Work is underway to improve the situation in Barbados says BTMIs Mayers

first_img Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Tags: Barbados, Travel Alert Wednesday, January 17, 2018 center_img Work is underway to improve the situation in Barbados, says BTMI’s Mayers TORONTO — There has been improvement in the sewage-impacted area on the South Coast of Barbados, says Peter Mayers, Director, Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc.Mayers tells Travelweek that the Barbados Water Authority’s (BWA) series of emergency measures “have successfully put a stoppage to water flows on the streets as they work towards the final solution. This relief has been very well received by businesses and residences in the area who were previously affected.”He says that “in response to the travel advisories issued by the U.S., Canada and the UK, the Ministry of Health reassures the public that all potable water has been monitored and there is no cause for alarm; also, the results of their recent investigations concluded that the quality of water on the beaches remains safe.”He adds: “We at Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) are pleased to share the significant progress that has been made. For many years Barbados has been revered as an island that provides safe, idyllic and memorable holidays for all. We are therefore anxiously looking forward to seeing this matter fully resolved and continuing our high standard of service and experience for our visitors.”More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaOn Jan. 12 Travelweek reported that the Canadian government had updated its travel information for Barbados, advising that the South Coast of Barbados, between Hastings and St. Lawrence areas, was experiencing an overflow of raw sewage due to a mechanical breakdown.An alert on the Government of Canada’s website, travel.gc.ca, currently advises Canadians travelling to Barbados to avoid the affected area and follow the instructions of local authorities.The alert is at travel.gc.ca/destinations/barbados, listed under the Safety & Security tab. Sharelast_img read more

Three new brochures on their way from TravelBrands

first_img Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Three new brochures on their way from TravelBrands Posted by Wednesday, April 4, 2018 center_img Tags: Boomerang Tours, Exotik Tours, TravelBrands MISSISSAUGA — TravelBrands has launched three new brochures: Experiences by TravelBrands, Europe and Exotik Journeys.Newly rebranded as Experiences by TravelBrands, the latest installment of Experiences offers custom experiences for clients, ranging from Michelin-star restaurants to historic castles. The hand-picked collection of getaways feature standout hotels, destinations and adventures. This edition of Experiences features three new collections, Culinary, Health & Wellness and Lujure Villas.New in the Europe brochure are destinations in the Mediterranean and Western Europe, including Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Athens. Clients can take advantage of multi-destination trips, long or short stays and flexible travel options. TravelBrands says it offers hundreds of property choices, tours and excursions, airline options, car rentals and more in cities and towns all over Europe.In March 2018, Boomerang Tours and Exotik Tours merged together to form Exotik Journeys. The newly released Exotik Journeys brochure showcases specialty travel in exotic destinations around the world in Australia, Africa, South America, Europe and Asia.More news:  AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’ns“As the most comprehensive one-stop shop in the travel industry, we pride ourselves on offering Canadians diverse travel options,” says Frank DeMarinis, President & CEO, TravelBrands. “From Canada to Tahiti, Barbados to Tuscany and many destinations in between, these brochures provide travel experiences that are truly one-of-a-kind.”Copies of each brochure will be distributed throughout Canada within the week, he adds. In the meantime agents can visit travelbrandsaccess.com to download digital copies of the brochures and book the product lines. Sharelast_img read more

Vision Travel hosts regional POV conferences across Canada

first_imgVision Travel hosts regional POV conferences across Canada Posted by TORONTO — Vision Travel, a Direct Travel Company, has wrapped up three successful Power of Vision (POV) conferences in cities across the country.Every year Vision Travel’s annual POV conference brings together team members, suppliers and trade media to network and celebrate the year’s successes. This year, for the first time, the Power of Vision conference grew to multiple events, bringing together more than 600 travel industry professionals in three key cities: Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.Each event opened with an energetic video highlighting that Vision Travel and Direct Travel are ‘One Company Strong’. “POV2018 saw 3,988 matched appointments between Vision Travel advisors and preferred partners. This speaks to the importance of face-to-face meetings and developing strong relationships in travel,” says Stephen Smith, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Vision Travel, Canada West. “Whether it is for corporate or leisure, the personalized approach has been the key to our ongoing success.”Add Brian Robertson, President, Vision Travel, Canada West: “POV is an important part of Vision Travel’s culture and this year’s conferences were particularly rewarding. With so many new team members across the country, we wanted to bring as many people together as possible. Making these connections is really what this conference is about.”The final Power of Vision conference will take place in Montreal on Jan. 19, 2019. Travelweek Group Tuesday, December 11, 2018 center_img Share Tags: Vision Travel << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Tattoo convention draws international talent

first_imgA tattoo artist inks up the back of an attendee at the Paradise International Tattoo Festival Saturday. Most people want to change something about their appearance. Whether it is their frizzy hair, big nose or those extra ten pounds they just can’t seem to shake, few people can honestly say they are completely content with their body.Self-transformation was the obvious objective of many attendees at the third-annual Paradise International Tattoo Convention at Club Moon in Heredia this weekend. And while most of the body modifications on display were far more extreme than a haircut, the underlying desire to reinvent one’s image was no different. “I wanted to change myself,” said Frenchman Lukas Zpira, one of the world’s most well known body modifiers. Covered in tattoos with a line of metal studs protruding from his bald head, Zpira definitely stands out in a crowd. He has four silicon bulges in the center of his chest, his first foray into body modification and an experience that he claims brought him into appreciating body modification as an art.“I have a background as a painter, and I completely stopped everything I was doing to work on the body,” he said. “I use the body as a medium like I was doing with the canvas.” Lindsay Fendt No related posts. While body transformation has been seen in civilizations since ancient times, starting in the mid-90s, mainstream body modification is something relatively new. Fans of the trend can be seen sporting forked tongues, surgically installed metal horns or, more commonly, implants under the skin to change the shape of their bodies.“The oldest human mummy that you can find already has a tattoo, so that’s nothing new,” Zpira said. “I was inspired by Star Trek or superheroes. I wanted something new, something from the future.”At the convention, the sound of buzzing tattoo machines mingled with the mix of metal, reggae and salsa pumping through the speakers, a musical amalgam nearly as diverse as its audience. No one seemed out of place in the odd mix of people: Tattooed roller derby girls stood next to mothers holding their babies, burly men with loud motorcycles showed off their bikes outside and artists intently scratched away at their sketchbooks.“There’s a very tight-knit community between art, graphic art, extreme sports, music and tattoo,” said Chris Collins, owner of Steadfast clothing line, one of the convention’s sponsors.  “Things like this help to develop art at a world level.”There were 40 stands at the convention selling everything from T-shirts and framed prints to tattoos and piercings. It also featured a skate performance, a demonstration from Costa Rica’s roller derby team, dance shows, fire breathing and even a suspension show where participants hung themselves from the ceiling with hooks. The convention brought in 13 international studios, giving attendees the opportunity to get tattoos from practitioners they would have otherwise never met.  The artists featured at the event also attend classes and lectures to hone their skills in tattooing, piercing or body modification. The point being, as Collins said, to raise the standard of the practice as a whole and, maybe, help improve its reputation worldwide.“This is a time when artists can come and really focus on what it is they do,” said Johann Lopéz, a Tico body modifier and one of the convention’s organizers. “The goal is to help other people realize that this is an art form. It’s something beautiful.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Nosara recycling center approaches completion

