat., 8 p.m. ₡2,000-2,500 ($4-8). Info: RedCultura.Art: “Almost Invisible”Thirty-eight artists present 50 different works in this wide-ranging multimedia group show.“Casi Invisibles” continues through Nov. 25, 2015, at the National Bank Museum, downtown San José. Open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ₡1,500 ($3). Info: Official website.Theater: “The Cross”Following a violent shooting in La Cruz de Alajuelita, the community reacts in Fernando Rodríguez’s award-winning new play.“La Cruz” is performed through Nov. 30 at the Vargas Calvo Theater, downtown San José. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. ₡5,500 ($11). Info: National Theater website.Art: “A Chronicle of Interventions”Learn about U.S. incursions in Central America, thanks to this provocative group show co-produced with London’s revered Tate Gallery.“Una Crónica de Intervenciones” displays at TEOR/éTica Gallery, Barrio Amón. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Free. Info: TEOR/éTica website.Art: 75 Years of PhotosBrowse decades of photojournalism at this striking exhibit, thanks to Spain’s Agencia EFE – the fourth-largest wire service in the world.“EFE: 75 Años de Fotos” continues through Dec. 7 at the National Museum, San José. Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. ₡1,500 ($3). Info: Museum website.Dance: This Is Not an EightDrawing together students and choreographers from the National University, this festival, whose idiomatic name roughly translates to “It’s not that complicated,” takes place in three different locales: the Teatro de la Danza, the Central Bank Museums, and the Barva Recycling Center.“Esto No Es un Ocho” takes place Oct. 24 – Nov. 9 at various locations, San José. ₡2,000-4,000 ($4-8). Info: RedCultura. Facebook Comments Related posts:Flamenco superstars, Soda Stereo tribute, and other happenings around Costa Rica Design Festival, Marine Corps picnic, and other happenings around Costa Rica Shakespearean ballet, outdoor tango, and other happenings around Costa Rica Valentine’s Day, lyrical boleros, and other happenings around Costa Ricalast_img read more

Expansion of road to Monteverde advances but experts find flaws

first_imgAfter years in the works, the project to expand and improve the road to Monteverde, one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations, is 65 percent complete.Still, major improvements are needed, an evaluation by the University of Costa Rica’s National Structural Materials and Models Laboratory (LANAMME) recently concluded.The National Roadway Council (CONAVI) currently is investing ₡2,5 billion ($4.6 million) to expand to two lanes the 18-kilometer stretch of Route 606 between Guacimal and Santa Elena, Monteverde, in the Pacific province of Puntarenas.On a second stage of the project, scheduled for completion in 2016, CONAVI will build an asphalt road to replace the current gravel one. The project also includes the construction of ditches and guardrails for a total cost of ₡7 billion (some $13 million).LANAMME’s evaluation warns that the angles of the slopes along the improved road — one of the most important components of the project — could be prone to landslides.The laboratory also recommends increasing the width of at least two curves which currently aren’t wide enough to allow passage of heavy and large vehicles.The report notes that comprehensive geological and geotechnical studies need to be carried out to identify the sites most vulnerable to landslides, in order to design and build all needed stabilization and protection measures.LANAMME also critiqued what it said were insufficiencies in the the road project’s accommodations for wildlife.The lab’s Infrastructure Program director Luis Guillermo Loría Salazar said that a study carried out jointly with the National System of Conservation Areas found that there are at least 10 sites where the road is missing wildlife crossings “even though CONAVI was informed that underground and aerial crossings should be included in the road’s construction.”Route 606 crosses biologically-sensitive areas like the Pájaro Campana Biological Corridor, which connects the Monteverde Cloud Forest with mangrove forests along the Pacific coast.“The connectivity between these very different environments is of great importance for the preservation of several species,” the LANAMME report stated.To avoid this segregation of habitats, original plans recommended the construction of  hanging ropes and tunnels to allow animals to pass, as well as signage warning drivers to watch for animals crossing the road.Loría said LANAMME had also suggested that CONAVI consider setting aside at least three areas along the road for viewpoints, to take advantage of several tourist attractions in the region.“We know that business owners in the area are willing to finance the construction of these viewpoints to offer views as far as the [Puntarenas] coastline and the Nicoya Peninsula,” he said.Despite problems, progressDespite its criticisms, LANAMME recognized that progress had been made on the road. The report said that excavations to build the second lane are around 85 percent complete. It also noted that work was advancing on installing the 71 planned culverts along the route.The project began in October 2013 and was scheduled for completion last year. But funding delays, red tape and poor weather conditions affected the original schedule.This week CONAVI suspended a schedule of temporary road closures that had been in effect since last year to carry out construction work on the route. Starting last Tuesday, transit is open all day but subject to delays depending on the needs of construction crews.The gravel road to Monteverde has long been narrow and difficult to transit because the original founders of the Quaker community, from Alabama, have fought to keep it that way in order to limit the number of visitors.Local business owners say they have seen a significant decrease in revenue because of poor road conditions. During the rainy season from May to November it becomes almost impossible to transit, leading to a significant drop in tourist visits. Business leaders say this has forced hotels, restaurants and other businesses to close in recent years.In 2013 community groups and residents of Monteverde started a series of public demonstrations and road blockades demanding the government of President Laura Chinchilla build a new and better road. The project was approved later that year.The area’s most prominent landmark is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve — 10,500 hectares of tropical rain and cloud forests. The reserve is visited by some 75,000 tourists a year, including scientists attracted by its rich biodiversity. Facebook Comments Related posts:Road to Monteverde closed starting next week New road to Monteverde to be ready in 2014, officials say New road to Monteverde bogged down by delays, red tape President Solís pledges to repair road to Monteverde by next yearlast_img read more

