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Vision Travel acquires Montreals Voyages Cortravco

first_img Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Vision Travel acquires Montreal’s Voyages Cortravco MONTREAL — Vision Travel has increased its foothold in the Quebec market with the acquisition of Montreal-based Voyages Cortravco.Voyages Cortravco was established in 1990 by Kit Sawhney and his sister Sarita Sawhney as an international corporate travel management agency, specializing in small to medium size clients with a reputation built on a high level of customer service.The company will operate as Cortravco, a Direct Travel Company, but under the Vision Travel umbrella.“We are excited to welcome the entire team from Voyages Cortravco into our family,” said Joel Ostrov, President of Vision Travel, Quebec East Region of Direct Travel. “This acquisition will solidify our leadership in the Montreal corporate and high-end leisure market, bringing even more talent to our organization here in the Quebec East Region of Direct Travel.”Cortravco’s Kit Sawhney and Vision Travel’s Joel OstrovKit Sawhney will continue on with the company as Senior Vice President, Vision Travel, Quebec East Region, reporting directly to Ostrov. Sarita will stay on as Senior Director, VIP Client Services.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps up“We knew this would be a great fit with Vision & Direct’s continued growth and global strategy,” said Sawhney. “Their personalized approach to travel is right in line with how we have done business for the past 28 years.”center_img Tuesday, July 10, 2018 Tags: Montreal, Quebec, Vision Travel Solutions, Voyages Cortravco Travelweek Group last_img read more

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Lufthansa interested in Alitalia with Italian state stake

first_img MILAN — The chairman of Lufthansa’s regional Air Dolomiti airline says the German carrier remains interested in Alitalia and that the government’s plan to take a stake has potential advantages.Joerg Eberhart told Turin daily La Stampa in an interview published Thursday that a small minority stake by the government could help with negotiations with airports and local authorities, but he emphasized that the day-to-day operations “must be in private hands.”Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio told Radio 24 that “many” airlines and private investors have expressed interest in Alitalia. He said the plan to make the State Railway a partner with a 15-per cent stake and combining networks makes Alitalia a “more appetizing” investment.The period to submit binding offers as part of struggling Alitalia’s relaunch closes Oct. 31. Share By: The Associated Press Tags: Alitalia, Lufthansa Thursday, October 25, 2018 Lufthansa interested in Alitalia with Italian state stake << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Passenger checked an actual missile launcher in his luggage

first_img BALTIMORE — Here’s a good packing tip: leave the missile launcher at home.U.S. federal officials say they’ve found a missile launcher in a man’s luggage at the airport in Baltimore.According to a statement by the Transportation Security Administration (TSO), the military grade weapon was located in the man’s checked luggage at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.TSA screeners find missile launcher in checked luggage at Baltimore/Washington International airport. https://t.co/j8l2JvOQJd pic.twitter.com/830N4i1ge3— Breaking Aviation News (@breakingavnews) July 29, 2019TSA officers called airport police who found the man and detained him for questioning. The unidentified traveller said he was in the military and coming home from Kuwait. He said he wanted to keep the weapon as a souvenir.The TSA said the missile launcher was “not a live device.” But it was handed over to the state fire marshal for disposal.The man lives in Jacksonville, Texas, which is about 115 miles (185 kilometres) east of Dallas. He was ultimately allowed to catch his flight home. By: The Associated Press Tags: TSA, TSO << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Tuesday, July 30, 2019 Passenger checked an actual missile launcher in his luggagelast_img read more

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Millions of dollars in limbo after shuttering of digital currency site Liberty