first_imgThe town of Nosara is famous for many things: proximity to Pacific beaches, multitudes of worldly expats and a whole lot of yoga. By mid-2014, Nosara will also boast one of the most advanced recycling centers in the country.“The building is built,” said U.S.-based architect Tobias Holler. “The structure is completely erected. It’s very close. We just have to get through some bureaucratic hurtles.”About three years ago, Holler met with the Civic Association of Nosara. A German native, Holler had spent a lot of time in Costa Rica – surfing its waves, hiking in Coronado and relishing Tico culture. He was looking for a new project, and he wanted to see what the people of Nosara lacked.“They said, ‘We have a garbage problem,’” Holler recalled during a recent phone interview. “They didn’t think I was going to be interested. But I was very interested.” Professor Tobias Holler, left, oversees construction of the Nosara Recycling Center. Courtesy of Ayana de Vos Holler owns and operates Holler Architecture in New York City, where he also teaches at the New York Institute of Technology. Since that meeting in Nosara, Holler has managed to combine his many passions, designing the Nosara Recycling Center and conscripting NYIT students to help design and assemble the structure. This “student-led community” of builders known as sLAB, functions under the umbrella of NYIT and has enabled Holler to help the country he loves.“The infrastructure for recycling is not in place yet,” Holler said. “The contrast is shocking, between the [eco-friendly] image of Costa Rica and the reality.”The painful paradox is that Costa Rica, one of the most famously green countries in the world, has no serious national recycling program, and most solid waste is dumped into landfills. Indeed, Costa Ricans produce 2,400 tons of waste every day, according to Holler Architecture, and 250 tons are “dumped illegally into rives and tropical forests.” Less than 10 percent of the total output ends up recycled.While most Ticos will never see these dumps firsthand, the country is nearly devoid of recycling bins or pickups. Despite some small initiatives, such as recycling collection at the Feria Verde in San José, Costa Ricans are largely unfamiliar with the daily practice of sorting paper, bottles and cans.The Nosara structure is long and narrow and built mostly from wood; set in the shade of surrounding woods, the Center looks like a cross between a rustic cabin and an elementary school. As described by Holler Architecture, the facility was designed to be “an elongated building form, consisting of three zones (a sorting facility, an open lobby, and support spaces) … a common roof is placed horizontally along the existing slope of the site, minimizing excavation.”So far, the project has incorporated about 30 NYIT students and countless members of the Nosara community. Among its many innovations, sLAB spearheaded two Kickstarter campaigns, using the online fundraising platform to collect charitable donations. The second campaign ended on May 21, surpassing its $15,000 goal by raising $21,350. Toller makes it clear that the Kickstarter money was not used for construction purposes, but to help transport student volunteers to Costa Rica. German filmmaker Ayana de Vos was hired to document the process.As for the future of the facility, Holler will soon release the reins. “I’m not involved in the day-to-day meetings,” he said. Indeed, Holler does not plan to visit Costa Rica until January 2014, shortly before the Center is expected to open. In the meantime, he continues to juggle classes and professional projects.“There’s a big portion of idealism,” Holler said of his busy schedule. “But being a professor gives me some flexibility to do the projects that I want to do. It’s very fulfilling.” Facebook Commentscenter_img No related posts.last_img read more

Business sector asks for electricityrate hikes for everyone but them

first_imgNo related posts. The Costa Rican Association of Large Energy Consumers (ACOGRACE) last week proposed a reduction of 10-38 percent in electricity rates for their associates.The request would mean increases on monthly bills for residential users and those with preferential rates – such as public schools – ranging from 4.40-11 percent, the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) reported on its website.In exchange for average consumers paying more, 1,020 members of ACOGRACE would pay less, according to ARESEP.Costa Rican Industries Chamber President Juan Ramón Rivera told daily La Nación that [the proposal] is a “fair measure” to improve the country’s competitiveness.The current monthly rate for 250 kilowatts – set to benefit lower income families – “is so cheap that everyone benefits, poor and wealthy families alike,” Rivera said.Members of the business sector believe that if these measures are not enforced many foreign companies will relocate to other countries with better rates.ACOGRACE’s request comes just days after a 13.6 percent decrease in electricity rates for customers of the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) entered into force last week.Since then, ICE already has filed a new petition with ARESEP for a 5.56 percent hike that is currently under study. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Books Morrisseys autobiography of a miserable man

first_imgPerhaps the most remarkable aspect of Morrissey’s “Autobiography,” which Penguin published in Britain and the rest of Europe last week, is that it exists at all. It has been rumored roughly forever. As recently as September, the Atlantic put together a convincing case that its imminent publication was a hoax. In fact, the British pop icon’s memoir was merely delayed, reportedly over his insistence on a Penguin Classics designation — a black-border badge of literary immortality assigned, in this exceptional case, before the book’s actual birth, which is rather a royalist attitude for someone who once made a great record called “The Queen Is Dead.” What links other Penguin Classics authors is death and veneration; Morrissey has always longed for both, first as lead singer of the Smiths — the greatest band to emerge from the extraordinary British postpunk renaissance of the 1980s — and then in his resilient solo career. If the reports are true that he held Penguin to ransom over the Classics imprimatur and won, then “Autobiography” is an act of hubris at once appalling, hilarious and diabolically brilliant, much like the writer himself.Whether as the sneering wraith twirling gladioli during the Smiths’ first appearance on Top of the Pops in 1983 or in his beefed-up, rockabilly-mechanic guise of today, Morrissey, now 54, has held fast to the mindset of late-20th-century pop music’s great object and subject: the existentially bewildered adolescent. It’s a state of morbid petulance and persecution, of sensational narcissism and wild emotions keenly felt, of Eros and Thanatos fumbling eternally in the backseat. It’s a state of mind that produces lyrics such as “If a double-decker bus crashes into us/ To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die” and “I wear black on the outside/ Because black is how I feel on the inside.” It’s also the state of mind of “Autobiography.” Alone and misunderstood, his passions unrequited or confused, the mopey teen in his bedroom carves out a jealously guarded sanctuary of rebellious beauty and sullen wit — and for this one mopey teen, emotional penury becomes a life force, straight through to middle age. “Autobiography” has no dedication page, which is one of the many very Morrissey things about it. Steven Patrick Morrissey is a legendary control freak, which reinforces the impression that “Autobiography” had no editor. It has no chapters or index; its chronology is linear except when it isn’t; its first paragraph is 4 1/2 pages long. Early on, the apparent lack of a guiding hand isn’t a drawback — it’s sometimes even a virtue. Morrissey writes with fondness and fierce loyalty of his Irish Catholic family, but with terrified revulsion of their hometown, “forgotten Victorian knife-plunging Manchester, where everything lies where it was left over one hundred years ago.” He renders his childhood with a mordant wit reminiscent of his hero Oscar Wilde; his entry into the world is a perfect egomaniac’s epigram (“Naturally my birth almost kills my mother, for my head is too big”), while his only sibling whets his appetite for paranoid melodrama (“My sister Jackie, older by two years, is interrupted four times as she tries to kill me; whether this be rivalry or visionary no one knows”).An editor may have compressed Morrissey’s operatic eviscerations of 1960s and ’70s Manchester and its ghastly state school system, one powered by beatings, privation and occasional sexual predation. (Lest one might think Morrissey is exaggerating for effect, a complementary account of St. Mary’s Secondary Modern can be found in Tony Fletcher’s excellent recent Smiths biography “A Light That Never Goes Out.”) An editor may have trimmed the 13 pages of summaries of Morrissey’s favorite poets (birth and death dates helpfully included), or hacked away at the five-page disquisition on British children’s television of the 1960s. But all of these passages are more moving for being so voluminous and obsessive. “Television flickers and fleets, and must be watched closely lest what you see is never seen again,” says Morrissey, who writes as incisively on his heroes David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Patti Smith as he does on “Lost in Space,” “where all the secrets of masculinity are meted out in the ping-pong clash between Dr. Smith and Major West.”We can thank St. Mary’s for shaping Morrissey’s lyrical temperament (“Its wearisome echo of negativity exhausts me to a permanent state of circumstantial sadness”) and for rendering him unfit for further schooling or gainful employment; we can also thank Sounds magazine and his local postal office for turning him down for jobs and intensifying his fruitful malaise. Then one day in 1982, 18-year-old guitarist and songwriting prodigy Johnny Marr knocks on the door of an eccentric loner he barely knows and, improbably, asks him to start a band. With or without Morrissey, Johnny Marr would have been a star; but without Marr, Morrissey still would be in his bedroom, writing spec scripts for soaps and Instagramming his vinyl collection. (That Morrissey clearly recognizes this but can’t fully bring himself to admit it is also very Morrissey.)The miracle of the Marr visitation is the moment that “Autobiography” begins to curdle, and when the dearth of editorial supervision begins to show. It’s here that Morrissey’s account of the Smiths necessarily begins to compete with other, more reliable narratives, and here that his miserablism turns out to be congenital instead of contextual. A scant two years after the first Morrissey-Marr meeting, the Smiths’ self-titled debut album, released on seminal postpunk label Rough Trade, hits the U.K. charts at No. 2, but because it is not No. 1, Morrissey writes, “My life sinks.”“Autobiography” is at times so relentlessly whiny and misanthropic that it’s startling when Morrissey shares a flash of sober self-awareness. “Undernourished and growing out of the wrong soil,” he writes of himself circa 1984, “I knew at this time that a lot of people found me hard to take, and for the most part I understood why. Although a passably human creature on the outside, the swirling soul within seemed to speak up for the most awkward people on the planet.” That was once true — exhilaratingly true, true enough to save a life. But “Autobiography” only speaks up for its author, and never more than in his next line. “Somewhere deep within,” he confesses, “my only pleasure was to out-endure people’s patience.”© 2013, Slate Facebook Comments The Guardian reported Wednesday that The Smiths’ 1986 album “The Queen Is Dead” was named the Greatest Album of All Time by NME, beating out the Beatles, the Stone Roses, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and hundreds of other greats.center_img No related posts.last_img read more

