Colombian president talks trade environment and organized crime in Costa Rica

first_imgPresidents Juan Manuel Santos, of Colombia, and Laura Chinchilla, of Costa Rica, began this Friday discussions for a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, which could lead to millions of dollars in investment. After a private meeting, in a west San José hotel, the leaders signed a framework agreement setting out the principles governing the negotiations, which will begin in July in the Colombian capital of Bogota.“I hope we finish as soon as possible, that will depend on the dynamics of the negotiations, but Costa Rica and Colombia have plenty of experience in free trade and I do not see many problems,” Santos said in a conference press with Chinchilla, after the meeting.Chinchilla highlighted that Costa Rica and Colombia shared the “same vision of development,”  and the similarities “ provide the basis to form a deep and lasting business partnership.”“Our relationship keeps growing stronger in the political arena, and now in the commercial, that will lead us to join efforts in forums where we share interests,” Chinchilla said.Costa Rica’s exports to Colombia grew by 12.1 percent in 2011 compared to the last two years, but the trade balance is very unfavorable, according to official figures.In 2011, Costa Rican sales to Colombian were $48.2 million, against $455.7 million imports.The two presidents, accompanied by their foreign ministers, trade ministers, environment ministers and security ministers, discussed further aspects of bilateral interests like fighting narco-trafficking, migration and the protection of marine resources.Chinchilla also promised to review the visa requirement necessary for Colombians to visit Costa Rica. Colombians make up the second largest foreign population in Costa Rica, after Nicaraguans. Of the 386,000 immigrants living in the country, 4.3 percent are Colombians, according to the 2011 census.In the topic of environment, both governments agreed to continue cooperating against illegal fishing and shark finning and the defense of the sea.“It is precisely the theme of the oceans that will be one of the specific topics at the Rio+20 Summit (going on in Brazil), because if we continue to destroy the seas we will have waters without fish.”  Santos said..On the issue of security, Santos stressed that the countries must join efforts to prevail in the battle being waged against organized crime.“This is a transnational crime and the more cooperation we have the more effective we will be. Colombia has managed to accumulate, at a high price, great experience in this fight and we want to share it with Costa Rica,” he said.Costa Rica, like the rest of Central America, is a bridge for Colombian cocaine cartels that are transporting the product to the world’s biggest drug consumer, the United States.Santos left Costa Rica that same afternoon. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Venezuela votes to choose Chávez successor

first_imgCARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelans flocked to the polls Sunday to pick late leader Hugo Chávez’s successor, choosing between the handpicked heir of his socialist revolution and an opponent vowing change in the divided nation.After a brief and bitter campaign, supporters of acting President Nicolas Maduro played military-style bugles to wake up people before dawn to vote in an election pitting him against opposition rival Henrique Capriles.Maduro is widely expected to win the right to complete the new six-year term Chávez won in October, promising to continue oil-funded policies that cut poverty from 50 to 29 percent with popular health, education and food programs.But Capriles, the loser in October polls, hopes discontent over the nation’s soaring murder rate, chronic food shortages, high inflation and regular power outages will give him an upset victory after 14 years under Chávez.Before dying last month, the late leader endorsed Maduro as his successor. Maduro has since cast himself as Chávez’s “son” and sought to elevate his late mentor as a saint-like figure, calling him “Christ the redeemer of the poor.”The 50-year-old former foreign minister pumped his fist as a crowd cheered him on after he stepped out of a black SUV to vote at a Caracas polling station, accompanied by his wife, former attorney general Cilia Flores.Before placing his electronic vote’s receipt in a box, he looked up at the sky and held his hands in prayer.“When I voted, I voted for his memory,” said Maduro, who was mocked by the opposition during the campaign for saying Chávez’s spirit visited him in the form of a bird. “I gave my vote to this little bird that is flying freely. I voted for him.”Maduro, who was accused of exploiting Chávez’s death for political gain, said he would await the election results in the military barracks where the former colonel was laid to rest.Capriles voted in an upper-class neighborhood, kissing a statue of the Virgin Mary after voting and urging Venezuelans to report any election abuses.“What we want is for this country to have a true democracy, a democracy for all, a country where we can all exercise our rights without the possibility of any reprisal,” he said.The 40-year-old state governor accused the government of sending text messages to civil servants to pressure them to vote for Maduro. During the campaign, he said Maduro unfairly used state resources to his advantage.From Venezuela’s Amazon region to the Caribbean coast and the capital’s hillside slums, voters cast ballots to decide the future of a nation sitting on the world’s biggest proven oil reserves.At the school where Chávez used to vote in the poor January 23 neighborhood, some voters hailed his legacy.“The commitment to the revolution is very strong,” said Denis Oropeza, 33, a museum employee voting there as a truck played a recording of Chávez asking Venezuelans to vote for Maduro before cancer took his life.Later, two of Chávez’s daughters voted at the school and were applauded by the crowd. People chanted “Chávez lives! The struggle goes on!”Across town, in a neighborhood known as a Capriles bastion, voters said they were fed up with violence that left 16,000 people dead last year and a weak economy that has people struggling to find butter and milk in grocery stores.“I want change because the situation is not good. There’s no security, the country is divided in two,” said Pietro Bellacicco, 75, a retired agricultural worker.Polling stations began to close at 2230 GMT but people will be allowed to vote as long as lines exist.Chávez named Maduro – a former bus driver and union activist who rose to foreign minister and vice president – as his political heir in December before undergoing a final round of cancer surgery. He died on March 5 aged 58.Maduro and Capriles engaged in an acrimonious campaign marked by insults, government allegations of assassination plots against the acting leader and the virtual beatification of Chávez.Maduro called his rival a “little bourgeois,” while Capriles derided the tall, broad-shouldered acting president as a “bull-chicken.”Capriles avoided criticizing Chávez, however, pledging to maintain his social “missions.” He lost to Chávez by 11 points in the Oct. 7 presidential election – the opposition’s best ever showing against him.But he blamed the government for the nation’s economic woes and vowed to cut the “gift” to Cuba – a deal in which Caracas ships 100,000 barrels of oil per day while Havana sends doctors and other experts to Venezuela.Opinion polls gave Maduro a lead of 10-20 points, though the last survey conducted by Datanalisis last week gave him a 9.7-point edge. The winner will be sworn in on Friday. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Costa Rica foreign trade mission promotes country in China India

