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The newest addition to the Strips North End W Las Vegas

first_img Posted by Friday, December 2, 2016 The newest addition to the Strip’s North End: W Las Vegas Share Travelweek Group center_img NEW YORK — W Las Vegas debuted in Sin City this week, transforming a 289-room tower of SLS Las Vegas and providing guests with “an elevated hotel-within-a-hotel experience” at the emerging North End of the Vegas Strip.“If there are two things in this world that were truly made for each other, it’s W Hotels and Las Vegas,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide. “After nearly two decades of anticipation, W Las Vegas will show guests a different side of the strip, offering an unexpected and irreverent twist on the typical Sin City experience.”The 289 rooms were designed by Philippe Starck in collaboration with design and architecture firm Gensler. The hotel’s 2,382-square-foot Extreme WOW Suite (designed by Lenny Kravitz) adorns the top of the tower, and is highlighted by a spacious balcony with sweeping mountain views.W Las Vegas has three floors (and 15,000 square feet) of brand new meeting and event space, while the adjacent SLS Las Vegas hotel serves up an additional 80,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space, to play host to any size event.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsMaximizing its North Strip location, the rooftop WET Deck offers panoramic views of the Stratosphere and desert mountains from its discrete rooftop perch. Art from local and international muralists and photographers converge to make the space unique.  The AWAY Spa on the hotel’s second floor offers signature spa treatments for guests to detox, while fitness centre FIT is a 24-hour facility.Dining venues include the on-site coffee shop The Perq; Northside Café & Chinese Kitchen which is available 24 hours a day; Bazaar Meat by José Andrés (“an avant-garde interpretation of the classic Vegas steakhouse”); Katsuya; Cleo; 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria; and Umami Burger, Beer Garden & Sports Book. For nightlife, there’s The Sayers Club; Foxtail Nightclub; and The Foundry, all at SLS Las Vegas. See WLasVegas.com. Tags: Las Vegas, W hotels << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Cronin named Director Sales Marketing Canada for Cathay

first_img Posted by Share Thursday, January 5, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> Cronin named Director, Sales & Marketing, Canada for Cathaycenter_img VANCOUVER — Cathay Pacific Airways has promoted Ross Cronin to Director, Sales & Marketing Canada, with overall responsibility for the airline’s passenger sales & marketing communication strategies in Canada.A veteran of the aviation industry, Cronin has spent over 22 years with Cathay Pacific Airways, most recently as Sales Manager, Eastern & Central Canada overseeing passenger sales for the airline in this important region.He joined Cathay Pacific Airways in Vancouver early in 1994 and, later that year, transferred to the management position in Toronto. Prior to this he worked in various roles with Air Canada across Canada.He will relocate to the airline’s Canadian regional office in Vancouver.“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to lead our team of experienced and passionate commercial professionals,” says Cronin. “Canada has long been an important market for Cathay Pacific and, with our Vancouver to Hong Kong service growing to 17 flights weekly in 2017, it’s an exciting time to take up this role.” Travelweek Group Tags: Cathay Pacific, Peoplelast_img read more

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Books open on 9 new Over the Water Bungalows at Sandals Grande

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Books open on 9 new Over the Water Bungalows at Sandals Grande St. Lucian Posted by TORONTO — Sandals Resorts is now taking reservations for nine new Over the Water Honeymoon Butler Bungalows at Sandals Grande St. Lucian.Clients can experience the luxurious bungalows at Sandals Grande St. Lucian for travel starting in May 2017.The first five Over-the-Water Villas at Sandals Royal Caribbean proved so popular that in no time they were booked solid for months on end. It’s been the same situation for the 12 new Over-the-Water Private Island Butler Honeymoon Bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean.The Over the Water Bungalows at Sandals Grande St. Lucian have glass floor panels, a private outdoor Tranquility Soaking Tub for two, a king-size bed and over-water hammocks. The bathrooms are equipped with his and hers sinks, a large backlit mirror adorned with mosaic tile and a walk-in rain shower.Outside the private patio is also equipped with an extended sun deck, outdoor shower, sun loungers, and a bistro set for two. Butler Elite service is included.More news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTFor more details about Sandals Grande St. Lucian and the new Over the Water Bungalows, agents can contact their local Sandals BDM or visit sandals.com/main/grande/gl-home/. Travelweek Group center_img Share Wednesday, February 15, 2017 Tags: Sandals Resortslast_img read more

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WestJets three new international Dreamliner routes ex YYC include Dublin

first_img Wednesday, October 10, 2018 WestJet’s three new international Dreamliner routes ex YYC include Dublin Tags: Calgary, Dreamliner, WestJet << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group center_img CALGARY — WestJet has announced its first three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner international destinations from Calgary – London-Gatwick, Paris and Dublin – along with new branding, a new ‘Love Where You’re Going’ tagline and a new Platinum tier.The new routes make WestJet the first Canadian airline to base Dreamliner aircraft out of YYC. Nonstop service onboard the Dreamliners from Calgary to London-Gatwick, Paris and Dublin will launch on April 28, May 17 and June 1, 2019, respectively. Fares to all three cities go on sale today.“Alberta’s connectivity to the rest of the world is vital for our economy,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “WestJet is investing in Alberta to bring further economic growth, boost tourism to the province, and to further position our city as an international aviation hub. We are excited to bring Albertans to the world and the world to Alberta.”The first of 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners ordered by WestJet will arrive in Calgary in early 2019, with two more arriving by April. The airline also has options for an additional 10 aircraft to arrive between 2020 and 2024. Hub locations and routes for the remaining seven aircraft have not yet been announced.The Dreamliners will carry 320 guests in a three-class cabin configuration, including WestJet’s newly revealed Business cabin featuring 16 private pods with lie-flat seats, an upscale Premium cabin and an updated Economy cabin. The Dreamliner route from Calgary to London-Gatwick will replace the Boeing 767 service that currently operates the route from Calgary.Sims adds that the brand refresh and new ad campaign comes at a pivotal time for the airline. “Love where you’re going embodies both the thrill of travel and the sheer ambition we at WestJet have for our airline. Our 13,000 WestJetters are unique assets, and what we deliver for our 24 million guests is something that cannot be replicated.”The updated brand image and positioning will roll out in phases to many of WestJet’s assets including westjet.com, WestJet’s airport presence over time across Canada and gradually across the fleet.Meanwhile the new Platinum tier for WestJet Rewards will launch later this year, says Sims. Posted by Sharelast_img read more

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First new Orient Express Hotel to open in Bangkok in 2019

first_img Share Tags: Accorhotels, Bangkok, Orient Express Travelweek Group Wednesday, December 19, 2018 First ‘new’ Orient Express Hotel to open in Bangkok in 2019center_img BANGKOK — Bangkok will soon welcome the first Orient Express hotel under the direction of AccorHotels, which took a stake in the company several years ago.Parent company AccorHotels announced that Orient Express Mahanakhon Bangkok will debut 154 rooms, including nine suites and two penthouses, in the landmark King Power Mahanakhon Building in the last quarter of 2019.Upon completion, it will boast an entire floor devoted to wellness, including an outdoor pool, Jacuzzi and the signature Orient Express Spa by Guerlain, as well as a rooftop observation deck and rooftop bar, and two signature restaurants.The hotel will make its debut 136 years after the Orient Express took its maiden voyage from Paris. The original Orient express trains were famous for their fine craftsmanship, which designer Tristan Auer has been tasked with replicating at the new hotel.Sebastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels, said: “Orient Express has always acted as a passport between worlds and trip on these legendary trains was historical, touristic and cinematic with an inimitable experience. This linking of Occident and Orient, of history and modernity, and of curiosity and cultures will be a hallmark of the new Orient Express Hotels, and we are excited to bring back this spirit of luxurious adventure to today’s modern travellers.”More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaAccorHotels and SNCF Group signed a strategic partnership in 2017 to develop Orient Express hotels after AccorHotels acquired a 50% stake in the share capital of the brand. SNCF retains ownership of the seven original Orient Express carriages, which have been restored. << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted bylast_img read more

