Alberta celebrates Canadas 150th with special events and new offerings

first_imgAlberta celebrates Canada’s 150th with special events and new offerings Share TORONTO — There’s no question that Alberta went through a rough patch during the height of a recession in 2016. But while the economy was sinking to new lows during the two-year downturn, tourism remained largely unaffected, says Travel Alberta.During a media visit to Toronto with fellow tourism representatives, Rose Bolton, Global Media Specialist for Travel Alberta told Travelweek that although business tourism was down in 2016, leisure travel was actually up. She attributes this to the fact that Canadians are vacationing close to home in an attempt to save costs, while Americans are also crossing the border north to take advantage of the favourable exchange rate.Visitation is expected to remain on an upswing in 2017 in light of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Bolton says Parks Canada’s free Discovery Pass anniversary offer as a huge selling feature; it includes free admission to Canada’s National Parks, Historic Sites and Marine Conservation Areas throughout the year. Included on the list is Banff National Park, Canada’s oldest national park and established in 1885.Peyto Lake in Banff National ParkTo complement the Discovery Pass, Alberta’s top cities are offering special promotions and events to commemorate Canada 150. In Edmonton, for example, Capital Boulevard has completed a major refresh that includes high quality street furnishings, broad tree-lined sidewalks and mid-street islands with permanent art installations. Commissioned by five Canadian artists, these installations tell the tale of Canada’s history, with the first one debuting on Canada Day – July 1st.Other new happenings in Edmonton include a new landmark facility for the Royal Alberta Museum, opening in late 2017, the September 2016 opening of Rogers Place, home of the Edmonton Oilers, and the 2018 debut of JW Marriott Edmonton, which is regarded as one of the most significant hotel developments in the city.More news:  Kory Sterling is TL Network Canada’s new Sales Manager CanadaAlso brand new to Edmonton are The Crash Hotel, a 30-room boutique property located in a historic building built in 1904, and Hyatt Place Downtown, which opened its doors in January. Plus, five new oTENTiks (a cross between a tent and a cabin) have been added to nearby Elk Island National Park, Canada’s largest completely enclosed national park and second only to the Serengeti in numbers of hoofed wildlife.In Calgary, the hugely popular Calgary Stampede, which this year takes place from July 7-16, will be themed after Canada’s 150th anniversary. The city is also gearing up for Beakerhead, an annual celebration of science and art, which in September will transform Calgary’s downtown core into a Canada 150-themed, larger-than-life Snakes and Ladders boardgame.Stampede ParkHeritage Park will showcase Canada’s history, too, with a travelling exhibition of one of its Colonist Cars. It will begin in Halifax’s Pier 21 in September and eventually make its way to Calgary by December as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration.Other new highlights in Calgary include a permanent lemur exhibit at the Calgary Zoo, which will also debut its first panda exhibit in 2018, and Studio Bell, the permanent home of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriter Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. As for hotels, the Element Calgary Airport will officially open its doors on March 7, while a new Alt Hotels property is expected to open in late 2018.Visitors to Jasper will find new upgrades at the historic Jasper Downtown Hostel, which has doubled in size and added 33 new beds. Other renovated and upgraded hotels include the 90-year Astonia Hotel, the Chateau Jasper Hotel (to be completed in winter 2017), the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (to be completed this year), and Pyramid Lake Resort, which will complete a three-year renovation project this fall/winter. Adventure seekers should also note that Rockaboo Mountain Adventures has launched a new Glacier Adventure for summer departures to the Athabasca Glacier.Fairmont Jasper Park LodgeLastly, Banff will debut the Commonwealth Walkway in Banff National Park this September to mark Canada’s anniversary. It will feature bilingual bronze plaques along existing trails that detail Canada’s Commonwealth history. The Park also welcomed 18 new bison, a gift from Elk Island, last month, marking the first time the animal has been at the park in 100 years.More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJAlso of interest is a $27 million renovation of the Banff Gondola, which includes new restaurants, interactive exhibits, a multi-sensory theatre and a 360-degree rooftop observation deck. The Kananaskis Country Golf Course will be reopening in 2018 after closing due to a major flood in 2013, while the Moose Hotel & Spa in Banff National Park is still basking in the glow of its summer 2016 grand opening.Edmonton, Calgary, Jasper and Banff are all major points of interest, and are already well known among travellers. But according to Bolton, there’s still one thing that would surprise visitors about the province: Sustainable Cuisine. A new crop of chefs is embracing indigenous foods, focusing on what grows in Alberta and how to elevate these ingredients. RGE RD in Edmonton, for example, promotes itself on its website as serving “untamed cuisine”, Canadian-focused dishes that are inspired by “our country’s fields and forests, our mountains and oceans”.RGE RD in EdmontonLong-table dinners and nose-to-table cuisine are becoming increasingly popular among Alberta’s top restaurants. And the timing couldn’t be better – we anticipate many toasts will be made this year to celebrate Canada’s 150th. Salut! Posted by Tuesday, March 7, 2017 center_img Travelweek Group Tags: Alberta, Canada << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Leftist parties gaining ground as Costa Rica and El Salvador elections near