Costa Ricas La Sele ties 22 with Mexico in final friendly clash

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica’s ‘La Sele’ rises in latest FIFA rankings Costa Rica football’s next big stars: 7 players who could shine for La Sele in the future Copa America in the U.S.: Gaffes expose rushed planning, draw ire Costa Rica’s La Sele defeats South Korea 3-1 in friendly Suffering a disappointing 2-2 draw on Saturday’s men’s national team friendly in Orlando, Florida, Costa Rica’s “La Sele” made an early statement against Mexico only to follow it up with a whimper.After a second-half breakdown, La Sele will move on to the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2015, from July 7 to 26 in the U.S., still in search of an identity similar to the one that catapulted the team through its last major tournament – the 2014 World Cup.A record of 0-3-2 to begin 2015 leaves plenty of criticism hanging over new coach Paulo Wanchope, who has yet to recapture the magic his predecessor Jorge Luis Pinto was able to unleash with this team in Brazil.And just as that cloud of doubts seemed to clear up on Saturday with a comfortable 2-0 halftime lead over Gold Cup favorite Mexico, lightning struck in the form of Mexico’s top two attackers. Giovani dos Santos and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández nabbed two goals within the first 10 minutes of the second half to even the score and make Costa Rica settle into a draw.La Sele’s first half success against Mexico’s “El Tri” came from a trio of players who weren’t even on the 2014 World Cup roster. Forwards David Ramírez and Johan Venegas were the authors of Costa Rica’s two first half goals, while goalie Esteban Alvarado played an admirable match in place of injured star Keylor Navas.During a pair of Mexican free kicks in the first half, the ball easily got past Costa Rica’s wall but La Sele remained unscathed thanks to saves from Alvarado. Leaks continuously sprouted in the back lines of both defenses, giving Alvarado and counterpart Guillermo Ochoa plenty of action in goal. Mexico converted on a late goal that would have given them the win, but an offside flag kept it at a draw.See also: Colombia defeats Costa Rica in Copa América preparation matchThough Wanchope’s side missed an opportunity to garner momentum before the upcoming tournament, the friendly did serve as an exciting preview of a potential Gold Cup final. Both Mexico and the United States are listed as favorites, while Costa Rica is expected to finish third, according to oddsmakers.The effort to beat out both Mexico and the U.S. will be more challenging considering the litany of injuries Wanchope has had to deal with in constructing this roster. Not only is Navas sidelined with an Achilles tendon injury, but other key pieces like Yeltsin Tejeda, Bryan Oviedo, and Óscar Duarte are also expected to miss the Gold Cup due to ailments of their own.Costa Rica begins tournament play on Wednesday, July 8 against Jamaica at 8 p.m. ET. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