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The San José Childrens Museum launches exhibit for handson exploration of building

first_imgChildren assemble building materials in the outdoor section of the “Constructed Space” exhibit at the San José Children’s Museum. The exhibit opened on Friday. Costa Rican children are invited to explore themes of building construction and urban living at a new exhibit at the Children’s Museum in downtown San José.The bilingual exhibit, “Constructed Spaces,” features an indoor room with a video exploring concepts about man-made spaces and an outdoor area filled with foot-long building blocks that can be stacked to create various structures. The outdoor area also includes trees where children can write down some of the changes they would like to see in their city’s environment.For the Friday morning opening ceremony, the museum invited children from the Modern Educational Institute School in Cartago, east of the capital. The children, donned in plastic construction helmets, cut the ceremonial ribbon, and ran in to explore the exhibit.Children’s Museum Director Fabiana Rodríguez gave a speech welcoming the young guests.“It’s an opportunity to involve children in the world of adults,” Rodríguez said in an interview. “The construction concept is a great way to express their creativity.”After being given time to play in the exhibit, Costa Rican kids were invited to write their aspirations for the future of the capital city on cards and hang them from fake trees. Some common themes were a desire for more natural spaces, places to play sports, and areas to ride bicycles.The museum got help from the Association of Engineers and Architects (CFIA) and the Architects Association of Costa Rica (CACR). Representatives from the two associations attended the ceremony.“It’s great to recognize the excellent work from the beginning to create this constructive space,” José Guillermo, CFIA’s president said in a statement. “It’s certain to educate students to work as a team and recognize the impact that engineering and architecture have on society.”The “Constructed Spaces” exhibit is part of a larger section of the museum that includes interactive exhibits, such as working with magnets, a chess board with child-sized pieces, ancient Egypt, and an imitation of an entire town.Tickets to the museum cost $2 for children and $2.60 for people 15 and over. On weekdays the museum is open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and weekends it is open from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The museum is at the north end of downtown San José, near Calle 4 and Avenida 9. Facebook Commentscenter_img No related posts.last_img read more

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A study abroad student reflects on being robbed in Costa Rica

first_imgAs I turned to walk the five blocks to my host family’s house, the door to the small hostel in Santo Domingo of Heredia shut, and I knew that my friend Maya was safe and secure for the night. Thoughts raced through my head; the week of traveling ahead of us, our friend Daniel whom we would meet in Panama, and the classes I would miss at the National University in Heredia.I took a deep breath, happy to have my friend from home visiting, enjoying the cool night air.Down the block, a man and woman walked by me and I heard the man suggest turning around. His tone seemed odd. It was 11:30 p.m., and despite having passed a few other people, the street was almost empty.The woman began to protest, and as I turned to check out the situation, the man rapidly advanced in my direction, yelled something at me and pulled up his shirt to reveal a gun.Before I knew what had happened, the man had me up against a wall and the woman, no longer protesting, was going through my pockets. I gave them my phone, trying to persuade them to leave, but the man demanded my wallet, and I knew I was not going to get off easy.I explained that I needed my driver’s license as I pulled the wallet out of my pocket, reaching in to grab the license. The man punched me in the face, knocking off my glasses.He then snatched the wallet and told me to run. I ran, cursing the night sky, and cursing myself for having brought my wallet, full of money for my upcoming travels, on the walk.My experience is not unique, and in fact I met a tourist later that week on a ferry ride who had been shot from behind, point-blank through the shoulder, in Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula. All he had with him was an old iPod, but the thieves didn’t think to ask him what he had before they shot him.This experience is not unique to Costa Rica, either. I was robbed at gunpoint in my hometown of Olympia, Washington, when I was 15, and in that case as well, the thief only made off with an old iPod. Every day, all over the world, for many different reasons, in many different ways, people decide to rob other people.My initial reaction, as a sociology student, was to frame the experience in context of the societal pressures that may have led to this. Perhaps the couple who robbed me has a child to feed and they were doing what they had to to put food on the table; perhaps one of their family members is sick and needs a special type of treatment; perhaps they are unable to secure employment that provides a living wage.Behind every robbery, whether a tourist or a resident is the victim, the constant factor is that there is an unmet need that the robber is trying to fill, be it a financial need, an emotional need for power and control, or a combination of the two.Looking at the differences in the average income between the U.S. and Costa Rica, it is not hard to imagine why a robber would target tourists. In the U.S., the average income is around $51,000, while in Costa Rica, it is just below $9,000. To my assailant, the $80 in my wallet may have been a fortune, and while it was by no means a trifling sum to me, I will be able to tighten my belt and survive the rest of this semester without it.Additionally, while Costa Rica has a population of just under 5 million – with 20.3 percent of them in poverty in 2012 – there are over 2 million tourists streaming through the country every year.To an unemployed young Costa Rican with a rocky past and a bleak future, a tourist walking down the street alone at night might be seen as a wonderful opportunity to “redistribute the wealth.”  While it is unlikely that my assailants rationalized their actions in such a way, robbing me must have seemed like something to bring them closer to immediate goals. I hope that my money brought them the happiness that they anticipated.Judging by the look in the man’s eyes right before he punched me in the face though, something tells me that it did not. When the money they took from me runs out, they will be back to square one, and if they still don’t have enough money to satisfy their needs, chances are they will rob again.Numerous sociological studies have demonstrated that areas with higher rates of inequality tend to have higher rates of crime. In line with this theory, statistics in most areas show that lower-class people, and people living in lower-class areas, have higher official crime rates than other groups. People in poverty who turn to crime to survive usually do not target the wealthy – they take what they can, when they can, from whom they can, without discretion.When I returned from traveling, I was confronted by the police’s request to identify the assailants, and it made me stop to think about the possible effects on these individuals. If apprehended, the two would likely face jail time, which would likely make them more pessimistic and angry than they already seemed. Upon their release, they would face reduced job prospects, and would likely return to a life of crime.Incarceration by itself does not teach criminals the lessons they need to learn to prevent them from reoffending. What needs to happen is a restructuring of the society and economy to reduce inequality. My hope does not lie in getting revenge on the people who robbed me, but in the vision of people like President-elect Luis Guillermo Solís, who has recently identified reducing inequality and poverty as one of the three main goals of his upcoming presidency.With this in mind, I can’t help but be thankful after my experience. I may have lost a bit of money, my glasses, and a cellphone, but I was lucky to get away without having lost any blood. More than anything though, I am thankful that I am not in a position where I am forced to consider robbing people to accomplish my goals. I may have to keep my guard up in order to not get robbed again, but I have the privilege of waking up in the morning with my needs met. This is something not everyone can say. Facebook Comments Related posts:US families of Sandy Hook massacre victims sue gunmaker Costa Rican coastal community grieves colleague killed in US church massacre Ohio man convicted in Costa Rica telemarketing scam Obama to force through gun control measures on Tuesdaylast_img read more