first_imgThe rise of theleft in Latin America could see reinforcement with a triumph by the Broad Front Party (FA) that would be historic in Costa Rica, and the re-election of the ex-guerrilla Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front in El Salvador in simultaneous elections on Sunday.A polarization of “left versus right,” unprecedented in Costa Rica and repeating itself in El Salvador, has converged in the two elections. Both elections are too close to call and likely will result in runoffs, according to polls.“They have in common the day the elections will take place, and campaigns of ‘fear,’” Roberto Cañas, a political and economic analyst in San Salvador, said. “But there are two lefts, two histories, two countries, two very different candidates.”In Costa Rica, the young lawmaker and environmentalist José María Villalta, 36, of the Broad Front Party, is among the favorites, along with former San José mayor Johnny Araya, 56, from the governing National Liberation Party.“The support of FA is multi-ideological: Villalta channels the discontent, the protest votes, not only against the political system, but also the economic system. That’s where this strong surge from the left originates in Costa Rica,” Jaime Ordóñez, director of the Central American Institute on Governability, said.In El Salvador, the candidate of the governing FMLN, current Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, 69, leads the polls ahead of former capital city mayor Norman Quijano, 67, of the rightist Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).Unlike 2009, when the moderate candidate Mauricio Funes, a former journalist, helped El Salvador’s left win the presidency for the first time in the country’s history, the FMLN has bet on an outsider and ex-guerrilla commander to curb the right’s attempt to regain power.In the Costa Rican elections, the situation is more unpredictable: Two other candidates, one from the right – Otto Guevara – and one from the center-left – Luis Guillermo Solís – follow close behind Araya and Villalta.“If (in Costa Rica) there were only two sides, as in El Salvador, it would be much easier to predict, said Costa Rican political analyst Víctor Ramírez. “The reality is that in Costa Rica there is an atomization.”If no candidate wins a minimum of 50 percent of the vote in El Salvador and 40 percent in Costa Rica, the contests will be decided in runoffs on March 9 and April 4, respectively.Although the two countries’ political philosophies are different, a triumph of the left in Costa Rica and El Salvador would reinforce a trend in Latin America that has yet to dominate in Central America, which has conservative governments in Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.“I don’t think the U.S. is thrilled,” Cañas said. “Neither are members of the Central American business elite, who have globalized their interests and access. They invest in political parties and expect payoffs later.”Two economic models are at odds: the neoliberalism of ARENA and the PLN, and the more statist socialism of the FMLN and the FA that avoids stirring trouble with the U.S., the major trading partner of both countries. In the case of El Salvador, the U.S. is the source of remittances from migrants, who help bolster the country’s economy.“I don’t believe anyone is seeking to deeply change the model,” Cañas said. “Neither the Cuban revolution nor Venezuelan chavismo are coming to these two countries.”In an interview with the AFP, Villalta said, “Costa Rica has its own development tradition of a “Tico-style socialism,” although he said the left has been demonized during the campaign.In Costa Rica, that polarization has brought out comparisons to Cuba, Venezuela or Nicaragua, which the FA has called a “campaign of fear.” For example, the Supreme Elections Tribunal reprimanded businesses that asked their employees not to vote for the “communist” candidate.Villalta’s adversaries have lobbed labels of “communist,” “chavista,” and “friend of Ortega.”“We do not believe that another country’s model can be copied,” Villalta said, adding that Costa Rica should learn from the successes and errors of Latin American leftists and follow its “own path.”In El Salvador, which endured a civil war from 1980-1992, fear campaigning also was a tactic in 2009. But five years of moderate government from the FMLN have maintained a dollarized economy and prevented capital flight.“They were saying that our children were going to be shipped to Cuba and our elderly would be made into soap,” Cañas said of El Salvador’s fear campaign in 2009. “They said that if we had two hens, one would be given to the state. That campaign didn’t work. We’ll see if it does in Costa Rica.” Facebook Comments Related posts:UPDATE: El Salvador ex-guerrilla in presidential vote runoff, narrowly misses victory The real communist threat in Costa Rica Both candidates claim win in Salvadoran presidential runoff Ex-rebel commander favored in El Salvador runofflast_img read more

Amateur herpetologist goes on hike in Costa Rica cloud forest discovers unlikely

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:New species of glass frog discovered in Costa Rican mountains PHOTOS: March Against Animal Abuse It’s dolphin and whale season in southern Costa Rica PHOTOS: Every Costa Rica sloth image you will ever need to see I came to Costa Rica in 2013 for a six-month internship with GVI volunteer program in Tortugero National Park, where I gathered data on sea turtles and jaguars and was trained in species identification. As part of the program, I traveled to Cloudbridge Nature Reserve in San Gerardo de Rivas, a 700-acre cloud forest where I often went hiking in search of reptiles and amphibians.To my surprise, I began finding species that had never before been seen in the area, including emerald glass frogs, masked tree frogs and a rare kind of salamander.I was invited to stay at the reserve as a resident biologist for three months, and over those months, I continued to unearth species never before documented in the area, identifying them with the help of scientific tomes and taking their photographs. My dream is to someday find a red-eyed stream frog, which was recently taken off the list of extinct species. But here are some photographs of the creatures I have already stumbled on. Matt Smokoska found just one masked tree frog at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. According to his research, it had never been seen before in the area, or anywhere in Costa Rica with an elevation of more than 1,500 feet. Courtesy of Matt Smokoska A caecilian found and identified by Robert Maurer. Courtesy of Matt Smokoska The first Eleutherodactylus angelicus ever seen at Cloudbridge. Courtesy of Matt Smokoska This Oedipina savage salamander is the first to be discovered at Cloudbridge. Courtesy of Matt Smokoskalast_img read more

