Coco Capsule

first_imgIngredients for four servings:2 tablepoons of corn oil4-6 ears of corn stripped of their kernels1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, chopped1 teaspoon mild chile powder (Amount varies on personal taste. I use at least a tablespoon.)1 pint cherry tomatoes halved or quartered1 ripe, solid avocado, pitted, peeled, choppedJuice of 2 limes or more, to tasteSalt and pepper, to tasteFresh cilantroCheck the sweetness and tenderness of the corn. If it’s not sweet and tender, or if it’s a bit dehydrated, parboil for a few minutes in water with sugar. If the corn is sweet but not tender, omit the sugar. After removing the corn from the cob, but the oil in a large frying pan or wok and turn the heat to high. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the corn and toss until it browns slightly.Turn off the heat and stir in the onion, pepper, chile powder, salt and pepper. Cool for a few minutes and add the tomatoes. Add the lime juice to taste.Immediately before serving, add the diced avocado and pass around the cilantro as a garnish. You may also want to have additional limes to pass around. Running errands last week, I commented to a friend that Coco is so low-key during the summer that the most exciting thing going on was watching paint dry on the newly-painted signs. So this week I decided to do something different, and share with readers one of my favorite seasonal dishes: Corn Salad with Avocado.Experiment with and enjoy this thoroughly American dish, with hints of both the north and the south.  No related posts. Corn salad with avocado  -Kent Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Tamarindo Talk

first_imgNo related posts. Did you know that every Wednesday on the beach at Capitan Suizo, there is Mambo music to enjoy? And Friday, there’s a BBQ on the beach. Located on the north end of the Tamarindo Bay, it’s a lovely location for food and music. Call 2653-0075 for information and reservations.We welcome some new folks to town and wish them well on their endeavors. Michael Holly is the new owner of Nibbana Restaurant (2653-2222) and it’s still a fantastic, beachside location for sunset. Dragonfly (2653-1506) is under new management, operated now by Rana and Dario Notte.In other restaurant news, El Coconut is promoting two special nights. Wednesday is Ladies Lobster Night when women pay half-price. Fridays there is live acoustic music. For reservations or information, call 2653-0086.International Dental Specialists has opened a clinic in Centro Comercial Vistas, near Gallo, in Villareal. Staffed by specialists in all forms of dentistry, the clinic is open Mon.-Sat. from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.  Ellen Zoe Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Power outages landslides after strong Guatemala quake

first_imgRelated posts:Guatemala’s Relief Map: hands down the country’s best guide Award-winning documentary portrays a Guatemalan family’s struggle to bring a sister’s killer to justice Guatemala looks to Colombia’s success to overhaul police force Mayan-inspired time capsule buried in Guatemala GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala braced for more aftershocks Saturday, a day after a strong 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck the south of the country, leading to power outages and landslides.Officials said there were some two dozen aftershocks overnight, as they placed the nation on orange alert, one below the highest level red.The temblor caused cuts in power, interruptions in phone service and landslides, and was felt as far away as neighboring El Salvador and in southern Mexico.But there were no casualties reported from the quake, which according to US seismologists struck six kilometers (3.7 miles) from Pajapita, Guatemala at a depth of 67.7 kilometers at 0013 GMT Saturday.Southeastern Mexico was also jolted by at least three aftershocks, including one with a magnitude of 6.1 felt near Ciudad Hidalgo, in the state of Chiapas, close to the Guatemalan border.After the initial quake, residents had already evacuated their homes in several towns in the southern Mexican state while power was lost temporarily in Ciudad Hidalgo.The Environmental Observatory in San Salvador said the quake was centered on the coast of Guatemala and Mexico, measuring its strength slightly lower at 6.3 on the Richter scale.And the US Geological Survey said that the quake was just 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Suchiate, a municipality in the Mexican state of Chiapas, on the border with Guatemala.A second tremblor, measuring 5.4 in magnitude, occurred seven minutes later, according to the USGS, with its epicenter in the Pacific waters of Guatemala.Guatemalan President Otto Perez took to Twitter to say authorities were “conducting nationwide monitoring to assess the damage that may have been caused.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Chapos motorcycle freedom ride spurs doubts about kingpin jail