first_imgPanic spread on the Internet as word about Arthur Budovsky Belanchuk’s arrest reached users of his digital currency business Liberty Reserve, which was shut down on Thursday.Budovsky, 39, was arrested on Friday in Spain as part of a money laundering investigation performed jointly by police agencies in the United States and Costa Rica. U.S. officials likely will seek his extradition.Costa Rican prosecutor José Pablo González said Budovsky, a former U.S. citizen and naturalized Costa Rican of Ukrainian origin, has been under investigation since 2011 in Costa Rica for suspected money laundering using apparent shell companies he created to run Liberty Reserve.Budovsky relocated to Costa Rica after he and partner Vladimir Kats were indicted on July 27, 2006, in New York on charges of operating an illegal financial business, GoldAge Inc. – a precursor to Liberty Reserve – from their Brooklyn apartments, according to the U.S. Justice Department. U.S. officials said the two had transmitted at least $30 million to digital currency accounts worldwide since beginning operations in 2002.Budovsky and Kats were sentenced to five years in prison in 2007 for engaging in the business of transmitting money without a license, a felony violation of state banking law. They received five years probation.Officials have not commented on how much money Liberty Reserve accounts handled (in U.S. dollars and euros), nor how many clients are affected by its closing. But those numbers could be higher than in the GoldAge case. As news circulated of Budovsky’s arrest and the shuttering of Liberty Reserve’s website, anxious clients took to chat rooms and Twitter hoping for information on the fate of their funds, some commentators claiming losses of $50,000 or more.Neither Costa Rican nor U.S. officials have commented on the apparent seizure of the site and the fate of likely millions of dollars of funds, and with a long holiday weekend in the U.S., it’s not clear when those answers will begin to emerge.The Costa Rican daily La Nación reported that Budovsky, a naturalized Costa Rican, renounced his U.S. citizenship last year, after the joint investigation of Liberty Reserve began. The Tico Times could not independently verify that information, as Costa Rican government agencies are closed for the weekend.In 2011, Costa Rica’s financial regulatory authority, the Financial Institution Superintendency (SUGEF), closed the company Liberty Reserve, citing a lack of transparency and accounting of funding sources, La Nación reported.However, Budovsky continued operating the site in conjunction with other Costa Rican corporations, including Silverhand Solutions and Technology S. A, Worldwide E-Commerce Business S .A., Grupo Lulu Limitada, Triton Group A and A, S. A. and Cyberfuel.com.The same year SUGEF ordered Liberty Reserve closed, U.S. prosecutors based in New York asked Costa Rican officials to begin investigating Budovsky and his companies. On Friday, San José prosecutors raided Budovsky’s home and offices in Escazú and Santa Ana, southwest of San José, and in the province of Heredia, north of the capital.Investigators allege that Budovsky’s businesses in Costa Rica were used to launder funds from child pornography websites and drug trafficking.Both GoldAge and Liberty Reserve operated under a similar system, allowing users to nearly anonymously open accounts with limited documentation of identity. Deposits are backed by gold and other precious metals, and customers could withdraw money by requesting wire transfers to accounts anywhere in the world or by having checks sent to individuals.U.S. officials have targeted companies like GoldAge and Liberty Reserve for years, saying they are hotbeds for criminal activity including money laundering, drug trafficking and tax evasion.“The ability to conduct transactions in digital currencies is constantly available, making digital currencies more convenient than other methods of funds transfer, which may be limited by normal business hours and international time zones. Additionally, digital currency transactions can be conducted from any location or device with Internet access,” a 2008 report by the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center stated.“Because most digital currencies are denominated into internationally recognized weights of precious metals, inconveniences traditionally associated with international financial transactions, such as calculating international exchange rates for another nation’s currency, are eliminated,” the report added.Liberty Reserve, which operated without oversight from any global agency, was a convenient tool for foreign currency brokers, as it allowed them to bypass local legislation and avoid exchange rate fluctuations, particularly in developing countries. It was also a popular payment processing site for the multilevel marketing industry. But its lack of oversight also attracted organized criminal elements, prosecutors said.“Payment in digital currencies makes it easier for traffickers to launder funds that no longer need to be placed into the traditional financial system. Payment can be immediately forwarded to an international digital currency account, perhaps in payment to the original source of supply, or further layered through multiple digital currency accounts and exchangers until reintegrated into the legitimate economy,” the National Drug Intelligence Center stated.To open a Liberty Reserve account, users needed only to submit a name, address, email address, date of birth and occupation.Forex Magnates, which describes itself as a “specialized forex news and research source,” called Liberty Reserve “the leading payment channel for traders in emerging and frontier markets.”Citing a broker and analyst in Pakistan, Forex Magnates said, “Forex brokers have been benefiting from Liberty Reserve’s vast access as a payment provider, especially in countries where traders face difficulties in transferring funds. Liberty Reserve was a ‘gift’ for several traders, especially after the State Banks’ (State Bank of Pakistan) changes to international money transfers.”Online reaction has also come from Nigeria, Malaysia and other countries.On Saturday, digital payment site PerfectMoney.com announced it was no longer accepting U.S. citizens as customers, posting the following message: “We bring to your attention that due to changes in our policy we forbid new registrations from individuals or companies based in the United States of America. This includes US citizens residing overseas. If you fall under the above mentioned category or a US resident, please do not register an account with us.”Other cybercurrency companies, particularly Bitcoin, are already positioned to take advantage of the possible demise of companies like Liberty Reserve.According to cybercrime expert Brian Krebs, domain registration records for Liberty Reserve and several other digital currency exchanges on Friday began pointing to Shadowserver.org, an organization that fights global computer crime.“The trouble started on Thursday,” Krebs writes, “when libertyreserve.com inexplicably went offline. The outage set off increasingly anxious discussions on several major cybercrime forums online, as many that work and ply their trade in malicious software and banking fraud found themselves unable to access their funds.”Krebs’ story cites one hacker who said the Liberty Reserve shutdown “could be the most massive ownage in the history of e-currency.”One strong indication that the action against the site – along with at least five other digital currency exchanges – may have originated from U.S. law enforcement is that domain name servers for Liberty Reserve were changed and pointed to ns1.sinkhole.shadowserver.org and ns2.sinkhole.shadowserver.org. The sites milenia-finance.com, asiangold.com, exchangezone.com, moneycentralmarket.com and swiftexchanger.com also were directed to shadowserver. Shadowserver.org helps Internet providers target malware, but it also helps U.S. law enforcement cybercrime divisions.Krebs reported that shadowserver.org suffered a botnet attack over the weekend, possibly in retaliation by hackers who lost funds.Some Liberty Reserve users, however, are hoping for a different explanation, perhaps that Liberty Reserve competitors attacked the site. In the meantime, they can only sit and wait for updates, frantically clicking refresh on www.libertyreserve.com.“[M]illions of client of Liberty reserve now worried for money around the world , plz give few more info..LR site is down now,” one anxious reader posted on The Tico Times Facebook page.—Were you affected by the Liberty Reserve shutdown? Tell us your story at:dboddiger@ticotimes.netStory updated May 26 at 9 p.m. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican arrested in Spain for alleged financial crimes A Russian patsy or high-tech criminal? Costa Rica, U.S. call for extradition law to fight organized crime Liberty Reserve: Suspects plead not guilty in fraud probelast_img read more

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Wage raise for Costa Ricas private sector set at 378 percent

first_imgSome 1.3 million workers in Costa Rica’s private sector will receive a 3.78 percent wage increase effective Jan. 1.In a majority vote the National Wages Council on Wednesday evening approved the figure that will apply for salaries during the first semester of next year.The final percentage was proposed by government officials and consists of 2.47 percent of projected inflation, 0.77 percent cumulative inflation for the first half of 2013 and 0.54 percent for gross domestic product growth in the last five years.The proposal received “yes” votes from unions and government council members, while employers voted against it.Union leaders last week had proposed a 3.96 percent hike, while employers proposed a 3.60 percent increase.Costa Rican Chambers Union and Private Business Sector Associations President Jaime Molina said the private-sector proposal “sought to avoid affecting high unemployment rates, estimated at more than 10 percent and the highest since October 2011.”The last increase approved for the country’s private sector was 2.40 percent, which took effect on July 1.  Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Coffee klatching in the cafetal