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Behind the scenes at the UN

first_img Facebook Comments UNITED NATIONS — Much like the schizophrenic reality of the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly itself, this week’s conclave of world leaders in New York has presented two contrasting narratives for the Syria-Iraq war and the current moment of upheaval in the Middle East. One, the polished speeches of leaders before the cameras, follows a script, presents its best face, and plays to the hopes of constituents back home. The other, like the snarling traffic jams, the curt, hurried back hall of conversations of the senior officials straining to do the diplomatic heavy lifting, and the late-night critiques offered up in hotel bars, is more ragged, grounded in the truth, and therefore unsettling.The first, more polished, view is the story you would get if you listened only to presidents and foreign ministers speaking of clear goals, coalitions knit together by common ideals, and, ultimately, a remade, safer, more stable world. While the other view, the story you only hear in conversations that take place on background or off the record, reveals that even behind well-intentioned initiatives there can be the kind of delusions, dubious motivations, divisions, and duplicity that seem likely to make bad situations worse. The question now is what factors will tip the balance so that the story told (and sold) in press releases and talking points comes to pass — rather than the one that led a former cabinet official from U.S. President Barack Obama’s own party to say to me this week with regard to the White House’s recent conduct of foreign policy in the war-torn region, “Things are bad, very bad.”The duality of this particular moment, the tension between the good and the terrible, is so stark it evokes the light-versus-darkness heart of the Zoroastrian philosophy of the Yazidi people who, once upon a time, so long ago it seems hard to remember, helped usher in this latest chapter of Mideast war. (Their crisis atop Mount Sinjar was only a month ago, in case you had forgotten.)This tension was reflected in Obama’s remarks to the General Assembly when he said, “We come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope.” As one of my colleagues, Elias Groll, indicated during his live-blogging of the speech for Foreign Policy, it’s a perspective that is far removed from Obama’s assertion of just 12 months earlier when he said, “The world is more stable than it was five years ago.”What shocks and spasms we have seen in this past year or so: a United States that is about to take action in Syria, then one that could not without congressional approval and then later said maybe it didn’t need that approval after all; an administration arguing for the elimination of the standing authorization to use military force in Iraq and then just months later using it to justify an action it vowed it would never take; the United States hemming and hawing and disappointing allies from Eastern Europe to the Persian Gulf and then one acting boldly and celebrating the coalition with which it went to war. Who knew that the pivot the Obama administration would be remembered for was swiveling back to policies it opposed, rejected, and had turned away from just months or years before? U.S. President Barack Obama speaks with Secretary of State John Kerry during a U.N. Security Council summit meeting on foreign terrorist fighters during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, on Sept. 24, 2014. Saul Loeb/AFPBut if you listened to Obama’s passionate and well-delivered speech (and those of other leaders), you certainly could not help it if a bit of optimism brightened up your worldview. The president was powerful and clear about issues on which in the past he had been accused of hesitancy and vagueness. He was tough on IS and extremism, saying, “No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning, no negotiation, with this brand of evil.” He took on Russian President Vladimir Putin, promised aid to combat Ebola, and to fight climate change. He was encouraging on the Iran nuclear talks and even took a moment to reflect on America’s own flaws as manifest in the shooting and subsequent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. In closing, he offered a resoluteness many have long hoped for from this administration: “At this crossroads, I can promise you that the United States of America will not be distracted or deterred from what must be done. We are heirs to a proud legacy of freedom, and we’re prepared to do what is necessary to secure that legacy for generations to come.”Obama was not the only one promising a more positive view and hinting at a different shape of things to come. At a small breakfast for journalists, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani openly and deftly fielded questions on a wide range of subjects. While reports of the meeting emphasized his critique of the U.S. attacks on Syria as illegal, the real headline of the meeting was how little he mentioned those attacks. He commented on them pro forma, for a split second, then moved on to describe his hopes for U.S.-Iran nuclear talks. He said this week would be pivotal in those talks and that he hoped for a final deal before the current round’s deadline, which is approaching in just two months. He mentioned that a year ago in his phone conversation with Obama the two discussed how such a deal could usher in new communication and cooperation between the United States and Iran. He talked of rapprochement with regional neighbors despite enduring differences. He refused to be baited into focusing on U.S.-Iranian tensions on key issues.On Syria, Rouhani said the focus should be on “time-management skills,” meaning first defeating terrorists and then addressing a political solution — and when he mentioned the political solution he didn’t mention Syria’s president and erstwhile ally Bashar Assad by name. The vibe he gave off was that Iran might be open to a deal that saw Assad depart, provided all the people of Syria had a say (meaning that non-Sunni minorities might be able to form a coalition to keep the government out of Sunni hands). He even said that even if the deal he hoped for did not materialize there would be other ways to carry the dialogue forward. And this, too, was a far cry from a year earlier, when the big story was whether or not there would be the possibility of a handshake or a photo op between U.S. and Iranian leaders. Now there was an emphasis on a possible sea change, on the common goal of fighting terror.Taken with Obama’s remarks and those of other regional leaders, Rouhani’s comments seemed to suggest that a materially different Middle East was a possibility.No longer would the United States be acting alone trying to solve problems far from home. Burdens of combatting threats would be shared among local nations. The U.S.-Iran enmity that had been a defining factor in regional relations for decades might be ebbing. A nuclear deal might be in the offing. If there was not a complete transformation around the corner, perhaps pockets of material progress could lead to other areas of thaw — Rouhani mentioned economics, trade, combatting terror, and promoting regional stability. Groups like IS would not stand a chance against such resolve. Pluralism, instead of institutionalized sectarian bullying, would be promoted in places like Iraq. The Mideast would be safer, more secure, and more self-sufficient. America would be able to better address problems at home while leading with a lighter touch. Obama even suggested that the status quo would have to change for Gaza and the West Bank.But offstage, the discussions about all these issues had a dramatically different tone. It was doubtful and largely pessimistic. Cardboard cutouts made to resemble humans stand with nooses and blindfolds as demonstrators protest Iranian President Hassan Rouhani outside the United Nations on Sept. 25, 2014. Joshua Lott/AFPWhen Obama spoke of dismantling IS’s “network of death,” regional diplomats worried anew that he was overly focused on one terrorist group when they saw the problem as rapidly spreading violent extremism, a threat not just in Iraq and Syria but stretching from Mali to Nigeria to the Horn of Africa, from Libya to Egypt to Gaza to Syria and Iraq, from the Gulf to Afghanistan, Pakistan to China. They worried the U.S. president who was touting his own progress combatting al-Qaida had failed to realize that in overly focusing on one group he opened the door to a spread and proliferation of terror threats that made extremism far more prevalent and dangerous today than at any time in history. Obama spoke of tackling extremism but described it as a generational threat that the people of the region or “the civilized peoples of this world” must combat over time. To one listener from a country burdened by refugees from the war in Syria, this was “a sign that he thought this was too big a problem to deal with, that he was pushing it off into the future.” Another Arab diplomat said to me, “The president is trying to win by defining the problem as narrowly as possible. It makes it more manageable.” His point: IS is a big threat. We should be trying to destroy them, but to do that without addressing the bigger problem would be to repeat the mistake of overly focusing on core al-Qaida.Another concern buzzed about by senior diplomats is that the focus is on military action and on cutting off funds to the militants — which are essential — but there is very little confidence that what needs to be done to create a viable political solution in Iraq is going to happen. The new government is too much like the old. There is still no defense or interior minister. There is no confidence that anyone senior in the U.S. government will create the kind of real, quid pro quo, pay-as-you-go pressure on the Iraqis that the United States will help beat back the IS threat but only will keep doing it if real material progress in giving the Sunnis the voice they deserve happens. “Military victory creates a void,” I was told. “It has to be filled by something. If it is not a new political reality for Sunnis, we’ll solve nothing.”Recommended: Solís sidesteps Nicaragua border dispute in UN addressAnother area of worry is the fragility of the coalition. The number of coalition planes in the first Syria attack was relatively small — about a dozen and a half. Some members of the coalition snickered at the Qatari failure to actually deliver any ordinance during the attack. The joke was that they were afraid to blow up anything they might have previously paid for. In the longer term, there is a concern that if the United States is too narrowly focused on IS and won’t help with other perceived threats or won’t get tough enough with coalition members that are funding extremists, that this could fragment the coalition. So, too, could an Iran nuclear deal that appeared too soft or too much rapprochement between the United States and the Iranians at the seeming expense of relations with Gulf states.Further concerns centered on the viability of the coalition efforts. Weeks of bombing in Iraq had a relatively limited impact on IS. And the absence of a commitment to ground troops from any members of the coalition is seen as a huge weakness. Not only are ground troops required to hold land taken and keep it secure, but if the only ground troops are Iraqis taking advice from Iran, there is no certainty as to what they will do with the gains or whether local Sunnis will even see that as a victory. Similarly in Syria, bombing IS only opens the way for the Assad regime, the rightly reviled killers of 200,000, to grow ever stronger. (Among the regional diplomats with whom I spoke, this was seen as almost inevitable, as was Assad’s remaining in power for quite some time to come.) Other issues — possible Saudi succession issues, the vulnerability of Jordan, how Israel might react to an Iran deal, what might happen with Iran if the U.S. Congress scuttles a possible deal or seeks additional sanctions and how that might impact the tacit collaboration between the two countries in fighting IS, the potential of coming problems in Afghanistan or a further meltdown in Libya to add to the distractions, and the perceived untrustworthiness of coalition partners like Turkey and Qatar — also were mentioned in four days of conversations here about this.In short, if well-turned phrases defined history’s outcomes, we might be heading to a much better, safer Middle East. But if the men and women who are working behind the scenes to make that happen are to be believed, it is even more likely that further unrest and danger are on the horizon. We may enjoy early victories in the war against IS, we may even turn them back in the months ahead, but absent a commitment to address the broader, strategic issues with the same sense of urgency we are bringing to that fight — to battle for political gains as intently as we do those on the battlefield, or for leaders like Obama and Rouhani to devote as much of their attention to the work of the back room as they do to that at the podium — it looks like in the current Middle East there may be, in the famous words of the old song by Creedence Clearwater Revival, a bad moon rising. Rothkopf is CEO and editor of the FP Group. His next book, “National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear” is scheduled to be released Oct. 28.© 2014, Foreign Policy Related posts:UN peacekeepers routinely trade sex for goods Guatemala’s former Vice President Eduardo Stein bids for top job at troubled OAS Costa Rica celebrates 66th anniversary of the abolition of its army President Solís wants fewer words, more action from UN Security Councillast_img read more