first_imgSee also: VIDEO: Hilarious parody of ‘El Chapo’ prison escapeMEXICO CITY — If Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s escape from prison has led Mexican officials to overhaul security at the facility to ensure various other drug kingpins don’t slip out, they’re doing a good job of denying it.Drastic measures are needed urgently at the Altiplano maximum-security prison because some of the country’s most notorious alleged and convicted drug-gang criminals are housed there, said Martín Barrón, a researcher at Inacipe, a Mexican criminology university.Guzmán, Mexico’s most infamous drug trafficker, slipped away through a hole in the floor of his cell’s shower into a tunnel almost a mile long that was equipped with a motorcycle on rails. While about three dozen prison executives and officers have been dismissed or questioned and seven arrested, top government officials insist that the prison meets international security standards. No physical changes to the facility have been announced.“They’re not admitting fault,” said Barrón, whose university is partly funded by the attorney general’s office. “Other inmates could find a way out.”The attorney general’s office declined to say whether the highest-profile prisoners would be transferred or considered for extradition. The U.S. government had sought Guzmán’s extradition, after some members of Congress said a Mexican facility was unlikely to keep him from breaking free. Guzmán escaped from another Mexican prison in 2001. A drainage tunnel in a house owned by fugitive drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, on July 18, 2015. One week after Guzmán escaped prison again, his legend has grown in his home region in northwestern Sinaloa state, where he is revered as a benevolent bandit despite his drug cartel’s murderous record. Fernando Brito/AFPAmong the kingpins still held at Altiplano, according to the government, are Servando “La Tuta” Gómez Martínez, leader of the Knights Templar gang; Mario Cardenas Guillén of the Gulf Cartel; and Edgar Valdéz Villarreal, alias La Barbie, of the Beltrán Leyva cartel.Local media have reported that Omar Trevino, a leader of the Zetas Cartel, is also an inmate there, and that his brother Miguel, the top chief of the most brutal drug gang, was scheduled to be transferred to the prison.The Altiplano is a “hornets’ nest of inmates that could just as well escape,” said Mike Vigil, a retired former head of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and author of the book DEAL. “The Mexican government will have to take a good look at securing the prison or building a new one,” since other Mexican jails are no more secure.Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong has said Mexico’s prison system needs an overhaul and that he would send proposals to Congress to do so.At the same time, he’s defended the 14-year-old Altiplano as being fully compliant with international prison standards.See also: How do ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s kids live? Follow them on Twitter Picture of the end of the tunnel through which Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escaped. Mario Vázquez/AFPGuzmán’s escape was “an unprecedented action that breaks all paradigms of security protocols of any jail in the world,” Osorio said at a press conference last week. “Because when I say it is certified, it has a certification just like many I can name in the U.S. and other countries. Exactly the same.”The news service Noticias MVS reported last week that an internal study in 2013 identified shortcomings and lapses at Altiplano, including surveillance cameras with improperly-set clocks. Some watchtowers were unstaffed, and detectors of prohibited particles were out of order. A separate report by the newspaper El Universal said that the prison was found to have too few personnel, and that many of them were promoted based on favoritism and not merit. The matters required “immediate attention,” according to El Universal.At a press conference last week, Osorio said that the concerns raised in the 2013 study had been addressed.The Interior Ministry declined to respond to requests for further comment on security at the Altiplano.The coordinator of Mexico’s federal prison system, Celina Oseguera, was dismissed following the escape, along with the warden of the Altiplano prison, which is about 50 miles west of Mexico City.The interim warden, Jaime Fernández, who took over on July 12, said he didn’t know enough about the jail to discuss any changes.On a guided visit last week to the Altiplano prison, reporters had to walk past about 20 security gates, some of them fitted with retinal and fingerprint scanners, to reach Guzmán’s cell.Inside the space, concrete walls partially block views of a toilet and shower contained within. Security-camera videos of Guzmán’s escape show him disappearing behind one of the walls into the shower — never to be seen again.In the end, he entered the tunnel, which was dug beneath the shower, through a 20-by-20-inch-square, 3-inch-thick slab of concrete that was cut out of the floor.At the press conference with Osorio last week, reporters asked whether the prison cells need to be reinforced. Osorio responded that the matter was under investigation.There are other concerns about the prison’s exterior security, according to security experts.Less than a mile from the prison gate is a construction site where workers are laying pipe for a major federal water project. The work has left miles of road covered in dirt and strewn with heavy machinery.The maximum-security prison should never have been built so close to a major water works project, and a nearby village has grown so much that it’s now encroaching on the jail, according to Alejandro Hope, a former Mexican intelligence officer. During the recent visit, a girl in pigtails was riding a tricycle near the prison entrance.Neighbors have told local press that the noise from the trench diggers helped mask the sound of Guzmán’s tunnel being constructed.“There are structural problems, and when the attention dies down, these problems will resurface,” said Hope, who now works as an editor at, an English-language news website specializing in Mexico. “Any additional escape from the prison would be catastrophic.”© 2015, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments Related posts:Military helicopter shot down as drug violence surges in western Mexico Mexico drug war shootout leaves dozens dead ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán and the Sinaloa cartel have growing ties to Costa Rica, authorities say Clash in El Chapo’s hometown leaves 2 dead in Mexicolast_img read more

What the US can learn from its Cuban immigration policy

first_imgRelated posts:PHOTOS: Cuba, US reopen embassies to end 54-year estrangement Obama promises human rights talk with Castro Cuba, Venezuela likely to overshadow Central American issues at Panama summit Obama to make historic visit to Cuba in March As a group, Cuban immigrants to the United States have been a great success. Their success has been because, like all immigrants, they come to the United States seeking opportunity. They work hard, seek education, take care of their families and while they assimilate as quickly as they can, they retain a remarkable pride of national origin. They live in Cuban neighborhoods, retain their Spanish fluency and concentrate in the State of Florida. In just one generation, they have produced a viable presidential candidate. Remarkable.The U.S. is in the throes of immigration reform, and we can learn a lot from our own experience with how we are treating the Cubans. A little history: Many Cuban migrants, especially the initial cohorts, came because of the change in government in 1959 would mean political persecution. Some refugees came out of fear of economic restrictions. The great majority of Cubans who’ve arrived since the mid-sixties would qualify as economic refugees. Some of course, were and are, ordinary criminals. As a result of the Cold War tactics of the United States, many Cubans served from the earliest days in the U.S. military and intelligence services. I suspect that most Cuban-Americans would agree – at least privately – with this characterization.But I want to remind you that as human beings Cubans are no more talented, civic-minded and disinclined towards crime than any other immigrant group to the United States. Cuban achievements occur in spite of the fact that they typically have lower English proficiency, lower family incomes, and lower educational attainment than other groups of immigrants. They are overwhelmingly people of color. But something happens to Cubans that is denied to every other ethnic group since the imposition of immigration quotas before and just after World War II. Young people from Cuba and Colombia are sworn in as United States citizens during a naturalization ceremony in Homestead, Florida, in February 2015. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFPCubans, even those who went first to Mexico in order to sneak across the border, are welcomed and supported with quick access to legal residence and citizenship. Those rights don’t just deliver the right to remain in the United States, they bestow access to the full panoply of social services available to every other U.S. citizen. If an undocumented Cuban shows up on land in the United States, “They get a work permit, social security card, public assistance for food and accommodations, Medicare if eligible or Medicaid. They are not, as refugees, put in jail until their case is decided, but immediately paroled, and after a year can apply for permanent residency (green card) and citizenship after 5 years. Children can go to school without fear of arrest.” For undocumented Cubans, “The treatment is 180 degrees different from others. …” Compared to any other immigrant group, legal or illegal, Cubans are mollycoddled.The result: Cubans have prospered, quickly becoming a viable, contributing part of the American nation. Big surprise.The current argument is to find a way to withdraw the special status of these now politically powerful voters. I am not taking sides in that fight. My purpose is to point out the elephant that no one is talking about. The continuing liberal treatment of these migrants has created what every reasonable U.S. citizen hopes will happen to our immigrants: They quickly succeed.Withdrawing privileges from Cubans will be difficult, as the (largest) swing state of Florida has become in effect, a gerrymandered district of Cuban sentiment and support. Oddly, our political inability to end the special treatment of Cuban migrants – about half of whom these days are undocumented – could have an opposite effect. I suggest that we look at immigration reform with an eye to what we can learn from our “Cuban immigration policy.” That policy is, succinctly put: Once they are here, we welcome the immigrants into the economy and the culture. They succeed, and so does the country.Michael Crump is a retired former professor, former human resources consultant and former lot-of-things. He lives on, and writes from, a small coffee farm in Turrubares. His novels, “Candyman’s War” and “The Oligarch,” are set during the Guatemalan civil war. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Robbery could have been motive behind killing of three foreigners in December