A Paris climate change talks primer for Costa Rica

first_img Facebook Comments Hotels are filling up in Paris over the weekend as delegations arrive from the 195 nations that will participate in the climate talks that start in the French capital on Monday. In anticipation of the talks, The Tico Times offers this primer and guide to our previously published climate change stories so that you can read up before the conference starts.The 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP21, as it’s officially called, is scheduled to last through Dec. 11. By that date, climate leaders hope, the participating countries will sign off on a solid international plan to meaningfully reduce the risk of massive climate disaster in the future.Costa Rica will have a delegation of some 40 people at the talks, including chief climate negotiator for the Costa Rican government, Giovanna Valverde, various ministers, and a handful of representatives from indigenous groups and civil society.Costa Rica is part of the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) negotiating bloc, which includes Guatemala, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Panama and Perú. According to MINAE climate change adviser Pascal Girot, AILAC’s main characteristic is that its member countries are willing to take responsibility for their contributions to climate change and make commitments towards reducing global warming.President Luis Guillermo Solís had hoped to create a Central America bloc for climate change negotiations, but that didn’t happen. Although Central America accounts for only 0.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, scientists consider the region a “hotspot” for climate-related damages in the future. Central America’s seven countries also suffer a disproportionate share of the consequences of global warming, including floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters.In Costa Rica, several climate change marches are taking place on Sunday, Nov. 29. The main march leaves from Parque España in downtown San José at 9 a.m. and ends on the University of Costa Rica (UCR) campus in Montes de Oca.There are also marches planned for San Pedro, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Escazú and Santa Elena. You can find more details on those marches here.And now, here are some of our top climate- and energy-related stories of recent years. We hope our readers will click on some of the links below and get a more complete picture of what’s at stake in the upcoming talks, Costa Rica’s record on renewable energy and global warming, the effects of climate change on Costa Rica, and some creative solutions for mitigating them here and around the world. ICE estimates that the Reventazón hydroelectric dam will begin supplying electricity in time for the dry season in 2016. (Courtesy of ICE)Costa Rica is a green energy leader, with pollution problems Costa Rica made headlines this year for breaking records with its reliance on 100 percent renewable energy — first in March, when it ended a 75-day streak running the country’s energy grid without fossil fuels, and again in August when it finished 94 consecutive days running exclusively on green energy.During the second run, more than three-quarters of the country’s electricity came from hydroelectric plants; 12 percent from geothermal sources; 10 percent from wind power; and 0.01 percent from solar.Costa Rica will soon have even greater hydro capacity, as it nears completion of the Reventazón hydroelectric dam, which will be Central America’s largest.The country expects to double its wind power capacity over the next two years. And a bill is in the works to allow geothermal projects in three national parks.On the solar front, Costa Rica finally passed a decree regulating distributed electricity generation, or electricity generated from renewable sources by homes and businesses that are connected to the national grid. The new regulations, which became law on Oct. 8, allow businesses and homeowners who generate their own solar, wind, biomass or hydro power to send excess electricity back into the national grid to be stored and used later.But some solar proponents aren’t happy about details of the new regulations. And there could be more griping when the government sets fees for the new scheme, which is supposed to happen in December. Rush hour traffic passes by the San Pedro Mall in San José. Transportation emissions are the single biggest roadblock to Costa Rica achieving carbon neutrality. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesAir pollutionVehicle emissions are Costa Rica’s biggest challenge to reaching its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021 (the government now recognizes that this goal is likely unachievable but it has been reluctant to backtrack publicly because of the date’s symbolic power).Vehicles emit more than half of the country’s total carbon-dioxide emissions, one of the principal gases responsible for climate change. There’s a car here for every four people, and the average age of the vehicles is 16 years, according to Riteve, which is in charge of mandatory vehicle inspections.There are plans for an electric train that would connect cities and towns in the Central Valley. The government hopes to begin construction on the train before its mandate is up in 2018, but lawmakers still need to approve the project.Costa Rica’s other major source of carbon emissions is fossil fuel-burning power plants. In a typical year, Costa Rica can produce 90 percent of its electricity without burning fossil fuels. But when Costa Rica was hit in recent years with intense drought, the state-run ICE was forced to turn on its bunker generators more frequently to compensate for the drop in available hydroelectricity.Toward the end of last year, unusually heavy rainfall bolstered Costa Rica’s reservoirs and made this year’s renewable energy streak possible. But as the dry season approaches with below-average precipitation for the year in much of the country, Costa Rica may be forced to rely more on fossil fuels again in 2016.Climate change specialists say these constantly changing rain patterns are only likely to increase with global warming, making hydropower more unreliable. The fer-de-lance is Costa Rica’s most aggressive and deadly snake. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesA few reasons why climate change is bad for Costa Rica and the regionMost people know by now that climate change is likely to cause sea levels to rise and temperatures to rise. Most have experienced by now what seem to be increasingly erratic weather patterns.The latest El Niño phenomenon affecting Costa Rica, the southwest coast of the U.S. and parts of South America, among other places, has been particularly harsh (though it has also produced rare beauty). Experts say the coming dry season could be long and particularly hot because of the combination of El Niño and climate change.The intensified El Niño has been blamed for the increase in wildfires in Costa Rica this past year. Researchers here also recently found that extreme weather may increase the frequency of snake bites.In nearby Honduras, the country’s pine forests are being wiped out by a beetle whose population has increased dramatically because of climate change, researchers think.And in southern Mexico — and elsewhere around the Caribbean — mass quantities of seaweed are washing up on beaches, threatening the region’s major source of income, tourism. Scientists have offered different theories to explain the huge seaweed bloom this year, from climate change that has shifted ocean currents to increased runoff from farms in the Amazon into the ocean.Perhaps scariest of all, a recent study published in the journal Science found that if the world continues on its current track of carbon use, 23 percent of species in South America could face extinction. Coconut Island, site of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, rises from Kaneohe Bay. Light spots in the water are patch reefs, some of which are showing troubling signs of stress. (Courtesy Ruth Gates)Combat, adapt, educateDon’t go curl up in a ball, even if the upcoming climate talks flop, because people and communities are coming up with creative solutions for combatting and adapting to changes in our climate.Within the U.N. climate negotiations framework, Costa Rica has already begun to adopt two Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, or NAMAs, as they’re called. One is aimed at reducing emissions in the livestock sector, while the other targets coffee.The coffee NAMA focuses on using fertilizer more efficiently, using energy saving technologies in coffee processing and increasing tree coverage on coffee farms. The government hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector by 15 percent through implementing the measures on coffee plantations. Elsewhere, scientists are working to develop strains of coral that will be able to withstand changing ocean conditions.A Canadian firm recently unveiled a test facility able to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using giant fans.And farmers in France are dramatically cutting the methane emissions from their farting, belching cows just by changing their diet.During the upcoming climate talks, indigenous communities and their backers are likely to argue for greater protection of their natural resources and way of life as a tool for combatting climate change and deforestation. A recent study from the Washington-based World Resources Institute found that forests managed by communities and indigenous groups save the world billions of dollars in carbon capture and averted emissions.Still, many experts say we must learn to adapt to a changing climate, and quickly. MINAE climate change adviser Girot said discussing equitable adaptation plans is a priority for Costa Rica during the upcoming climate talks. Costa Rica was recently ranked the best prepared country in Central America for climate change on the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index.It’s the second year in a row that Costa Rica has topped the ranking. Yet the country still ranks below Chile, Uruguay and French Guiana in terms of preparedness in the region.Other species are adapting, as well. A recent study in the journal Science found that the tongues of some bumblebees have shrunk in recent decades as the bees adapt to a shrinking supply and diversity of flowers from which to collect nectar.Costa Rica also has its share of climate heroes. The head honcho of the Paris climate talks — and of all the negotiating leading up to the talks and the continued haggling that will follow — is Costa Rican Christiana Figueres. In response to a recent question from The Tico Times, Figueres said when she gets frustrated with the pace of progress on combatting climate change, she stays “focused because of my daughters and all the sons and daughters to come.”Also on the climate hero list is Diego Arguedas Ortiz, a journalist with the UCR’s Semanario Universidad. In June, the British daily The Guardian named Arguedas one of the “young climate campaigners to watch before the UN’s Paris summit.”Arguedas recently helped Seminario Universidad launch a new website, Ojo Al Clima, dedicated to climate news.There are many more Costa Rican climate heroes out there, both sung and unsung. You can be one, too.center_img Related posts:Paris climate summit is already a win for Obama, but planet remains in danger US inflames debate on climate finance with plan for UN talks Costa Rica honored at Paris climate talks with message on Eiffel Tower Costa Rica’s climate pledge: 5 things to knowlast_img read more