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Costa Rica tourism minister sees no threat from Cuba Nicaragua

first_imgRelated posts:Tourism season kicks off in Costa Rica despite high costs for travelers Central America hopes to draw more European tourists during regional travel fair in Costa Rica Lonely Planet guide documents a changing Central America Travelers in Costa Rica can pay departure tax at airports for 3 more months See also: US to ease travel, trade with Cuba starting FridayThe U.S. Treasury Department posted a detailed fact sheet Thursday on the new travel rules for U.S. passport holders planning a trip to Cuba that go in effect Friday. Fun-in-the-sun vacations are not covered in the eased travel sanctions, but that hasn’t kept Cuba off many U.S. publications’ top destinations for 2015, including The New York Times (Costa Rica didn’t make the Gray Lady’s list this year).Despite what some see as a threat to Costa Rica’s preferred status with U.S. tourists between new offerings in Cuba and Nicaragua, Tourism Minister Wilhelm von Breymann said the land of “pura vida” does’t have anything to worry about, during a press conference Wednesday announcing Southwest Airline’s new routes to Costa Rica.“I think this is still far off,” von Breymann said when asked about up-and-coming destinations siphoning off U.S. tourists from Costa Rica’s $2.2 billion tourism industry. Gringo travelers are the single most important market for Costa Rica’s tourism sector, bringing in an average $2,200 each per visit.“Cuba needs to go through quite a bit of work first, and the same for our neighbors to the north,” the minister said, referring to Nicaragua.Von Breymann brushed off concerns about Costa Rica’s relatively high prices for travelers: “There is a wide market out there. Backpackers continue to visit Costa Rica, and thank goodness they do, because they play an important role in rural and community tourism. And we also have other people who come and spend lots of money for special rooms, exclusive hotels. Each product has its client. We need to continue innovating and improving our service.”The Solís administration said that it has a strategy to continue attracting flights to the country to ease business and tourist travel, including one between Costa Rica and China. Von Breymann said that Costa Rica has seen six new or expanded routes announced in the last two months. On Thursday, the Public Works and Transport Ministry added one more to that list, announcing that a memorandum of understanding had been signed to open new flights between Costa Rica and Singapore.The tourism minister added that Costa Rica boasts a very strong rate of return visitors, with four trips on average.“We need to be innovative and continue professionalizing ourselves if we’re going to continue raising our level of service and products and make it a once in a lifetime experience when people visit Costa Rica. That’s while Costa Rica has always been at the top of lists for returning traveling,” von Breyman said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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6 killed when Panama bus falls into ravine near Costa Rica border

first_imgImagen del momento del rescate realizado por @bomberosdavid @BugabaBomberos, @SOS_Chiriqui @VOSTpanama pic.twitter.com/3ZEVgqzrXN— Bomberos De Panamá (@BCBRP) January 25, 2015 Related posts:Panama’s US envoy offers upbeat economic outlook for 2015 Panama Congresswoman’s anti-sexual harassment bill faces ridicule Panama takes step to improve its image as money-laundering haven Another former Panamanian minister arrested in graft probe PANAMA CITY – Six people were killed and at least 20 injured when a bus fell into a ravine in the Panamanian province of Chiriquí near the border with Costa Rica, officials said Sunday.Panama’s national fire and rescue department disclosed details about the accident on Twitter, including a picture showing the wrecked vehicle upside down in a riverbed, surrounded by rescue workers.The accident occurred about an hour after the bus, en route to the Panamanian town of David, departed the town of Puerto Armuelles. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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On anniversary of conservationist Jairo Moras murder Moín Beach turtles have protection