first_imgIt was cold at 6 a.m. in the foothills of the Poás Volcano, and when Joaquin and Marvin arrived to pick coffee, they did so in sleeved sweathirts andcampesino hats. Their clothes are for protection as well as warmth. Coffee branches are scratchy and are sometimes home to ants and bugs that bite. Each man carried a heavy wicker basket, which is tied in place with a belt leaving hands free to pick. An hour later, more pickers arrived. Alba, her daughter-in-law and their dog were followed by Isabel, her daughter and her 3-year-old grandson and his toy truck. The women get a little housework in before heading for the cafetal. Soon there were dozen  pickers, men and women, all neighbors. Three young Ticas looking stylish in improvised picking outfits and carrying baskets called over as they passed on their way to another farm. “¿Como le iba? “ (How’s it going?).  “En la lucha” ( In the struggle), Alba called back, and everyone laughed. Today Joaquin, Marvin and the others will finish up early when Enrique comes with the tractor to haul the day’s take to the recibo, or receiving depot, down the road. They’ll be back in a week or two when the green ones are ripe, and tomorrow they will pick down at Pancho’s where the crop is at its peak.Ticos are bringing in the year’s coffee crop.  Picking coffee is heavy work, a cajuela size basket weighs about 30 pounds when it is full and the beans are dusty and oozing from the inner moist part. The ground is muddy and the slope is steep. But it’s also fun and for housewives, retired workers, part time workers and students.  “We talk all day long,” said one picker. They move along the rows of trees, one on each side, singing and helping each other with the harvest.“Look at my guapile!” Someone holds up a double berry bean which represents good luck. Stories are swapped. Jokes are told. Hands help pour coffee from baskets into sacks. And at the end of the day they get paid. ₡1,200 a cajuela this year.  An experienced picker or a family working together can pick 10 cajuelas a day.Although the harvest goes on almost all year, it varies with location. In Pérez Zeledón and Turrialba it starts in July,  in higher altitudes of Alajuela and Heredia it reaches its peak in November, but the picking season can stretch out to March.About 70,000 temporary workers are needed to pick all this coffee, and 40,000 are Ticos. Most of the others come from Nicaragua and Panama. The harvest is down this year for the second year in a row, explained Alexis Rojas at the Institute of Coffee, known as ICAFE. “Coffee trees produce in three year cycles, and this year’s crop is at the bottom of the cycle,” she said.Coffee rust, or royo – a spore spreading disease – has hit every area of Costa Rica, so the downtrend is expected to affect the 2014-15 crop as well. The fungus can be controlled by fumigation and pruning the trees. But coffee is sensitive and once the rust takes hold, it creates bright yellow spots on the underside of the leaves and kills the plants. There are also snails and parasitic vines that can choke a tree. Old branches are pruned back each year and new shoots pulled off to leave only a few to grow strong.The Institute of Coffee has a research and development section, which develops new strains of trees to make them more resistent, is working with plants from Brazil, which will be tested in different parts of Costa Rica for growth, production and resistance to diseases.  It will be a a few years, however, before these are ready for farming.Back at the plantation, two coffee growers who shall remain anonymous were grumbling about this year’s crop. After paying for fertilizer, sprays, workers and diesel for trucks and tractors, there isn’t much left for the farmer.  “Let’s take out the coffee and plant marijuana,” said one.  The other agreed. “It pays better and there are no expenses.” They were joking, of course.Gracias to Alex Rojas and Fabian Echeverria of the Instituto de Café for information on the coffee harvest. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Facebook said to take steps to open a sales office in China

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO — Facebook is taking steps to open a sales office in China to work with local advertisers, according to people with knowledge of the matter, in a move that would put the social network’s employees in the country for the first time, even as its service remains censored there.Facebook could open an office in China within a year to serve a growing set of customers in the country, said a person with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Facebook is in discussions to lease space in Beijing’s Fortune Financial Center, located in the city’s central business district, according to other people familiar with the matter.The company hasn’t decided whether to hire contractors or full-time employees for a sales office, which would require an operating license, said another person with knowledge of the situation.Opening a China office would mark a significant step for Facebook given the country is one of the last large markets that remains relatively untapped by the company. While Facebook’s social-networking service was banned by the Chinese government in 2009, the company — using an office in Hong Kong, outside of the mainland — has quietly built up a business in the country selling ads to companies that want to reach international users.“Today, our sales team in Hong Kong is supporting these Chinese businesses, but because of the rapid growth these businesses are achieving by using Facebook, we are of course exploring ways that we can provide even more support locally and may consider having a sales office in China in the future,” Facebook Vice President Vaughan Smith said in an emailed statement. He declined to comment on the timing or location of a China office.China has long been tough to crack for U.S. Internet companies. EBay and Yahoo, among others, have made little headway in the market. In 2010, Google said it wouldn’t comply with the country’s online censorship rules and shuttered its local search page. Twitter is also blocked in the country. LinkedIn recently said it plans to expand its Chinese-language website and will restrict some content to adhere to government censorship rules.The absence of U.S. social media companies in China has spurred a boom of local Web firms. Sina Corp.’s Weibo, a Chinese service that works like Twitter, has more than 129 million monthly active users and went public in the U.S. last month. Tencent Holdings’s WeChat, which would compete with WhatsApp, the messaging app that Facebook agreed to acquire for about $19 billion, has 355 million users.Facebook said in its prospectus for its 2012 initial public offering that “substantial legal and regulatory complexities” prevented its entry into China, which is home to the world’s largest number of Web users.That hasn’t stopped the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company from developing other business strands in China. Facebook has focused on supplying ads to exporters in the country. It also has “thousands” of application developers in China, Smith told the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing on May 6.The company is now working to boost sales from Asia, where Facebook made $354 million, or 14 percent of revenue, in the first quarter. That’s up from $118 million, or 11 percent, at the time of its May 2012 IPO.Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg in September also met with the government agency that oversees Internet controls in China. Sandberg and Cai Mingzhao, head of China’s State Council Information Office, discussed issues including the “important role” that Facebook plays in helping Chinese companies expand overseas, according to a statement posted to the agency’s website at the time.© 2014, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments Related posts:Will we finally be able to dislike something on Facebook? Facebook expands reach with $19 bn deal for WhatsApp Facebook wants to increase free Internet access in Latin America More than 26 million people have changed their Facebook picture to a rainbow flaglast_img read more

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Costa Rica government vows to no longer support international shark protections