first_imgA Dutch man, his wife and an employee who were found dead in January at the couple’s home near Sardinal, Puntarenas may have been murdered in a robbery gone bad, Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) subdirector Luís Ángel Ávila said Thursday.Johannes “Hans” Snelders of Holland, his wife Sita Dhawtal of Suriname and Rivar Avenec Montalbán of Nicaragua were the victims of the triple homicide that is believed to have occurred at the end of last December on Finca La Flecha.Snelders was president of the company Ganadera La Flecha Pura Vida, S.A., which owned the plantation.“The strongest hypothesis that we’ve had since the beginning is that this was a robbery,” Ávila said. “It’s an extensive plantation with very few neighbors and [we think] the motive was to rob them but when things went wrong it ended in homicide.”Investigators do not have any suspects but believe there was enough evidence left on the scene and with the subsequent autopsy reports to lead to one or more suspects, Ávila said.The OIJ subdirector said Snelders and Dhawtal had a timber business focused on growing trees and selling wood. Snelders established a corporation for the Sardinal farm in 2007 and had been a temporary resident of Costa Rica since 2013.The website for Ganadera La Flecha suggests that several hundred people, mostly from Holland and Belgium, owned lots on the plantation, which totals some 400 hectares.Ferdinand Schellinkhout, an investigator from Holland who has come to Costa Rica to assist authorities here, said he has been working homicide investigations for more than 20 years and is satisfied with the job that OIJ is doing.Schellinkout said he will speak to relatives of the deceased on Friday to gather more information.Ávila said, “His visit is very important to allow us to know the family’s relatives because the couple didn’t have any relatives living here in Costa Rica. They seem to have been practically alone here in the country but they were working a lot with different types of people at the farm.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Arrests made in case of murdered Dutch couple and laborer Love triangle turned deadly in case of slain US-Costa Rica family Michigan fugitive John Saatio to be extradited Saturday UPDATE: Suspect in slaying of US-Costa Rican family captured in Nicaragualast_img read more

Cambiando paradigmas en La Carpio por medio del voluntariado

first_imgRelated posts:La Carpio’s cultural rebellion Conozca a Alicia Avilés, la líder inmigrante y perseverante del crecimiento cultural en La Carpio La rebeldía cultural de La Carpio Meet Alicia Avilés, the perseverant immigrant leader of La Carpio’s cultural growth At the request of La Carpio community leaders, we are presenting this series in translation for Spanish-language readers. Read the original English series, which we published in January, here.Segunda parte en una serie de cuatro artículos. Lea la primera parte aquí y la segunda, una entrevista con la líder comunitaria Alicia Avilés, aquí.¿Es posible que una sola organización pueda transformar una de las comunidades más peligrosas de Costa Rica? Para muchos costarricenses La Carpio, un precario ubicado en La Uruca, San José, es sinónimo de violencia y crimen. Sin embargo, en el 2011 Alicia Avilés y Maris Stella Fernández se propusieron cambiar este estigma al fundar el Sistema Integral de Formación Artística para la Inclusión Social (SIFAIS). La organización sin fines de lucro busca promover el crecimiento cultural del barrio marginal. En esta serie de cuatro artículos, The Tico Times pretende mostrar como este modelo educativo no tradicional está desafiando los estigmas para ayudar a la comunidad a encontrar un mejor futuro. Lea la primera parte aquí y la segunda, aquí.Por medio del trabajo duro y una combinación de confianza, constancia, ternura y “locura positiva,” los líderes y participantes del Sistema Integral de Formación Artística para la Inclusión Social (SIFAIS) están reconstruyendo La Carpio con base en la educación cultural.Uno de los elementos clave para la construcción sociocultural de la comunidad son los voluntarios. Ellos, junto a los residentes de La Carpio, son el corazón y base fundamental del programa.Desde el primer día del 2011, SIFAIS ha estado trabajando con un variado grupo de profesionales que quieren compartir su conocimiento con La Carpio.La comunidad tiene una población aproximada de 51,000 personas. A la fecha, hay un total de 137 voluntarios y 350 colaboradores ayudando a 950 miembros de la comunidad que se han inscrito en clases y talleres de música, deporte y educación general impartidas por SIFAIS.Ana Victoria Carrillo y Sandra González son dos de los 137 voluntarios que han ayudado a la comunidad. Carrillo es una universitaria que actualmente estudia fotografía y biología con un enfoque en desarrollo sostenible. González trabaja como administradora de negocios en el departamento de finanzas de una compañía transnacional. Ambas comenzaron como asistentes voluntarias enseñando en SIFAIS.Carrillo ha enseñado arte y baile contemporáneo, mientras que González ha impartido lecciones básicas sobre lectura musical y solfeo a niños de entre cuatro y ocho años.Lea también: Conozca a Alicia Avilés, la líder inmigrante y perseverante del crecimiento cultural en La Carpio“Tengo tres años de estar enseñando en La Carpio”, González dijo a The Tico Times. “Empecé como asistente de una amiga que toca el violín, pero ella se fue a vivir a Singapur por dos años. Ella me enseñó las bases de solfeo, entonces yo estaba capacitada para también enseñarle a los niños cómo leer las notas musicales, qué es un pentagrama y la duración de las notas.