Hurricanes, wildfires & volcanoes, oh my! From Mexico to Indonesia << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Share Wednesday, August 3, 2016 Posted by Tags: China, Indonesia, Mexico, Travel Alert MEXICO CITY — Mother Earth is wreaking havoc in several destinations around the world, with everything from hurricanes and volcanic eruptions putting a dent in travellers’ plans.Tropical Storm Earl is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall, probably in Belize, forecasters said Wednesday.The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that Earl was threatening to bring heavy rains, flooding and high winds to Mexico, Belize and Honduras, and was likely to blow past Honduras’ Roatan Island, a popular tourist destination, on Wednesday afternoon.All three of those countries issued tropical storm warnings for some areas, and a hurricane warning was issued for part of Mexico.Early Wednesday, the storm was centred about 120 miles (105 kilometres) east of Roatan, with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph (100 kph) and was moving west near 14 mph (22 kph).In California, locals and travellers are dealing with another kind of natural disaster: wildfires. A deadly wildfire that continues to spread near California’s scenic Big Sur was started by an illegal campfire, a fire official said Tuesday.More news: Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksFire information officer Deborah McClain said investigators determined the blaze started July 22 in a day camping area of Garapata Park where campfires are prohibited. Officials are still trying to determine who started the fire and are asking for information from campers who were in the area before the massive blaze charred more than 69 square miles and destroyed 57 homes, McClain said.More than 5,400 firefighters from across California are fighting the blaze that is threatening 2,000 structures. It was 25 per cent contained Tuesday.California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection estimated it will take until the end of August to extinguish a blaze that also led to the rescue of 11 hikers.All California state parks in the area were closed until further notice.Finally, in Indonesia, eruptions at three volacnoes have darkened skies in parts of the archipelago and disrupted some flights.Mount Rinjani on Lombok Island near Bali, the Sinabung volcano on Sumatra Island and Mount Gamalama in the Moluccas chain of islands have all erupted in the past couple of days.More news: Honolulu authorities investigate arsons at 3 Waikiki hotels; no injuries reportedNo one has been injured, but flights at two airports have been disrupted. Sultan Babullah airport in Ternate, the capital of North Maluku province, was closed Wednesday and Lombok’s international airport was closed for several hours on Tuesday.
LAS VEGAS — Carnival Corporation & plc’s new Ocean Medallion is wearable tech for passengers, a 1.8-ounce disc (about the size of a quarter) that can be worn as a pendant on a wristband in a clip, or placed in a pocket, that will do everything from eliminate keycards by unlocking staterooms as passengers approach their stateroom door, to streamlining and expediting the port embarkation and disembarkation process, to allowing passengers to make onboard purchases without any transaction, cards or paper.Similar in concept to other wearable tech devices like Walt Disney World’s MagicBand, Carnival says its Ocean Medallion “goes well beyond the growing number of wearables used by theme parks and other vacation companies by leaving behind the required action of ‘tap’ and ushering in a new paradigm for guest interactions.”The new guest experience platform will debut on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess in November 2017, followed by Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess in 2018. The new Medallion Class on Princess Cruises will be rolled out over multiple years on the entire Princess Cruises fleet.In addition to stateroom access and onboard purchases, the Ocean Medallion will also enable passengers to locate friends and family around the cruise ship, deliver enhanced dining experiences based on food and beverage preferences, power an array of interactive gaming and immersive entertainment experiences and significantly enhance interactions with crew members and guests, says the cruise company.More news: Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesThe medallion can be accessorized with jewelry, clips, key chains and bands or carried in a pocket or pocketbook. Powered by proprietary technology developed by Carnival Corporation that features an ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) network of intelligent sensors and experiential computing devices, the Ocean Medallion “revolutionizes guest service not only for the cruise industry, but the broader vacation industry”. It will be officially introduced by Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald on Jan. 5 when he becomes the first travel industry executive to deliver the opening keynote address at CES, the world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show.An agent shows off the medallion Wednesday, January 4, 2017 Travelweek Group Posted by Carnival’s Ocean Medallion streamlines guest experience; no more key cards, for starters Share “With this interactive technology platform, we are poised to have our global cruise line brands at the vanguard of forever changing the guest experience paradigm – not just in the cruise industry but in the larger vacation market and potentially other industries,” said Donald. “Our focus is on exceeding guest expectations every single day and consistently delivering great experiences, and we do that extremely well. Now we are in prime position to take the guest experience to a level never before considered possible and build on cruising’s popularity and value as the fastest growing segment of the vacation sector.”The Ocean Medallion is the only accessory needed to elevate the guest experience before, during and after each cruise in what the company is calling Ocean Medallion Class.More news: Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTThe Ocean Medallion pairs with an optional personalized digital concierge called the Ocean Compass, a