The best and worst countries to be a mother

first_imgThis Sunday is Mother’s Day in the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and various other countries (excluding Costa Rica, where it’s celebrated August 15).But in some countries, there is more to celebrate than in others. On average, one woman in 30 is likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, and seven out of 10 women will lose a child in their lifetime.Despite global improvements in children’s and maternal health, inequality between the world’s richest and poorest mothers and children is widening, according to this year’s mother index released by the international non-governmental organization Save the Children.The index shows where mothers and children living in urban areas face the least and the greatest hardships regarding women’s and children’s health and economic well-being, among other aspects.The world’s best countries for mothers to raise children are less of a surprise: Norway, Finland and Iceland. The United States, however, slipped from the 31st spot last year to the 33rd.Costa Rica ranked 45 out of a 179 countries this year, slipping six spots from 39 last year. In Latin America, only Argentina (36) and Cuba (40) ranked higher.Mexico was ranked 53, Panama 78, El Salvador 80, Nicaragua 102, Honduras, 109 and Guatemala 129.You can click on individual countries in our map at this link to see how they rank. The State of the World’s Mothers, 2015 Lazaro Gamio/The Washington PostMost countries at the bottom of the ranking are located in sub-Saharan Africa: Out of the 179 countries surveyed, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic perform worst. Nearly all of the bottom-ranked countries are affected by conflict.Why education matters so much in the rankingDue to the limited availability of comparable data, the index took into account factors that determine a woman’s as well as a child’s well being. The report’s authors focused on five factors in compiling the index: maternal health, children’s well being, economic wealth of a country, and the participation of women in national politics in order to be able to shape policies and debates.Also factored into the index were the average years of formal schooling for children. In Costa Rica, that’s 13.9 years and in Guatemala it’s 10.6 years. The average for industrialized countries is 16 years of formal schooling.“Numerous studies show a robust relationship between years of schooling and a number of important life outcomes, including income, health and civic participation,” Kathryn Bolles, the Children’s Director of Health and Nutrition for Save the Children, told The Washington Post.Educated girls are also more likely to delay early marriage and motherhood which greatly improved the likelihood that they and their children will survive childbirth.Growing inequality endangers mothers and their children worldwideIn more developed nations, other factors such as the ability of mothers to pursue careers or child benefits would be likely to play a role, as well.“But as the majority of women in most developing countries do not have access to these benefits, it was not the single best indicator of economic status available,” said Bolles, explaining the decision to focus on child development indicators.In the report, Save the Children urges that more resources need to be committed to tackling inequality in urban areas all over the globe.“Increasingly, these preventable deaths are occurring in city slums, where overcrowding and poor sanitation exist alongside skyscrapers and shopping malls,” the authors conclude. In the lowest-ranked countries, children growing up in poverty are three to five times more likely to die than those with wealthy parents.Among high-income capitals, Washington D.C. has the highest infant death risk. The finding that Washington D.C. performs worst in terms of infant deaths among 25 high-income global capital cities might surprise some. Whereas on average between 7 and 8 infants in Washington die out of 1,000 children, the number was as low as 2 in Prague, Oslo, Stockholm and Tokyo.The authors argue that the high level of infant deaths in Washington is rooted in “pervasive poverty, young and uninformed mothers and poor prenatal care.” They also consider race to be a factor — with black mothers and families being over-proportionally affected.In terms of politics, some developing countries outperform wealthier nationsAnother finding of the index that could come unexpected is that Western nations are not as uniquely advanced in terms of women in politics as some might believe.“Countries like Rwanda, Bolivia, and Cuba are doing a much better job of ensuring more equal representation of women in national parliament than many Western nations are, such as the United States, Ireland and Japan,” Bolles said.In Costa Rica, 33.3 percent of legislative seats are held by women, compared to 19.5 percent in the U.S. (the world average is 22 percent, according to the report).Why did political representation matter so much to the authors of the mother’s index?“When women have a voice in politics, issues that are important to mothers and their children are more likely to surface on the national agenda and emerge as national politics,” Bolles said.The organization’s overall conclusion follows her line of argumentation. Even in countries that face conflicts and wars, the situation of mothers and their children could be improved — if there were a political willingness to do so, according to the study.“Some African countries, such as Eritrea, Ethiopia and Liberia have reduced their under-5 mortality rate by two-thirds or more since 1990,” Bolles said.—Noack writes about foreign affairs. He is an Arthur F. Burns Fellow at The Washington Post.Gamio makes interactive graphics for The Washington Post.Tico Times editor Jill Replogle contributed to this story. © 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Trump leads Republicans but Democrats thump him new poll shows