Costa Rica sues Nicaragua over military camp near border

first_img Facebook Comments Costa Rica filed a new complaint against Nicaragua before International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague on Monday, denouncing the presence of a military camp from the Nicaraguan army inside its territory, near the common border area.The Foreign Ministry stated in a news release that the camp is located on a beach at Portillos Island, a border territory that belongs to Costa Rica in an International Court of Justicie ruling issued on Dec. 16, 2015.Foreign Minister Manuel González noted that ICJ Justices, in their 2015 ruling, said that due to significant changes along the coastline over several decades, it is difficult to make a precise border delimitation at that location.“Nicaragua, taking advantage of this situation, set a military camp on the Costa Rican side of Portillos Island that now forces Costa Rica to, once again, go before the ICJ,” he said.Costa Rica also asked the court to set the limits over a sand bank that separates Los Portillos lagoon from the Costa Rican territory.“We are asking for a precise border delimitation in order to avoid further excuses from Nicaragua to send military personnel to that area,” González said.Compensation paymentThe Foreign Ministry also asked ICJ Justices to set a final figure and a deadline for receiving the compensation that the court ordered Nicaragua to pay for the material and environmental damages caused inside Costa Rican territory a few years ago.Justices ordered the payment after confirming the invasion by Nicaraguan personnel of a border territory known as Isla Calero. Nicaraguan workers dredged a series of artificial canals inside Costa Rica between 2010 and 2013.Costa Rica last year requested that Nicaragua respond to this ruling by paying damages in the amount of $6.7 million in compensation, but the Nicaraguan government did not respond to the request by the end of the one-year deadline issued by the ICJ.After the deadline expired in December, the administration of President Luis Guillermo Solís said the government would give Nicaragua an additional month to respond, but Managua never did so.“Nicaragua did not respond, so we interpret that silence as a negative response, despite recent statements by the president of that country saying he intended to pay,” González said on Monday.The minister added that in order to speed up a ruling on this case and avoid delays in another case related to maritime delimitation between both countries started in 2014, the government asked the ICJ to join both cases and issue a single ruling.Costa Rica’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Sergio Ugalde, who presented the complaint before the ICJ, noted that Costa Rica does not expect any significant delays from the court, and that rulings for both cases, “in case Justices agree to join them, likely would be issued this year.”Below is a timeline of events in the Costa Rica–Nicaragua border dispute: Related posts:Costa Rica submits arguments against Nicaragua in $6.7 million environmental damage complaint Costa Rica has unfair advantage in maritime delimitation claim, says Nicaragua Costa Rica extends deadline to settle payment with Nicaragua for environmental damage Costa Rica, Nicaragua to face off again at The Hague in new border disputelast_img read more