digital experience portal available online, on smart devices, on kiosks in home ports, on stateroom TVs, on interactive surfaces located throughout the cruise ship and on devices carried by all guest service hosts.Both innovations combine with an invisible network of proprietary sensors and computing devices embedded throughout the ship, home ports and destinations that collectively form the ‘Experience Innovation Operating System’, or xiOS. Carnival says xiOS seamlessly leverages hardware and software to enable all experiences including access, lodging, food and beverage, entertainment, retail, navigation, payment and media.The guest experience platform is a key element of O·C·E·A·N or One Cruise Experience Access Network, a new effort by Carnival Corporation focused on expanding the cruise vacation market through guest experience innovation, the development of original experiential media content that includes new TV programs airing on national TV, and expanding its portfolio of exclusive and unique destinations.The Ocean Medallion has no discernible technology – no on-off switch, no charging and no menu to navigate. The device, laser-etched with the guest’s name, ship and date of sailing, is provided to all passengers at no cost. Inside each guest’s Ocean Medallion are multiple communication technologies including Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Tags: Technology << Previous PostNext Post >>
Share << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — Intrepid Travel is offering 15% off European tours booked by March 7, for travel between May and September. From Greece to Iceland, Intrepid has 40 countries available for clients as a leading small group travel operator. The offer is valid on all Europe trips, but excludes sell-ins, short breaks, expeditions and sailing.Sample itineraries include:‘Cycle Provence’ (eight days)Starting at $1,653; originally $1,945, this trip has travellers cycling through Provence with a blend of scenic trail riding, historical sights and wine tasting. Highlights include Roman history and architecture in the towns of Arles and Orange; lavender fields en route to the three-tiered city of Pont du Gard; and a search for wild white horses outside Camargue while cycling to the Mediterranean Sea‘Real Food Adventure – Macedonia to Montenegro’ (10 days)Starting at $1,921; originally $2,260, this is a culinary experience of the Balkans through Macedonia and Montenegro. Participants head to the region of Tikves to meet an international wine writer, plus meet a local beekeeper and learn about honey in a bee master class; enjoy private tastings and pairings at Macedonia’s acclaimed wineries; learn to bake pastries with the village women of Janche and feast on a traditional barbeque in Kosovo, dine on a home-grown meal in the private garden of a Dihovo family and visit a centuries-old olive press outside of Kotor.More news: Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North America‘Summer Iceland Family Adventure’ (seven days)Starting at $2,227; originally $2,620, this trip includes spouting geysers and plunging waterfalls, frozen glaciers and caves of lava tubes. There’s a boat ride through a unique glacial lagoon, with close views of the coloured icebergs; an exploration of Europe’s largest national park; and a rafting adventure along the Hvita River.For more information, visit intrepidtravel.com. Monday, February 27, 2017 Travelweek Group Intrepid clients get 15% off Europe tours when they book by March 7 Tags: Britain & Europe, Intrepid Travel, Promotions Posted by
Which show are you most excited to watch in Vegas? Tuesday, May 2, 2017 Share Posted by LAS VEGAS — There’s a reason why Las Vegas is widely regarded as the Entertainment Capital of the World. It’s because on any given night, on any given day, there’s always a show to watch or a concert to attend, the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else.This year’s entertainment lineup looks especially stacked, with world-class performers headlining hugely anticipated shows. Tell us, which of the following are you most excited about? Loading… Tags: Las Vegas Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>
Share Travelweek Group Posted by Tuesday, February 5, 2019 Tags: Animals, Safari Watch epic video of a giraffe escaping a pride of hungry lions KLASERIE GAME RESERVE — It’s hard not to root for the underdog, especially when they’re outnumbered by a pride of lions.In a captivating video filmed at South Africa’s Klaserie Game Reserve and shot by safari guide Francois Pienaar, a gentle giraffe is seen trying to fight off a group of the hungry and relentless predators. One particularly determined lion hangs off the giraffe’s back, paws and teeth digging mercilessly into its neck, while several other lions hold on to the giraffe’s back legs.According to Pienaar, who spoke with LatestSightings.com, the safari group set out on an early morning game drive when they came across a pride of sleeping lions. “My guests and I were watching them sleep, never expecting I was about to see the best sighting in my guiding career,” she said.After waking from their nap, the pride started moving and soon spotted the “very old giraffe bull”. The group watched the lions stalk the giraffe; after about 20 minutes, the pride made their move.More news: Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksThe battle, said Pienaar, lasted five exhausting hours. Remarkably, the giraffe managed to escape by stomping on the lions.Let’s hear it for the underdog! << Previous PostNext Post >>