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica joins Ecuador in calling for more protection of endangered shark species Costa Rica issues 1-year moratorium on export of hammerhead shark products Costa Rican government rejects Shark Enemy nomination Costa Rica says it will support new shark protections despite agreements with fishermen Conservationists say that wording leaves even endangered sharks vulnerable.Still, Mora insisted in an email to The Tico Times that the government is simply broadening its perspective.“Nothing has changed. Costa Rica continues to hold the position towards both the conservation and utilization of resources,” Mora wrote. “What has changed is the visibility of certain issues that we weren’t considering before.”The main issue, said Mora, is the growing popularity of shark meat in the local market, which has made sharks more valuable to local fishermen. In the past, sharks were caught primarily for their fins, which fetched high prices in Asian markets due to the popularity of shark-fin soup, a delicacy. With Tico palates now accustomed to the taste of shark meat, shark is sold and used locally in its entirety, Mora said.“What the government is looking to guarantee is harmony between conservation and people, sustainable consumption and regulations that are justified scientifically,” Mora said.Agreements came after violent protestsThe controversial concessions made by the Costa Rican government came after violent protests last month by fishermen.On Sept. 1, thousands of protesters blocked highways near four Costa Rican ports, disturbing traffic flow. Fishermen said the protests were a response to President Luis Guillermo Solís’s failure to release concrete agreements about various fishing regulations.Near the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste, several bystanders were attacked and injured by rock-wielding protesters. Protest leaders later apologized for the inconveniences, and Solís sent negotiators to meet with the fishermen the next day.Details of the meeting came to light last week after marine conservation NGOs released the letter from Presidency Minister Alfaro.Members of the fishing industry say the new agreements will help alleviate poverty along the country’s coasts by providing jobs and allowing fishing activities to continue.“What we want are sustainable regulations for families that depend on fishing,” Mauricio González, president of the National Federation of the Fishing Sector, a fishing organization, told The Tico Times. “We want it recognized that we have knowledge that you can’t learn in a school or university. A fisherman knows how to conserve.”Conservation groups aren’t so sure. They say these new agreements threaten Costa Rica’s position as host of February’s Memorandum of Understanding on the convention of migratory species of sharks. The meeting will bring together signatories of the CMS to discuss potential international agreements for shark protection.“[The Environment Ministry] doesn’t care about science anymore,” Arauz said. “They’ve decided that the traditional knowledge of fishermen is now better than the best available science about what is detrimental to fish populations.”See also: Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson turns to human rights commission to block Costa Rica’s legal chase Facebook Comments Environmental groups are outraged by new agreements between the Costa Rican government and the fishing industry which they say will roll back protections for endangered and threatened shark species.The government says the new measures will guarantee that local fishermen can make a living.According to a letter outlining the agreements, sent by Presidency Minister Sergio Alfaro to Costa Rican conservation groups, the government will no longer “propose or support” international protections for shark species considered of commercial interest and will urge international couriers that have banned the shipment of shark fins — like UPS and American Airlines — to resume carrying them.Conservationists say airlines and other couriers are key pieces in the lucrative international shark fin trade, which has contributed to the sharp decline of several shark species.“This has basically bulletproofed against any other shark species ever being protected,” Randall Arauz, the president of marine conservation group PRETOMA, told The Tico Times. “With these decisions we are not going to be able to make any future conservation progress.”The government also agreed to re-examine minimum catch size requirements designed to protect fish populations and to support a bill that would allow for the legal return of shrimp trawling, which Costa Rica banned in 2013 because of the severe damage it can cause to ocean environments.Before these agreements Costa Rica was considered a world leader in ocean conservation and, especially, shark protection. In 2012, Costa Rica banned shark finning and closed the private docks notorious for skirting fishing regulations. More recently, Costa Rica proposed the inclusion of two species of hammerhead sharks in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in November. Species listed in Appendix II are to be closely monitored to ensure that trade does not cause the species to become threatened with extinction.The government insists that the new agreements with the fishing sector don’t mark a shift away from protecting sharks. Vice Minister of Water and Oceans Fernando Mora told The Tico Times that Costa Rica would still support regulations if backed by scientific evidence proving the need for conservation measures.But that’s not what the government said in its letter to conservationists outlining the new fishing agreement. The letter says flatly: “The government of Costa Rica promises not to propose or support the inclusion of shark species of commercial interest in the CITES convention or in CMS [Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals].”Read the letter from Presidency Minister Alfaro (in Spanish):last_img read more

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La Sele announces 23man roster for Copa América tournament

first_imgTwo other notable additions to the Copa América roster include a pair of starters bouncing back from injuries: midfielder Yeltsin Tejeda and speedy defender Bryan Oviedo. Tejeda should challenge Cristian Bolaños for a starting spot in the middle while Oviedo will look to be one of the five defensemen that Ramírez puts on his back line, where he could get the nod over Johnny Acosta or Ronald Matarrita.Costa Rica begins Copa América play on June 4 with Paraguay in Orlando, Florida. The Ticos will try to maneuver their way through the “group of death” that also includes the host country United States and South American power Colombia.La Sele will have a pair of warm-up friendlies against South American Football Confederation teams before the tournament, beginning on May 28 with Venezuela. Ramírez’s group will then take on World Cup and Copa América runner-up Argentina on May 31 in Miami, Florida. Facebook Comments Related posts:Copa America Group A: Costa Rica faces stiff opposition Costa Rica heads into must-win game against United States Costa Rica returns with full-strength lineup in last step toward World Cup qualifying Costa Rica humiliates the United States 4-0 in World Cup qualifier Ya en CR #lasele #copaamerica pic.twitter.com/O5rNmd8DKm— Oscar Duarte (@ODuarte04) May 17, 2016center_img The golden generation of Costa Rican football will again have the opportunity to shine as it gets set for one of the world’s most competitive international tournaments. With only a few weeks remaining before kick-off at the 2016 Copa América, head coach Óscar Ramírez has announced the 23-man roster he’ll be taking to the tournament in the United States.Ramírez will be keeping hold of the same base of stars that he has featured ever since his debut on the bench last year. Stars like goalie Keylor Navas, forward Joel Campbell, and captain Bryan Ruíz make up the nucleus of Costa Rica’s talented Copa América roster, which saw only a few surprise call-ups. (Courtesy of FEDEFUTBOL)José Salvatierra, a defender for noted Costa Rican club Alajuelense, comes as a bit of a surprise after beating out more established, yet aging defenders like Roy Miller and Júnior Díaz for one of the last defensemen spots. Another startling pick on the defensive end comes in the form of 33-year-old Michael Umaña, who will be playing with La Sele for the first time since Ramírez has taken over.Umaña, who scored the game-winning penalty kick in the 2014 World Cup Round of 16 against Greece, has been relatively quiet since converting his now-iconic goal. He left La Sele in the middle of last year’s Gold Cup to resolve contractual problems with his Iranian club Persepolis.Defender Giancarlo González was kept off Ramírez’s initial 40-man roster announced weeks ago, although the head coach said the defenseman playing in Italy’s Serie A league has been putting in a lot of time for La Sele and earned a rest. Ever since a remarkable display in the 2014 World Cup, González has been a shell of himself in recent outings for Costa Rica.last_img read more

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Merkels spokesman Germany leaving euro absurd