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – Bombastic U.S. billionaire Donald Trump handily leads all fellow Republicans in the 2016 presidential race, but Hillary Clinton and other Democrats trump him in head-to-head match-ups, a poll said Thursday.Trump plunged into the crowded Republican nomination battle last month, and has since uttered insults about Mexican immigrants and caustic jabs at rivals that has kept campaign media attention focused squarely on the trash-talking real estate mogul.He now leads the 17-candidate Republican field with 20 percent support.Following him were conservative Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with 13 percent and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two presidents, with 10 percent, according to a national survey by Quinnipiac University.No other Republican topped six percent.Trump’s negatives are sky-high, however. He led the “no way” list, with 30 percent of Republicans saying they definitely would not support him.“They love him and they hate him,” said Quinnipiac University Poll assistant director Tim Malloy.“He is on fire in his own party,” but Clinton would “crush him” and other Democrats including Vice President Joe Biden, who is not even a candidate, would prevail against Trump, Malloy told AFP. “So he’s running away with it on one side but if today were election day, Donald Trump would not be president.”Ex-Secretary of State Clinton leads rival Democrats overwhelmingly with 55 percent support among Democratic voters, according to the poll. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders is second with 17 percent, while Biden earns 13 percent. All three lead Trump in hypothetical matchups, with Clinton the furthest ahead at 48-36 percent, according to Quinnipiac.Clinton matchups against other Republicans are toss-ups. She nips Walker 44-43, but trails Bush 41-42, poll results showed.Quinnipiac said its July 23-28 poll of 1,644 registered voters has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.Trump has made a big splash in two closely-watched states that vote early in the party primary process: New Hampshire and Iowa.An NBC/Marist poll released Sunday had Trump with a seven-point lead in New Hampshire and two points behind the leader in Iowa.A CNN/ORC poll put Trump at the front of the Republican pack with 18 percent, and Bush in second with 15 percent.Trump roiled the presidential race and sent the Republican establishment into convulsions last month when he described some Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”On Wednesday, he told CNN he would deport millions of undocumented workers if he were president but would let the “good ones” re-enter to live in the country legally.Several Republican Party leaders have spoken out against Trump and his comments, but many ordinary voters frustrated with Washington have expressed appreciation for his blunt talk.Malloy said Trump’s name recognition is a huge factor early in the campaign.“He has an airplane, he has buildings with his name, he has golf courses, he has beauty pageants… Trump is everywhere and has been everywhere for a long time,” Malloy said.“Everybody knows who he is. … That’s a huge asset.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Hillary Clinton promises to be the US’ renewable energy president For Mexicans, the Donald Trump candidacy is getting scarier Donald Trump under fire yet again, this time for sexist and vulgar Clinton gibes Trump shrugs off jihadist video that uses his Muslim ban remarkslast_img read more

Costa Rica has earthly problems but this election season ended over the

first_imgThe poll reiterates that Ticos understand our problems very clearly, yet don’t assign them much importance when we decide for whom to vote. The first is unemployment, stalled at 9-25 percent among young people, and guess what – it doesn’t matter whether or not they are gay. The second is safety, with a high murder rate in 2017 that was decidedly not pro-life. The third is corruption: Exhibit A on that front is the “cementazo” scandal that is testing every branch of our government, whether or not we are a lay state.The next cause of national anguish on the list is the cost of living, because in the supermarket, it’s no good to say “Dios se lo pague” (“may God repay you”). After that comes poverty, because for that condition affects one of every five Costa Ricans, and for them, the phrase “God will provide” is only good for maintaining hope alive – not for filling empty plates in homes with the quantity of children that “God chose to give us.”The poll also shows governance as a major issue for Costa Ricans. We can describe our status on that front as deficient or unsatisfactory without caring whether President Luis Guillermo Solís swore on a Bible or not on May 8, 2014, or whether his Minister of Tourism walked in the inaugural parade along with his husband.We have to go all the way down to the eighth place on the list of Costa Rica’s most pressing problems to find “personal and/or value-related considerations,” an option that encompasses the moral issues or “Christian values” that have completely monopolized the end of this political campaign. VIDEO: Will Costa Rica recognize this same-sex marriage? What truly defines our identities now are more basic elements – thus the importance of the concept of family that many religious folks feel is threatened, even though they are not the ones who are interested in trying the alternative. It is a paradox that this era, when we have less contact than ever before with our neighbors and with public life, is the time when some of us seem to feel most affected by what other people outside the walls of our sacred homes.As the columns of our politics crumble to the ground, our identities seek refuge in something more solid, whether those are the walls of the Catholic Church that continues to stand its ground at the center of our towns, or those of the evangelical churches that have been popping up on every corner for the past 30 years, some in gloomy garages and others in lovely, costly new buildings. “If you want to say that we are returning to our caves, say it, because the truth is that there is nothing more solid than a cave,” one legislative candidate said to me, exasperated, just after asking me not to record him any more.It would be understandable for all of us to dive into this Holy War for the family if that were the biggest problem in our country, but it is very far from that. Most people say that it is not, as an Investigation and Political Studies Center (CIEP)-University of Costa Rica (UCR) poll showed earlier this month. (Yes, the same poll that reflected the “religious shock” over the Court’s ruling and the huge surge for conservative candidate Fabricio Alvarado.) We all know that our Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) is calling for a rational, intelligent, well informed vote – and that’s all well and good as a goal, but the reality is that in this election, Costa Ricans will vote with their nerves. And that’s the nicest way to put it.During this campaign, the river of religious waters overflowed because of something we thought was simply a warning not to let creed interfere overmuch with politics: the finding of the Inter-American Human Rights Court, whose headquarters we ourselves proudly house in our capital. That’s not a coincidence, by the way.What was a coincidence was the fact that this international court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality in its member countries, including Costa Rica, came at the worst possible moment: at the very heart of a campaign that has reflected like no other the huge drop in the influence of our political parties. Most of us couldn’t care less about them, and we don’t care if they are old parties, new ones, progressive or confessional, clean or corrupt. Note that Juan Diego Castro is within reach of winning, backed by a party that he joined for the sole purpose of becoming a candidate. He could have joined any other (even the National Liberation Party he so criticizes). Inter-American Court endorses same-sex marriage; Costa Rica reacts UPDATED: Court orders three months of prison for cement case detaineescenter_img It’s incredible but true: our electoral process is obsessed with a “problem” that comes in eighth place on our list of priorities. It is kind of like making a national uproar out of the mass that four people watch each week on the government TV station.The only thing more incredible? Voters’ ninth choice on this list of national problems is the country’s fiscal situation. This, at a time when we’ve doubled our external debt in five years, we have a deficit worth more than six percent of our Gross National Product, and our tax dollars are stretched to the limit. Tenth on the list? Infrastructure, which we complain about every single day as we sit in traffic. Diay – the voice of the people is the voice of God. That’s what the people say, anyway.My Catholic self would say: “Father, forgive us, because we know not what to do with our problems.” Related posts:La campaña en que Costa Rica ignoró su realidad Costa Rica’s elections 2018: a primer January’s here and the gloves are off: Costa Rica’s true campaign begins Dear Costa Rica: This is just getting started Facebook Comments New poll in Costa Rica shows huge surge for evangelical pastorlast_img read more