Logistical costs can add up to 50 percent to the final consumer price of products sold in Central America, a recent study by the World Bank noted.Factors that make goods more expensive in the region include high costs to transport products by land, poor road conditions and slow customs processing at borders. That makes it more difficult for companies – especially small ones – to remain competitive.The drawbacks to trade were highlighted on Feb. 8 during a Central American conference on trade and logistics, held in Costa Rica and attended by the World Bank vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Hasan Tuluy, INCAE Business School President Arturo Condo and Costa Rican Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González.“Logistical costs currently represent 40 percent of the final value of a product. That’s an excessive figure when compared internationally,” Tuluy said.In Chile, for example, logistical costs represent only 18 percent of a product’s final cost, and the average of countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is 8 percent, he added. “Logistical costs mostly affect small producers, who pay three times more than big producers per unit to transport products from their farms to the border,” Tuluy said. The study noted that it’s cheaper and easier to ship tomatoes from San José, Costa Rica, to the U.S. state of California than it is to send them to Managua, Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan capital is one-tenth the distance from the Costa Rican capital when compared to California, but transportation costs can run companies up to four times as much. Border bureaucracy is another infamous barrier to cheap and efficient trade. Transport companies often must wait up to 20 hours for processing goods in order to cross Central American borders. Bad roads and lack of coordination between border officials also hamper the process. “Central America needs to address these logistical barriers, particularly at the borders, through a joint effort by governments and through low-cost measures that help facilitate trade and improve competition in the region,” said Felipe Jaramillo, the World Bank’s director for Central America. The study also analyzed recent free-trade agreements between Central American countries, concluding that although the agreements create more trade and investment opportunities, results aren’t guaranteed unless government agencies become more agile and efficient, which includes hiring better-trained employees, upgrading technology and improving infrastructure. “For a region that has advanced in terms of free-trade agreements, there is still a need to improve internally,” Tuluy said. González said implementing the study’s recommendations should be a priority for regional officials. “As government officials, we need to give this issue political priority and work together with regional governments and the private sector,” she said. “We need to use international cooperation and achieve not only an increase in regional trade, but also the participation of our countries in global value chains,” she added. In January, González announced the Inter-American Development Bank would loan Costa Rica $80 million to finance the renovation of border facilities at Peñas Blancas, Paso Canoas, Sixaola and Las Tablillas.The minister cited “intense inter-agency cooperation” to upgrade Peñas Blancas border facilities, recent improvements at Paso Canoas and a decision to continue projects at Sixaola and Las Tablillas as a sign of commitment by the administration of President Laura Chinchilla to help businesses compete. She said the projects had been delayed by 20 years before the current administration decided to move forward. “Our goal is have world-class border facilities, and we’ve made great strides to open new markets through trade agreements. We’re also improving the business climate by making bureaucracy more efficient and easy for exporters,” Foreign Trade Vice Minister Fernando Ocampo said.The study concluded that it is vital for countries to work together, not only on improving individual shortcomings, but also on bilateral issues, including customs offices. “The World Bank will continue working to help develop these efforts to make trade more efficient, and transform growth opportunities into real benefits for all Central Americans,” Tuluy said. Facebook Comments No related posts.
UNITED NATIONS, New York – More than 60 countries on Monday signed a landmark conventional arms trade treaty, but the United States held back from joining the first wave of signatories, while Russia and China are expected to stay out of the accord.The U.N.-brokered treaty is the first covering weaponry of any kind for more than a decade and aims to bring transparency and protection of human rights into the often dubious $85 billion-a-year global trade.U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the treaty will “put an end to the ‘free-for-all’ nature” of weapons dealing, according to his spokesman Martin Nesirky.The treaty covers tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, as well as the vast trade in small arms.Countries that ratify the treaty would have to evaluate before making a deal whether it risks breaching an international embargo, violate human rights law or could be used by terrorists or criminals.The opening of signatures was described as an “extremely important milestone” by ministers and other representatives of Argentina, Australia, Britain, Costa Rice, Finland, Japan and Kenya, which sponsored the first 2006 U.N. resolution calling for treaty talks.“It is vital that the treaty come into force as soon as possible and is effectively implemented,” the seven said in a statement before Argentina became the first of 63 countries to sign the treaty on the first day.Fifty ratifications are needed for the treaty to come into force. Finland’s Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said this could be done within a year.The U.N. General Assembly passed the treaty in April when 154 countries voted in favor, but Syria, North Korea and Iran voted against and Russia, China, Egypt and India were among 23 countries to abstain.Russia and China are not expected to join the treaty any time soon.Among major arms exporters, Britain, France and Germany all signed the treaty on the first day.“The United States welcomes the opening of the Arms Trade Treaty for signature, and we look forward to signing it as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement.He said that many of the controls in the treaty were already enforced in the United States, but added that the treaty “is an important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons.”The U.S. administration has faced pressure from the domestic arms lobby over the treaty, but Kerry said it “will not undermine the legitimate international trade in conventional weapons, interfere with national sovereignty, or infringe on the rights of American citizens.” Facebook Comments No related posts.