A hidden gem on the Central Pacific Boca Barranca

first_imgPUNTARENAS – If you’re driving through Costa Rica’s Central Pacific and blink, you might miss one of the world’s best surf spots: Boca Barranca.If you’re on your way to take the ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya and make it to the city of Puntarenas, you’ve gone too far. If you hit the Double Tree Resort in El Roble right before the city, you’ve also gone too far. If you’re at Caldera, the town right before the resort, you haven’t gone far enough.When you reach the bridge over a river between Puntarenas and Caldera, stop. You’ve made it. (Well, finish crossing the bridge, of course.) As soon as you do you’ll see the Hotel Río Mar, advertising rooms for as low as ₡12,000, just over $20, on your right. On the left you’ll see a pink house with a small sign that reads “Hotel Boca Barranca.”If you follow the dirt road that pink hotel is on, you’ll reach one of the best waves in Costa Rica. Hotel Boca Barranca Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times“Boca Barranca is the second-longest wave in Costa Rica and one of the longest in the world. It’s a left-hand break over river rocks and sand banks,” said Leo Calvo, 21, a local surfer who grew up surfing in Boca Barranca. “It’s a great wave to improve your style and surfing since you have so much time to check out your body position.”Calvo is currently ranked 412th worldwide and says Boca Barranca is a lot more calm and rural compared to other surfing hotspots in Costa Rica. The town is so tiny it seems like everyone is related to Calvo. His mother, Kattya Arrieta, 49, owns and runs Hotel Boca Barranca along with her husband. Arreita’s father, Demetrio Arrieta, runs Hotel Río Mar across the street.His mother, Feliciana Reyes, opened the first hotel in town, Chanita Hotel, but it closed after she passed away.Arrieta says that back in those days there was no bridge, and local fishermen ferried residents back and forth across the river. Then the hippies showed up in the late 60s and early 70s.“One day this gringo showed up in a sailboat and started surfing this wave,” Arrieta said. “We asked him what he was doing and he told us he was surfing.” Kattya Arrieta and some of the surfboard available at Hotel Boca Barranca (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)The gringo on the sailboat then showed some locals how to surf. One of them was local surf legend and pioneer Roberto Miranda. From then on, surfing took over Boca Barranca. At the time, Boca Barranca had the second-longest left-hand wave in the world.But then wavebreakers were built for the commercial port in Caldera and the wave took a hit. Now a wave in Pavones holds the title of second-longest left-hand break in the world. Calvo says the surfing culture in Puntarenas has also dipped a bit in the last few years, but whenever the swell is good, surfers from all around the world pop out of the wilderness to surf in Boca Barranca.The bridge is also a popular hangout spot for locals. It provides shade from the strong coastal sun and a nice river breeze makes it a perfect place to have your lunch. Some prefer to try and catch some fish; others hang out with beers and an assortment of smokeables. The bridge provides some much-needed shade and is a popular hangout spot for locals. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)If you’re passing through Boca Barranca and there’s a nice swell going but you forgot your board, Hotel Boca Barranca offers surfboards for rent for $20 a day. They offer shortboards and longboards, but Arrieta says longboards are best for the long wave. The best months to go, Arrieta and Calvo say, are from May to November.There’s also paid parking by the beach for ₡1,500 colones. It’s best to use that option if you’re just driving through. The highway has brought more business, but more petty crime as well. Both Hotel Río Mar and Hotel Boca Barranca have security guards and it’s not advisable to be on the beach late at night.Other than that, drop on by during the day to catch one of the world’s most legendary waves.What’s your favorite hidden gem in Costa Rica? Tell us about it at editorial@ticotimes.net. Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Next Tico Times print edition to focus on Central Pacific Serenity Boutique Hotel offers quiet retreat for Central Pacific visitors Our Costa Rica insiders reveal their favorite hidden gems Inside a Costa Rican microbrewery – at the beachlast_img read more

Father of copilot rescues his own son following private plane crash in

first_imgEdwin Castro said he was sitting at his desk Monday morning when he received a call every parent dreads: His son was in danger. As Edwin learned on the phone call, Mairon Castro had been the first officer on a private flight that had crashed by the Alfredo González Flores bridge, which spans the Virilla River near Tobías Bolaños International Airport. Edwin, who works as the Chief of Operations of Metropolitan Police in San José, received permission from his bosses to join rescue efforts at the scene of the accident, he said in a statement issued by the the Public Security Ministry (MSP). There, he says he personally helped remove Mairon from the wreckage — and travelled with him to the hospital, where doctors said he had escaped the crash with nothing more than cuts and bruises. Eladio Salazar, the other pilot and the flight’s only other occupant, also survived the crash, MSP said. “When I arrived, they had just removed one pilot from the plane, and my son was still in the plane,” Edwin Castro said. “We were able to rescue him — I personally helped with the rescue — and removed him from the crash site.” “We were flown to Mexico Hospital, where he was immediately taken to the trauma floor. There, they verified that all he had suffered were cuts and bruises.” The Air Surveillance Service and National Police had been dispatched in response to the Monday morning crash of a Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II owned by Prestige Wings, a company that offers charter flights in Costa Rica. Recovery efforts following Monday’s plane crash. Via MSP.Prestige Wings could not immediately be reached for comment. Edwin Castro said his son remains under observation at the hospital, but that he may be released later Monday afternoon. “Thank God it was just a scare, and that nothing more happened,” he said. This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican, U.S. citizen die after small plane crash in Pavas Plane crash causes still unknown in Costa Rica; pilot was cousin to ex-President Chinchilla Investigation continues into causes of plane crash in Costa Rica Small plane crashes near supermarket in San Josélast_img read more