“Durante los últimos tres años he estado yendo todos los sábados a La Carpio y eso niños me reciben con los brazos abiertos y una sonrisa”, dijo González. Sandra González (muchacha en camisa blanca) enseña a los niños las bases de solfeo todos los sábados en La Cueva de Luz. (Cortesía Sandra González)Estos esfuerzos de los voluntarios han comenzado a cambiar paradigmas en una comunidad donde las generaciones más jóvenes están “predestinadas” a repetir el ciclo de la pobreza. SIFAIS les brinda una oportunidad a los jóvenes para fijarse nuevas metas y esforzarse por mejorar.“Me tocó un niño, al puro principio, que se llama Steven, que tenía 4 años cuando empezó con nosotros”, recordó González. “Le costaba un montón las notas, pero su mamá siempre llegaba con él y estudiaba con él en la casa. Se convirtió en el niño que llegaba y se lo sabía todo. Al día de hoy el niño ya es violinista. Ya toca el violín con 7 años, y es una belleza verlo con su violín que anda para arriba y para abajo guindado en la espalda. Ahora él tiene un futuro bastante distinto al que tenía escrito porque le regalamos la pasión de la música.“Definitivamente nosotros llegamos a romper ciclos ahí en donde ‘mi abuelita era una persona que pedía en la calle, mi papá es guarda en un lugar de riesgo y, pues, yo voy a ser guarda en algún otro lado porque es lo que se me permite’. Cuando se salen del colegio ya no van a bachillerato porque necesitan ir a trabajar, entonces ellos piensan que esa es la vida que ellos tienen. Su destino está escrito de acuerdo al ciclo que ellos están viviendo y viene SIFAIS y da formación artística donde rompe ese ciclo. Es ahí donde el niño decide que debe terminar el colegio para poder ir a la universidad y complementarlo con clases de violín. Los mismos chicos lo dicen ahí: ‘se cambió el sonido de disparos y discusiones a violines, trompetas y tambores’”, González dijo a The Tico Times.Lea también: Reconstruyendo la comunidad de La Carpio por medio de la educación culturalAna Victoria Carrillo dice que sus propias experiencias como voluntaria le han mostrado que el cambio de mentalidad y actitud ha desarrollado la dignidad de los residente de La Carpio. Ana Victoria Carrillo ha sido parte del voluntariado de SIFAIS desde el principio en el 2011. (Cortesía Ana Victoria Carrillo)“Todas estas actividades culturales no solo les enseña a tener amor hacia lo que hacen, sino que también les enseña a ser ellos mismos. Les sube mucho el autoestima porque encuentran una pasión y esa pasión les ayuda a olvidar por un momento esa realidad no tan bonita en la que viven”, dijo Carrillo. “Empiezan a tener esperanza; tener energía; tener ganas de vivir, seguir y realmente experimentar la vida que es una locura.”Esta loca pasión a la cual Carrillo se refiere se ha ido desarrollando rápidamente en el espíritu jovial de Brandon Jiménez.Jiménez es un muchacho de 16 años de La Carpio que actualmente cursa el undécimo año en el Liceo de Costa Rica. Disfruta tocar la flauta traversa con la orquesta sinfónica de La Carpio y practica judo en La Cueva de Luz. El ha participado en varios talleres y clases brindadas por SIFAIS desde que tenía doce años.“Uno pasa mucho tiempo con los compañeros y amigos. Esto me ha ayudado a conocer gente nueva, convertirme en mejor músico y poder viajar a diferentes lugares en Costa Rica”,  Jiménez comentó a The Tico Times.Durante los últimos cuatro años, Jiménez ha asistido a SIFAIS y ha notado el cambio que la organización ha creado en la comunidad. Brando Jiménez (azul) compitió en un torneo de judo en el BN Arenas. (Cortesía Brandon Jiménez)“Antes había mucha gente que se paraba en las esquinas a asaltar y robar a la gente. Desde que llegó SIFAIS las personas cambiaron y empezaron a ir a clases. Ya no hay tanta delincuencia como antes y en cuatro años se ha ido desapareciendo”, dijo Jiménez.Jiménez se ha adaptado a la disciplina constante que se requiere tanto para tocar la flauta traversa como para practicar el judo. Esto también le ha permitido apreciar el tiempo que los voluntarios dedican a la comunidad.“Aprendí que se puede ayudar a los demás por medio del arte, y los voluntarios me mostraron que yo puedo enseñar a otros a tocar un instrumento y a practicar deportes. Los voluntarios quieren que uno aprenda para que uno les enseñe a los demás y ser constante”, explicó Jiménez. A Brandon Jiménez le encanta tocar la flauta traversa y por medio de ello ha desarrollado la disciplina por la constante práctica. (Cortesía Brandon Jiménez)Entonces, ¿ha sido exitoso el SIFAIS en su propósito de ayudar a los jóvenes a fijarse grandes metas en sus vidas?Aquí está una respuesta: Jiménez sueña con algún día convertirse en ingeniero o arquitecto, continuar tocando la flauta traversa para ser un mejor músico y poder competir en los Juegos Olímpicos.En nuestro siguiente y último artículo de la serie, conozca cómo SIFAIS y La Carpio han evolucionado y se están preparando para el futuro. 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Baltic activists parade for gay lesbian rights