Related posts:Why I support Nicolás Maduro Venezuela charges opposition leader, sparking protests Desperate for coffee in Caracas Exiles in Costa Rica denounce alleged Venezuelan kidnapping plot CARACAS, Venezuela – President Nicolás Maduro and Venezuela’s opposition leaders are to meet Thursday for talks aimed at ending two months of deadly anti-government protests.The agreed-to dialogue would be unprecedented under Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chávez last year following the long-standing leader’s death from cancer.Opposition leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost the presidency to Maduro last year, has also confirmed he would attend the talks.“I say to our people: I will go tomorrow to defend the truth,” said Capriles, who is the governor of the state of Miranda and a member of the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition or MUD.“We will tell the government the truth so the country opens its eyes, so that we understand that all this has to change,” he said.Since early February, 39 people have died and 600 have been wounded in clashes between security forces and protesters angered by soaring crime, high inflation and a shortages of basic goods such as toilet paper, which they blame on Maduro’s socialist government.At least three opposition leaders have been jailed in recent weeks over the protests.After preliminary negotiations on Tuesday, the two sides had agreed to the talks under the oversight of UNASUR, a regional South American grouping, and the Vatican.Among the conditions set by the two sides for the talks was the presence of witnesses, including the Vatican’s secretary of state, Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s former envoy to Venezuela.“We want to convey the invitation of President Nicolás Maduro to His Holiness, Pope Francis,” for Parolin to act “as a good faith witness,” Venezuela’s foreign minister said in a letter sent Wednesday.Tough negotiations aheadThe Vatican has yet to publicly respond to the request, though it has previously indicated it was willing to mediate in the crisis.However, it remains to be seen whether the government and the opposition will be able to negotiate their way to a solution.For the MUD coalition, key issues on the talks’ agenda include amnesty for more than 100 people arrested during the protests, and a truth commission to probe the violence that marred them.MUD is also demanding the dissolution of armed civilian groups known as “colectivos” which it says are close to the government.But on Tuesday, Maduro insisted that he is not willing to consider either move.“There will be justice here, there will be no impunity,” he said, referring to the request for amnesty.And he stridently defended the civilian groups, denying they are armed and alleging a smear campaign against them.For his part, Maduro said he wants to crack down on street crime and push investment and economic development in the country, which has the world’s largest proven oil reserves but also myriad economic woes.One wing of MUD, known as Popular Will, says it will not take part in the talks because the government has not released one of its detained leaders, Leopoldo López.It said talks with Maduro would be just for show.Maduro has lashed out at the protests, branding them a “fascist” U.S.-backed plot to overthrow his government.Read all of The Tico Times’ coverage of the Venezuelan crisis by clicking on the hashtag #Bolivarian Revolution. Facebook Comments
Related posts:Sentencing in Chile begins to bring closure in 41-year-old murder cases of US citizens Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman After 30 years, mother hopes for justice in son’s murder during Chilean protest Chile to try former secret police for diplomat’s death Pinochet carried out targeted assassination in Washington Famed Spanish legal expert Baltasar Garzón will give a talk at the University For Peace campus Thursday morning.The Spanish judge’s discussion is titled “Universal jurisdiction and the commitment to the cause of justice.” The conference takes place at 9 a.m. at the Carta de la Tierra Auditorium on the university’s campus, which is located in Ciudad Colón, southwest of the capital.Garzón, a human right judge from Spain, has been involved in several high-profile cases including the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and a trial in Madrid against two dozen alleged al-Qaeda operatives (18 were found guilty). The controversial figure currently leads the legal team of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.Garzón first received international attention when he used Spain’s principle of universal jurisdiction to arrest the military ruler Pinochet in London in the late 1990s. According to a BBC article on the case, “universal jurisdiction” is a concept that states “some crimes are so grave that they can be tried anywhere regardless of where the offences are committed.”Tens of thousands died, disappeared or were tortured during Pinochet’s reign form 1973 to 1990. But the arrest in 1998 was ultimately fruitless. Pinochet spent a year and a half detained in the U.K. while the government considered Spain’s extradition request. In the end, Pinochet was ruled “too frail and he was allowed to go home,” the BBC wrote.Garzón found greater success going after an al-Qaeda cell in Europe and also in a case against an Argentine ex-naval officer, who was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 640 years in prison.WikiLeaks revealed in 2010 that the United States tried to pressure Spain over Garzón’s attempts to investigation activities at Guantánamo Bay.From The Guardian:US officials tried to influence Spanish prosecutors and government officials to head off court investigations into Guantánamo Bay torture allegations, secret CIA ‘extraordinary rendition’ flights and the killing of a Spanish journalist by US troops in Iraq, according to secret US diplomatic cables.Among their biggest worries were investigations pursued by the magistrate Baltasar Garzón, who US officials described as having ‘an anti-American streak.’The combative legal expert already was facing his own troubles in 2008 after trying to investigate crimes that occurred during the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Francisco Franco dictatorship. He was accused of abusing his powers, a charge that the Spanish Supreme Court eventually tossed out in 2012, according to the New York Times.However, earlier that year the same court had suspended Garzón as magistrate for 11 years after finding him guilty of ordering an illegal wiretap in a separate case. Garzón’s new life now includes defending WikiLeaks mastermind Assange.The suspension led to condemnation by international human rights groups and mass protests within the country. Supporters claimed the investigation was nothing more than a political witch hunt by right-wing enemies against “one of the world’s best-known human rights investigators.“ More information on the University for Peace event is available here. Facebook Comments