first_imgUPDATE June 1 at 12:46: According to Sea Shepherd officials, the leader of the group’s Costa Rica operation arrived Saturday. The group is currently based in Pacuare, a beach north of Moín, but has plans to patrol Moín in the coming weeks. The group has been unable to secure permits to collect eggs on Moín and will simply be patrolling in an attempt to ward off poachers. Saturday night, on the two-year anniversary of her friend Jairo Mora’s murder, Vanessa Lizano could not stop smiling.“I thought I would be sad, but I’m not, I’m excited,” she said.It was the first time in more than a year that Lizano had gone out to Moín Beach on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, the site of the brutal 2013 murder of her 26-year-old friend Mora, who was killed on May 30, 2013 while protecting sea turtles from poachers. In January, the seven alleged poachers accused of his murder were acquitted.Lizano was excited to be back at the beach with the turtles, but also invigorated by the changes she noted in Moín. For the first time since Mora’s murder, the turtles of Moín have protection.A small crew from the Tropical Science Center (TSC) now patrols Moín Beach every week night, accompanied by police. The group has gathered more than 113 leatherback sea turtle nests, which are now safely contained within a guarded beach hatchery. In a recent patrol, the TSC was able to collect 13 nests in one night, saving more than 1,000 eggs from poachers. While turtle nests are still robbed nightly by poachers, the hatcheries now contain the highest number of eggs ever conserved on the beach.“Knowing that they already have so many nests brings me such happiness,” said Lizano, who had patrolled the beach alongside Mora. “You can see things changing and hopefully it will stay this way.”The TSC will be able to continue their patrols for at least two more years with funding promised from APM Terminals, the company currently constructing a billion-dollar port on Moín’s south end.The TSC is not alone. Another group of conservationists that oppose the port, Operation Moín, also patrols the beach. With little funding, no scientific permits and sporadic security, the members of Operation Moín gather nests and transport them to a hatchery up the coast. Activist group Sea Shepherd has also promised to send volunteers to Moín Beach, but thus far have no presence on the beach.Before patrolling the beach, Lizano and Didiher Chacón, the director of Latin American Sea Turtles (formerly Widecast), the organization Mora worked for at the time of his murder, lit candles and held a moment of silence for their slain colleague. After a few moments, the pair stuck their candles into the sand and set off in search of turtles.“It’s sad he’s not here,” Chacón said of Mora, “but if you knew Jairo you knew that he loved these things and this is the best way to do something in his honor.”Lizano and Chacón were able to save one nest last night.Check out Vanessa Lizano’s new rescue center hereRead all of The Tico Times’ coverage of the Jairo Mora murder case here Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican preliminary court misplaces key evidence in Jairo Mora murder trial Prosecutors ask for maximum sentences for defendants in Jairo Mora murder trial NOT GUILTY: 7 men acquitted of murder of Costa Rica sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora United Nations, environmental groups condemn verdict in Jairo Mora murder caselast_img read more

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Hes a Honduran banker crocodile farmer and wanted in the US

first_imgRelated posts:Honduras shutters bank linked to drug trafficking Starving crocodiles finally fed amid Honduras legal row Scandal-plagued Honduras needs dramatic overhaul, say analysts Honduras crocodiles starve after US freezes elite family’s assets Honduran banking magnate Jaime Rosenthal has a $690 million family fortune, 10,000 crocodiles and one big problem: the U.S. Treasury Department.Rosenthal, 79, a former vice president with ties to the United States, was indicted last week along with his son Yani, 50, and nephew Yankel, 46, on charges they laundered money for drug traffickers. The Treasury Department placed sanctions on the family’s holdings, and Yankel Rosenthal, a former minister of investment and president of the Club Deportivo Marathon soccer team, was arrested in Miami.“We are sure that we will prevail in the trial because the accusations are false,” Jaime Rosenthal said via email. “We will fight very hard. And we hope the truth prevails with the help of God.”The accusations stunned the elite in Honduras, one of the poorest and most violent nations in Latin America, and represented a sharp turn for the Rosenthals, one of Honduras’ wealthiest clans. It’s a new theme in the region, said Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy at the Washington Office on Latin America.“There is more attention being placed on powerful peoples’ links to the criminal underworld,” he said. “The pressure being put on Honduras now is to separate ties between the state and narco-trafficking and the government and organized crime. The Rosenthals aren’t in the government but they are quite close to power.”Yani Rosenthal said that while the family’s Panama-based holding company, Inversiones Continental, has few assets in the United States, the ban the Treasury Department put on U.S. citizens doing business with it or its affiliated enterprises could “cause problems.”The Rosenthals have an extensive empire and a fortune of $690 million, according to Bloomberg estimates. Among the major holdings: Banco Continental, which has about $500 million in assets; a stake in the cement company Inversiones Bicon; and the telecommunications company Cable Color SA de CV.Read the indictment against Jaime, Yani and Yankel Rosenthal: In an interview in February, patriarch Jaime Rosenthal said he enjoyed living and working in his native country, where he could keep his children and grandchildren close on one of his 23 properties, where the family has a support staff of about 100, including nurses, helpers, drivers and bodyguards.“I don’t count my wealth only in money, but in values that contribute,” he said from his office in a strip mall in San Pedro Sula. “To have a net worth of two or three billion dollars doesn’t matter to me. What’s important is having competitive and productive companies that can grow.”A 1958 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose alumni website puts the number of his businesses in Honduras at 20, Rosenthal called Warren Buffett his “idol” and said he tries to follow the investor’s strategy.“We try not to do anything illegal and not have any enemies that cause us problems,” Rosenthal said. “We don’t have capacity to build planes or vehicles or design cellular phones. We have most of our investments in other activities, like 11,000 head of cattle and 10,000 crocodiles.”A long-time Liberal party member, Rosenthal was one of the few wealthy Hondurans who spoke out against the 2009 overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya. Rosenthal was vice president from 1986 to 1989, and recalled playing ping-pong at the presidential palace with John Negroponte, then the American ambassador, and said that Negroponte was “not bad.” Rosenthal said Negroponte traveled with him and other Honduran officials to Washington, where he met President Ronald Reagan in the White House.During the interview, he talked about his country’s drug trafficking problem and suggested a solution he said he recommended to a U.S. ambassador: the country should shift the billions it spends on border protection to boosting economic developing in the countries that migrants are fleeing. The money could turn remote areas in northern Honduras into cattle ranches or cocoa farms that could create jobs.“There’s nothing in these areas,” he said, “and they are turned into landing strips for narcos and delinquents.”The charges against his family come as a tide of corruption investigations sweep across the region from Brazil to Guatemala, where President Otto Pérez Molina was forced to resign over corruption allegations last month; he followed his vice president and central bank chief to jail, where they await trial.The U.S. tapped a law popularly known as the Kingpin Act to place sanctions on Inversiones Continental, which control the Rosenthal family’s banking, financial services, real estate, agriculture, construction, tourism and media interests. Also targeted is the clan’s agricultural arm, Empacadora Continental, its related financial institutions and three offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.The family said in a statement that it will honor commitments and obligations and is willing to sell assets to help avoid losses for investors.“We haven’t committed any illegal acts,” Yani Rosenthal, who made a failed run for president in 2012, said in an email. “We are certain that all our activities are within the law and that we can show that in a fair trial.”Bob Van Voris contributed.© 2015, Bloomberg Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Intels Vince Guglielmetti wants more Costa Rican engineers