Costa Ricas poet Luis Chaves

first_imgRelated posts:Poet Luis Chaves wins coveted German artist residency Legendary novelist Gabriel García Márquez leaves hospital, in ‘delicate’ condition Art exhibit: ‘Cuerpo Ajeno’ examines the lives of the transgendered VIDEO: Festivities wrap up in Zapote I arrived nearly two hours early to the small campus of Veritas University to meet Luis Chaves. Although I didn’t want to rush him, I decided to text him.Take your time, but I’m available when you’re ready. Chaves replied back almost immediately. He was on his way.Minutes later, a compact 44-year-old with squinty eyes and whiffs of facial hair was sitting across from me. His dress was casual. He seemed in good humor.We moved to a campus snack bar, where Chaves grabbed a refreshment and we sat down at the table.“So,” Chaves said, “what do you want to talk about?”He said this in a curious tone, as if he couldn’t imagine why a reporter would call him up. That seemed odd, considering that Luis Chaves is the most famous living poet in Costa Rica.*Becoming an important Costa Rican writer is a unique challenge, and this is how Chaves did it: He came out of nowhere and ignored the barriers that separate poetry from prose. To understand what that means, it helps to have read “Asfalto,” his most renowned work.In “Asfalto,” a man and a woman take a road trip. They watch the highway through their windshield. They listen to The Kinks on their stereo. They stop at gas stations and motels. They sleep badly. In one ominous scene, we watch them through a surveillance camera. The chapters are short vignettes, but we soon realize that their relationship is falling apart. The unnamed characters are doomed: “In the old wallet shaped by buttocks, a photograph of better times. The two of them in a park in another country. The photo in which she will forever gaze, not at him, who embraces her, but toward the unknown person who took it.”The full title is “Asfalto: un road poem,” and the book takes some cues from Jack Kerouac. But Chaves is also tougher, terser and more biting than his beatnik predecessors. At exactly 100 pages, “Asfalto” packs a wallop. On the page, “Asfalto” looks like prose; there are no stanzas, no line-breaks, no obvious rhyme or meter. But the book is terse and high-impact, like poetry.This balance Chaves eloquently strikes is the reason he has become one of the most exciting authors in Costa Rica, which he seems almost oblivious to.“I just like to write,” Chaves said. “I don’t care about the genre. It is up to the editors to decide where (a book) goes, but I give each one the same care.”Acquaintances say Chaves seemed like a fairly ordinary kid. His father was an amateur boxer, and Chaves was also an athlete. He studied agronomy at the University of Costa Rica, and he worked an office job. He always arrived on time, and seemed destined for a cubicle.But something happened, that nobody (Chaves included) has been able to explain. In short, he became deeply interested in creative writing. To the surprise of many friends and relations, he abruptly turned away from agronomy – and the stable career everyone expected for him – and began to write poetry.He participated in a writing workshop and developed his craft. He paid bills by beginning a career as a freelance translator. He used his natural discipline to practice his writing, and he traded work with fellow writers. He cultivated a friendship with César Maurel, a poet and visual artist originally from Paris, France.“It was very informal,” Maurel told me recently. “(Chaves’ writing) is very narrative, very modern. It’s more natural.” Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesIn 1996, the press Editorial Guayacán published Chaves’ first collection, “El Anónimo” (“The Anonymous”). A year later, Ediciones Espiral published his second collection, “Los animals que imaginamos” (“The Animals We Imagine”). This second book won the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize for Hispanic American Poetry. His 2001 book, “Historias Polaroid,” was shortlisted for a major Colombian literary award. By the time Editorial Germinal released his fourth book, “Chan Marshall,” in 2005, Chaves had established himself as a wellspring of superlative verse. “Chan Marshall” won the international III Fray Luis de León Prize for Poetry.When Chaves started to contribute to La Nación, he wrote largely about sports – his lifelong passion. Poetry and athletics don’t often mix. Yet Chaves feels they are the perfect marriage. “I’ve had this dilemma,” he said. “I like the aesthetics of sports. I don’t see a difference between a great poem and a great play in a soccer game.”*Talking to Chaves, it turns out, is much easier than talking about Chaves. Of the dozens of people I contacted to discuss the author’s work, only a few agreed to be interviewed. Many said they didn’t feel qualified.“I can’t speak with you on the record,” said an old friend of Chaves. Many others followed suit. The very idea of poetry intimidated them. During the week of National Poetry Day, celebrated on Jan. 31, readings were held throughout San José, including various bars and the National Library. But people were reluctant to opine about Chaves.“I just don’t feel comfortable,” said one poet. “It’s hard to describe.”Costa Rica has an active literary scene, quiet as it appears. Most foreigners would not realize this, because most of the writing exists only in Spanish, and even celebrated authors are unknown outside the country.Yet iconic figures still exist: Manuel González Zeledón (pen name “Magón”) wrote stories at the turn of the century and founded the newspaper El País; today there is a Magón National Prize for Culture, awarded last month to poet Julieta Dobles Yzaguirre. One of Costa Rica’s all-time greats, Carmen Naranjo, served as ambassador to Israel and earned high praise all over the world.Chaves holds a special place here, and his work crisscrosses through multiple genres. In recent years, he has authored the books “El Mundial 2010,” a nonfiction account of the 2010 World Cup, and “300 páginas,” a collection of columns and reportage. He has published broadly in literary journals and edited them as well. He continues to write regularly for La Nación. He even maintains his own blog, mysteriously called Tetrabrik.He is fairly young and accessible, yet his style is also challenging and even colloquial: In “Asfalto,” the characters use the famously informal phrase “mae” (“dude”) in their dialogue. Chaves is a major figure in Costa Rica’s literary development, which, in its minute way, is kind of like being a celebrity.* When I asked him about the popularity of his work, about whether he felt a responsibility as “one of the leading figures in Costa Rican poetry,” he became dismissive.“I don’t have any control over that,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something you look for. It has nothing to do with what I’m doing.”Chaves leads a fairly simple life. He is married with two young daughters. For the past two years, he has worked in marketing for Veritas’ School of Film and Television. When I receive press releases for the school’s screenings and lectures, it is Chaves who sends them to me. The poet teaches writing courses and continues to do translation work on the side. When I asked Chaves about his writing process, he was nonchalant: “I’m not methodical or disciplined. There are times when I’m just reading, not writing. Sometimes I just write bits and pieces. Sometimes there are a few weeks when I write almost every day, an hour I can steal from work or family. I have a notebook. But in general I use it to jot down ideas and phrases that I can develop later on the computer.” Luis Chaves at work. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesIn truth, Chaves is not a household name. He has no agent; as few Costa Rican authors do. He has no publicist and no prepared leaflet about his life and work. Most of his publishers are also friends and colleagues. Even finding his book can be a challenge: When I tried to find a copy of “Asfalto,” I visited Libreria Internacional, one of Costa Rica’s most popular chain bookstores. The clerk only could find a single copy of one of Chaves’ many titles, and the volume took about four days to ship.But neither can Chaves deny his impact on young Costa Rican readers and writers, who are inspired by his youthful, contemporary style. He is not writing about the sleepy Costa Rica of yesteryear, but the country as it stands now.“Luis Chaves has become a watershed,” says David Monge, an aspiring poet who runs a popular writing workshop in Alajuela. “He touches everyday topics with plain language … and poetic image. His works have influenced a new generations of writers, thus becoming a new paradigm of Costa Rican literature.”Monge credits an explosion of small presses, which have made publishing easier. “These publishers have come to give voice to a more underground and experimental literature – hence Chaves, with works that are outstanding and at an international level.”Chaves recently received a grant from the Culture Ministry to write his first short story collection;  another new genre for him. If the book is successful, he could attract an even broader readership. His face recently graced the cover of “Buensalvaje,” a major Costa Rican literary review, accompanied by an unedited diary of 38 days of his life. He has published in such countries as Spain, Germany and Argentina. For readers of this paper, the most pressing question is this: Will Chaves ever be translated into English?“Well,” Chaves said, shrugging, “that depends on whether someone is interested in translating it.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