MEXICO CITY — Extraditing Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán to the United States could take a year or more, a prosecutor said on Monday, three days after the former fugitive’s recapture.“I could say as an estimate that it could be at least a year,” José Manuel Merino, the international affairs official at the attorney general’s office, told Radio Formula.But Merino warned that the process could last as a long as four to six years depending how hard Guzmán’s lawyers fight his extradition through injunctions.Guzmán’s lawyer, Juan Pablo Badillo, has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court if necessary.Interpol Mexico agents went to Guzmán’s prison near Mexico City on Sunday to execute two arrest warrants for his extradition, formally launching the process. The foreign ministry would have to give the final green light after judges issue a ruling.Mexico received the U.S. extradition requests last year on a slew of charges, including drug trafficking and homicide. Guzmán is wanted in half a dozen U.S. states.Guzmán is now back in the same maximum-security prison he escaped from in July last year.The drug lord was arrested in February 2014 but it only took him 17 months to escape from the Altiplano penitentiary after his henchmen dug a 1.5-kilometer tunnel to set him free.Guzmán was recaptured on Friday in a deadly military raid in Los Mochis, a northwestern seaside city in his home state of Sinaloa. Facebook Comments Related posts:Undermining Mexico: How ‘El Chapo’ built a criminal empire, and escaped prison, by digging deep El Chapo’s lawyer says drug lord wants quick extradition to US Sinaloa drug cartel lives on despite ‘CEO’ El Chapo’s capture Sean Penn regrets El Chapo interview failed to spur drug debate
Related posts:Costa Rica’s inclusion in Zika travel warning has tourism leaders worried Zika alert: Costa Rica increases surveillance of travelers entering the country World Bank: Zika will cost Latin America $3.5 billion in 2016 Birth defects in Latin America spark Zika virus panic The first case of the mosquito-borne Zika virus has been detected in Costa Rica, health officials announced Tuesday.The Health Ministry issued a statement confirming the first documented case of Zika virus in the country, detected in a 25-year-old man who contracted the virus while visiting Colombia.Originally from West Africa, the virus can cause serious birth defects including microcephaly, a condition that causes children to be born with an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development. It’s recent spread to Caribbean and Latin American countries has caused alarm among residents and travelers, and even prompted some governments to encourage women to hold off getting pregnant for the time being.Costa Rica’s first patient started showing symptoms, which include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise and headaches, on Jan. 22 before he returned to Costa Rica on Jan. 23. He sought medical attention on Jan. 24 at a Costa Rican public hospital, officials reported.The Zika virus can not spread from person to person, but can spread if a mosquito feeds on an infected person and then bites someone else.Costa Rica health workers fumigated a 100-meter square area around the patient’s bedroom and interviewed neighbors. Officials said they did not detect anyone in proximity to the man with symptoms compatible with Zika.Zika spreads through the same mosquitos that carry dengue and chikungunya. According to the World Health Organization, most Zika cases are mild and do not require treatment besides rest, hydration and treating pain and fever with over-the-counter medication. There is no vaccine for Zika.Pregnant women who contract the virus, however, can be at risk for microcephaly. In Brazil 3,893 cases of microcephaly have been linked to Zika, especially in the northeastern part of the South American country.El Salvador and Colombia have both asked pregnant women to be especially careful not to get bit by mosquitos. Earlier this week, El Salvador’s health officials went so far as to ask women there to avoid getting pregnant until 2018.U.S. health authorities have warned pregnant women not to travel to 22 territories in Latin America and the Caribbean to avoid exposure to the Zika virus. Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Belize were the only Central American countries not listed on a Centers for Disease Control travel warning list for Zika virus. At this writing, Costa Rica has not been included in the travel warning list.The World Health Organization has warned that the virus could spread rapidly throughout the Western Hemisphere, except in Chile and Canada, which have no Aedes mosquitos, the type that carries the disease.With information from AFP. Facebook Comments
“Poverty is no excuse,” said Sandra Cauffman. “If you work hard, you are going far. That, I promise you.”Your standard motivational speech from a highly successful Costa Rican to a group of her younger compatriots? Hardly. Cauffman — a deputy project manager for NASA who co-directed the MAVEN mission to Mars and now directs the GOES-R satellite program — was speaking via Skype from her offices at NASA to six teenagers sitting in a conference room in Guachipelín, Escazú.Those six teenagers had just received some big news. More than one face was streaked with tears. A boy had his head in his hands, gobsmacked. Elián can’t believe it; Diana wipes away a tear. Katherine Stanley/The Tico TimesCauffman had just told the high-school students that they are going to make their first trip outside the country in October: to Cape Canaveral, Florida, where they will be Cauffman’s VIP guests at the launch of the new GOES meteorological satellite.Like Cauffman, who was raised by a single mother in the southern San José district of Hatillo, the six winners of this trip are from some of San Jose’s toughest neighborhoods. Daniel Aguilar, Diana Araya, Celinne Cordero, Valeria Salazar, Elián Torres and José Andrá Vega are all beneficiaries of the Monge Foundation. The organization is the nonprofit arm of Grupo Monge, the company whose brands include the home appliance chain Importadora Monge and the electronics chain Play.Through the foundation’s SOY CAMBIO (“I AM CHANGE”) program, students receive intensive support to help them achieve their academic and professional goals, and training in subjects including English and technology.SOY CAMBIO, whose formal name is the Program of Student Leadership and Employability, works with motivated, low-income students between 15 and 19 years old in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with plans to expand to Guatemala and Honduras.Read more: Meet Sandra Cauffman, the Tica co-directing NASA’s current mission to MarsTo take advantage of Cauffman’s idea of bringing young Costa Ricans to the satellite launch, the foundation created a contest, “¿Qué tan lunático sos?” and told students they were competing for a chance to attend an event with former astronauts in San José later this week. What neither the selected students nor their parents, who also attended yesterday’s announcement, realized was that their trip would extend far beyond the Costa Rican capital.It took a few minutes for Cauffman’s news to sink in.“You don’t know. You have no idea. There are no words,” a beaming José André Vega, 18, told Cauffman when he got his chance at the microphone. “I have read about your life story and how you got ahead. You are an admirable person.”Representatives from the Monge organization noticed some other standard-bearers in the room: the kids themselves. Sandra Cauffman on the big screen. Katherine Stanley/The Tico Times“I have two kids, and my dream for them is that they follow the example of young people like you,” said Alfredo Monge, president of Grupo Monge’s board of directors.“You are the ones who have been showing us the path to success,” María José Monge, president of the Monge Foundation, told the group.The kids were bursting with questions for Cauffman.“What’s everything like up there?” asked Daniel Aguilar, 18, eliciting broad smiles on the faces of his listeners. Hearing the breadth of his own question, he rephrased: “I mean, work-wise.”“I always used to tell my mom that I wanted to be a mad scientist someday,” said Celinne Cordero, 18. “Are there things beyond space? Is there life on Mars? These are the questions you ask yourself …. But it all seemed impossible.”Impossible? Not so fast. NASA awaits.Full disclosure: The author is the co-founder of JumpStart Costa Rica, a non-profit whose sponsors include the Monge Foundation. She helped make initial contacts for the Fundación Monge-Sandra Cauffman alliance. Monge Foundation president María José Monge (left) and executive director Byron Salas (right) with the selected students. Katherine Stanley/The Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Astronauts from 6 space agencies to convene in Costa Rica next week Meet Sandra Cauffman, the Tica co-directing NASA’s current mission to Mars US Sen. Bill Nelson: Costa Rica has a place in the future of space flight Costa Rica to host World Surf League comp in Esterillos Este