Pic of the Day Hiking Jacó

first_imgRelated posts:Manuel Antonio National Park administration moving to comply with Health Ministry orders Tourism Board invests $1.5 million in lifeguard program for Costa Rican beaches American Airlines expanding service to Costa Rica Costa Rica 101: Visiting Poás Volcano National Park Facebook Comments Jacó, Puntarenas — Jacó Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica due to its relative proximity to San José and its surfing conditions.While not Costa Rica’s prettiest beach, Jacó is plenty scenic, and the best views come from the end of the Miro Mountain trail.The trail starts at the intersection of Calle Madrigal and Route 34, across the street from the gas station. It follows a dirt road that winds uphill to a fork, where you take the left branch onto a sidewalk leading to a beautiful, graffitied, abandoned building. (Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico Times)The building has three levels to explore and offers excellent views of Jacó Beach and the Pacific Ocean.The out-and-back hike is 2.7 km (about 1.7 miles) in total and is listed as moderately difficult on AllTrails. It’s a popular route for picnickers, dog walkers and bird watchers, and for those who want to get in a morning workout before lounging at the beach.Despite the foot traffic, there’s a good chance of seeing interesting wildlife along the way. During a trip in May, I spotted a small snake, a toucan, poison dart frogs and a sloth.Not bad for such a short hike!last_img read more

Algerian president overthrown in 92 coup dies

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Associated PressALGIERS, Algeria (AP) – Former Algerian President Chadli Bendjedid, who gave the country a multiparty political system before he was overthrown in a 1992 military coup, died Saturday at a military hospital, the state news agency said. He was 83.Bendjedid, who became president in 1979, presided over a series of political reforms that allowed for competitive legislative and municipal elections.But when an Islamist party swept the first round of parliamentary elections, Algeria’s powerful generals stepped in, ousted Benjedid and canceled the elections in 1992. The coup prompted an armed resistance that turned into a decade-long civil war, which tore the country apart and claimed at least 200,000 lives.Bendjedid was kept under house arrest hundreds of miles from the capital until 1999, when he was freed.He was admitted to the Mohamed Seghir Nekkache military hospital last week for kidney-related problems, the state news agency reported, citing family members.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixcenter_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top Stories last_img read more

USVI gives peace officer status to federal agents

first_imgCHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) – U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. John de Jongh has signed a legislation that awards peace officer status to federal authorities.The long-awaited bill comes a few months after de Jongh requested that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives return to the Caribbean island to help fight a rise in crime.The agency pulled its agents out of the U.S. territory in 2008 after local police charged an ATF agent in a fatal shooting following his intervention in a domestic dispute. A judge later threw out the case on a technicality. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk The vital role family plays in society Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home 0 Comments   Share   The Virgin Islands government said in a statement Saturday that the new law will allow the three-island territory’s police department to seek help from federal agencies in curbing crime and illegal weapons smuggling.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Congress has gone loco over warfighting account

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober “If Democratic leaders are really this worried about fattening up the IRS or adding a new coat of paint to their congressional offices, we can have that discussion, but let’s leave our troops out of it,” McConnell said.The Republicans have upped the ante, saying they want to tack a cybersecurity measure to the defense bill. That would make it tougher for the president to use his veto pen, especially in light of the recent massive hacking attack that might have exposed the personal data of about 4 million federal employees.WHAT DO DEMOCRATS SAY?Democrats say pouring more money in the OCO account is a budget gimmick. They argue that lawmakers can’t choose to break through the spending caps when it comes to defense, but adhere to them when it comes to non-defense domestic spending. They have threatened to block any spending bill, including defense, unless Republicans work with them to modify — or do away with — the unpopular restrictions imposed in 2011.Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid accused McConnell of uttering fiction.“We’re trying to make sure that we have programs in America that support the middle class, support medical research, that support the FBI, our court system,” Reid said. “My friend, the Republican leader, seems to only care about the military.” Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home On Wednesday, the four top Democrats in the Senate sent a letter to Republican leaders asking them to end their push to tack the cybersecurity bill to the defense legislation, which the president has said he’s going to veto. “This is a pure political ploy that does nothing to advance America’s national security,” they wrote.WHAT’S NEXT?Democrats are likely to let the defense policy bill pass, but will block the next round of defense spending bills that actually appropriate the money to the Pentagon and other agencies. That would keep the bills stalled on Capitol Hill with lawmakers’ August recess looming — not to mention the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. That’s the deadline to keep the government operating.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories The OCO account, which pays for the Afghan and Iraq wars, is exempt from congressional spending caps enacted to reduce government deficits. It grew from about $19 billion in 2002 to $187 billion in fiscal 2008 and is slated to be around $90 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.President Barack Obama has threatened to veto spending bills that lock in the spending caps going forward. He says he won’t accept fixes to the defense budgeting problem that don’t also address money spent on domestic programs.WHY SHOULD THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER CARE ABOUT OCO?U.S. defense officials don’t want lawmakers to increase defense spending by putting the money in the OCO account, which is funded year to year and is separate from the core defense budget. They say the Pentagon can’t embark on long-term weapons projects, for instance, if the money they get one year evaporates the next. They would rather see the money in the core budget for defense, but that would require lifting the spending cap. So, for now, they say they’ll take it any way they can get it.WHAT DO REPUBLICANS SAY?Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday accused Democrats of holding money for American service men and women hostage to efforts to increase non-defense spending. Comments   Share   center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has gone loco over OCO, America’s war-fighting spending account.Formally known as the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, OCO has become a political pressure point that is threatening to stall passage of a more than $610 billion bill that funds the military and other national security programs.The Republican-backed defense policy and spending bills before Congress give President Barack Obama all the money he has requested for defense and they abide by spending caps Congress imposed on itself a few years ago. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Health head Congress problem if court voids health law aid