San Josés National Stadium will host Extreme American Rodeo despite complaints from

first_imgRelated posts:18 photos from Costa Rica’s big time city rodeo With dog fights banned, animal rights activists shift focus to bullfights and animal mistreatment Hundreds of neglected dogs found in area surrounding Turrialba Volcano Grecia, the toucan with the prosthetic beak, now receiving visitors On Sept. 7, cowboys from across the Americas and as far away as New Zealand will flock to Costa Rica’s National Stadium for the country’s first-ever American-style rodeo event. Competitors will test their skills in calf roping and cattle herding and try their luck riding on the backs of Costa Rica’s most fearsome bulls.“The country has had these type of events for years informally and on a smaller scale, but we have never had a large exhibition of the sport,” said Manrique Mata, head of event promoter RPMTV.But not everyone is excited to see the rodeo rise to San José’s center stage. Shortly after its announcement, RPMTV‘s Facebook page was flooded with complaints from animal rights activists calling it a form of animal mistreatment. Animal rights groups filed four legal complaints with the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV), which allege that the rodeo constitutes animal mistreatment under Costa Rican law.“These events are a Roman circus brought into the modern age,” said Marilu Arroyo, president of Teletón Canina, the group that filed the first legal complaint. “Look at any photo of a rodeo, the only animals enjoying it are the cowboys.”According to Arroyo, the legal complaints point to veterinary concerns about the long hours needed to transport animals as well as their treatment during the rodeo itself. The complaints also claim that a rodeo event of this scale could desensitize children to animal mistreatment. Though each of the complaints highlight these concerns, animal activists only questioned the legality of the rodeo’s two lasso events — team penning and team roping. An improvised rodeo clown is gored by a bull during the Zapote Festivals in San José. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesThough bull riding is regulated and explicitly permitted under Costa Rican law, lasso events are not, and the Sala IV could ban the two events, but not the whole rodeo, based on the complaints.While animal rights activists claim lasso events are illegal, officials with Costa Rica’s National Animal Health Service (SENASA) disagree and granted the event authorization on Aug. 19.“What we found during our investigation is that this event is no different from the other livestock activities we have always had in this country,” said Warren Hidalgo, a coordinator with SENASA’s animal well-being program. “Lassos are often used in other events, and we don’t see any higher level of risk with this event.”According to Mata, the rodeo will implement head protectors to prevent hurting cows during the lasso events and comply with all other SENASA regulations. Officials from SENASA also will be on-site during the rodeo and two previous days.“There are a lot of people who are upset who are unfamiliar with the event,” Mata said. “This is something we have always had in the country. They just see the publicity and think they are going to see blood and animal mistreatment. Those people are just misinformed.”But while Mata and SENASA officials point to the frequency of rodeo events to support Extreme American Rodeo’s legality, Arroyo uses it to highlight the importance of the legal complaints.“We are filing complaints about this large event in order to initiate legal discourse for all of the unregulated events in the country,” she said.Along with fighting RPMTV on this specific rodeo, animal rights activists also are pushing back in the Legislative Assembly. Two separate animal mistreatment bills are now in an Assembly commission. The first was drafted with the support of 136 different civil organizations, and a second stricter bill was drafted following a popular initiative petition with more than 200,000 public signatures.The first bill, which is further along in the legislative process, would regulate rodeos, banning anything other than traditional Costa Rican bull riding and Toros a la Tica, where people enter the ring with the bull. The popular initiative bill would ban any bull spectacles outright.“It is the hope of [Teletón Canina] that in the future Costa Rica won’t have any bull events at all,” Arroyo said. “For now we are just chipping away at the legal system little by little.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica ranks high in new US travel information system

first_imgThe U.S. State Department unveiled a new system Wednesday to inform its citizens about travel safety around the world by introducing a four-point country safety ranking  and an interactive world map.Costa Rica ranks in Level One, the safest ranking, along with several other Latin American countries including Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.Colombia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Mexico are on Level Two, which signifies “exercise increased caution.”Cuba, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are on Level Three, “reconsider the trip.”Ten countries received a Level Four ranking, which means “don’t travel”: Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. North Korea is also included, even though the U.S. legislation already prohibits its citizens from traveling to that country.Some of the classifications of other countries could potentially provoke complaints, although State Department authorities said the government is only offering a new format for information that already existed. Important European allies such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain were assigned to Level Two.The warning system for travelers has always been controversial and frequently offends other countries, but officials insist that the changes are designed to present their recommendations in a clearer way.“These are not political documents. They’re simply based on our evaluation of the security situation,” said consular officer Michelle Bernier-Toth.Each country is described on travel.state.gov detailing the specific threats and the reason of the classification.Mexico has complained in the past that U.S. warnings harm its tourism industry, but the changes to the website included a detailed description of which areas to avoid due to drug trafficking. Facebook Comments Related posts:Obama’s surprise opening to Cuba sparks cautious reaction among US travel execs Cuba won’t abandon communism, Raúl Castro says There’s a real estate boom in Cuba, but for now, only Cubans can buy Costa Rica ‘victim’ of US-Cuban immigration laws, says President Solíslast_img read more

Costa Ricas ongoing strike hits tourism industry hard

first_imgRelated posts:Expotur organizers announce ‘multidestination’ focus for this year’s edition NFL player apologizes for marijuana-related arrest in Costa Rica Protests in Nicaragua renew tensions with Costa Rica President is safe after confrontation with protesters Unions and government start talks to end strike The U.S. Embassy on Tuesday published an alert informing potential tourists that demonstrators might create traffic jams, disrupt local commerce, or interrupt government services. The alert recommends monitoring local media for updates and exercising caution if in the vicinity of a demonstration.In a statement to The Tico Times, Information Officer Hakim Hasan said the alert is a routine process, not meant to raise alarm but to help tourists prepare for their travel.“We have complete confidence in our Costa Rican colleagues’ ability to manage the situation,” he said. “We obviously want tourists who are visiting Costa Rica — or anywhere in the world — to understand some of the challenges that might exist in an environment like this, when there’s a strike.”But many Costa Ricans fear damage has already been done to the country’s international reputation as a tourist destination.“Imagine being in another country and hearing there’s a strike,” Calderón Brenes said. “Do you think they’re going to return to their country and recommend Costa Rica?” Facebook Comments The strike that has been gripping Costa Rica since Sept. 10 has begun taking its toll on one of the nation’s biggest industries: tourism.Several small business owners throughout Costa Rica are struggling through a September with less income than usual, even for an off-peak tourism month. They say the protests — which have blocked major highways — have caused an uptick in cancelations, threatening narrow profit margins.Javier Pacheco, vice president of Costa Rica’s National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) told the daily La Nación travel agencies have suffered a 50 percent drop in reservations due to the strikes.Those disruptions are raising alarm from business owners who have seen revenue streams dwindle.“What are you going to tell the tourist: That they should come back in 15 days, when there isn’t a strike?” said Marlon Calderón Brenes, owner of Bijagua Rainforest Tours near Tenorio Volcano National Park in northern Costa Rica.Calderón Brenes says both of his scheduled tours last week canceled, affecting not only his company but the families that prepare food for visitors and own the boats he uses.Also in Bijagua, the Hotel Cacao Río Celeste remained empty this week after a 14-person, two-night reservation canceled.“If you don’t know if it will take three-and-a-half hours or twelve hours to drive here, you’re not going to come,” said its owner, Leda Arguello Cruz.center_img Costa Rican government seeks agreement with unions to end strike Rafaél Sanchez, manager of Bahía Aventuras in Uvita, on the southern Pacific coast, is thankful to have received just six cancelations since the strikes began. But he knows he has been fortunate.During the annual Whale and Dolphin festival, held earlier this month, Sanchez and other residents in Uvita noticed significantly smaller crowds than they expected. Rigoberto Vargas Navarro, president of the Association of Tour Operators at the Marina Ballena National Park, told The Tico Times he estimates around 1,500 fewer people came to this year’s festival compared to in 2017.“We think that’s a result of the strikes,” Vargas Navarro said. “That affects us a lot.”Costa Rica’s international airports have remained fully operational, but protesters have obstructed highways in Puntarenas, Guanacaste, and Limón. Earlier this week, Celebrity Cruises, whose ocean liner Infinity had a scheduled stop in Puntarenas, announced the ship would skip the call due to the strikes.Fifty kilometers south of Uvita, in Sierpe, one prominent business owner estimates that at minimum, 15 percent fewer people have visited the area this year. Jorge Uribe, who manages La Perla del Sur, says several people who have contacted him in recent weeks have chosen not to make reservations with the company after learning of local roadblocks.“It’s worrisome for the entire region,” he said.Thousands of citizens have been marching in San José and across Costa Rica this month against a proposed tax reform, which they say would have an unfair impact on the working class. Those demonstrations have generally remained peaceful, but they have routinely blocked major highways across the country. Others have impeded access to Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery (Recope) sites, causing occasional fuel shortages.According to the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT), the industry comprises 6.7 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. In a statement this week, María Amalia Revelo, the Minister of Tourism, acknowledged the impact strikes have had on local tourism.“I call on the protesters to exercise sanity and calm,” Amalia Revelo said in the statement. “The defense of the rights of some cannot cause the abuse of the rights of the rest of the population, affecting public services and the free movement of citizens and tourists who chose Costa Rica, out of dozens of options, as the destination to enjoy their holidays.”Unions and the government have started talks to end the strike, but the indefinite end has caused mounting concern for business owners.last_img read more