Costa Rican residents sentenced in United States for phone scam

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:Ohio man convicted in Costa Rica telemarketing scam US man among four arrested for cloning credit cards in Costa Rica Central Bank: That ₡5,000 counterfeit bank note message is fake Costa Rican police arrest U.S. men suspected in $9 million scam Two Costa Rican residents were sentenced to 20 and 25 years in prison, respectively, for participating in a telemarketing operation that defrauded victims in the United States, the Department of Justice announced in a press release. Andrew Smith, 46, and Christopher Lee Griffin, 45, had been convicted in 2018 for each having committed one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of international money laundering.Sentenced this week, Smith will face 25 years in prison, has been ordered by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad to pay $10,222,838.76 in restitution jointly with his co-conspirators, and will forfeit $406,324.96. Conrad ordered Griffin to pay $9,612,590.39 in restitution jointly with his co-conspirators and forfeit $182,439.Their scheme had defrauded United States citizens out of millions of dollars, according to the Justice Department. “Andrew Smith and Christopher Lee Griffin participated in a deplorable scam to defraud hard-working elderly Americans out of millions of dollars,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski in a statement.  “The severe sentences imposed today represent a significant victory in our continuing efforts to fight elder fraud and protect some of the most vulnerable members of the U.S. public.“These sentences should serve as a strong deterrent to anyone seeking to enrich themselves by taking part in similar scams.”The Justice Department says Smith and Griffin worked at a San José-based call center and posed as representatives of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or the Federal Trade Commission. The duo told their targets that they had won a “significant financial reward” that would be delivered upon their completion of up-front payments for “insurance fees, taxes and import fees.” Smith and Griffin placed calls using Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP) to fool victims into thinking they were based in the United States, the Justice Department said. “Years ago, our parents taught us not to talk to strangers.  Their advice has proven to be timeless,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Strong.  “Strangers are reaching out to us on social media, sending us emails, calling our homes and cell phones.  If you fall for a scam, you can bet your life, they will call you again.  They might have a different sales pitch or a sob story, but they are the same crooks.  These prison sentences should serve as a warning to the thieves, the FBI and our law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to find you and put you out of business for good.”center_img Want stories like this delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to the Tico Times newsletterlast_img read more

Blast at Algerian army post kills 1 wounds 3

first_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Comments   Share   ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) – Algerian officials say a gendarme died and three more were wounded when an explosive-laden car was driven into their command post in the southern city of Ouargla.A statement issued by the military did not say whether the driver died in Friday’s pre-dawn attack, which partially collapsed the post, or if the driver was caught or fled.There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the city, some 800 kilometers (500 miles) south of Algiers. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Top Stories center_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy A similar attack in March wounded 23 people at a command post in Tamanrasset, near the border with Mali. The attack was claimed by the Islamist extremist group MUJAO, which is among rebel factions that have taken over northern Mali.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Uruguay to withdraw its UN peacekeepers from Haiti

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) – Uruguay’s president says he plans to remove his country’s nearly 1,000 peacekeeping troops from Haiti.Jose Mujica said Tuesday he’ll withdraw the contingent but isn’t giving a date. He told local TV that he decided this because there’s a “political impasse” in Haiti with elections to renew the Senate long overdue.The 9,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti was established by the U.N. Security Council in 2004. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizonacenter_img The force has been under intense scrutiny for years and is blamed for a cholera outbreak likely introduced by a peacekeeping battalion from Nepal.Last year, protesters calling for the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers clashed with police in Haiti’s capital. They were angry over the cholera epidemic and the alleged sexual assault of an 18-year-old Haitian man by peacekeepers from Uruguay.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Patients with chronic pain give advice 0 Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

Nixon papers shed light on renegade diplomacy

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Huston’s report to Nixon emerged in thousands of pages of documents from the Nixon administration released at the presidential library in Yorba Linda, California, with a small sample available online.The full contours of the renegade Republican diplomacy in 1968 were not uncovered at the time, and they are not all exposed in Huston’s account, which was more concerned with investigating LBJ’s response to the secret GOP contacts than with the contacts themselves. But historians have pieced much of the story together over the years from various sources.In an oral history released by the National Archives last year, Huston voiced his conviction that Nixon’s campaign manager, John Mitchell, was directly involved in the episode and that it was likely Nixon at least knew about it. In his 2014 book, “Chasing Shadows,” Nixon historian Ken Hughes asserted that Nixon, fearing exposure of his 1968 machinations, wanted operatives to break into the Brookings Institution think tank to steal Chennault Affair documents that he thought were there.That break-in did not happen. But another one did — the politically-driven burglary at the Watergate offices of the Democratic Party, touching off the scandal that destroyed Nixon’s presidency in 1974. ___Online:The Chennault Affair memo: http://www.nixonlibrary.gov/virtuallibrary/releases/may15/vietnam02.pdfCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The documents contain a memo written to Nixon by his aide Tom Charles Huston in 1970, looking back at the so-called Chennault Affair, named for Anna Chennault, a Republican activist who had ties to South Vietnam leaders. Chennault was thought to have been a secret GOP emissary, conveying messages from the Nixon campaign to the South Vietnamese that they should resist peace talks with North Vietnam because they would get a better deal if they waited for Nixon to become president.Johnson was incensed by what he regarded as Nixon’s meddling, as a candidate, in Vietnam War policy. At one point he called Nixon treasonous. Federal law prohibits private citizens — which Nixon then was — from interfering in U.S. diplomacy.Nixon’s people saw the episode differently. They thought LBJ was calling a bombing halt and encouraging peace talks merely to give fellow Democrat Humphrey a boost in the election. And they thought he was using the heavy hand of government surveillance and intimidation to get to the bottom of what the Nixon campaign was doing with the South Vietnamese — tactics Nixon’s men would practice ruthlessly against real and perceived adversaries once in office. 0 Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories The vital role family plays in society 5 treatments for adult scoliosis New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day WASHINGTON (AP) — There’s little doubt Richard Nixon was up to dirty tricks before his presidency ever began.Documents released by the National Archives’ Nixon Presidential Library on Wednesday add weight to considerable, existing evidence that his 1968 presidential campaign tried to sabotage Vietnam peace talks before the U.S. election. The apparent purpose: to deny his Democratic challenger, Hubert Humphrey, a political advantage in the tight race to succeed Lyndon Johnson in the White House. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement FILE – In this Sept. 19, 1968, file photo, then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon flashes the victory sign as he acknowledges cheers from the crowd, at the fairgrounds of Springfield, Mo. There’s little doubt Nixon was up to dirty tricks before his presidency ever began. Documents released by the Nixon Presidential Library add weight to existing evidence that his 1968 presidential campaign tried to sabotage Vietnam peace talks before the U.S. election. (AP Photo/File)last_img read more