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — Congress and the states will need to find an answer if the Supreme Court strikes down the federal subsidies that are a foundation of President Barack Obama’s health care law, his health secretary told lawmakers Wednesday.Sylvia Burwell also said the president would reject any proposals restoring those subsidies that Republican lawmakers have already produced because all would roll back crucial elements of the overhaul law, in effect repealing it. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “We’re going to do everything we can and we’re working to make sure we’re ready to communicate and work with states,” responded the health and human services secretary.But she added, “The critical decisions will sit with Congress and states and governors to determine if those subsidies are available.”Burwell’s comments were a more pointed version of previous administration statements that it is not preparing a contingency plan for a decision that erases the subsidies, which are paid as tax credits.Though many Republicans seem to favor extending the federal aid temporarily, none seem ready to back down from demands that in exchange, other parts of the health law should be jettisoned, such as its requirements that insurers provide minimal levels of coverage.The day’s back and forth showed that the law remains a high-octane political issue destined to influence next year’s presidential and congressional elections.“They still refuse to entertain the notion that their health care law might get struck down by the Supreme Court,” Ryan told reporters afterward. “And they refuse to acknowledge they are even thinking about a backup plan. I think that’s unfortunate.” Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help In the 34 states most likely to feel the brunt of a court decision annulling the subsidies, 7.3 million people have used to register for coverage and made initial payments.About 88 percent of them — 6.4 million people — receive federal subsidies averaging $272 monthly. Experts say many of them would drop their coverage if the subsidies disappear because losing the assistance would make their insurance unaffordable.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall “Something that repeals the Affordable Care Act is something the president will not sign,” she said.Burwell’s comments to the House Ways and Means Committee marked a continuation of Obama administration efforts to pressure Republicans should the justices void subsidies that help millions afford health insurance. A decision is expected this month.The GOP runs Congress, and 26 of the 34 states likely to be hardest hit by such a decision have Republican governors.In addition, 22 of the 24 GOP senators up for re-election next year are from those same 34 states. Many Republican strategists have said the party would face retribution from voters in next year’s elections if the subsidies are eliminated and Congress does not advance legislation protecting the millions of people who would be hurt.The case before the Supreme Court involves a Republican-backed challenge by conservatives to the 5-year-old health law. The suit says the law limits the subsidies to people in states that run their own insurance marketplaces — and not to residents of the 30-plus states that use the federal website.The committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., asked Burwell how the administration would respond to a decision that tossed out the subsidies. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona While Ryan said the health law “is busted,” Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the committee, said the only thing broken is the GOP attack line on the law.“You sit as armchair critics as millions of people have insurance who never had it before,” Levin said. “You’re livid because it’s getting better?”Congressional Republicans have worked on several plans to temporarily restore the credits and curb some of the law’s requirements, though there are no signs that any have enough votes to win approval. Republicans say they hope to come out with a plan backed by both House and Senate GOP leaders once the court strikes down the subsidies.One bill, from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who faces a tough re-election fight next year, would extend the credits until August 2017 while erasing the requirements that individuals buy insurance and that employers provide coverage to workers. It has 31 co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.“That piece of legislation, from our perspective, is repeal” and Obama would not sign it, Burwell told the committee.Republicans hope a Republican in the White House in 2017 would help them repeal Obama’s law and replace it with one that has fewer strictures. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

From LA to Seoul Paranoia consumes airport security

first_imgPressure on airport security to avoid a repeat of the foiled Christmas Day attack is beginning to show, the Los Angeles airport police union calling on the U.S. government this week to implement mandatory full-body scans for all passengers at airports.The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association said metal detectors were no longer enough as they were unable to detect items with little or no metal.”All available technology and tools must be used to fix an obvious gap in security that puts airline travellers and crew members at risk” said union president Marshall McClain in a statement.”Testing of whole-body scanners at LAX has shown them to be highly effective in keeping dangerous materials off airplanes.”However, critics have slammed the use of full-body scanning technology, claiming its ability to see through clothing and create an image of the body amounts to a virtual strip search.”These scanners show starkly detailed images of the human body, which amount to an assault on the dignity of passengers and can be personally humiliating” American Civil Liberties Union’s Peter Bibring told the Los Angeles Times.But officials insist that full-body scans will be safer and more efficient than patting down passengers.Meanwhile, other countries have stepped up airport security following directives issued by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration on Monday to enhance screening of passengers from “state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest.”In Nigeria, Information Minister Dora Akunyili said the government would do whatever security checks the U.S. government requested.”It is for the good of everybody that everybody is searched thoroughly” she told the Canadian Press.Similarly, officials in Jordan are applying “enhanced techniques” to screen U.S.-bound passengers while passengers in Pakistan have been subjected to special screening and full body searches.Security officials in Seoul’s Incheon International Airport have also put passengers through additional screening procedures and compiled lists of “suspicious” passengers – based on their nationalities, travel patterns and ticket purchases – to monitor. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.Llast_img read more