Actress Hilary Swank helps Bucharest stray dogs

first_imgIn the Romanian capital on Friday, she visited projects set up by the animal welfare foundation Vier Pfoten that encourage interaction between stray dogs and institutionalized people.Bucharest has 35,000 strays and their fate has sparked a fierce debate here. Some believe they should be put down, others advocate putting the dogs in shelters, while others want strays to be sterilized.Swank spoke to The Associated Press about her devotion to animals, her belief in sterilization and the ways street dogs can help disadvantaged people.‘I believe that is so healing to these kids who don’t trust people anymore,” she said. “The unconditional love of an animal is very healing and teaches them about not just unconditional love but about a relationship, about responsibility, about anger management.”Swank said she is starting a U.S. charity called Hilaroo to bring needy children and animals together. The charity combines her name and that of her late dog, Karoo.‘I’ve seen firsthand how it changes the path of the soul, for the animal and for the child,” she said.Visiting a retirement home, she talked about one special dog that changed the life of an elderly woman. Top Stories Top holiday drink recipes 0 Comments   Share   Check your body, save your life Associated PressBUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Thousands of Romanian street dogs have found a friend in Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank.Swank, who won for her portrayal of a waitress-turned-boxer in “Million Dollar Baby,” visited Bucharest last week and showed a different kind of skill: fighting for animal rights.Swank, who says travel has been her best education, rarely leaves home without Kai, a devoted Jack Russell stray she rescued in Los Angeles. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates `’There was a woman didn’t get out of bed, and after a few weeks of the dog coming to visit she’s up walking,” she said. “The dog literally got her out of bed.”Last week, the 37-year-old actress was in Paris for the Salvatore Ferragamo Cruise Collection 2013 show.Next month, Swank begins work on “Martha and Mary,” an HBO movie with Brenda Blethyn about two women trying to eradicate malaria. Directed by Phillip Noyce, it will be shot in North Carolina and South Africa.Before leaving Bucharest, she urged people to neuter unwanted dogs and cats rather than kill them.“I believe in a `’No-Kill” policy,” she said. “Hopefully (we are) getting to a place where we have “No-Kill” universally and just a more caring attitude in general to all animals.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img

QA about Norway massacre case

first_imgAssociated PressOSLO, Norway (AP) – A chapter of a terror case that has haunted Norway for 13 months ended Friday as confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was declared sane and sent to prison for bomb and gun attacks that killed 77 people and injured 200 others last year.After deliberating for two months, a five-judge panel in Oslo’s district court handed down a sentence of “preventive detention” of at least 10 years and a maximum of 21 years for the right-wing extremist. However, such sentences can be extended under Norwegian law as long as an inmate is considered dangerous. Breivik, a 33-year-old Norwegian on a mission to expel Muslims from Europe, set off a car bomb that killed eight people outside government headquarters in Oslo and he then killed 69 others in a shooting rampage on Utoya island, where young members of the governing Labor Party had gathered for their annual summer camp. Breivik says he would appeal an insanity ruling but accept a prison term.Here are some questions and answers about the case.Q: Was Breivik’s guilt in question?A: Essentially, no. He admitted to the attacks and nothing in the criminal investigation suggested there was anyone else involved. He rejected criminal charges out of principle, saying he did not recognize the court’s authority because it represents a political system that supports multiculturalism. But that argument didn’t sway the court, and the same goes for his claim that the killings were justified to protect Norway from becoming overrun by Muslims. Breivik probably knew these were hopeless arguments, because he didn’t spend much time on them during the trial, focusing instead on trying to prove that he is a political terrorist and not a madman.Q: What were the possible outcomes? A: The key question for the Oslo court to decide was whether Breivik was sane enough to be held criminally responsible for the attacks. If declared insane, he would have been committed to involuntary psychiatric care, indefinitely. But Breivik was deemed sane by the judges and sentenced to “preventive detention.” Unlike a regular prison sentence _ which can be no longer than 21 years in Norway _ that confinement option can be extended for as long as an inmate is considered dangerous to society. It also offers more programs and therapy than an ordinary prison sentence. Norway, like nearly all of Europe, doesn’t have the death penalty.Q: So what happens to Breivik now?A: Breivik will be taken back to Oslo’s Ila Prison, where he has been held in isolation for most of the time since his arrest. The prison built a psychiatric ward just for Breivik in case he was declared insane.Q: What are the conditions like at Ila? Is it like a two-star hotel?A: Outside Scandinavia, it may seem that way, though prison spokeswoman Ellen Bjercke pointed out that the biggest hardship of being incarcerated lies in the fact that you cannot leave. The conditions inside are secondary to the loss of freedom, she said. Norway takes pride in its humane penal system, and living conditions in Norwegian prisons are probably far better than in most other countries. For example, other prisoners at Ila have access to school that offers courses from primary grade to university level courses, a library, a gym, work in the prison’s various shops and other leisure activities. Because Breivik is held in isolation, without contact with other prisoners, he doesn’t have access to those things. In compensation, Ila has given him three cells instead of one. Each is about 86 square feet (8 square meters.) One has gym equipment, another has a bed and the third a desk with a laptop computer. For at least one hour a day, he has access to a small courtyard surrounded by barbed wire. Top holiday drink recipes Top Stories Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Q: Will Breivik ever get out?A: Legal experts say it’s unlikely Breivik will ever be released but no one can say for sure. One thing is certain though: it won’t happen for as long as Norwegian authorities consider him dangerous to society. Breivik can challenge a “preventive detention” sentence every five years. One of the reasons Breivik’s attacks were presented in such gruesome detail during the trial was so that the horror of Oslo and Utoya would be well-documented for the day Breivik asks to be released. “Legally speaking, he could of course theoretically be a free man in some years. But realistically speaking he would be incarcerated for perhaps the rest of his life,” said Lasse Qvigstad, a former Oslo chief prosecutor.Q: How does the appeals process work?A: In Norway, both prosecutors and the defendant can appeal all or parts of the ruling. Breivik’s lawyer said Thursday that he will appeal if he’s declared insane but would accept a prison term. An appeals trial would likely be held early next year.Q: So why did Breivik want to be sent to prison? Wouldn’t he get off easier with an insanity ruling?A: Breivik wants to be seen as a political terrorist, or as he calls himself, a “militant nationalist.” During the trial he said that being sent to an insane asylum would be the worst thing that could happen to him and accused Norwegian authorities of trying to cast him as sick to deflate his political views. His lawyers say Breivik is already at work writing sequels to the 1,500-page manifesto he released on the Internet before the attacks. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system ___Associated Press writer Julia Gronnevet and AP senior producer David Mac Dougall contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