first_imgRelated posts:Uber Costa Rica drops fares 20 percent and some drivers aren’t happy Intel says there is no US pay gap between men and women at the chipmaker Uber rival Cabify coming to Costa Rica Consumer optimism remains low in Costa Rica Vince Guglielmetti has seen a lot of changes at Intel in his decade with the company in Costa Rica. Currently in his fifth position with the chipmaker – now chipmaker plus – the general manager of Intel’s Costa Rica operations oversees a staff of 2,000 and growing, all of them Ticos, who possess a diversity of skills unheard of at the company’s previous iteration here as a manufacturing and testing plant.Guglielmetti says that diversity, including finance, human resources and engineering, had been developing alongside the company’s chipmaking activities in Costa Rica since it set up shop here in 1997.“Over time all of that’s been evolving in the background,” Guglielmetti said in a recent interview with The Tico Times. “Then when the decision was made to move on from manufacturing, Intel said, ‘Well, look at the talent we already have down there, let’s continue to build the engineering skill sets.’”When Intel announced that it was closing its silicon chip factory in Belén, Heredia, and moving it to Asia, Costa Rica’s export figures plummeted and Costa Ricans collectively said “adiós” to the U.S. company, assuming it was the end of an era.It was. But now Intel Costa Rica is in the midst of a rebirth.Where technicians once polished and packaged silicon chips for powering the world’s laptops, smartphones and data centers, accountants are now working on the company’s U.S. tax returns, human resources experts are processing payroll — for every single Intel employee in the Americas, including the U.S. — and engineers are testing new materials, writing code and helping solve problems faced by other Intel engineers around the world.The company’s public affairs manager, Timothy Scott, noted that Intel changed Costa Rica’s economy when it first arrived, jump-starting a high-tech manufacturing cluster.Now, he thinks something similar is about to happen, an upward path towards the current holy grail of economic growth: a knowledge-based economy. The evolution, Scott said, is “not just because of us but because of what Costa Rica is aiming for on research and development. That’s the new wave.”But Costa Rica is just beginning to develop the kind of experts in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — that a company like Intel needs.“I would say the number one challenge for Intel Costa Rica right now is talent, finding the right talent,” Scott said.The Tico Times sat down with Vince Guglielmetti and Timothy Scott to talk about Intel’s evoluation, and how the company hopes to help transform Costa Rica’s workforce.(The interview below has been edited for clarity.)TT: Tell me more about Intel Costa Rica’s transformation?  VG: We started with the manufacturing facility and that led to many other adjacencies. Many didn’t know we had engineering teams already. Finance and HR were already growing. (Intel Costa Rica’s HR department is now the company’s second largest globally.)The bigger part of the transformation has been the Internet technology team here moving more and more towards software engineering skills. What we call the platform engineering teams here moved even further upstream into the silicon, where we’re actually doing the mapping of the silicon.It’s a logical progression. We proved excellence in manufacturing, and we really love the engineering community and the talent of the people here so let’s just keep building.Is that ‘logical progression’ something that Intel thinks about with all its sites or is that specific to Costa Rica?It happens when you see the talent. What [Intel] found here was, ‘We’ve had excellence in this manufacturing facility, and we already have engineering teams there, how do we take advantage?’I think it was because we had already created our diversity. Since this site had spent so much time saying, ‘We’re going for diversity, we’re going to be not just manufacturing, but engineering, global services, that led to other opportunities. I think if you’re just manufacturing, it’s more difficult [for the parent company] to say, ‘Ok, I’m going to go continue to invest.’ Intel Costa Rica General Manager Vince Guglielmetti. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesSo there’s always been a diversity of skill sets and types of employees here, but what are the differences in skills and education between your average Intel Costa Rica employee now versus 10 years ago?If you look at the engineering skill sets, they’re more what I’ll call electronics matched up with computer science with specific coding ability. So specific languages that they have to learn. Whereas when you’re in manufacturing, you’re very focused on real heavy tools that are actually manufacturing product. You’re interfacing with the mechanical, thermal, but it’s all right in front of you, you actually see the tool in front of you.The new way that things happen is that now you don’t really have the tool in front of you. Now the engineers here are looking at how they’re going to connect the silicon without having a piece of silicon in front of them. They’re actually just mapping and saying, ‘All right, so how is this circuit going to connect here? What software do I have to write to make that happen?’It’s definitely an advanced engineering skill set. That said, the engineers that were part of the factory had a lot of electronics engineering background and mechanical engineering background. So we’ve been able to transform a lot of that.On the global services side, when finance started it was very transaction-based or transactional activity. Today that’s been moved into real analytics, so for example, here you have multiple controllers who sit on the site, and those controllers are actually reconciling Intel’s books, they’re understanding GAAP [Generally Accepted Accounting Principles], they’re understanding at the next level of complexity how to do accounting globally.When we first started obviously that wasn’t the case, but the skill sets were strong enough and built up over time.Is that advancement in skills mostly due to on-site training, or does it have to do with the evolution of education in Costa Rica to provide these skill sets?I would say it’s a combination. Every corporation has a way of doing things. But really all the foundations in the finance, HR and services areas have been here in the country for a while. The country has done a really nice job building up those skill sets.The engineering side has been a little different. There we do a lot more training to close some of the gaps because it’s something that’s still evolving in the country. The country has definitely some of the skills, and they’ve been working with us to help us to continue to close gaps, but it isn’t the same. We do a lot more of our own in-house training and working with universities.Tell me more about working with universities to build up those skill sets.The government and the universities have been very, very supportive. We’ve been able to bring some professors here and let them see the work that we do.We have a very strong student population, and now we’re having some of our Intel employees going to universities to teach some of the classes.And [the universities] have been really, really receptive to building those curriculums for us. Most of our work so far has been with the public universities but now we’re actually starting to work with private universities, as well. The partnership has been very, very good in those spaces.We were only supposed to be 1,200 employees, and getting to 2,000, which we reached in January here, I see more and more interest in investing based on the talent here. [But] to keep up with it, you need the whole ecosystem to participate. Will you be able to get enough graduates from the public sector? You need public and private sector working together.(Public Affairs Manager Timothy Scott noted that more than 50 percent of Costa Ricans now opt to go to private universities. “We need to work with private universities, otherwise it would be just be impossible to get the type of talent we need,” Scott said.)What about technical schools?When we had the factory we used a lot of [graduates from] technical schools. Many of them continued with further education. Maybe they started as technicians but they moved through and became engineers. Today we’re looking for more university-based engineering, accounting, finance backgrounds that are more professional degrees than we’ve had in the past. Intel Costa Rica’s campus in Belén, Heredia. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesI noticed you have a lot of student positions posted on your website. Are those like internships?It’s different than what we have in the States. The students can stay here multiple years. They have a 32-hour work week. So we balance workload for them along with making sure they get to their classes. We try to make sure they’re getting an experience of what it would be like to be an engineer and the kind of work they would do. Most of them do really, really well. Assuming things go well, they fit right in very early when we start to open up full-time jobs.What percentage of student-employees go on to get full-time positions?In the teams that I have, that number is like 80 plus percent. We really try to make sure that if we’re going to invest that amount of time, that we get a really high percentage of that population coming on board. Especially with the growth that’s taking place on-site here right now.I think it’s a win for both sides. They’re really getting an opportunity to see what life is like at Intel, what kind of folks you get to work with and the problems you get to solve, and we get a person who’s helping us go solve real day-to-day problems as part of our workforce. (Scott added: “You’re also getting a very good wage as you’re studying.”)What are some other ways you’re working with universities to develop the kinds of skills Intel needs?A few months ago we launched an external community of practice. Communities of practice have been pretty powerful for us in terms of how we close gaps on-site between [employees] we receive from the university and what we really need. And now we’re making them external.People in the workforce right now or studying come on their own time and they learn about ‘big data.’ This is something that will accelerate and actually enhance your employment possibilities across the country because it’s an evolving skill set, not just for the country, but globally.(Scott explained that those who join the community of practice receive classes, have homework and get an evaluation at the end of the approximately six-month program. He said Intel got more than 100 applicants for the program and whittled them down to a group of 20-25. Because of the high interest, the company plans to open another round soon. Scott stressed that participants are not obligated to work for Intel.)How do you communicate with students and prospective employees about how they can position themselves for a job at Intel?At the time of the closure [of the manufacturing plant] the big deal was helping everybody understand Intel really was staying. There were so many people coming to say goodbye.And we realized it wasn’t just the site that was needing to heal, the country was needing to heal. So for most of 2014 and the first half of last year, we spent most of our time with our people here showing them that, ‘Hey, we’re actually continuing to grow.’And then we started to do a lot more [external publicity] to let the country know what Intel was doing.And now, from Q4 of last year until now, it’s, ‘Ok, if we want to continue to grow, this is what it’s going to take.’ We’ve been out to universities like TEC [Costa Rica Institute of Technology] and UCR [University of Costa Rica], and we’ve had them here.We made our first trip out to the private universities in Q4 of last year. ULatina is one we’ve made some initial progress with. We’ve actually started working with their students to see if they fit, and if not, how to help them close that gap.If you’re studying electrical engineering, the discipline you take within electrical engineering makes a big difference. In the past we could say an electrical engineer that’s going to work on equipment is very important to us.Now, if you choose electrical engineering with a focus on communications, that’s probably not going to fit for us. But if you’re going to do electrical engineering to dive into circuit design, that is something we need you to understand. Because we need you to look at how the circuits are going to talk to each other. When you write the code, you have to know what’s going to work and what’s not going to work in the silicon.So it’s encouraging folks that are in the engineering schools today, saying, ‘All right, if Intel is of interest to you, these are the classes we really want you to choose if it’s there, and if it’s not, then we say [to the universities], ‘Can you please build this class?’ and in the meantime we’ll have this community of practice.What percentage of your workforce is bilingual? Do you have to speak English to get a job? When we do interviews we do English evaluation to see if they’re going to meet the criteria. Everybody here has to be bilingual over time. Today it has to be like 95 percent bilingual, at least. (Scott added that the other 5 percent are learning.)When we had the factory, we had more leeway because the employees on the floor didn’t have to. Now you need to be bilingual.On the hiring side, if people have the talent, we know we can teach them English, that’s not the problem.And we have more flexibility in our student program because the students aren’t going to be interfacing with people in the States that much – they’ll be talking to us.We’re actually working on some pilot programs to see how quickly we can get people to next-level English. Employees at Intel Costa Rica. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesIf a competitor or another big firm that required some of the same skill sets that Intel requires decided to come to Costa Rica, would that be good for you or bad for you? Is there enough talent to go around? Well, that’s why we’re working with the universities to try to build up the talent pool. When Intel came and did the manufacturing, a lot of other companies came, whether it was services or manufacturing.There’s a real possibility here that another company could say, ‘Well, if Intel’s doing this down there, we should just start to show up.’What’s happening in our finance and HR organizations, which are very mature, is that people who leave are leaders at the next [company]. On the engineering side, I don’t think the country has reached that point of maturity.Whether it be IT engineering or platform engineering, if you have others who come and start to look for those same skills, you are going to compete for the same talent. And that’s why you need to create a bigger base: one, because we think we have the potential to grow; but we also see it from a country perspective.It seems very logical that if you really want to grow in these sectors, you need to make it happen and others will come. And if they see they have to compete with Intel, and Intel has all the talent, they’re not going to show up.(Scott added that building up a healthy workforce in the STEM fields will take a generation. “You have to start with at least fourth graders to let them know that they can have a future in engineering. And you teach them by playing. We need more companies talking to kids in elementary schools.”)What do you wish was a little easier to get done in Costa Rica?I would like, in many cases, for things to get done a bit quicker. Whether we’re working with universities or government, the pace at which you would like it to happen takes a bit longer.For example, a curriculum doesn’t change overnight, but you want to be able to get agreement around, ‘We’re going to change a curriculum. Let’s go figure it out.’ Public universities have been receptive, but how quickly it’ll change in the network, that’s different.Infrastructure comes up on a regular basis. That’s another one where you have to get a whole community behind something to make it happen. Lindora Road is still a country road that goes through the middle of all these major shared service centers.It isn’t that it doesn’t get done, it’s just how much time it takes to make stuff happen.Further reading: Intel to open new ‘mega-lab’ and hire 350 more TicosIntel expands Costa Rica operationsOp-ed: Intel transforms 1,500 blue-collar jobs into 2,000+ white-collar positions Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Sri Lanka urged to halt harassment of media