Travel Agents can still join Qantas class action

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A The Federal Court of Australia has issued travel agents with a 15 November deadline to make a claim against Qantas for unpaid fuel surcharge commissions.Last month, Qantas lost a High Court application to appeal a ruling that found the airline failed to include fuel surcharges when calculating the commission paid to agents on international tickets sold between 2004 and 2007.Travel agents can join the class action and make a claim against Qantas if, between 11 May 2004 and 9 May 2007, they met the following conditions:they were incorporated and their principal place of business was in Australia;they were a party to the IATA Passenger Sales Agency Agreement;they sold international published fares on behalf of Qantas, British Airways and Air New Zealand; andthey have not lodged an Opt Out Notice with the Federal Court.Thus far, joining the “successful” claim are “mums & dads” agents including franchisees and members from Harvey World Travel, Jetset Travelworld Group and Travelscene American Express, according to Slater & Gordon lawyer Steven Lewis.“The order from the Federal Court is an important step forward in the travel agents being paid what they are owed by Qantas,” Mr Lewis said.“For almost four years travel agents have been involved in a David and Goliath legal battle against one of Australia’s biggest companies,” Mr Lewis said.“Now, after a historic win that will reverberate around the airline industry, they will start to receive what they are owed.”Qantas have reportedly claimed it will cost up to $26 million “just to cover the additional commissions owed to travel agents” between 2004 and 2007.Upon the completion of the Qantas proceedings, similar claims against British Airways, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Cathy Pacific will be heard.To make a claim, travel agents can contact either Slater & Gordon directly or approach the Federal Court, New South Wales Registry.last_img read more

Cathay to pay agents fuel surcharge commission

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J. Cathay Pacific has announced that it will add a pay base commission for Australian travel agents, bringing it in line with other international carriers servicing the country.The five percent commission will be available on “fuel surcharges on eligible international gross fares sold ex Australia” from 1 July this year. “We have decided to pay commission on fuel and this simply brings Cathay Pacific Airways into line with other international airlines operating in this market,” Cathay Pacific Airways Australian sales and marketing manager Derek Morris told e-Travel Blackboard.“Our base commission level is currently five percent and it is something we monitor continuously to stay competitive in the marketplace.”Cathay Pacific is one of six carriers tied up in legal matters over commission on fuel surcharges owed to agents since 2004.Representing the agents, Slater & Gordon lawyer Steven Lewis recognised the carrier’s decision and said the move reaffirmed travel agents’ claims. “The class action is based on commission dating back to 2004,” Mr Lewis told e-Travel Blackboard.“It’s an inevitable consequence [to pay the commission] and its consistent with travel agents’ claim that the fuel charge is part of the fare… it has just taken six years for the airline to realise this.” Other carriers facing court for failing to pay agents commission on fuel surcharges include: British Airways, Qantas, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Malaysian Airlines. last_img read more

Air Canada subsidiary adopts hipster uniforms

first_imgAir Canada’s new low-cost subsidiary Air Canada Rouge has unveiled its crew uniform, which has been dubbed ‘too cool for the skies’ with its ‘hipster’ edge.With the airline set to launch on 1 July, the group gave the world a glimpse of its new cabin crew uniforms, which were designed to appeal to younger travellers., The Daily Mail UK reported.According to the airline, staff getup is “fashion forward” with red cardigans, grey trousers, gray and red Fluevog brand shoes as well as gray and white stripped fedoras.Aiming to keep the uniforms in the air for the next five to seven years, Air Canada Rouge has dusted off critics, who have questioned how the gear will look on real hostesses and older employees.“Our personality, which is fresh and youthful, seems to be the impression that’s  coming through,” the airline’s vice president of customer experience Renne Smith-Valade told Bloomberg Businessweek.Meanwhile, the airline has received up to 5,000 resumes since announcing its launch and those selected so far are receiving customer service training at the Disney Institute in Florida.Hit the spot or trying too hard – what do you think of the look?Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Air Canada Rouge is just ‘too cool’.Image: Air Canada Rougelast_img read more

AIME visitor registration opens

first_imgVisitor registration for Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME) 2015 has opened today with a brand new program promising to inspire everyone in attendance.AIME, scheduled to take place on 24 and 25 February 2015 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, and it is the must attend event for those involved in organising travel, planning meetings, conferences or special events.Following AIME 2014, 94 per cent of trade visitors classified AIME as a ‘must attend event’, affirming AIME’s position as the leading MICE event in the Southern Hemisphere recently named Best Exhibition at the latest Australian Event Awards.Next February, more than 700 exhibitors from around the globe representing business events, global destinations and travel will showcase their most innovative products and services on the show floor.In response to the increasing demands of the business and events industry, AIME has unveiled its exciting new community strategy designed to provide the AIME community with access to information and networking opportunities year round.Some of the new initiatives available on the show floor include new social networking events, new business & networking areas and the opportunity to access the latest, most relevant industry information available with the new AIME Knowledge program.AIME & CIBTM exhibition director Jacqui Timmins, said that the new strategy reflects the need to continually refresh the program.“As an industry leader, we want to further support our community with the latest news, trends, innovations and technologies for them to feel that AIME is the place where inspiration begins,” Ms Timmins said.At the centre of the show floor, the AIME Community Hub will surprise all attendees in four ways providing industry knowledge, networking opportunities and the Inspiration Zone designed to instill creativity in attendees.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