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Quick workouts for men Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories 4 sleep positions for men and what they meancenter_img Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Seibert said “the idea that Germany could leave the euro, and that this wouldn’t be a drama for Europe, is absurd.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) BERLIN (AP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman has dismissed the idea of Germany abandoning the euro as “absurd.”Steffen Seibert was asked Friday about comments by Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi that a German exit from the currency would be “no tragedy.”Italian news agency ANSA quoted Berlusconi on Thursday as saying an exit by Germany, the region’s biggest economy, would be one possibility to help heavily indebted European countries like Italy. He said the other option would be for the European Central Bank to become the region’s lender of last resort. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixlast_img read more

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Iran condemns US for taking group off terror list

first_imgThe MEK was removed from the European Union’s terrorist list in 2009.___Associated Press writer Ali Akbar Dareini contributed from Tehran, Iran.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the claims, saying the program is peaceful and is intended for electricity generation and scientific research.The State Department said the MEK hasn’t committed terror for more than a decade. The group has also complied with demands that over 3,000 of its once-armed members abandon their base in Iraq near the Iranian border for a camp outside Baghdad, an essential step to ending their decades-long presence in Iraq.The group claims it is seeking regime change through peaceful means, aiming to replace Tehran’s clerical system with a secular government.However, a senior State Department official suggested that removing MEK from the U.S. terrorist list does not translate into a shared common front against the Islamic Republic. The official said Washington does not view MEK as an opposition movement that can promote democratic values in Iran. The official on Friday briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.In a rare interview on Friday, Rajavi said “the most important impact … will be seen inside Iran.” PARIS (AP) – Iran condemned on Saturday the Obama administration for taking an Iranian militant group formerly allied with Saddam Hussein off the U.S. terrorism list, saying it shows Washington’s “double standards.”The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which began as a guerrilla movement fighting Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, helped overthrow the monarch in 1979 then quickly fell out with the Islamic Republic’s first leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It fought in the 1980s alongside Saddam’s forces in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war but disarmed after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Top Stories How men can have a healthy 2019 Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Four benefits of having a wireless security system Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix “The balance of power is going to change. For example, the first message for the Iranian people will be they won’t fear increasing their activity and increasing their demonstrations,” she said. The fear “will evaporate … and that will lead to the expansion of anti-regime activities within Iran.”Iran says MEK is responsible for the deaths of more than 12,000 Iranians over the past three decades, including senior government officials.The MEK spent huge sums of money over years lobbying for removal from the U.S. terror list, holding rallies in European capitals and elsewhere that featured luminaries like former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge from the administration of George W. Bush. Former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was among those recently welcomed by the MEK to Paris.The group was protected in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, but its members are disliked by the new Iraqi government, dominated by Shiite Muslims like those in Iran.The United States had insisted the MEK’s members leave Camp Ashraf, their home in Iraq, as a condition for removal from the terrorist list. All but several hundred militants are now located in Camp Liberty, a former U.S. base outside Baghdad, looking for placement in third countries. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of The State Department delisted the group on Friday, meaning that any assets the MEK has in the United States are unblocked and Americans can do business with the organization. On Saturday, at their Paris headquarters, MEK members gathered to celebrate, tossing flower petals and displaying photos of members killed in the past 15 years.“We call on the international community to respect the will of the Iranian people for a regime change in Iran,” Maryam Rajavi, the Paris-based head of the exiled opposition group, said Saturday.Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the delisting of MEK was “a violation of America’s legal and international obligations” that could threaten U.S. interests. The decision “will bring U.S. responsibility for past, present and future terrorist operations by this group,” the statement also said.Iranian State TV criticized the decision, saying that the U.S. considered the MEK “good terrorists” and claims Washington is using the group to work against Tehran. State radio said the move highlights President Barack Obama’s anti-Iranian sentiments.“There is much evidence of the group being involved in terrorist activities. Delisting them shows America’s double standard policy on terrorism,” state TV said. The U.S. distinguishes between “good and bad terrorists” and the MEK are now “good terrorists because the U.S. is using them against Iran,” the report also said, adding that Washington and Israel use the group to spy on Iran’s nuclear program. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   last_img read more

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Green buildings on the rise in Persian Gulf states