first_imgRIGA, Latvia (AP) – Several hundred activists from the Baltic states and neighboring countries braved rain and hail to participate in an annual parade in defense of gay and lesbian rights in Latvia.The march took place in a commercial district in downtown Riga, Latvia’s capital, amid heavy police presence. Previous gay pride parades in the Baltics have been marred by violence on the part of protesters.U.S. diplomats who took part in the Saturday event stressed the fundamental importance of equal rights and freedom of expression and urged participants to keep battling for their cause. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Like other former Soviet republics, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have largely proven to be intolerant toward gays and lesbians despite having joined the European Union in 2004.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories center_img Comments   Share   Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

Signs of hope in a former Baghdad killing field

first_img Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Azamiyah residents complain that security forces conduct frequent arrest sweeps. They believe Sunni applicants are not given a fair chance in public sector hiring and that municipal services are even worse in their neighborhood than elsewhere in Baghdad.“I want to stay in my country, but the future is uncertain because we cannot see a ray of hope,” said Hamid al-Azami, 45, a doctoral student in Islamic studies who also works as a barber in a narrow stall in the open-air market outside the Abu Hanifa mosque.Lt. Gen. Hassan Baidani, a top Baghdad security official, denied that troops are singling out Azamiyah and said about half the checkpoints would be removed later this month, after an important Shiite religious holiday. Mohammed Hashim, a city spokesman, said services are bad all over Baghdad, not just in Sunni areas. Since the U.S.-led invasion, Iraqis have endured daily power cuts.Azamiyah residents reserve some of their greatest bitterness for the United States.Mohammed, the local council member, said he bluntly told U.S. officials during a trip by an Azamiyah delegation to Washington in 2008 that “you have destroyed the country and people hate you.” During the sectarian fighting of 2005-2007, the Sunni enclave and its outskirts became one of the main battle grounds for Sunni and Shiite death squads.Ashreen Street in Azamiyah, close to the center, soon earned the nickname “Street of Death” because of the large number of bodies found there _ most shot in the head execution-style, but others with signs of torture, such as nails driven through victims’ limbs. Shops opened only for a couple of hours a day, and frightened residents sought refuge in their homes well before nightfall.Maj. Michael Baka, who commanded Charlie Company, an infantry unit assigned to Azamiyah, said that on his very first patrol in August 2006, he found a dead man in a trash pile. On a U.S. military map that tracked where bodies were found, “my sector just blew up like a light,” he said by phone from Afghanistan, his current posting. “There were dots everywhere.”Mohammed, the local council member, said about 1,000 Azamiyah residents have been killed since 2003 and that some 5,000 fled, including 2,000 Shiites and 3,000 Sunnis. About half the Shiites have since returned, while the vast majority of Sunni refugees _ generally those who were better off and settled in other countries _ remain in exile. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Ahmed Mohammed, a 39-year-old real estate agent, fled with his wife and three children to Egypt in 2006, after he was threatened by insurgents for business ties with Americans. A Sunni, he returned to Azamiyah for work in 2009 after he ran out of money, but keeps his family in Egypt.“There is not a single reason that makes me optimistic about the future,” he said. “There are no services and risks are high.Amer Hasnawi, a Shiite, left Azamiyah in 2006, afraid to get caught by militiamen, even though he protectively carried both Shiite and Sunni IDs. “My Sunni neighbors were urging me not to leave,” said the 39-year-old furniture salesman and father of two. “I told them, `You are not going to protect me when the gunmen come to me at night or if I am arrested while walking in the street.’ “He returned in late 2007, to a warm welcome from his Sunni neighbors, and said the situation has improved dramatically. “Now there is a kind of coexistence,” he said. “People discovered in the end that killings will not solve their problems.”Across Baghdad, the level of violence has dropped considerably in recent years, though insurgents from time to time still target religious sites, government officials and members of the security forces in bombings and shootings. Earlier this week, 23 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside the Shiite Endowment, the office running Iraq’s Shiite religious and cultural sites. Now the glass-fronted five-story MaxiMall department store stays open as late as midnight, and Sunnis and Shiites shop side by side. Azamiyah is overwhelmingly Sunni, but salespeople say they get many customers from surrounding Shiite areas, drawn by colorful displays and air conditioning that offers a welcome relief from Baghdad’s dusty heat.Multilevel shopping centers are still rare in Baghdad, and the $3 million investment by the Turkish owners of MaxiMall, which opened in April, is seen as a show of confidence in Azamiyah’s future.“The terrorists have failed, and Baghdad is turning into a city of life instead of being a city of death,” said Umm Zaid, 45, browsing through the store with three children in tow. “It is no longer a risk to take my kids to the streets and shops.”But many fear the calm won’t last.Sunnis, though a minority in Iraq, were the dominant group under toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni. Now they feel vulnerable to the whims of the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been accused of stoking sectarian tensions by sidelining Sunni and Kurdish coalition partners.As a former stronghold of support for Saddam and a center of Sunni pride, Azamiyah feels particularly exposed, said Daoud Mohammed, a local member of the Sunni local council. “Azamiyah will be a target and will move backward” if sectarian violence resumes, he said. “But if the political problem is solved, Azamiyah will witness a quick development.” Still, residents said American soldiers generally made an effort to spare neighborhood’s civilians, could be reasoned with and contributed to the gradual security improvement since 2008. U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in December.Maj. Cecil Strickland, who took command of Charlie Company in March 2007, said he believes the unit, which lost 13 soldiers over 15 months, served as a catalyst for the turnaround.“I think we did not waste our time,” he said in a phone interview from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Even then, he said, Azamiyah was not without hope. “I would like to think that some of that hope has come to fruition,” he said.___Associated Press writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad and Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey contributed reporting.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Quick workouts for men Comments   Share   Associated PressBAGHDAD (AP) – For residents of Azamiyah, once one of Baghdad’s most violent neighborhoods, the opening of a department store selling party dresses, imported men’s suits and designer label perfumes is a sign that a better future could lie ahead.Just five years ago, Azamiyah was a terrifying place. Bodies of Shiites and Sunnis butchered in sectarian killings turned up almost daily, dumped on sidewalks or in trash piles, earning one street the name “Street of Death.” Fearful residents huddled at home. A U.S. infantry company on patrol here lost 13 men to snipers and roadside bombs during the bloodiest period of 2006 and 2007. The heavy presence of the Iraqi army is seen as a particular provocation in Azamiyah. The neighborhood is cut off from the rest of Baghdad by a loop of the Tigris River and a 12-foot-high (4-meter) wall of cement slabs erected by U.S. troops in 2007.Five years later, army checkpoints control movement in and out of the neighborhood, with lines of cars backing up even in off-hours. Coils of barbed wire and large cement blocs close some streets. Soldiers in Humvees monitor potential hotspots, such as the Abu Hanifa mosque, perhaps the most important Sunni shrine in Iraq and a past hub for insurgents.During Saddam’s rule, middle-class Azamiyah was famous for its barbecue restaurants that drew Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds alike for late-night feasts of skewered lamb. The Abu Hanifa mosque was a regionally renowned center of Sunni learning and holds the remains of a revered Sunni scholar. Members of the Hashemite dynasty that briefly ruled Iraq are buried in a mausoleum on the edge of Azamiyah.On April 9, 2003, when most of Baghdad had already fallen to American troops, Saddam chose Azamiyah for his last public appearance, climbing on top of a car to exhort dozens of supporters to keep fighting the invaders before he slipped into hiding. The neighborhood fell quickly, but only after a fierce battle, and eventually turned into a base for al-Qaida-led insurgents. How men can have a healthy 2019 Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familylast_img

Paralympic flames lit on UK mountains

first_imgLONDON (AP) – Climbers have scaled U.K. mountaintops to ignite the flames that will light the Paralympics torch.Four groups of climbers, made up of disabled and non-disabled volunteers, climbed the highest peaks in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on Wednesday.On reaching the summits, they struck metal against rough steel to create sparks and ignite the flames which were then put in miners’ lanterns and carried down on foot. The flames will visit the U.K.’s capital cities before uniting in a special ceremony in Stoke Mandeville. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img At the end of the ceremony, the 24-hour overnight relay route will see the Paralympic Flame carried 92 miles (148 kilometers) to the Olympic Stadium to officially open the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which begin Aug. 29.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologistlast_img read more