Etihad releases new Etihad Guest membership card

first_imgEtihad Airways’ loyalty program Etihad Guest is striving to make travel more convenient and have introduced a new payment feature to its membership card – walletplus.Walletplus is powered by Visa and allows members to load travel money onto their Etihad Guest card and convert it to 11 different foreign currencies to spend whenever and wherever.The membership card can be loaded in advance, enabling card holders to better manage their travel budgets by locking in competitive exchange rates in real time before they travel.A maximum of 11 currencies can be held on the card at any one time, one of which must be UAE Dirham.The 10 other currencies to choose from include Australian Dollar, US Dollar, Pound Sterling, Euro, Indian Rupee, Canadian Dollar, Singapore Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Japanese Yen and Thai Baht.Etihad Guest managing director Yasser Al Yousuf, said that the Etihad Guest loyalty program focusses on providing features and benefits that enhance value to its members.“The new Etihad Guest Card with walletplus™ is innovative in that it combines the functionality of a reloadable payment card with the benefits of Etihad Guest membership in a single piece of plastic, a first in loyalty and travel payments in the Middle East,” Mr Al Yousuf said.Additionally, Etihad Guest members can download the walletplus™ mobile application to access a range of functions that include checking their account balance and transaction history, and transfer money to other Etihad Guest members with an activated walletplus™ account.Etihad Guest members can earn one Etihad Guest Mile per US$2 spent in the UAE, and one Etihad Guest Mile per US$1 spent abroad when paying with walletplus™.The partnership with Visa allows the Etihad Guest card with walletplus™ to be used to pay at tens of millions of global merchants, and card holders can withdraw cash at more than 2.1 million ATMs across the world.Etihad Guest Tier members in the UAE will begin receiving their new Etihad Guest card with walletplus™ in early March.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

Virtuoso makes Australia its regional headquarters

first_imgVirtuoso has announced plans to make Australia its regional headquarters in a move that will spearhead expansion into the Asia Pacific region this year. With more than 9,000 travel advisors around the globe, Virtuoso has a turnover of more than USD$14 billion in annual travel sales and has announced the Australian move as part of a global expansion.Virtuoso Asia Pacific managing director Michael Londregan, said that following on from the company’s move into the European and UK markets last year, Virtuoso will now use Australia as its regional hub.“Australia and New Zealand’s travel agency elite have been Virtuoso members for the past 10 years and this strong foundation in the luxury market continues to drive growth for our brand and allows Virtuoso Australia to be perfectly placed to support our Asia expansion,” Mr Londregan said.Virtuoso global chief executive officer and chair Matthew D. Upchurch, will be visiting Australia in February, where he will present the latest data on international luxury travel trends including new research into the Australian market.“Through our network of partnerships, our clients are able to access the same, and often better value than you can find online, and can secure special benefits like complimentary room upgrades, daily breakfast, and other extras you can’t get on your own,” Mr Londregan said.“Virtuoso has recognised the strong growth in the Asia Pacific region for luxury and that is why Australia has been chosen as the optimum base for regional expansion.”Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

Perfect romantic proposal package

first_imgPerfect romantic proposal packagePerfect romantic proposal packageImagine proposing to the one you love on a tiny, remote island surrounded by a circle of white sandy beach, in the middle of the picturesque Yasawa Islands in Fiji! This romantic scenario could be reality with the release of Captain Cook Cruises Fiji, Tivua Island Proposal Package.The romantic adventure begins as soon as you set sail on the magnificent tall ship Ra Marama or the luxurious sleek sailing catamaran Fiji One which will take you on a 90-minute cruise to the tiny tranquil island of Tivua. Enjoy some Fijian entertainment and morning tea along the way.Once arriving at Tivua experience a traditional welcoming Kava ceremony before being whisked away to a deserted part of the beach where your loved one will discover a “message in a bottle”, lying at the water’s edge and containing a personalised proposal message.Then celebrate your engagement over a delicious tropical buffet lunch and a bottle of sparkling wine in a private romantic bure on the beach.Spend the rest of the day on cloud nine, simply laying on a comfy beanbag under a beach hut, taking a leisurely swim, feeding the fish, sleeping on a hammock, go on a guided herbal medicine nature walk, snorkel or go glass bottom boating over the magnificent reefs and clam gardens escorted by a Marine biologist or try a romantic kayak or paddle board around the island.For a true indulgence relax even more with a spa treatment from Senikai Spa.For dive loving couples there is time for a ‘first’ dive as an engaged couple, with five-star PADI Diving. From beautiful coral gardens to bommies to discovering a new dive wreck, ‘Raiyawa’, Tivua has enough dive spots to captivate beginners, reinvigorate occasional divers and fascinate advanced divers.Then cruise back to Denarau and enjoy a coconut demonstration, basket weaving, afternoon tea and more music and entertainment.The Tivua Island Proposal Package departs daily from Denarau Marina at 10.00am and returns at 5.00pm.Adults are priced at A$378 per couple including transfers from most Nadi and Denarau hotels, return cruise transfers to Tivua Island, morning and afternoon tea, access to Special Events coordinator, message in a bottle proposal, tropical BBQ lunch including fish, chicken, sausages, salads and fruit, all beer, wine and soft drinks whilst on the island, private lunch bure, bottle of sparkling wine, welcome Kava Ceremony and Fijian entertainment, guided snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours with a Marine biologist, use of kayaks, paddleboards and snorkelling gear, guided herbal medicine nature walk, coconut husking and weaving, beach volley ball, seasonal bird and turtle nesting and Captain’s Kids Club.Return Coral Coast transfers, drinks onboard, Padi diving, Senikai Spa treatments and sole use of Tivua Island is all additional costs.For further information and bookings visit www.captaincookcruisesfiji.comSource = Captain Cook Cruises Fijilast_img read more