first_img Sponsored Stories COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – An international human rights group has urged the Sri Lankan government to immediately end harassment of media outlets and journalists.Human Rights Watch says the government’s efforts to silence critical views have expanded since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended three years ago.The group’s statement comes after police raided and sealed an office that ran a news website and pro-opposition website on Friday. The editor and eight other people who were arrested were released on bail the next day. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Top Stories Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, said the raids were part of a broader effort to intimidate and harass all critical journalists.”Media rights groups say Sri Lanka is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

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Societe Generale 2nd quarter earns slump

first_imgPARIS (AP) – Societe Generale SA said Wednesday its net profit slumped sharply in the second quarter as the French bank continued its efforts to meet new international banking capital requirements.Societe Generale’s net profit fell to (EURO)433 million ($532 million) in the three months to June, down 42 percent from (EURO)747 million a year earlier.The bank, which gained notoriety as the victim of convicted fraudster Jerome Kerviel, says profit from corporate and investment banking plummeted more than 70 percent in the second quarter as the bank took losses disposing of (EURO)2.2 billion in collatoralized debt obligations and other risky, capital-intensive assets. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Comments   Share   In its statement Wednesday the bank warned that it expects business conditions to “remain uncertain and challenging over the next few quarters.”Earnings were also slammed by writedowns in some of the group’s international activities. It took a (EURO)200 million writedown against TCW, a California-based asset management firm Societe Generale acquired in 2001.The bank also took a (EURO)250 million writedown against its Russian retail bank unit Rosbank.The bank’s revenue slid in the second quarter, falling 3.6 percent to (EURO)6.3 billion. Stability in the bank’s core French retail banking arm offset declines in investment banking during the quarter.Societe Generale has been strengthening its capital base in line with new international requirements on the cushion banks must keep against the risk of investments going sour. The bank says it is on track to achieve a targeted capital ratio of over 9 percent, under new rules coming into force next year, by the end of 2013.The bank said it will be able to build this cushion through deleveraging and asset sales, and has pledged it would not need to raise funds through a capital increase.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Sponsored Stories How do cataracts affect your vision? Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Top Stories last_img read more