Zimbabwes white minister Racist insults persist

first_imgAssociated PressHARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) – Zimbabwe’s only white government minister has said racial slurs against whites at the highest political level continue to show “a gross level of intolerance” in the southern African nation.Education Minister David Coltart said if he made similar insults about blacks he would “rightly be branded as a sympathizer of the Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan.” Ministerial colleagues sometimes seemed to forget he was in the same room when they made “shocking” remarks about whites, even at Cabinet meetings, he said on his Facebook page.Debate on lingering prejudices in Zimbabwe has raged since allegations of racism in soccer have reemerged in Europe.A weekly newspaper run by loyalists of President Robert Mugabe charged Friday that racism by whites has endured three decades since the end of colonial-era rule.The Patriot newspaper said since independence in 1980 Zimbabweans have been giving each other “plastic smiles” that tried to conceal the deeply-rooted brutality of past white rule. It said the tiny white minority of about 30,000 does not want to mix with blacks or respect the majority population of 12 million people.It said racial polarization was shown at a writers’ gathering in Harare last month addressed by white and black best-selling authors. It said Alexandra Fuller, author of “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight,” an account of growing up as a white child in colonial times, dodged questions on “white assumptions” about black Africans.Coltart, a lawyer, longtime human rights activist and a politician of the former opposition now in the coalition government, said white attitudes had often been hardened by racist hate speech in media controlled by Mugabe loyalists and “ethnic cleansing” by Mugabe militants since 2000, the start of an often violent campaign to seize thousands of white-owned commercial farms and a black empowerment program to take control of 51 percent of white and foreign-owned businesses. Parents, stop beating yourself up Comments   Share   Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories That “entrenched bitterness in the minds of many whites,” Coltart said.He said he was glad the “important debate” was now being aired openly.In 1980, after a guerrilla war swept him to power, Mugabe announced a policy of reconciliation toward his former white foes and said he would allow the descendants of British settlers to keep their place in the sun.Coltart noted no independent truth commission was held in Zimbabwe after white rule ended and so whites never had to face up to the realities of the past. In neighboring South Africa, many apartheid era crimes were investigated and heard by a truth and reconciliation commission.Coltart said “deeply offensive” generalizations on race were frequently used by all groups in Zimbabwe.“As always, it is wrong to paint any race or ethnic group with a single, broad brush. There are remarkable white people out there who are deeply committed to the concept of a multiracial, truly democratic Zimbabwe,” he said.“Sadly, we all make generalizations which would be unacceptable in all genuine democracies,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Egypt expels Turkish ambassador scales back ties

first_img The vital role family plays in society Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility CAIRO (AP) – Egypt downgraded diplomatic relations Saturday with Turkey and expelled its ambassador from Cairo, a sharp escalation in tensions between the two countries that mounted after a military coup ousted the country’s Islamist president this summer.In a quick reaction, Turkey reciprocated by declaring the Egyptian ambassador “persona non grata” and downgrading relations with Egypt to the same level. Egypt’s ambassador hadn’t been in the country since August over the turmoil. Comments   Share   Turkey’s Islamic-rooted ruling party strongly backed toppled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi _ a leading figure in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood _ as an example for the Arab world of a democratically elected Islamist leader. Turkey criticized his popularly backed July 3 overthrow by Egypt’s military, while also criticizing the West for what it deemed as a weak response to the coup.Turkey and Egypt previously recalled their ambassadors in August after Turkey condemned the ouster and a subsequent bloody crackdown on pro-Morsi protests. Turkey’s ambassador returned weeks later, but Egypt declined to return its envoy to Ankara.Saturday’s decision comes after Erdogan renewed his criticism of Egypt’s new leaders, dismissing the trial of Morsi on charges of inciting murder of his opponents while in office and describing the situation in Egypt as a “humanitarian drama.” He had previously called for the trial of Egypt’s new leaders for the crackdown.At a speech Saturday, Erdogan made the four-finger gesture that refers to a sit-in near a mosque in Cairo where a bloody security crackdown killed hundreds of Morsi supporters in a show of solidarity with Islamists. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Sponsored Stories Saturday’s decisions, which fall short of closing diplomatic missions in the two countries, are a dramatic reversal of the warming relations between the two countries over the past year.Egypt’s interim government vehemently has protested remarks by Turkish leaders criticizing the popularly backed military coup that toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. The decision Saturday followed another critical comment by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday.Speaking to reporters in the Black Sea coastal city of Trabzon, Erdogan appeared unfazed by the diplomatic snub. He said there would be no shift in his position toward Egypt’s new rulers.“I will never have respect for those who come to power through coups,” Erdogan said Saturday.Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said it considered the Turkish envoy “persona non grata” and asked him to leave the country. The ministry said it will scale back its diplomatic relations with Turkey to the level of charge d’affaires.“This (Turkish) leadership has persisted in its unacceptable and unjustified positions by trying to turn the international community against Egyptian interests and … by making statements that can only be described as an offense to the popular will,” the Foreign Ministry statement said. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour has said that Turkey should have relations with “Egypt and its people _ and not with leaders of a certain group.”Egyptian officials and media have repeatedly accused Muslim Brotherhood leaders of meeting in Turkey to plan protests and other ways to undermine the new government in Cairo.On Saturday, the independent Egyptian daily newspaper al-Watan reported on its front page that the international members of the Muslim Brotherhood continued “their plotting” against Egypt in a meeting in Istanbul. The paper was referring to a human rights conference in which participants said they will take legal actions against Egypt’s new leaders for what it said were “massacres” against supporters of Morsi.___Frazer reported from Ankara, Turkey. Associated Press writer Desmond Butler in Istanbul contributed to the report.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Check your body, save your life A Turkish ministry statement said Egypt’s interim government, “which came to power in exceptional circumstances,” was responsible for the deteriorating relations.“The deep-rooted ties and bonds of brotherhood between the people of Turkey and Egypt will remain,” the statement said. “We hope that stability and democracy in Egypt is restored as soon as possible and that relations between the two countries are normalized.”Turkish President Abdullah Gul told reporters that he hoped the two country’s relations “will be restored soon.” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he believed ties would be restored “once a government elected by the will of the people” comes to power in Egypt.Since Egypt’s 2011 uprising against Morsi’s predecessor, autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Turkey sought to strengthen ties with the country’s new political order. The Turkish president was the first to visit Egypt after the fall of Mubarak in February 2011. Trade between the two countries increased by about 27 percent in the following year to $3.8 billion in the first nine months of 2012. Turkey also increased its investment in Egypt and currently has some 26 development projects in Egypt.last_img read more

Mexican politician seeks his double through contest

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in society Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Critics have said Tronco Gomez is just trying to get attention to eventually run for governor.“I am not looking for the governorship. I believe the governorship is looking for me,” he said.If it does come to a campaign, Tronco Gomez said his double will not campaign in his place, but he won’t have a problem using the double if he brings in more votes.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican state lawmaker has launched a contest to find a body double that would allow him to be in two places at once and take care of his “many obligations.”Renato Tronco Gomez, an independent deputy in the eastern state of Veracruz, said Friday his novel idea will help his constituents.The winner will have to study the way he speaks and carry himself appropriately, but some things like attending the state legislature and sleeping with his wife will be off limits, Tronco Gomez said. “I am not trying to fool anyone because my double will always identify himself as my double,” he said. “If singers and comedians do it, why not?”“I used to send representatives to events I couldn’t attend and the idea of a double emerged two years ago as a joke,” he added, saying eventually people told him to try it.The contest is open until the end of May through his Facebook page. A crucial vote for the winner will come from Tronco Gomez’s wife. “She knows me inside and out,” he said.Tronco Gomez had been unknown outside Veracruz before the contest, though he had served as a mayor and a local deputy.The winner will get $2,700 and extensive training in how to speak and act like Tronco Gomez. Four people have applied so far, including a Veracruz native living in the United States.Tronco Gomez will pay the winner as an assistant with money he receives for that purpose as a deputy. The double will also have to sign an agreement limiting what he can do.“My double will not be able to attend sessions of parliament, because (you vote) with your fingerprint and I’m not going to cut off my finger to give it to my double,” he said. “There is going to be an agreement that he can’t sleep with my wife, nor live in my house, nor be father to my children.” 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Anger grows over twospeed Poland fueling political shift