Talking about this issue with tourism business owners and service providers over the past year has confirmed my opinion that if those of us who interact with tourists are as open as possible about safety in this country – the good, the bad and the ugly – we increase everyone’s chances of hitting that sweet spot, that balance between alertness and relaxation.In that spirit, we asked four people who have fielded thousands of visitor questions in their respective roles to offer some of their top safety tips for a visit to Costa Rica. We’ll be publishing their responses online tomorrow (and you can find them in our March print edition, available now nationwide).My own top tip? I think it’s simply to listen. The panelists we consulted emphasized the importance of asking for safety information from people in the know, particularly the hotel, restaurant or other staff. However, it’s equally important to note that this only works if you then take their advice seriously.Most of the people you encounter, whether they are tourism specialists or just the Costa Rican family playing next to you at the beach, want you to have a great time while you’re here. I’ve seen many visitors hear cautions – whether it’s “No, really, don’t explore that neighborhood without a guide,” or “No, the riptide is too dangerous today” – and brush them aside. Sometimes the visitor draws on previous information, such as what a ‘dangerous neighborhood’ looks like in a U.S. city, or what a riptide looks like on a beach back home, and overrules the advice he or she has received. I’ve done it myself. It’s often a big mistake.Of course, not all the advice you get will be great. If you’re told to avoid an entire city or province, for example – which has happened to me – take it with a grain of salt; if you can, probe a bit further to discover where the speaker is coming from, literally and figuratively. My first host mother made me take off all my jewelry, including my virtually worthless earrings, before visiting major landmarks in downtown San José, which I now know was a wee bit excessive. But in general, it’s important to retain some humility and know that the people who live and work in the places we’re visiting have insights that we don’t.Even better, those conversations we start while finding out where we should park the car or whether it’s ok to walk across that river might lead to an exchange about more profound things. It might lead to a chat that allows you to learn what it’s like to live and work in the country you are visiting – one of the most remarkable countries on the planet. It might lead to some interaction with the people who make this place so special – and for any trip to Costa Rica, that’s the biggest sweet spot of all.For more information about living and traveling in Costa Rica, visit Costa Rica 101, our special section for how-to guides, cultural information and more. What safety tips would you like to share with us and our readers? Let us know at email@example.com.This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $5 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 Traveling in Costa Rica is one of life’s great privileges, and The Tico Times has been proud to inspire, guide and report on hundreds of thousands of readers’ voyages since 1956. In that role, we have a responsibility to provide as much useful information as we can about topics both big and small – practical minutiae such aswhere to catch the bus to Santa Teresa, and bigger issues such as what safety issues visitors should be aware of when they come to Costa Rica.The issue of safety is one many of our readers have commented on or contacted us to ask about during the past year, especially following high-profile crimes involving tourists. I’ve fielded many such questions professionally as well as personally, when friends who are visiting the country ask for my assessment.It’s always a balancing act. I would never want to dissuade anyone from experiencing a country I love, or from fully experiencing its incomparable destinations. At the same time, I do want to be honest about the country’s significant problems, as well as to instill a certain wariness: to urge visitors not to leave their common sense and radar at home.It’s possible to stay alert and avoid some obvious pitfalls while also letting go and allowing for the spontaneity that marks the very best Costa Rican adventures. It’s possible to bliss out at the beach while keeping one hand on your bag (a bag that does not contain your passport or, you know, your diamond-encrusted toothbrush collection). It’s possible to go off the beaten path, even way off as I’ve done as a reporter and longtime resident, by asking around and finding guides or companions you can trust. It’s definitely possible to walk through San José at a brisk pace and wearing what’s known as “bitchy resting face,” erring on the side of rudeness in ignoring comments or requests that might come your way, while also taking in the sights and sounds that make it one of my favorite cities to explore on foot. Costa Rica will ramp up police presence after tourist murders Related posts:Tips for meaningful travel in Costa Rica What should I pack on my trip to Costa Rica? Costa Rica 101: Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) Costa Rica working with FAA to restore Category 1 rating ‘as soon as possible’ Facebook Comments First-time mistakes to avoid when visiting Costa Rica
More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk The prime minister’s office had originally hesitated at the president’s call but eventually came around. The dismissal had created a rift between the two men, who come from different parties in the ruling coalition.Representatives of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali’s powerful Islamist Ennahda party, which dominates the assembly, argued for Nabli’s dismissal, making the vote in the assembly a foregone conclusion.Still, the heated debate over Nabli’s fate lasted for hours and in his defense, the former World Bank economist warned against an attack on the independence of the bank and Tunisia’s international credibility.“It is the credibility of Tunisia on the global stage that is at stake,” Nabli said, warning against “a danger that could sink the institutions of the state and the stability of the country.”Nabli has led the central bank since Tunisians overthrew their longtime dictator in January 2011 and was known to pursue a very independent policy from the government.He presided over a period of economic shock, including 2 percent negative growth rate last year. The economy has been reeling since tourists deserted this once-popular destination following the dictator’s ouster, and strikes have crippled the mining sector. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Comments Share Associated PressTUNIS, Tunisia (AP) – Tunisia’s elected assembly approved on Wednesday the president’s move to fire the head of the central bank.President Moncef Marzouki fired central bank Governor Mustapha Kamel Nabli on June 27, alleging that the financial official had refused to bring the country’s monetary policies in line with its economic needs.Of the 217-person assembly, 110 voted Wednesday in favor of the dismissal and 62 against, with 10 abstentions. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Sponsored Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates In recent months, however, there have been nascent signs of a recovery and in May, Nabli was named best central bank governor on the African continent by the African Banker Awards for keeping the finances together during the post-revolutionary turmoil.Nabli, however, has been criticized for not doing enough to reform the country’s ailing banking sector, which is burdened by a heavy weight of non-performing loans and poor management.He also pursued a strict monetary policy at a time when the government preferred a more pro-growth strategy to create much-needed jobs.Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, which sparked similar uprisings across the Middle East, was, in part, fueled by high unemployment rates, which a year and a half later have yet to be addressed.Nabli will be replaced by 79-year-old Chedly Ayari, who served as economy minister in the 1970s under former President Habib Bourguiba. He later headed the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories
3 international destinations to visit in 2019 NIG’s lawsuit focuses on a Carlyle investment fund that was one of the earliest casualties of the financial crisis when it collapsed in 2008. The fund has been the subject of multiple lawsuits against Washington-based Carlyle.In a motion filed this month with a Delaware court hearing the case, NIG argues that the dispute should be heard in Kuwait because Carlyle lacked the legal basis to pitch the deal there in the first place.Selling foreign securities or shares in investment funds in Kuwait requires a license from local authorities, according to a declaration by lawyer Ahmed Zakaria Abdel-Magied filed by NIG attorneys. He added that marketing such investments without a license makes the underlying deal invalid.NIG said Sunday it believes it is entitled to the return of its $25 million investment under Kuwaiti law.“Carlyle was more than happy to conduct its sales presentations in Kuwait and close its deals in Kuwait,” NIG’s general manager, Ahmed Hassan, said in a statement. “But now that the moment has come to deal with the ugly aftermath … Carlyle would prefer to try its luck in Delaware.”Carlyle has tried hard to woo clients in the oil-rich Gulf Arab states. It opened an office in the Mideast financial hub of Dubai in 2006, and its shareholders include Mubadala Development Co., an investment company owned by the United Arab Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi. Sponsored Stories Like many Gulf companies, it has struggled to meet its debt obligations in the wake of the financial crisis. Faced with a looming $475 million loan repayment due earlier this month, it approached its lenders about reworking the terms on the debt so it could repay over a longer period.Just days before the Aug. 16 repayment deadline came due, NIG announced it was calling off the effort to adjust the repayment terms because it had managed to line up new financing.___Schreck reported from Baghdad.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Associated PressKUWAIT CITY (AP) – A Kuwaiti company suing the Carlyle Group over a $25 million investment that went bad is now accusing the private equity firm of marketing the deal without a license as it seeks to have its case heard in Kuwaiti courts.The latest claim by Kuwait’s National Industries Group adds a new twist to its more than two-and-a-half year legal challenge to Carlyle, and could complicate the American company’s relationships with other wealthy Mideast investors. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project The Carlyle fund involved in the Kuwait case, known as Carlyle Capital Corp. Ltd., went bust in March 2008. It used high levels of debt to invest in securities backed by bundles of home mortgages that had been given a seemingly safe AAA rating by credit rating agencies.Carlyle declined to comment on the case Sunday. It has previously said it will fight NIG’s suit.“We believe these claims are without merit and intend to vigorously contest all such allegations and are currently unable to anticipate what impact they may have on us,” Carlyle said in its most recent quarterly report, filed on Aug. 14.Private equity firms such as Carlyle raise money from big investors and then use that money to invest in companies or other investments. The industry is under close scrutiny because of the U.S. presidential election and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s former role as an executive at another private equity firm, Bain Capital.Kuwait’s NIG started out in the 1960s as a building materials company and later began investing across a range of industries.It is partly backed by the Kharafi clan, one of Kuwait’s most prominent merchant families. A branch of the Kuwaiti government, the Public Institution for Social Security, is a minority investor. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments Share Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top holiday drink recipes
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C Aftershocks this morning have continued to rock Christchurch, as the city lies disrupted following Saturday morning’s earthquake.New Zealand’s second-largest city lies in tatters after the earthquake, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, forced authorities to impose a curfew on 372,600 residents of the city between 7pm last evening and 7am this morning, news.com.au reported.The aftershock, which measured a comparatively timid 3.8 on the Richter scale, came as tens of thousands of people tried to return to work this morning, but were actively discouraged by army and police.Dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake has been a nightmare for authorities, as people try to leave the city amidst a tangle of dislocated infrastructure. About 80 police officers from Auckland had been rushed to the south island to assist in law enforcement, as people demonstrate panic and frustration at petrol stations as they try to evacuate the city. Fears of looting, contaminated water, and power cuts hung over the city last night and into this morning, in the wake of what seemed to be a ghost town with little car or pedestrian traffic.”The scale of what has happened here is enormous,” Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said, before adding that it was miraculous that no-one had been killed in the natural disaster.The damage bill could be as high as NZ$2 billion (AU$1.6 billion), Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson said.Christchurch International Airport reopened at about 1.30pm on Saturday after hundreds of passengers were temporarily stranded by the airport closure, reported RadioNZ.There was superficial damage in both terminal buildings, including cracked walls, collapsed ceilings and broken glass, the airport’s chief executive, Jim Boult said.But the buildings are all structurally fine and 100 percent operational, he added.Christchurch, a tourist gateway for New Zealand, hosts tens of thousands of Australians each year.Some of Christchurch’s CBD hotels including Heritage, Millennium, Marque, Quest, Copthorne Central and Novotel are all up and running. The Copthorne Durham is speculated to be closed. Food deliveries are all normal and power has been returned to the CBD area since Saturday afternoon. A small section of the CBD area is cordoned off due to safety issues and to prevent sightseers from endangerment.