Solar plane ready to leave Japan for Hawaii

first_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Comments   Share   The airplane carries no fuel, so project engineers are using simulations to determine when it is safe to fly. The first Pacific leg is the riskiest because there is no place to land.Borschberg had been waiting for a weather front stretching from Alaska to Taiwan to clear enough for him to leave the central Japanese city of Nagoya. He landed there on June 1 due to weather worries between Nanjing, China, and Hawaii — at 8,175 kilometers (5,079 miles) the longest leg of the round-the-world journey which began in Abu Dhabi.The length of the journey means that the weather forecasts the project’s simulators use to decide if it is safe to embark are at their limits of reliability, he said. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img NAGOYA, Japan (AP) — A solar-powered plane delayed by weather and repair work is ready to resume its around-the-world journey, set to leave central Japan for Hawaii early Wednesday if conditions permit.Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg is flying the plane solo during the roughly five-day trip. He plans to take short naps, do yoga and meditate to endure the lack of sleep.“As a pilot you learn not to sleep when you fly. I needed time to accept that I could sleep and I could trust what the airplane was doing,” he told reporters in Tokyo last week. Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Check your body, save your lifelast_img read more

NATO Risk of return to heavy fighting in Ukraine

first_img Check your body, save your life Top Stories He added: “They need to understand that we’re not falling for this trap. We are determined to protect and defend our allies.”Carter has rolled out plans for the Pentagon to provide additional military assistance to Europe, to help reassure allies who feel threatened by Russia’s aggression as well as terrorist groups including the Islamic State.He told allies the U.S. will spread about 250 tanks, armored vehicles and other military equipment across six former Soviet bloc nations, and will also be willing to provide, when needed, weapons, aircraft and forces, including commandos, to supplement NATO’s new very high readiness task force.During the NATO meeting, allies have insisted they are not looking to restart a Cold War-style arms race with Russia, but are working to address the threats that alliance nations are facing.As a result, they have announced that they will increase the strength of the alliance’s Response Force, which was 13,000 at the start of 2015, to as many as 40,000. And they added air, sea and special forces units to the force, which includes a highly mobile, multinational “spearhead” brigade of 5,000 ground troops the ministers ordered formed in February so NATO can reinforce any alliance member under threat within 48 hours. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home “Mr. Putin is very clear that he does not want Kiev leaning to the West and that he will use the appropriate force necessary to keep Kiev from leaning to the West, and so for that reason, as you know, Kiev remains leaning to the west,” Breedlove told reporters in Brussels. “And so, I don’t think Mr. Putin is done in eastern Ukraine.”NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier warned of a return to heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine and said the alliance is creating a new trust fund that will help pay for the effort to remove mines and detect and destroy improvised explosive devices. Those steps, he said, will be vital for saving lives in a conflict that has killed more than 6,000 people.In addition, he said, NATO is working to better secure the airspace in the region. He said Poland, Norway and Turkey will be sharing more airport traffic control data with Ukraine, which is critical because it’s “an area which is unstable and where we see fighting going on, on the ground.” A Malaysian airliner leaving Amsterdam was mistakenly shot down over eastern Ukraine last year.U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, meanwhile, gave allies more details on the military support the U.S. will provide to a NATO rapid response task force. The U.S., he said, will commit to sending troops, aircraft and other equipment in 10 different categories, including special operations forces, intelligence and surveillance, transportation, refueling, Air Force and Navy aircraft and support, precision weapons, combat helicopters and a command post. Their comments came as the U.S. and other allied defense ministers met to hammer out additional ways they can bolster the defenses of Ukraine, which is not a NATO country. Russia annexed its Crimea region last spring, and Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists in the east have engaged in what amounts to a civil war. Moscow denies helping the Ukrainian rebels.While the U.S. and NATO have so far refused to provide weapons to Kiev, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said defense ministers from NATO countries told him they would be ready to reconsider if the attacks against his government forces in the east escalate.But “‘nobody promised to us tomorrow they will supply us with lethal weapons, no,” he said.Breedlove said Russia maintains a very efficient force east of the Ukraine border, and that there is a constant flow of supplies, men and soldiers back and forth.“The Russians command, lead and enable a very capable force inside the Donbass that is also extremely well supplied,” said Breedlove, describing a region of eastern Ukraine. He said there have been more than 30 supply missions to the Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.U.S. and European officials also see a broader threat from Russia as it suggests it might use nuclear weapons in a territorial dispute like Russia’s annexation of Crimea. At a congressional hearing Thursday in Washington, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., said, “It’s very important that the Russians understand that far from being de-escalatory, first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict like that risks uncontrolled escalation.” Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. BRUSSELS (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t finished using his military in eastern Ukraine, the top U.S. military commander for NATO said Thursday as the U.S. and its allies outlined additional support for Kiev, including aid in defusing roadside bombs.U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander, said there continues to be a constant flow of ammunition and other military supplies from Russia across the border to Ukraine, and a well-trained and ready Russian force.center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, second right, speaks with Ukraine’s Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak, second left, during a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, June 25, 2015. NATO defense ministers meet for a second day of sessions to discuss, among other issues, the situation in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall How men can have a healthy 2019 How do cataracts affect your vision? Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   last_img read more