first_img 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center 5 ways to recognize low testosterone “There are limitations for how much you can do,” al-Khalifa said.“We don’t want to fool ourselves. We were trying to be part of the system,” he said. “We went to the greenest whenever we could find it. When we selected manufacturers, we didn’t go for a cheaper supplier who didn’t use recycled materials.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Dubai in the UAE is home to one of the region’s first green shopping malls and is building an eco-friendly mosque in 2013. On the outskirts of the country’s capital, Abu Dhabi, the government-run Masdar Institute has built the first phase of a pre-planned city that aims to be powered by renewable sources including solar.Qatar and Saudi Arabia, though, appear to have even bigger ambitions.In Doha, work started in 2010 on Msheireb Downtown Doha, which promises to be the world’s largest sustainable community with 100 buildings using an average of a third less energy.Lusail City, a planned development for nearly 200,000 people on the edge of Doha, has promised to adhere to the country’s voluntary green building guidelines _ similar to those in the UAE and other Gulf countries _ which set standards for everything from water consumption to traffic congestion.In Saudi Arabia, authorities have applied for LEED certification for the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, which will be home to the country’s stock exchange. The nation’s first LEED-certified project, the 26-building campus of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, opened in 2009 and recycles all its wastewater, uses 27 percent less energy than a typical campus and was built with 20 percent recycled content. Top Stories From the sustainably logged wood used in its construction to the 3,500-square-meters of solar panels on the roof, the building designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki is considered one of the most environmentally sound convention centers in the world.“We want to change people’s mindsets,” said Ali al-Khalifa, as he led a visitor through an exhibition hall where dozens of ceiling windows helped cut down on electricity. It will take center stage in November when it hosts the U.N. Climate Change Conference, the first to be held by a top oil producer.“We have to make something stay friendly to the environment. We are part of this earth,” said al-Khalifa, the chief executive officer of Astad Project Management which oversaw the construction. “All the oil and gas countries are moving to a green concept to insure the new generation understands they have to preserve this energy and have something efficient.”Green buildings would seem an oddity in this tiny Gulf nation which has plenty of oil and gas and, according to the International Energy Agency, the highest per capita emissions in the world, closely followed by Gulf neighbors Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day To do that, governments in the region will have to make green building codes compulsory _ most are now voluntary _ and provide greater incentives for developers to build or retrofit more sustainably.The other hurdle is sourcing building materials locally, which would cut down on emissions from transporting such things as steel, cement and wood to the region. Due to the lack of resources in the Gulf, most everything is imported and companies producing things like recycled steel are still too few to meet demand.“If you want to build a green building, you need environmentally-sourced concrete, glass, aluminum,” said Steven Platt, a UAE-based expert on LEED. “Although there are local suppliers, they aren’t the greenest materials available.”Those were among the challenges Qatar faced when it set out to design an exposition center that met LEED’s Gold certification. With few green construction materials at home, it went as far as Belgium and South Korea to get the environmentally-certified wood, steel and glass. It increased the initial cost _ and contributed additional carbon emissions from shipping _ but in the end helped ensure the building produces 32 percent less energy than a comparable convention center. AP Environmental WriterDOHA, Qatar (AP) – With massive steel Sidra trees sprouting from the base of the building and a 9-meter (yard) high sculpture of a spider in the lobby protecting a sack of grey and white eggs, Qatar National Convention Center is hard to ignore.But it’s what most visitors don’t see that may become the building’s lasting legacy in a region far better known for over-the-top excesses than conservation. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Most of these green buildings rely on 21st century solutions to reduce their footprint _ high tech operating systems that ration electricity and power, additional insulation and thicker glass to reduce heat coming into the building and designs that orient the structure to limit the sun exposure.But as the university campus shows, the region is also tapping technologies that are centuries old to solve its energy problems.Along with its water savings and solar power, the project features wind towers, lattice-like shading on windows known as mashrabiya and a tent-inspired roof system that blocks the sun and extends throughout the campus.“When we start a project, we will do some research on what people built in this location before they had electricity. How did they keep buildings warm or cool?” said Bill Odell, a senior vice president for HOK Architects who designed the KAUST campus. “We did that on this project and there were serious techniques that clearly worked. … All these ideas we took out of traditional Islamic architecture.”The challenge now, experts say, is going beyond a handful of high profile projects and applying green building practices to the bulk of Gulf construction _ such as low-rise office towers or residential housing projects. How do cataracts affect your vision? But attitudes about energy use are changing across the Gulf. There is a growing recognition that the once seemingly limitless fossil fuels will someday run out and that these countries need to chart a more sustainable path.Buildings are a logical place to start. They consume up to 70 percent of energy in parts of the Gulf _ compared to 40 percent worldwide _ due to the preponderance of glass skyscrapers and brutally hot conditions from Dubai to the Saudi city of Jeddah, according to Thom Bohlen, chief technical officer for the Middle East Centre for Sustainable Development.The Middle East has come late to the green building movement, lagging far behind the United States, Europe and Asia in building structures that emit fewer emissions and consume less water, according to the United States Green Building Council. The USGBC’s voluntary program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is used internationally to certify green buildings.But when it comes to buildings in the works that are trying to earn LEED status, the Middle East is among the leaders. It has 1,348 LEED-registered buildings which surpasses all but Asia and the United States.“Over the past couple of years, there has been a focus on trying to drive sustainable construction practices,” said Peter Templeton, senior vice president of global market development for the USGBC. “It is mostly focused on new construction rather than retrofits of existing building.” 0 Comments   Share   last_img read more

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Thailand arrests key human trafficking suspect

first_img 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “This is a very significant case as Ko Myo is the leader of one of most notorious human trafficking rings in Thailand,” Chavalit said. “He is an agent with a large client base, who has abused his own countrymen on Thai soil for 10 years.”Ko Myo is being held in custody at a hospital after sustaining gunshot wounds during the raid.Chavalit said police were also investigating his alleged involvement in the rape and killing of a Myanmar woman in March in Thailand’s Trang province, on the Andaman coast.Three of Ko Myo’s close aides were arrested in separate raids. All three face human trafficking charges, while two were also charged with rape and murder of the same Myanmar woman.Chavalit said Thai police would reach out to their counterparts in Myanmar to try to arrest more human trafficking suspects.The London-based Environmental Justice Foundation said in a statement Friday that it welcomed the capture of the suspects and called for parties “to work together to prevent human trafficking in Thai seafood production and bring an end to this devastating practice.”(Copyright 2013 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 sobercenter_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies BANGKOK (AP) – Thai authorities have arrested and charged a suspected human trafficker who allegedly sold hundreds of migrants from Myanmar into slavery to work in Thailand’s fishing industry, police said Saturday.Ko Myo, a 42-year-old Myanmar national, was captured in a raid by police and justice officials on Aug. 1 in Thailand’s southern province of Surat Thani and faces human trafficking charges, said Police Maj. Gen. Chavalit Sawangpuech. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Sponsored Stories Top Stories last_img read more

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Diamond could fetch 60M at Geneva auction

first_img 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober They are just two of the many diamonds, in all colors, and other jewels, Swiss art, wine and watches being auctioned in Geneva, where buyers flock or phone in from around the world.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img GENEVA (AP) – It’s auction time for the filthy rich again in Geneva, where the week’s headline-grabbers include the largest fancy vivid orange diamond in the world and another diamond estimated to be worth more than $60 million.Christie’s is set to auction off a 14.82-carat rare gem that it says is expected to fetch up to $20 million Tuesday. Sotheby’s auctions are headlined by Wednesday’s offering of “The Pink Star,” a vivid and flawless 59.60-carat diamond estimated to be worth more than $60 million. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

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China India have many rivalries some areas of cooperation