first_img Comments   Share   PIONKI, Poland (AP) — Everybody in Poland seems to be against them now: temporary contracts that offer few benefits to their workers, popularly known as “junk contracts.”Until recently it was mainly trade unions and the political opposition that opposed them. Now even the pro-market government is vowing to limit their use as it faces a rising wave of voter anger that seems likely to end its eight years of rule in October elections. Michal Nowocien, 22, has worked on a “junk contract” at a chocolate factory, signing a new contract from month to month and not getting any paid vacation. He was among those who supported Duda.“Civic Platform hasn’t helped us here,” he said from his hometown of Pionki, a small town of 20,000 where low wages and bleak job prospects have driven many to either accept insecure work conditions or flee to Western Europe. He now works on a temporary contract as a welder.The presidency is largely symbolic. But a more important parliamentary election comes in October, and polls suggest that the pro-market Civic Platform, which has ruled for eight years, faces another stinging defeat. Law and Justice has surged ahead with vows to help the poor with more state intervention in the economy.A second win by Law and Justice would mark a significant political shift in Poland, the EU’s sixth-largest economy. The party vows to impose higher taxes on the country’s mostly foreign-owned banks and large retailers.Polish government statistics show that about 1.4 million people are on the temporary contracts with limited benefits, up from about half a million five years ago. Separate EU statistics show that Poland has a larger share of its workforce on temporary contracts than any of the other 27 member states, at 28 percent in 2014. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall In this July 24, 2015 photo, Radek Ciszewski, left, and Marek Bogacki, discuss how far Poland has come since throwing off communism 26 years ago, in Warsaw, Poland. Ciszewki, a consultant, and Bogacki, a director at an insurance company, are among the Poles are doing well thanks to a quarter century of constant economic growth. However, there are still many Poles who remain trapped in low wages and insecure job conditions, creating social frustration that has come to the surface in a year of political elections. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)n Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories center_img Poland is the European Union member state with the highest number of workers on some form of a temporary contract, 28 percent. It is creating a precarious existence for many Poles and deepening divisions between the haves and have-nots in a post-communist country that is otherwise witnessing impressive economic growth.The “junk contracts” were originally intended to give flexibility to artists or other professionals working for multiple employers. They lack many of the guarantees of regular employment contracts in Poland, like paid vacation, employer contributions into the national health and pension funds, and protection from being fired at short notice.“People are really feeling this insecurity on the labor market,” said Dominik Owczarek, an analyst at the Institute of Public Affairs in Warsaw. “Everywhere now there are young people employed on temporary contracts with low pay and high doses of uncertainty, but they make up a big part of the society in Poland.”The frustration of people on such contracts or who otherwise feel left out the Polish economic miracle is suddenly on the political agenda, and is seen as a major reason for the surprise victory of nationalist Andrzej Duda — of the euroskeptic Law and Justice Party — in May presidential elections over a widely favored incumbent from the ruling Civic Platform. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “In the time of transformation this flexibility helped us to attract investors and fight high unemployment,” Gazeta Wyborcza wrote. “At the same time it has brought terrible social consequences.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “I work on one, and I love it,” said Radek Ciszewski, a consultant who benefits from the flexibility of temporary contracts. But critics say the contracts are being abused by employers. Often, people who are essentially full-time, long-term workers are forced to sign new contracts each month.Workers going month-to-month on temporary contracts rarely qualify for mortgages, and insecurity is keeping some from starting families. That, in turn, threatens to exacerbate the demographic time bomb of Poland’s falling birth rate, one of the lowest in Europe at 1.3 babies per woman. New legislation effective next year will limit the use of these contracts, but Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz has vowed to restrict them further as she struggles for political survival.Despite the government promises, a state auditing body revealed recently that there are government ministries where nearly half of the workforce is employed on the “junk contracts.” The one with the most, the Culture Ministry, defends itself by saying it often needs the expertise of outside consultants.Even the country’s main daily paper, Gazeta Wyborcza, which played an important role supporting the transition to a market economy, says the junk contracts represent a deregulated form of capitalism that has gone too far. The paper launched a campaign against them on July 20, saying “they have started to demolish our labor market.” Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Parents, stop beating yourself uplast_img read more

NZ urges Antarctica to get tough on tourist ships

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L New Zealand is joining the fight to create more stringent rules for tourist ships visiting Antarctica, officials saying such rules are needed to prevent a disaster.New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully told reporters this week that he believed there would be a serious maritime casualty involving a tourist vessel in Antarctica if action was not taken.He added that there could be a humanitarian and environmental disaster, pointing to the Canadian-owned Explorer which sank in 2007 after it hit an iceberg.McCully conveyed this message to delegates last week in Wellington during a three-day meeting which welcomed 80 experts from the 47 Antarctic Treaty countries.”We were lucky. No one was lost in that incident, but the fact that there have not been more serious consequences owes more to good luck than good management,” he said in a speech.”Clearly, we are on borrowed time.”The meeting was aimed at developing new regulations for tourist ships including recommendations on the types of ships that can be used in Antarctic waters and whether the use of heavy fuel oil should be banned. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=ada84479″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

Cardiff Castle Shortlisted for Industry Awards

first_imgCardiff Castle has been shortlisted in the prestigious 2010 Group Travel Awards for the categories of Best Venue offering Guided Tours and Best On-line Information.The Group Travel Awards represents the Group Travel Organisers Association, a leading body in the travel trade within the UK. Voting took place during the winter by their members and the votes have now been counted to give the shortlists in each of the 26 categories.The category for Best Venue offering Guided Tours is closely fought, with other attractions in the shortlist being BBC Television Centre, Black Country Living Museum, City and Village Tours of London, The National Trust, Blue Badge Guides and St. Paul’s Cathedral.Guided tours at Cardiff Castle have been the highlight of a visit for many years. All the guides are passionate about the site and many have worked at the castle for years, unable to drag themselves away from such a wonderful venue. The tours take visitors through the spectacular apartments of the castle, designed in the Gothic Revival style by William Burges in the 19th century.Castle Manager, Kevin Burt, explains, “We are delighted to be shortlisted for these awards, especially to be included in 2 categories, not just one. We have always known that our guided tours are the highlight for many castle visitors, and this is testament to the hard work and dedication of our team of guides.”Nigel Howells, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said “The Council’s aim is to make Cardiff Castle a world-class visitor attraction and to be shortlisted in these awards is great news. It demonstrates that the high quality visitor experience is appreciated by professionals in the industry.”The winners in each category will be announced at an awards ceremony on the night of Friday 11th June. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = Cardiff Castlelast_img read more