first_imgForeign Trade Minister Anabel González kicked off a business tour of five cities in China and two in India to promote trade and investment to Costa Rica.Officials also will present the new concept of a national brand, “Essential Costa Rica”, launched last Tuesday.The China tour includes the cities of Xiamen, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Dalian and Beijing, and González will be accompanied by Costa Rica’s Ambassador to China, Marco Vinicio Ruiz, the Trade Ministry’s director of investment, Irene Arguedas, and the director of international relations at the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency, Pilar Madrigal.“We will invite Chinese businesses to participate in the VII China-Latin America and Caribbean Business Summit set to be held in Costa Rica in November,” González said.After the China tour the mission will travel to India, where they will visit Bangalore and Delhi.In India the tour will include promotional events at business fairs and meetings with potential investors, particularly in the services sector. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

In 2nd day of trial Honduran judges say they acted in defense

first_imgRelated posts:Honduran judges sacked for opposing 2009 coup seek reparations at Inter-American Court of Human Rights Miguel Facussé is dead: What does that mean for the people of Honduras? Honduras brings homicide rate down Honduran journalist travels to Costa Rica to denounce death threats, beating back home Lawyers for thefour judges dismissed in Honduras for objecting to the country’s 2009 coup clashed with adversaries from the government on Tuesday at the closing of a hearing at the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights.The jurists sought the court’s help in restoring the constitutional order that had been broken in Honduras, said attorney Alfredo Ortega, with the Washington-based Center for Justice and International Law (Cejil), which is representing the former judges in the legal proceedings.But an attorney for the Honduran government, Jorge Serrano, said the group’s lawsuit is inadmissible because the judges’ dismissal is based on national legislation.In 2009, “the victims, acting as authentic defenders of democracy and human rights, carried out a series of actions to demand constitutional order be restored,” Ortega told the court in Cejil’s closing arguments for the two-day hearing.The plaintiffs, Guillermo López, Luis Alonso Chévez, Ramón Enrique Barrios and Tirza Flores, are all members of the Asociación de Jueces por la Democracia (Judges’ Association for Democracy, or AJD).The AJD voiced opposition to the bloody coup, which toppled Honduran President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, who was sent into exile.López “took part in a march in which more than 200,000 people demanded the return to the rule of law,” something that “for him was not only his right as a citizen, but also his duty,” Ortega said.Chévez “was arbitrarily arrested for defending a group of demonstrators against the excessive use of force. At the same time, he questioned the Supreme Court’s response” to the coup, he added.The Honduran Supreme Court backed the coup, calling it a “constitutional succession,” rather than a coup.As a university professor, Barrios held a conference during which he stated that what had happened had not been a constitutional succession, Ortega said, adding that, “a summary of the conference was later published by local newspapers.”Flores “resorted to the justice system to denounce those allegedly responsible for the coup d’etat, and to protect the president who had been violently expelled,” he added.“For these actions, the judges and the magistrate were arbitrarily dismissed in a process that, among other violations, did not guarantee access to adequate and effective [legal] resources,” Ortega said.“Their acts, which generated disciplinary processes and their ultimate dismissals, were protected by the right to freedom of expression,” he added.“The exercise of freedom of expression also can be a duty for judges, due to their role as guarantors of the rule of law,” he said.Marcia Aguiluz, also a lawyer with Cejil, told the court that the Supreme Court “abused its power, violated the state’s international obligations and its own legislation.”She said, “In order to set a precedent, the Supreme Court chose these four people – all members of the Asociación de Jueces por la Democracia – to send … a clear message: If you challenge power, if you act independently, if you think differently, you’ll be expelled.”She asked the seven human rights court justices to set a precedent by favoring judicial independence.Serrano, representing the government, cited legislation that justified the judges’ dismissal.“We believe it doesn’t violate … precedents set by the Inter-American System,” he said.He added that Honduran legislation provides for a legal process for the protection of the rights that allegedly had been violated.Serrano asserted that, “the lawsuit should be considered inadmissible.”Colombian Justice Humberto Antonio Sierra, president of the Inter-American Court, said the parties have until March to file closing statements in writing. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