Pakistan Shiites face rising militant attacks

first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project “The situation is worsening day by day,” Baluchistan’s chief minister, Mohammed Aslam Raisani, told The Associated Press in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. “Of course I am concerned.”Last month police in the eastern Punjab province arrested a leader of Lashkar-e-Janghvi, Malik Ishaq, for inciting hate. But on Monday, he was freed on bail.That only fueled Shiites’ believe that the government has little interest in going after those who attack their community.“From law enforcement, government or any institution we are 100 percent disappointed,” Abdul Khaliq Hazara, leader of the Hazara Democratic Party, said at his home in Quetta.“We also blame elements with the intelligence agencies that support them (Sunni militants) and give them shelter, show them the routes. It has become a policy it seems for them to bring religious extremism to this area,” he said.The Baluchistan government’s move to call in the paramilitary Frontier Corps reflects their struggle with dealing with the violence.“We decided to call them in for two months because we didn’t want to take a chance on human lives,” Baluchistan’s top bureaucrat and Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammed told The AP. “Right now sectarianism is our biggest threat. We have made some progress. But have we succeeded? No.” Sponsored Stories In a strong and rare rebuke, the judges slammed the security agencies’ record against militant activities in Quetta.“The result is zero. There has been zero accomplished, not against suicide bombings, not against target killings,” Chaudhry said.So far, the intelligence and security agencies have not responded.Shiites make up around 15 percent of Pakistan’s 190 million people. They are scattered around the country, but the southwestern province of Baluchistan has the largest community, mainly made up of ethnic Hazaras, easily identified by their facial features which resemble Central Asian features. They number some 300,000 in Quetta, a city of 1.2 million people.Sunni extremists consider all Shiites as heretics, and militants have long carried out attacks against the community. But the sectarian campaign has stepped up in recent years, fueled mainly by the radical group Laskar-e-Jangvhi, aligned to Pakistani Taliban militants headquartered in the tribal regions. The violence has pushed Baluchistan in particular deeper into chaos. The province was already facing an armed insurgency by ethnic Baluch separatists who frequently attack security forces and government facilities. But the secessionist violence has been overtaken by increasingly bold attacks against Shiites. Militants have packed cars with explosives and driven them into buses carrying Shiite Muslim students to universities and pilgrims returning from holy sites in Iran. Gunmen have walked into shops in Quetta’s busy bazaars and slaughtered storekeepers as they tended to customers. They have picked off prominent Shiites as they left their homes for work. They have taken out newspaper ads telling Shiites to leave Quetta and Pakistan and vowing to kill any Sunni who calls a Shiite a friend.More than 300 Shiites have been killed in Baluchistan alone the past two years, the community here says. Thirty-eight Shiites were killed in just two weeks in Quetta earlier this year, said a liberal political party representing Hazaras. When were these two weeks?As a result, many Shiites in Quetta have pulled their children from universities, shuttered their shops and rarely step out of the two enclaves in the city where their numbers dominate. There have been a few revenge attacks killing Sunni Muslim clerics.Lashkar-e-Janghvi, headquartered in Pakistan’s Punjab province, has carried out attacks elsewhere in the country as well. On Monday, a car bomb killed 12 Shiites in the Kurram tribal region, the only tribal area where Shiites outnumber Sunnis. The powerful agencies have often been linked to the murky world of militancy, accused of using hardline Sunni Muslim militants against enemy India in the disputed Kashmir region and against U.S. and NATO soldiers next door in Afghanistan.But the rise in the bloodshed and worries over security slipping out of control are bringing pressure for action. Fearing an all-out sectarian war, the Baluchistan government last week called in the paramilitary Frontier Corps to help the understaffed and underequipped local police.The judiciary has also become unprecedentedly vocal in pointing the finger at the intelligence agencies. Last week, a panel of three Supreme Court judges, led by Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, told a packed Quetta courtroom that it had heard testimony that militants were getting weapons and unregistered vehicles from the intelligence agencies. At least two suicide attacks this year in Quetta involved unregistered vehicles, according to the police. The court ordered the government to produce a list of all weapons and ammunition permits issued on the orders of the intelligence agencies, as well as vehicles brought into Pakistan duty free by the agencies. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “We know it is Lashkar-e-Janghvi and we have to attack them. … There is no reluctance to conducting a big operation or to going after them in a big way but so far we have not had very useful information,” he said.The Frontier Corps and the police have provided security to Shiite Muslims travelling in Quetta, escorting school buses and local merchants. Few arrests have been made and Hazara said his political party wants the Frontier Corps and the police “to go after everyone involved in the killings.”____Kathy Gannon is AP Special Regional Correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan. She can be followed on http://www.twitter.com/kathygannon Top Stories (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Patients with chronic pain give advice Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center ErrorOK ErrorOKHussain was just leaving Quetta’s Ayub Stadium when a motorcyclist drove by and gunned him down last year, said Bostan Kishtmandi, a local Shiite politician, as he strolled past the graves. He “was retired and teaching our young boxers. We loved him,” Kishtmandi said.Pakistan’s Shiite minority is feeling under siege as Sunni militants who view them as heretics step up a campaign of sectarian attacks, targeting them with shootings and car bombings. More than 300 Shiites have been killed so far this year, according to Human Rights Watch. The province of Baluchistan, where Quetta is the capital and which has the country’s largest Shiite community, has borne the brunt, with more than 100 killed this year, on the way to surpassing the 2011 total of 118.“I am afraid of terrorists everywhere in Quetta, except here with the dead,” said Gulbar Abbas, an elderly man who spends every day in the graveyard, living off donations from visitors as he sits on a dirty quilt on a stone slab and reads the Quran from morning to night.The sectarian bloodletting adds another layer to the turmoil in Pakistan, where the government is fighting an insurgency by the Pakistani Taliban and where many fear Sunni hardliners are gaining strength. Shiites and rights group say the government does little to protect Shiites and that militants are emboldened because they are believed to have links to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressQUETTA, Pakistan (AP) – In the Shiite Muslim graveyard of this provincial Pakistani capital, entire sections are dedicated to the hundreds killed by Sunni militants over the past two years, their portraits line the cobblestone entrance, some garlanded with wilted flowers.There’s Abid Ali Nazish, a popular movie star executed by gunmen in the summer. Nearby are the portraits of two brothers who were dragged out of a bus and shot to death on the road as they returned from pilgrimage in June. An Olympic boxer, Ibrar Hussain, has a large portrait, and then a smaller photo on his grave showing him sitting proudly next to American boxing great Mohammed Ali.last_img read more

Pakistan journalists choice Face death or jail

first_img Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Butt did exactly that, publishing the statement, “The Punjabis have captured our lands and we will kill the Frontier Corps and Police . . . We will continue our struggle until Baluchistan is liberated from Pakistan.”Aryan Khan, another journalist in the Baluchistan capital Quetta, said Lashkar-e-Janghvi militants even dictate the language newspapers and broadcasters should use in their normal news reports whenever they report on the death of a Shiite, whether in an attack or from natural causes.Rather than the respectful, euphemistic terms usually used by Urdu-language press for a person’s death, “they say we should use the same word we use if an animal dies,” he said.In recent years Pakistan’s Baluchistan province has been shattered by relentless bloodletting by the separatists and by Sunni militant killings and suicide bombings against Shiites. Human rights activists and international aid workers operating in Baluchistan have also been attacked. The international Red Cross suspended its operations in May after one of its workers was killed in Quetta.“For us Baluchistan has become a source of great concern,” said Bob Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. “The situation in Baluchistan looks set to continue for a long time _ the issues are deep seated and don’t lend themselves to easy solutions. For media support groups, the region has emerged as a new front line.” Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist, according to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists. In the last six years 41 journalists have died violently in Pakistan, although 12 of those deaths are still under investigation to determine whether their deaths were linked to their jobs as journalists, according to the CPJ site.Many of the multiple militant groups and armed factions in Pakistan _ such as Lashkar-e-Janghvi, behind many slayings of Shiites _ operate with impunity, with police too weak to take much direct action against them. So they are only emboldened to threaten journalists into being their mouthpieces.“If I want to live in this city I have to write what they say,” Butt said.The statements can often be cruel and explicit, detailing those who have been killed, he said. Sunni militants’ messages are laced with vitriolic attacks against the minority Shiite Muslims they revile as heretics.Just last week, he was called by a member of the violent Baluchistan Liberation Army, a self-declared secessionist group fighting for an independent state for ethnic Baluchis against what they see as domination from ethnic Punjabis. The group has already claimed responsibility for the deaths of three journalists. The caller had a message and added, use it verbatim or die. But the late-night calls put the journalists in a bind. If they don’t print the messages, they could be killed. If they do print them, they could face three years in prison under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism laws. It’s no surprise which risk they’d rather run. At least 20 journalists have been killed in Baluchistan the past six years, their bullet-ridden bodies sometimes found stuffed into sacks.“If you are a journalist here in Baluchistan you have a choice: Either a bullet in the head or a jail sentence,” said Ashiq Butt, a stocky bureau chief with the News Network International (NNI), a Pakistani news agency that feeds its reports to newspapers.But authorities are putting pressure from their side as well, trying to stem spiraling violence in the province.Last month, the Baluchistan provincial government for the first time charged 21 news organizations, their owners and several journalists under the anti-terrorist law, which provides for three years in jail if convicted of carrying messages, reports or information supplied by outlawed militant groups. The charge sheet filed by the government accused the news organizations of “spreading panic.” Comments   Share   Associated PressQUETTA, Pakistan (AP) – The telephone call to local journalists generally comes in the late evening. The voice on the other end is harsh. He has a statement he wants printed, and he prefaces it with a terse order: “Report our messages without making any changes or we will kill you.”The messages they deliver warn of upcoming violence or assassinations, sometimes naming an intended victim, or claim responsibility for atrocities already committed. The calls come from Sunni militants notorious for violence against minority Shiites or members of secessionist groups that routinely blow up police stations and attack government facilities in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Escalating violence is making vast parts of Baluchistan inaccessible, said Dietz.That, he contended, seems to suit the government.“The government seems to be quite happy that there is little or no independent monitoring of the situation,” he said. He also criticized the Baluchistan provincial government for laying charges against journalists and news organizations covering both sides in the conflicts ravaging the region.In an interview in Quetta, provincial police chief Omar Ibne Khitab justified the charges, saying the anti-terror law was clear. He also said his force does not have the equipment to trace the threatening telephone calls to journalists and locate the culprits.The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a report last month criticizing the government for inaction on what? as well as national media outlets for neglecting coverage of events in Baluchistan. The report said local journalists feel threatened from all sides and neglected by the government.“Journalists in the field felt threatened from the security forces, militants and insurgents,” said the report released Aug. 30. “If they said one thing they were traitors to one side and if they did not they were traitors to the other side. From within the HRCP’s heavily guarded office, Shamsul Mulk said rights workers risked their lives investigating the killings of journalists as well as the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of scores of people, many linked to the separatist movement. Many rights workers have left the organization out of fear for their lives.“I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t a guard outside the door,” he said. “People are afraid. They are not even attending our meetings anymore.”____Kathy Gannon is The AP Special Regional Correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan. She can be followed on www.twitter.com/kathygannon..(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Four benefits of having a wireless security system 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairylast_img read more