Search Begins for Australias Favourite Event

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> The producers of the Australian Event Awards announced a new initiative that will promote the Australian event industry to the wider community and highlight the important role that events play in the Australian way of life.Events across Australia now have the opportunity to be named Australia’s Favourite Event.  All types of events including music festivals, sporting events, community events, cultural and commemorative events will compete for public votes with the winner announced at the Australian Event Awards presentation in October.This new initiative complements and builds on the existing Australian Event Awards program according to Jeremy Miller, Executive Producer of the Awards. “The Australian Event Awards is a search for innovation and excellence in events, judged by a panel of industry experts.  Australia’s Favourite Event is the public’s chance to name their most popular event, the event that engages them, that earns their devotion and support.  We’re excited to hear what the public have to say about the events that they love,” Miller said.Entrants in the Australian Event Awards will access a simple, ‘one click’ nomination for Australia’s Favourite Event and will receive the advantage of an exclusive voting kit with marketing materials to help gather votes for their event.“As soon as their Australian Event Award entry is submitted they’ll have everything they need to prepare for when public voting opens for Australia’s Favourite Event on August 5th.  Events that haven’t entered the Australian Event Awards can also nominate but they will miss out on this head start,” Miller explained.There is no cost to nominate for Australia’s Favourite Event.Australia’s Favourite Event will be announced at the 2010 Australian Event Awards Industry Night of Nights, to be held at Sydney Olympic Park on 7th October 2010. Australia’s Favourite Event is a public voting award as part of the Australian Event Awards. The 2010 Australian Event Awards is the national awards program to reward innovation and recognise excellence across the entire Australian Events Industry.The Australian Event Award entry process is simple, inexpensive and judged by an independent industry panel.  Entries close on 26th July 2010. Source = Australian Event Awardslast_img read more

The best begets the same Cruising into the incentive market down unde

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: D.M All-inclusive Silversea charter voyages for the incentive market are proving to be big business for the luxury cruise line with room for growth in the Asia Pacific region, according to visiting Global VP, Corporate & Incentive Sales, Sean Mahoney. Visiting Sydney earlier this week, Mr Mahoney said the Australian incentive market was poised to increase business for the cruise line, due to its already mature FIT component. “The cruise industry is already so mature here, we don’t need to sell the idea of cruising,” Mr Mahoney said to e-Travel Blackboard during an exclusive interview. Already securing two to three full-ship charters for incentives from Australian companies, Mr Mahoney said they would now focus on building further brand awareness as well as marketing to smaller incentive groups. “90 per cent of all corporate incentives are charters, but the groups’ space is also growing in this region,” he said. Mr Mahoney said Australia’s resilience to bounce back from the Global Financial Crisis has made the market more lucrative to luxury brands such as Silversea, who offer organizers direct cost- comparisons to other five star resorts. “We have already achieved 85 per cent of our targets for 2011, which in total will represent approximately 15-20 per cent of the entire revenue for the cruise line,” Mr Mahoney said. “There is room for growth, but we don’t need to discount our product to do so, which would diminish the brand” “Incentive travel is important to the success of a company, and should be part of the solution instead of the problem.” The USA market continues to be Silversea’s biggest earner for the incentive market, with the Mediterranean taking out the top spot as the most popular destination for charter groups.For more information, visit Silversea’s Sean J Mahoney & Karen Christensenlast_img read more

Hilton unveils Queenstown hotels

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Hilton Hotels and Resorts is moving into the South Island, unveiling plans to open its doors in Queenstown.With launch plans set for mid-May, the two new branches Hilton Queenstown and Kawarau Hotel (managed by Hilton) will be located on the waterfront at the top end of Lake Wakatipu. “Our properties’ incredible location in the Kawarau Village will add a new and exciting dimension to the South Island hotel offering,” Hilton Queenstown and Kawarau Hotel general manager Marlene Poynder said. “The irresistible style, sophistication and comfort of Hilton combined with the iconic beauty of Queenstown is unsurpassable.”  Located ten kilometres from Queenstown city centre, Hilton said it will run a shuttle service to the city, airport and The Remarkable Ski Area as well as accommodate guests with full in-house food and beverage outlets and quality interior design. Meanwhile the Hilton Queenstown is set to stand out with each room fitted with gas fires to cosy up during the winter season, ten spa treatment rooms as well as a gym, steam room, sauna and a 25 metre heated pool. Distinctive features making up the Kawarau Hotel include a cinema room for up to ten guests, contemporary rooms with either mountain or lake views as well as a Me + Mee Noodle Bar and Lobby Bar lounge.     last_img read more

Aussie search network AdLux taking on Google

first_imgNicholas Stavropoulos, CEO, AdLux and George Papaioannou, Managing Director Excite Holidays Australia’s largest independent search network AdLux celebrated its first anniversary last night at the Ivy Penthouse, Sydney. Nicholas Stavropoulos, AdLux CEO, told e-Travel Blackboard “we are now the leading independent search network in Australia serving over 1 billion searches monthly. AdLux has become a viable alternative to Google and Yahoo”In 2002 co-founders George Papaioannou and Nicholas Stavropoulos launched one of the travel industry’s major online hotel booking engines – Excite Holidays. Nine years later the pair celebrated AdLux’s first successful year of trading with their travel, agency and corporate partners.Teck Goon AdLux Business Development Manager said “more and more travel companies are booking pay per click advertising via AdLux generating traffic to their websites”. Advertisers can choose from sponsored links, at the lowest cost-per-click rate in the market, or contextual ads offering in-article text links relevant to what the reader is reading.An example, said Mr Goon, would be reading a press release about a destination and user initiated, on-page, key words are highlighted. For the user it is real-time and mind-set driven advertising. A simple mouse over the link displays an AdLux text bubble which can be a text link or rich media ad.Dean Wicks of WeGo said “we are currently working with AdLux, and by diversifying our spend, is expanding our reach”.To learn more about AdLux visit their website Source = e-Travel Blackboard: R.Mlast_img read more