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Egypt newspaper censored over insult to president

first_img Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family It was not clear whether the paper was barred from publishing completely. Newspaper al-Masry al-Youm said authorities have removed al-Dustour from newsstands.The paper, a tabloid owned by a Christian businessman, has been fiercely critical of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood while showing strong support for the military council, which took power after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in last year’s uprising. Both Morsi and the military council are in midst of power struggle.Saturday’s edition featured a lengthy front-page article warning of a Brotherhood “emirate” seizing Egypt and calling on Egyptians to join ranks with the military to confront Islamists. The lawsuits also accuse the paper of inflammatory coverage of recent sectarian violence.Several days earlier, a TV network was ordered off the air over allegations it suggested the killing of Morsi. The network, el-Faraeen, broadcasts populist talk show host Tawfiq Okasha, a former Mubarak loyalist who regularly expresses enmity toward the revolution and the Muslim Brotherhood on his show.The Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s most influential Islamic political group, came under heavy criticism after its lawmakers, packed in the parliament’s upper house, moved to replace chief editors of Egypt’s state-run newspapers. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Patients with chronic pain give advice Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   On Thursday, journalists staged small protests and columnists left their columns blank in protest of attempts by the Brotherhood to control the papers instead of reforming them.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) CAIRO (AP) – An Egyptian court ordered the Saturday editions of a newspaper confiscated over allegations it insulted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi and instigated sectarian discord, Egypt’s official news agency said.Editions of Al-Dustour, a privately owned daily, were seized after several individuals filed lawsuits accusing it of “fueling sedition” and “harming the president through phrases and wording punishable by law,” MENA said. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

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Missing Caribbean passengers are found

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Four benefits of having a wireless security system Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share   FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique (AP) – It turns out that a motorboat reported missing in the eastern Caribbean wasn’t missing after all, officials said Monday.All six passengers of a boat traveling from the island of Dominica are safe and accounted for. They turned up Monday at a police station in the French island of Martinique to say they were fine.A police statement says the four men and two women left Dominica a day later then they originally planned because of the rough weather. They were originally due back Sunday and a coast guard search was launched when they didn’t turn up. Parents, stop beating yourself upcenter_img Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

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NATO head No Afghan deal means no troops past 14

first_img 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist BRUSSELS (AP) – If Afghan leaders and the White House can’t agree on a key security pact, the U.S.-led alliance will pull all of its troops and equipment out of Afghanistan by December, NATO’s secretary general said Wednesday.The announcement from Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the start of a NATO defense ministers meeting ratchets up the pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to strike a deal.On Tuesday, President Obama threatened to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 if the pact isn’t signed. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   ErrorOK ErrorOKThe U.S. and Afghanistan had agreed the details of a security pact last year, and the agreement was also endorsed by a council of 3,000 Afghan tribal elders known as the Loya Jirga. But Karzai caught Western officials off guard by then declaring he wanted his successor to sign the agreement.Without that agreement, Rasmussen said, forces from other alliance member nations cannot stay either. There are roughly 19,000 non-U.S. forces now in Afghanistan, along with 33,000 Americans.“Let me stress, this is not our preferred option,” Rasmussen said. “But these are the facts _ the facts that we need to take into account in our planning.”NATO’s preference is to remain and shift in 2015 to a mission of training, assisting and advising Afghan security forces. “But if we don’t have the legal framework in place, we will have to withdraw everything by the end of the year,” said Rasmussen.There was a note of exasperation in the normally composed Dane’s voice as he mentioned the “continued delays we have faced,” trying to secure a commitment from Afghan leaders.“We stand ready to establish the training mission after 2014,” he said. “But time is of the essence.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement In Afghanistan, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked whether there is a deadline for deciding whether any U.S. or coalition troops will remain after 2014.“I think the drop dead deadline – the answer will vary from coalition partner to coalition partner,” Dempsey said. He said that was the conversation he was certain U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the other ministers would be having in Brussels.“Each of those countries are likely to have a different answer to that question what’s the drop dead date,” Dempsey said.___Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

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Christchurch airport ceases operations after earthquake

first_imgChristchurch airport has ceased operations following an earthquake that has brought down the city’s electricity and collapsed several building and houses. The earthquake struck at 12:51pm New Zealand time and reached up to 6.3 magnitudes, the Herald Sun reported. According to the source tremors from the earthquake could be felt in Queenstown and Wellington. The city’s main hospital is also being evacuated as people prepare for severe aftershocks. The extent of the damage is not yet clear but buildings have collapsed onto the main streets and people could potentially be trapped inside buildings. Among the damaged structures include three IHG hotels Crowne Plaza Christchurch, Holiday Inn City Centre Christchurch and Holday Inn on Avon Christchurch. In a statement the hotel Group said its hotels experienced structural damage as a result of the quake and all staff and guests have been evacuated. “All three hotels are now closed until such time as a full damage assessment can be undertaken,” the statement read. While Peppers Clearwater Resort in Christchurch released a statement informing agents and travellers’ families that the resort has experienced no injuries and little structural damage. The statement said up to 105 guests and nine operational staff were on the property at the time of the airport. “Peppers is contacting guests with forward bookings and are helping these people make new travel arrangements,” the statement read. “Working phones are available at the property for guests to contact their loved ones.” The event has also caused damage to the city’s famous Cathedral as well as cracked roads and burst water pipes. Inside Christchurch Philip Gregan told AAP that the tremors were extremely violent.”I hate to think what it will be like when I get home.” “We’re all standing out on the street with sirens going off around us.“I want to get out of here.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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QF responds to changing market

first_imgQantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the decision to add up to 25,800 seats across the east coast per week was made out of a commitment to the airline’s customers and would enable the carrier to “respond to opportunities and changing market conditions”.Although making the announcement less than 24 hours after the airline cut back on its Northern Territory services, Mr Joyce said the carrier understood that maintaining customer satisfaction means ensuring a “strong domestic network”.“We know that network and frequency are vital to customer satisfaction,” he said.Yesterday the airline said it would add an extra 25,800 seats per week along the east coast with the addition of 11 flights between Sydney and Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane from 9 July and 23 August.Its low-cost subsidiary, Jetstar would also play a role in additional flights with 21 return services between Sydney and Melbourne from 16 August this year, seven return services between Sydney and Adelaide from 15 November this year, Sydney and Ballina-Byron as well as Sydney and the Gold Coast both from 18 April 2013 as well as three return Jetstar flights will also be added between Adelaide and Gold Coast from 18 April 2013 as well as four return flights between Newcastle and Gold Coast.“Qantas is increasing capacity and frequency on key business routes to provide greater flexibility for customers who prefer the benefits of travelling with a full service carrier,” Mr Joyce said.   “Jetstar is increasing capacity on key leisure routes, building on its tremendous success of offering low fares into holiday destinations like the Gold Coast. “We know from experience that increasing the number of low fares in these markets will stimulate new travel demand.”Meanwhile earlier this week Qantas announced it had cut NT services, a culling Tourism Minister Malarndirri described as a “disappointment”.Hoping to eradicate tourism loss, the Minister said in a statement that she would lead a delegation to meet with Tourism Australia and receive federal body input into stimulating traffic into Alice Springs. “Tourism nationally is the responsibility of Tourism Australia and we seek their urgent input into working with us on stimulating and marketing our regional tourism economy especially in Alice Springs,” Minister McCarthy said.”Alice Springs has been the subject of extremely negative publicity for some time now and this has placed great stress on its tourism industry and the image of tourism in the region.”Ms McCarthy added that was also attempting to organise an urgent meeting with Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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