first_img BEIJING (AP) — India’s prime minister is visiting China this week to build friendship between the two Asian giants despite a long history of disputes and rivalries, along with some areas of cooperation, especially in the economic sphere.HIMALAYAN BORDER DISPUTESIndia and China have disagreed for decades over which country controls two chunks of Himalayan territory. China says the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh is part of China, while India insists China is illegally occupying Aksai Chin, a rocky and largely empty region far to the northwest. The two sides fought a brief war in 1962 over the latter territory. But the disputes have been low key for years now, with both countries much more concerned about boosting cross-border trade and investment. Diplomats from the two countries now regularly discuss the territorial dispute in scheduled talks, but even if little progress is ever made, neither country seems to care very much. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain FILE- In this Oct. 21, 2012 file photo, Indian army soldiers keep watch at the Indo China border in Bumla at an altitude of 15,700 feet (4,700 meters) above sea level in Arunachal Pradesh, India. India and China have disagreed for decades over which country controls two chunks of Himalayan territory. China says the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh is part of China, while India insists China is illegally occupying Aksai Chin, a rocky and largely empty region far to the northwest. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath, file) INDIA ACCELERATES, CHINA SLOWSIndia’s economic growth rate is finally overtaking China’s — although the sheer size of China’s economy ($10 trillion) remains much larger than India’s ($2 trillion). The World Bank expects India’s economy to grow 7.5 percent this year compared with 7.1 percent for China. Last year, India’s economy expanded 7.2 percent and China’s grew 7.4 percent, the slowest annual rate in nearly a quarter century. India’s growth could accelerate further if New Delhi addresses long-standing problems such as poor infrastructure and a strangling bureaucracy. In China, the central bank has cut interest rates to try to prevent the economy from slowing too quickly. After two decades of double-digit growth that has raised incomes but also caused significant environmental damage, China is trying to nurture an economy with greater reliance on service industries, which grow at slower but more sustainable rates.REBUILDING NEPALWhen a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, both China and India sent immense amounts of aid and military forces, and both pledged long-term support in rebuilding the impoverished nation. Competition for influence in Nepal has been brewing for years, with China courting India’s traditional ally with infrastructure projects like roads and hydropower dams. Chinese annual investment overtook India’s in 2014, and Beijing persuaded Kathmandu to clamp down on anti-Tibet demonstrations. Nepal’s location between India and China makes it geopolitically strategic, as a buffer between the two Asian giants which fought a brief border war in 1962. It also shares a border with the fraught territory of Tibet, defusing tensions between China and India, where Tibet’s exiled government and Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama are based. Its water resources are also crucial to the region, with melt from its Himalayan glaciers feeding rivers in both of the neighboring countries. Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories STRING OF PEARLSIndia is deeply unsettled over China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean, a scenario some analysts call the “string of pearls” strategy linking China’s interests in the countries surrounding India — Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In Sri Lanka, off India’s southern tip, China began by building the port at Hambantota and significantly upped the stakes with a massive development project off the coast of the capital, Colombo. Then, Sri Lanka allowed two Chinese submarines to dock off its coast, threatening to derail ties between India and Sri Lanka. The two sides moved to reconcile after the election of a new Sri Lankan government that put the Colombo port project under review. However, the U.S. Defense Department predicts China will keep establishing “access points” in the area over the coming decade.THE PAKISTAN FACTORThe longtime friendship between China and Pakistan, rooted in a time when both countries were deeply mistrustful of India, has long made New Delhi nervous. The relationship has mainly gone one way, with China providing economic assistance and political backing to Pakistan. Islamabad is also anxious for an alliance it can use to balance the growing economic and political clout of India. But Pakistan also offers China a gateway to South Asia, Iran and the Arabian Sea, one of the economic beltways that President Xi Jinping has sought to build through the region. Earlier this year, during a visit to Islamabad, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China and Pakistan have an “all-weather friendship.” Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 0 Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 5 ways to recognize low testosterone TWO BIG MILITARIESWhile India and China are both sprawling nations with similar-sized populations, China is spending $144 billion on its military this year compared to India’s $40 billion. Still, India operates two aircraft carriers to China’s one, along with conventional and nuclear submarines, latest-generation fighter jets and an array of ballistic and cruise missiles. Both China and India possess nuclear weapons. While there have been no armed clashes since 1967, China’s support for Pakistan has long been a sore point in relations. China’s military expansion, which includes the largest naval fleet in Asia and a pair of stealth fighter development programs, is seen as geared mainly toward displacing the U.S. as the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific, as well as securing territorial claims such as Taiwan and the islands of the South China Sea. India has grown close to the U.S. on defense issues and wishes to retain its status as the premier force in the Indian Ocean.COOPERATIONDespite their rivalries, the two countries have played up their cultural links — such as the importation of Buddhism into China by wandering Chinese monks more than 1,500 years ago — and have found ample room for economic cooperation. Both are members of the BRICS grouping of emerging economies, which is now establishing a formal lending arm, the New Development Bank, to be based in China’s financial hub of Shanghai and to be headed by a senior Indian banker. India also was a founding member of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which plans to be formally established by year’s end and seeks to emulate institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. While the sides are seeking to expand bilateral trade to $100 billion this year, China exports far more than it imports, something Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopes to alter with increased market access for Indian goods and services.last_img read more

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Motorhome campervan holidays on the rise

first_imgA recent report reveals the popularity of Australian motorhome and campervan holidays are on the increase. The research conducted by the Caravan and Recreation Vehicle Association of Australia (CRVA) found 57 per cent of survey respondents said campervan and caravan holidays are ‘very good value’ when compared to other accommodation and 58 per cent said this type of accommodation was the least expensive. Other key findings in the report revealed that visitors to campgrounds and caravan parks increased around eight per cent in the last two years, and that almost three million of respondents intend to take to take this type of holiday in the next two years. The report also found that seven million Australians have visited a camping or holiday park in the last two years, up from 6.5 million between 2006/08. Apollo Motorhome Holidays chief executive Luke Trouchet said the company will expand their fleet next year to cater to the significant increase in interest from Australia families. “Traditionally the grey nomads have been the ones to hit the road, but we are seeing an almost nostalgic return to the good old fashioned family holiday on wheels,” Mr Trouchet said. “More than half of the visitors to caravan parks around Australia are families holidaying with children, and they cite value and ease as the key motivators for their holiday choice.Out of the 54 per cent of visitors to caravan parks travelling with children within the six to 12 age group said they found camping holidays the most relaxing. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Motorhome and campervan holidays on the riselast_img read more

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Panama pushes position to pull tourism

first_imgThe expansion of Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport will see the addition of more than 50 new stores, and a new food court.  It’s all about location, and Panama’s got it, says its Vice Minister of Tourism, Ernesto Orillac.Located in Central America, Panama represents a unique proposition for travelers: not only does it straddle the divide between North and South America, offering a palpable mix of the two continents, but it links the two oceans of the Pacific and Atlantic, most famously with its canal.As such, the nation sees itself as the ideal hub from which to explore many areas of the region.“Panama is a destination that is rising”, Mr Orillac told e-Travel Blackboard, stressing the importance of connectivity to the region.“It is not a destination that will fill an entire plane, but the hub of Panama will make the airlines come to Panama and then connect to all of Central America, South America the Caribbean in less than 45 minutes.“The important thing is not only Panama as a product, but that we can actually lure airlines, flights from different destinations to do multi-destinations and use Panama as a hub.”Mr Orillac was speaking to e-Travel Blackboard at major MICE trade show MITM Americas, which was held at the Intercontinental Playa Resort and Spa in Panama City last week.Attesting to the diversity of Panama, e-Travel Blackboard was in less than one hour taken (by plane) from its bustling capital city to the Caribbean Islands of Bocas del Toro province. Panama is a rising destination: Mr Orillac.center_img Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