Puerto Rico amends laws after US ruling on gay marriage

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said that while it was not immediately clear whether the ruling also meant that gay couples in Puerto Rico could now adopt, he said he would accept and support the change.Miranda praised the Supreme Court ruling as “a huge step in the quest for equal rights. You cannot deny people the right to love.”All U.S. Supreme Court rulings apply in the U.S. territory.Several gay couples in Puerto Rico previously had filed a lawsuit challenging local laws including those that prohibit same-sex marriage and the recognition of such marriages. The island’s Justice Department originally fought the lawsuit but announced earlier this year it would no longer defend the laws. The case then was put on hold pending a Supreme Court ruling.Supporters of the ruling gathered at the seaside Capitol building to celebrate, while religious leaders across the island rejected it.Monsignor Daniel Fernandez, Catholic bishop of the northern city of Arecibo, said he would continue to protect the institution of marriage as it is meant to be: “By nature, marriage exists and can only exist between a man and a woman,” he said.Garcia acknowledged opponents in a statement, saying, “I ask all of those who are people of faith like me to understand that no one is allowed to impose their religious beliefs on others.” ErrorOK ErrorOK Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Thousands of people in Puerto Rico celebrated Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to allow gay marriage as authorities rushed to approve legislation extending marriage rights in the socially conservative U.S. territory.Just hours after the court’s decision, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order requiring government agencies to become compliant with the ruling within 15 days. As a result, the island’s Health Department and other agencies are expected to begin issuing marriage licenses by early next month.center_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Check your body, save your life New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Some lamented that Puerto Rico did not take the initiative to allow gay marriage, and they asked the government to ensure that other marginalized groups including transgender people also receive equal treatment.“It’s time to truly make Puerto Rico into a more fair and equal society, and not depend on decisions from the outside to achieve this,” said Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for the group Heterosexuals in Favor of Equality.___Danica Coto on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danicacotoCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Australian identity theft a real threat

first_imgAustralian Passports are popular on the black market Government documents have revealed fake or doctored Australian Passports have been detected, on average, once per week in the past three years.Details regarding the illegal documents have been few and far between to prevent damage to international relations and protect information provided by police and foreign governments.Australia is still reeling in light of the incident involving Israeli spies using forged passports of actual Australian citizens to assassinate a Hamas leader in Dubai.Doctored passports have been recovered from spies, thieves and people smugglers at ports in Dubai, Hong Kong, Thailand, Ghana, Britain, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and Egypt.The issue is so widespread that fake passports have been detected at local airports, banks and even in the hands of underage kids in pubs.The Australian Passport Office’s fraud section director Michael Lynch said about 1800 passport frauds had been investigated in the past three years, according to The Australian.There is a strong trade in passports, many of which have been stolen in Asia and distributed around the world. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

ITCM to anchor Shanghai Business Events Week

first_imgShanghai will host IT&CM China 2011 Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H The inaugural Shanghai Business Events Week has been boosted by the inclusion of IT&CM China, which will anchor the initiative taking place from 11 to 15 April this year. Launched by the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration (SMTA), the project will bring together six MICE events under one umbrella and will highlight China’s increasingly popular status as a MICE destination. “China has positioned itself well on the international stage and is attracting demand through increased and suitable space and inventory combined with competitive rates,” Hilton Shanghai business development director Victor N de Vries said. “Outbound wise, China has an already large and growing footprint on world business.” IT&CM China 2011 is the 5th edition of the international MICE event that seeks to “Promote China to the World and the World to China”, and will be held from 13 to 15 April at ShanghaiMart Expo. Themed “China’s Next MICE Wave”, the event will feature more than 2,000 delegates from across China and 40 countries worldwide. Joining IT&CM at the Shanghai Business Events Week will be SMTA’s China (Shanghai) International Meetings & Conferences Forum, Global Business Travel Association’s Corporate Travel Expert Certification Course, ICCA’s Association Database Workshop, IMEX-MPI–IT&CM China’s Future Leaders Forum and the TTG China Travel Awards.last_img read more