ECB President Draghi European stimulus will continue

first_img Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said the ECB’s economic stimulus program is working but needs more time to bring European inflation back to healthier levels and restore consumer and business confidence.Speaking Thursday at the International Monetary Fund, Draghi said the program — involving 1.1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) in bond purchases — has “proven so far to be potent, more so than many observers anticipated.” Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Earlier this week, in fact, the 19 countries that use the euro currency reported the fastest economic growth in two years. And eurozone consumer prices stopped falling last month. The inflation report reduced fears that the region was in danger of slipping into a growth-killing spiral in which consumers put off spending because they expect future prices will be lower.But Draghi was not ready to declare victory over Europe’s long struggle with economic stagnation.“After almost seven years of a debilitating sequence of crises, firms and households are very hesitant to take on economic risk,” he said.He vowed that the bond-buying program “will stay in place as long as needed for its objective to be fully achieved on a truly sustained basis.”The ECB is buying 60 billion euros a month in government and corporate bonds using newly created money. Increasing the supply of money in the economy can raise inflation. The stimulus is also lowering market borrowing rates, which tends to boost lending and, by extension, economic activity. And it is pushing down the value of the euro, giving European exporters a price edge in world markets.The U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan have also used bond purchases, or quantitative easing, to stimulate weak economies. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Sponsored Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Burundi president makes first appearance since failed coup

first_imgInstead he described how he contacted the presidents of nearby African countries to discuss the threat from Somalia’s Islamic extremists, al-Shabab.Burundi, Kenya and Uganda contribute troops to the African Union force in Somalia that is fighting al-Shabab. The extremist rebels have retaliated by carrying out violent attacks in Kenya and Uganda.“You know that Burundi is among the countries that are contribute troops in Somalia and that’s why I came here to contact my friends and my fellow presidents in Kenya and Uganda and these countries are being targeted by al-Shabab,” Nkurunziza said in French.He said his aim in contacting fellow presidents was to find strategies to stop threats to Burundians’ security.Edouard Nduwimana, Burundi’s interior minister, called on protesters not turn up on the streets Monday because the security forces would not be able to differentiate between protesters and extremists.Speaking on state radio, Nduwimana said the security agencies had received information of extremists with explosives who could detonate them during the street protests.Mohammed Nibaruta, an opposition activist, said this is another way for the government to justify the illegal use of force to discourage the demonstrations over Nkuruniziza’s candidacy, which goes against the constitution’s limit of two five-year terms. Patients with chronic pain give advice “The government is going to use live bullets but this will not stop protesters from coming to the streets tomorrow and the day after until Nkurunziza withdraws his candidacy,” Nibaruta said.The protests began April 26, a day after the ruling party made Nkurunziza its presidential candidate.Nkurunziza was in neighboring Tanzania on Wednesday when a general announced a coup. Loyal forces crushed the rebellion and Nkurunziza returned to the country, but he had not been seen in the capital.The coup attempt came after weeks of street protests against Nkurunziza’s efforts to stay in power by standing in June elections for a third term.Burundi’s Constitution states a president can be popularly elected to two five-year terms. Nkurunziza maintains he can run for a third term because parliament elected him for his first one, leaving him open to be popularly elected to two terms. Opponents say a third term violates the Constitution and peace accords that ended a civil war here.In Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis called for a sense of responsibility to prevail in Burundi following the attempted coup. “I would like to invite you to pray for the dear people of Burundi, which is undergoing a delicate moment: May the Lord help all to avoid violence and act responsibly for the good of the country,” he said. Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza made his first appearance in the capital since an attempted coup against his government last week.Nkurunziza made a brief statement to journalists in the foyer of his heavily guarded presidential offices in Bujumbura Sunday morning. He did not mention the failed coup plot or protests that have rocked Burundi for weeks over his bid for a third term in office, decried by opponents as unconstitutional. At least 15 people have been killed in the unrest.center_img Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Seventeen security officials, including five generals, accused in the attempted coup appeared Saturday before a prosecutor who charged them with an attempt at destabilizing public institutions, lawyers of some of the suspects said. The general who announced the coup, however, remains at large.More than 105,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries recently, according to the U.N. The U.N. refugee agency said Sunday seven Burundi refugees had died in a camp in neighboring Tanzania since Wednesday of severe diarrhea and two cases were suspected to have been caused by cholera.The United States provided evacuation assistance to about 20 U.S. citizens on three commercial charter flights, as well as four Canadian citizens and other foreign citizens, according to a U.S. State Department statement.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories last_img read more