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AirAsia X capacity increase

first_imgPreviously operating nine weekly flights in Perth, 12 flights in Sydney and Melbourne and five on the Gold Coast, in addition to the recent service increase, the airline also commenced its double daily service from Melbourne on 1 October and grew to seven weekly flights on the Gold Coast today. “We are confident these newly increased services will meet the increasing demand for our services and provide guests with a choice of travel times and improved flight connections, further encouraging the growth of tourism and trade between Australia and Asia.” AirAsia X’s recent capacity increase in Australia is a result of the finalisation of a revised bilateral agreement between the Australian and Malaysian governments as well as an expansion of the carrier’s long-haul fleet. “Since launching here six years ago, we’ve changed the aviation landscape in Australia by increasing capacity, launching new services and making overseas travel more affordable,” AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani said.center_img Source = ETB News: L.B. Long haul budget airline AirAsia X has bumped its service to 54 flights and over 20,000 seats per week out of Australia to Kuala Lumpur, with the launch of twice daily flights between the Malaysian capital to Sydney and Perth and five weekly flights Adelaide flights.last_img read more

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Chinas Shijie99 partners with Amadeus as it eyes global expansion

first_imgChina’s Shijie99 partners with Amadeus as it eyes global expansionChina’s burgeoning travel sector takes another global leap as Amadeus signs an agreement with Shijie99, China’s leading travel e-commerce aggregator, to power their international growth.The multi-year agreement will include the provision of extensive air content via Amadeus’ advanced Master Pricer search technology for points of sale outside of mainland China. Prepaid and postpaid hotel and car rental, as well as rail content will be available to customers in all markets, including China.Catering to inbound tourism and Chinese travellers in overseas markets, the agreement will enable Shijie99 to expand and diversify its product portfolio by adopting the same technology used by leading global online travel agents.This means that travellers will have access to the finest global content via the best search technology, meeting the needs of travellers today and into the future.Ms. Feng Na, COO of Shijie99 said, “Shijie99 has enjoyed phenomenal growth in China, becoming the leading e-commerce aggregator in a matter of years. As we look to drive similar success outside of China, collaboration with a global leader like Amadeus is critical. Our partnership means that travellers will have access to the best global content via the best search technology, meeting the needs of travellers today and into the future.”Sebastien Gibergues, Head of Leisure Online & Travel Media, Amadeus, said, “Shijie99 is a powerhouse in China’s expanding travel industry, delivering content to the leading travel players. I have no doubt that Amadeus’ leadingtechnology and comprehensive global content will support Shijie99 in their international expansion. This is a great match and an exciting partnership, and Amadeus is proud to be part of Shijie99’s global growth.”Albert Pozo, President, Amadeus Asia Pacific, commented, “Amadeus continues to invest in technology and solutions that enable the success of Asia Pacific travel players, as we have done for many years. The agreement with Shijie99 is the latest of many successful partnerships in the region and we are excited to enable and support their expansion onto the global stage.”Amadeus made tremendous progress in the China market with a focus on forming and nurturing partnerships with Chinese travel industry players to help increase their international competitiveness.Source = Amadeuslast_img read more

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Sofitel French Polynesia celebrates 50 years of iconic overwater bunga

first_imgSofitel French Polynesia celebrates 50 years of iconic overwater bungalowsThe signature overwater bungalow, first invented in the Islands of Tahiti and now the quintessential icon of paradise, celebrates its 50th birthday this year. For travellers looking for the perfect South Pacific escape, staying in an overwater bungalow is a ‘can’t miss experience’. From direct access from a private deck into the world-renown Tahitian lagoons, to lounging on the balcony of a thatched-roof hideaway with all the amenities and service of a first class hotel, the overwater bungalow is the symbol of an ultimate private getaway.To celebrate the 50th anniversary, Sofitel Hotels & Resorts in French Polynesia is offering a complimentary lunch for two people per stay for every booking made in an Overwater Bungalow. This exclusive offer is valid now until 31 December 2017 and can be booked via Sofitel.com, accorhotels.com or your travel agent.The overwater bungalow was first conceived and built in the lagoon of Raiatea in 1967 by three American hotel owners known as ‘The Bali Hai Boys.’ They took traditional local Polynesian grass huts and set them on concrete stilts over the water’s edge. Soon after, Hotel Bora Bora was conceived and it became the first luxury overwater bungalow resort on the island of Bora Bora. In the 90’s, scientific research indicated that overwater bungalow stilts offered an artificial shelter for fish, which in turn contributes to the protection of the fragile lagoon ecosystem.Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort built its first overwater bungalow in 1996. Since 2006, the hotel has been participating in a local program which forbids all motorised activities around the property in a bid to protect its beautiful lagoon.Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort was originally built in 1979 for the Hurricane movie produced by Hollywood filmmaker Dino de Laurentiis and features 13 overwater bungalows. While, Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, the only boutique hotel on Bora Bora and on its own private island, has 20 overwater bungalows facing glorious Mount Otemanu.Sofitel Hotels & Resorts in French Polynesia recently introduced a new ‘Horizon amenities’ program, which is available at Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort and Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island. The amenities include a bottle of Champagne on arrival, private in-room check-in, Lanvin amenities, priority seating at all restaurants, shoe shining, express ironing services, and butler service.What exactly is an overwater bungalow?Unlike a typical hotel room, these traditional pandanus-leaf thatched-roof bungalows or villas sit above the turquoise lagoon waters. In many overwater bungalows, tropical fish swim below a glass panel at the foot of the bed; so the blues of the lagoon reflect and fill the bungalow. The overwater bungalow offers a king size bed, luxurious bathroom and a private terrace, where breakfast can be delivered by outrigger canoe. The lapping waves of the gentle spectacular lagoon are just outside and all overwater bungalows have direct access into the lagoon for a private swim with the fish and the rays. AccorHotelsSource = AccorHotelslast_img read more

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