SALA Resorts & Spas is pleased to announce that SALA Phuket Resort and Spa is a proud recipient of the 2011 Excellent Labour & Welfare Award from Thailand’s Department of Labour.This award, given annually, recognizes excellent cooperation between employers and employees in the promotion of employee welfare in the workplace. In achieving this honour, SALA Phuket employees demonstrated their ability to work effectively with management in the creation and implementation of policies to advance employee welfare at SALA Phuket Resort & Spa.These policies involved skills training in areas such as fire prevention and fire-fighting, English language, Workplace organization methodology as well as creation of a pleasant working environment for employees.SALA Resorts & Spas is proud to receive such a prestigious award, recognizing the commitment of its management and staff to the development and promotion of excellent labour welfare policies and practices.SALA Resorts and Spas (www.salaresorts.com) is a home grown Thai hospitality company which owns and operates three luxury resorts in the Kingdom, and has plans for further expansion domestically and internationally. SALA is also the majority shareholder of the Six Senses Hideaway in Koh Samui. The company ’s first resort, SALA Samui, has become one of Koh Samui’s most successful resorts, voted among the world’s Top 10 most romantic resorts in the world, and the most romantic in Thailand, in the Trip Advisor Travellers Choice Awards in 2006 and 2009. The resort features a total of 69 luxurious villas and suites of which 53 have private swimming pools. SALA Phuket was opened in 2007 and features 79 luxurious villas and suites, 63 with their own spacious private pools. Both the villas and the SALA Spa have already been selected as one of just a handful of top new hotels and resorts worldwide featured in the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler “Hot List” 2008. The resort has also won the DestinAsian Luxe List award in 2008 and the Siam Architects 2008 silver medal design award.sala khaoyai opened in November 2009, and with only 7 very special intimate accommodations, it is the first of a new “small, exclusive boutique properties” brand for the group.For more information contact SALA Resorts and Spas.19 Fl. Thaniya Plaza Building, 52 Silom Road, Suriyawaong. Bangrak. Bangkok. 10500. THAILAND.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +66(0)2 231 2588 Fax: +66(0)2 231 2589 Source = SALA Resorts & Spas
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Controversial ascent may be banned. Image: Stefano Veneziani Scaling Uluru in Australia’s Northern Territory may soon become a thing of the past, as climber numbers have dropped dramatically since 2010. Two years ago only 38 percent of visitors trekked the impressive cultural icon, while a survey released in June this year has indicated that these figures had almost halved.Parks Australia will reportedly cease offering the climb once numbers fall below 20 percent, according to News Limited.The organisation has promised to consult the public and tourism operators before any decision is made to close the climb and plan to offer alternative activities for visitors to the area.Uluru’s traditional indigenous owners ask visitors not to climb the monolith for cultural, environmental and safety reasons.The journey to the summit has taken the lives of 36 climbers since 1958.
Etihad Airways’ studies have determined a significant business opportunity on the Perth route, with WA overseas travellers averaging an annual growth rate of 8.5 percent in the last three years. The United Arab Emirates’ national carrier will commence daily flights to Perth from 15 July 2014. Almost one third of the top 300 Australian companies have headquarters in Perth, with vested commercial interests in Africa and the Middle East, translating into strong demand for the route. “Our partnership with Virgin Australia and codeshare flights to 14 towns and cities in its Western Australia regional network adds immensely to the strength of the business case for the route.” “The new services will build the first ever commercial air bridge between Perth and Abu Dhabi and will cater to the growing demand for travel between these two points and beyond to Africa, the Middle East and Europe,” Etihad Airways president and chief executive James Hogan said. Source = ETB News: P.T. Etihad Airways will launch the first ever non-stop service between Western Australia and Abu Dhabi from mid-2014, catering to the growing demand for travel between the two points and beyond. The new direct service represents the fourth Australian gateway between Australia and Abu Dhabi.