The Latest Biden to meet with Democratic senators on Iran

first_imgOpponents of the deal say that by easing sanctions, Iran will be flush with cash and then funnel it into militant groups like Hamas and Hezbollah which could harm Israel.__2:25 p.m.President Barack Obama says his administration is “working every day” to try to free the four American citizens currently imprisoned in Iranian jails.At a press conference, Obama said “the notion that I am content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails — that’s nonsense.” He added: “Nobody is content.”Obama said the U.S. did not include the status of the jailed Americans in the nuclear talks because it would have made it more difficult to walk away from a bad deal. He said he didn’t want to encourage Iran to use the prisoners for leverage.__2:11 p.m.Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has sent a letter thanking his country’s nuclear negotiators, though he warns the deal must be scrutinized.Khamenei, who holds the final word on all state matters, wrote that some of the countries involved in Tuesday’s landmark deal in Vienna “are not trustworthy at all.”He wrote: “It’s necessary to put the text of the deal to scrutiny.” He said any possible problems in the text “have to be taken care of and blocked.” WASHINGTON (AP) — Here are the latest developments involving the agreement between the United States, Iran and world powers to limit the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program (all times EDT):7:50 p.m.Vice President Joe Biden will head back to Capitol Hill on Thursday to urge Senate Democrats to support the nuclear deal with Iran.The White House says Biden will discuss the deal with the Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the committee, invited Biden to brief his party’s senators. Obama is speaking at a news conference in Washington.__1:41 p.m.President Barack Obama is defending his high-stakes nuclear accord with Iran as a sign of American leadership that will make the world safer.And he says that critics of the plan should consider the alternatives.Without the deal, he says, the world risks “even more war in the Middle East,” increases the chances of an arms race, and leaves open the possibility of that Iran comes closer to having a nuclear weapon.Obama spoke during an East Room news conference Wednesday, warning that the deal shouldn’t be allowed to “slip away” because the opportunity “may not come again in our lifetime.”__12:46 p.m.Republican presidential contender Chris Christie says President Barack Obama is lying to the American public to try to win support for the Iran nuclear deal.When talking about the deal on Tuesday, Obama had said “inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s nuclear facilities.” That is correct when it comes to designated nuclear facilities. But a more pressing question throughout the negotiations has been whether inspectors could immediately access new, suspicious sites. Comments   Share   But a U.S. official familiar with the details of the resolution said the five permanent members of the council have agreed that a new resolution would be adopted at the end of 10 years to reinstate the “snap back” mechanism for an additional five years. The official was not authorized to speak publicly.__2:53 p.m.President Barack Obama says the Iran agreement will leave a future president in a stronger position should Iran decide to pursue a nuclear weapon.He says “the choices would be tougher today than they would be for the president 15 years from now.”Obama contends the agreement will allow the U.S. and its allies to become more knowledgeable about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and improve the ability of the U.S. to respond should Iran renege on its promises.__2:45 p.m.President Barack Obama is downplaying the idea that Iran’s military and anti-Israel groups like Hezbollah will benefit significantly once international sanctions against Iran are lifted.Obama says Iran’s economy has struggled since the sanctions were imposed. And any suggestion that Iran will plow previously frozen assets into military forces “runs counter to all the intelligence we have seen.” The meeting will come a day after Biden made a similar pitch during a meeting with House Democrats. Biden has also been calling lawmakers, including Senate leaders, to discuss the deal.Congress will have a 60-day window to review the deal and could pass legislation stopping Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran. The White House is focusing its outreach on Democrats in hopes they’ll provide enough votes to stop Republicans from undermining the deal.6:23 p.m.The White House says President Barack Obama has thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country’s “important role” in finalizing the Iran nuclear deal.Obama and Putin spoke Wednesday. The White House says the leaders agreed to closely coordinate as the deal is implemented and expressed a desire to work together on other issues, including the civil war in Syria.The White House readout of the leaders’ call made no mention of Russia’s alleged aggression in Ukraine. Even as the U.S. uses sanctions to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine, Obama has said it was worthwhile to partner with Putin on areas of mutual interest, including the Iran talks.5:36 p.m.The Kremlin in Moscow says Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama have spoken by telephone regarding the Iran nuclear deal. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Khamenei’s letter, sent Wednesday, was posted on his official website and carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.__2:04 p.m.In Iran, viewers watching state television didn’t get to see President Barack Obama’s news conference on Wednesday, which many news networks around the world carried live.Typically, Iranian state TV doesn’t show U.S. or Israeli leaders. On Tuesday, however, after the nuclear deal was reached in Vienna, state television carried Obama’s remarks live, an incredibly rare occurrence. That’s only happened once earlier in 2013 after a preliminary nuclear deal was reached.__1:57 p.m.President Barack Obama is laying out some challenges for those in Congress who are questioning the new deal to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.The president said in an East Room news conference on Wednesday that those who are criticizing the deal should stop and read the 100-page plan before objecting to it.Second, Obama says critics should explain exactly why they think that the agreement won’t keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon — and why they know better than experts like his energy secretary, Ernest Moniz. Under the latest agreement, if Iran refuses access to a suspicious site, an arbitration panel will decide whether the Iranians have to submit to an inspection within 24 days.Christie said: “I mean, listen, if the president likes his deal then go and sell it, but sell it honestly. Don’t lie to the American people.”__12:16 p.m.Britain’s foreign secretary says Israel wants a “permanent standoff” with Iran and suggests it wouldn’t have welcomed any kind of nuclear deal.Philip Hammond was responding to an opposition lawmaker who criticized the deal struck between Iran and the West aimed at keeping Tehran from building a nuclear bomb. Hammond said in Parliament Wednesday that Israel “doesn’t want any deal with Iran.”He said: “I think the question you have to ask yourself is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv.” He added: “Israel wants a permanent state of standoff and I don’t believe that’s in the interests of the region.”Hammond said he is traveling to Israel and will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday.__11:09 a.m.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel isn’t bound by the nuclear deal with Iran brokered by the United States and would continue to oppose it. Emerging from the session that lasted more than an hour, Biden was asked if he changed any minds among skeptical Democrats.“I think we’re going to be alright,” he told reporters.New York Rep. Steve Israel said lawmakers questioned Biden on Wednesday morning about terms of the agreement, including enforcement and the chance for sanctions to snap back if Iran violates the agreement.Israel quoted Biden as saying that if there is no agreement “we can count on the international sanctions regime unraveling.”Nothing in the agreement takes the military option off the table, Israel said Biden told Democrats.__8:27 a.m.Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a physicist who participated in the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, says Secretary of State John Kerry broached the issue of Americans still being held in Iran. Even though the main purpose of the talks was to find common ground on the nuclear program, Moniz says Kerry “never failed to raise the issue of Americans held unjustly in Iran.”Moniz also told CNN that the nuclear agreement has stronger restrictions on Iran “than would be the case if we had no agreement.”He says the agreement provides protection against cheating by Iran. He added “we have bought considerable time to respond” should Iran not live up to its commitments. __8:25 a.m.Israel’s ambassador to the United States says he doesn’t believe President Barack Obama “tried to hoodwink Israel” with the nuclear deal. He said the U.S. and Israel simply have “an honest policy difference.”Ron Dermer tells CNN says the agreement’s 24-day advance notice for inspections by the U.N. nuclear agency gives Iran far too much time to conceal its activities.Dermer says the deal is that the agreement “does not block Iran’s path to the bomb” but “paves it.” He says that will endanger Israel.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is also Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, center, shakes hands with an official upon arrival at the Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Zarif and his entourage returned to Tehran on Wednesday morning, a day after Iran and the West reached a historic nuclear deal. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) Top Stories A statement released Wednesday says both leaders agreed that the deal “answers the interests of all international society, allows a strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the lowering of tension in the Middle East region.”Russia, which has close business ties with Iran, had been a key participant in the negotiations.4:08 p.m.A leading pro-Israel lobbying group is urging Congress to reject the nuclear deal with Iran.The American Israel Public Affairs Committee had reserved judgment about the deal when it was announced on Tuesday. But now the group says it believes Congress should insist on a better deal.AIPAC says in a statement that the deal is flawed because it doesn’t allow inspectors immediate access to suspicious sites, and it doesn’t dismantle Iran’s nuclear facilities. The group also is expressing concern that arms and ballistic missile embargos on Iran could be lifted in the coming years.__3:47 p.m.A draft U.N. resolution to implement the Iran nuclear deal says U.N. sanctions would “snap back” into place if Iran fails to meet its obligations. But it also says that stipulation would end in 10 years.The draft, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, states that none of the seven previous U.N. sanctions resolutions “shall be applied” after 10 years, and “the Security Council will have concluded its consideration of the Iranian nuclear issue.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona The president also says critics of the plan need to come up with a better alternative to the deal. And he says that if their alternative is to rein in Iran through military force, they should be willing to say that.__1:49 p.m.President Barack Obama says he’s hopeful that members of Congress will evaluate the Iran nuclear agreement “based on the facts, not on politics.”The president says lawmakers should consider the deal based on what’s in the national interest of the United States. He says if they do, a majority of Congress should approve it.But Obama acknowledges that politics often intrude when evaluating these agreements.He says, “I’m not betting on the Republican party rallying behind this agreement.” But he says the debate in Congress should be based on the facts and not speculation or misinformation.__1:43 p.m.President Barack Obama says that he hopes the Iran nuclear deal will encourage the country to “behave differently” and stop sponsoring terrorist actors in the Middle East. He says the U.S. will try to gain greater cooperation from Iran on ending violent unrest in Syria and Yemen.But, he notes, “we’re not betting on it.” Addressing parliament on Wednesday, Netanyahu said “we will reserve our right to defend ourselves against all of our enemies.” He added, “we have strength, and it is great and mighty.”Meanwhile, a senior leader from Yemen’s Shiite rebels sent a cable to Iran praising the deal as a “historic” achievement. Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the second-in-command of the rebels known as Houthis, said in a statement Wednesday that the deal will contribute in resolving the conflict between Iran and the United States “in a peaceful manner and in harmony that will lead to mutual respect between the people and which will reinforce peace and stability in the region.”Al-Houthi urged other countries in the region to adopt dialogue “instead of chaos and troubles…which benefit the Zionist enemy.”The Iran-allied rebel group in Yemen has made a forceful bid for power in Yemen, forcing the country’s internationally-backed president to flee to neighboring Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s exiled government, accuse Iran of arming the rebels.__10:55 a.m.Vice President Joe Biden has wrapped up a meeting with House Democrats to brief them on the Iran deal. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Sponsored Stories last_img read more

More power to buyers with revitalised Virgin

first_imgRebranding and adjusting its marketing strategy earlier this year has not only revitalised the Virgin brand down under but created leeway for buyers to play off Virgin and Qantas for better deals.Speaking at the first Association of Corporate Travel Executive (ACTE) forum down under since it announced Australasia as its newest region, aviation commentator Stephen Pearse explained people booking corporate flights can now use both carriers’ determination to maintain high market share as a tool during negotiations.He explained that for years Qantas lead the market as the only carrier down under meeting corporate travellers’ needs. However, since Virgin Australia’s rebranding the market received an alternative to business travel which has created more negotiation room for suppliers and buyers organising events and meetings.“It [Virgin Australia] is a fierce competitor and that’s why I think you guys would be able to exercise great power over the demand for share versus revenue,” Mr Pearse told attendees. “At the end of the day when you are sitting on the supplier side of the table we all know that if you can push it far enough there is a viable alternative party where you can say that’s fine my best alternative during the negotiating agreement would be for me to just move everything over here. “Now if you’ve got both players not wanting that to be the situation then the final screw which could have been a very demanding market share requirement is probably not likely to be there anymore.”Mr Pearse added that the change was occurring pre-Qantas strikes, which at best has only “peeled a couple of scales away from people’s eyes” and slightly aided Virgin become a ‘fierce’ player.“Virgin has a very fierce factor that’s going to run over the next few years with a market lead strategy, delivering products that corporate travellers want,” he noted.“So instead of feeling that there was no choice, that there was either the one carrier with a very appropriate corporate service and another one that didn’t now it’s a case well I can choose between the two and they can both absolutely service upon me.”  The industry expert also told attendees that while the power of loyalty programs will maintain major pull for airlines, they will come down a notch in terms of power.For more information on how the power of the Loyalty Program is beginning to fade click back onto e-Travel Blackboard later this week. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Court told Flight Centre threatened airline

first_imgA Brisbane Federal Court was told Flight Centre made an “implicit threat” to Singapore Airlines in an attempt to maintain the agency group’s commissions.Barrister Keith Wilson, SC, claimed the “unequivocal message” to pressure Singapore Airlines into a deal was “a plain case of price fixing” by Flight Centre, the Courier Mail reported.According to sources, Flight Centre attempted to boycott the airline with a slow sell/stop sell policy, advising agents to avoid selling the airline’s tickets and not recommend its services.The court heard that a company senior executive emailed Singapore Airlines asking, “Why do you go out of your way to undercut travel agents?” and later suggests in internal communications that the agency group would “need to be more strategic in control of distribution, so it’s important to know Singapore Airline’s intentions”.Mr Wilson pointed out the loss of commission on those tickets sold direct to the public by Singapore Airlines was a serious issue for Flight Centre.The barrister read out an email from Flight Centre chief executive Graham Turner to Singapore Airlines in May 2009, asking for “a total guaranteed margin” and “an agreement that we will not be undercut on the web”.”We as retailers have a lot more control on who people fly with,” Mr Turner’s email read, warning that Flight Centre had the power to influence its customers.Flight Centre vigorously denies allegations by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that they schemed with Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines and Emirates to set ticket prices and keep commissions high.The trial continues today. And the saga continues for Flight Centre Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.Wlast_img read more