PHOTOS Dry season brings a blast of color to Costa Ricas treetops

first_img Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font / The Tico Times Alberto Font / The Tico Times Alberto Font / The Tico Times Facebook Comments Alberto Font / The Tico Times Alberto Font / The Tico Times The dry season has come to most parts of Costa Rica and with it the once-a-year burst of color from trees like theTabebuia ochracea, known locally as corteza amarilla and related to the golden trumpet tree. The Tabebuia rosea, known as roble sabana, erupts with lilac bouquets, and the Erythrina poeppigiana, known as poró gigante, bursts into vibrant orange. If you are traveling around the country, even in downtown San José, keep an eye out — or up — for a flashy surprise. Related posts:PHOTO GALLERY: A changing tide for Costa Rica’s artisanal fishing communities To conserve the Amazon, the forest must become an economic ‘asset’ PHOTOS: A close-up look at Nicaragua’s Momotombo Volcano Ad Astra Rocket’s breakup with the government puts Costa Rica’s hydrogen future on holdlast_img read more

Messi draws hundreds of fans to practice in Washington DC

first_imgWASHINGTON D.C. — If you were going to construct the perfect male athlete, you would start with Michael Phelps’s torso and J.J. Watt’s shoulders. You’ll need to borrow Tom Brady’s right arm and Clayton Kershaw’s left, Manny Pacquiao’s fists and Usain Bolt’s quads.And you will want Lionel Messi’s feet.Those feet. Those magnificent feet.Soccer is the world’s game. It’s also the feet’s game. Unless you are a goalkeeper, feet are essential to success. Many a great athlete has failed in soccer because, despite strength, endurance and smarts, they lacked creative feet. In the modern era, no set is better than Messi’s — quick as a hummingbird’s wings with a cotton touch, mesmerizing and punishing. is in Washington for the first time during a pitch-perfect 11-year career to play in Argentina’s friendly against El Salvador on Saturday afternoon at FedEx Field. Messi, 27, and the star-sparkled squad are practicing at Georgetown all week. Though officially closed to the public, Tuesday’s session drew hundreds of spectators to the outer fences of Shaw Field.A few hours before the workout, reports surfaced in Spain that he had hurt his right foot in a match against nemesis Real Madrid on Sunday. Like a thunderstorm rolling through the pampas, rumors boomed across social media. With medical reassurance from Argentine soccer authorities, though, the tempest passed. Messi, and those feet, are fine.Soccer is not a game of numbers. Statistics are scant. Performances are difficult to quantify. There are no slugging percentages or quarterback ratings to define a player’s value. Who’s to say whether a defensive midfielder had a good game? Watching soccer is like attending opera; individual interpretation varies.In the case of Messi, and other elite scorers such as Cristiano Ronaldo, the numbers are irrefutable. For Barcelona, he has recorded 397 goals in 466 appearances across all competitions. He has added 45 in 97 games for Argentina, four coming during La Albiceleste’s run to the World Cup final last summer in Brazil.He is the greatest scorer in Spain’s La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, the sport’s ultimate club competition. In 2011-12, he notched 50 goals in league outings and 23 in others for a world-record 73 in just 60 games.His greatness is defined, however, by the manner he has gone about it — with style and elegance, dance moves on a grass-covered stage.Often times, the assists are as memorable as the goals.Ray Hudson, the former D.C. United coach who calls Barcelona games regularly for Miami-based TV outlet beIN Sports, described a recent Messi assist this way: “The touch of the pass, with the outside of his Stradivarius, is softer than the moonlight in Tuscany.”’s collection of spices includes nutmeg. In soccer, a nutmeg is the act of pushing the ball between an opponent’s legs for the purpose of shooting, passing or retaining possession.Last week, in the same Champions League match that he nutmegged Manchester City’s Fernandinho, he did it to James Milner, who was left slipping two-footed on the grass in defeat and embarrassment. It was the equivalent of being posterized by Michael Jordan, replayed a million times around the world.In a video clip that went viral almost immediately after the Milner moment, Bayern Munich Coach Pep Guardiola, the former Barcelona manager who was in attendance, was caught by a TV camera gasping in astonishment and putting his face into his hands.Ronaldo, the flashy Real Madrid attacker, has won the past two world player of the year awards after Messi claimed the previous four. But Messi’s all-around performance against Manchester City — he assisted on the lone goal with a lovely run and put on an extraordinary display of ball control and passing throughout the evening — reminded the soccer world that he is the best of his generation.Maybe, some say, the best ever — though fans of Pele and Diego Maradona would beg to differ. The Brazilian and Argentine greats raised World Cup trophies; Messi has not.Nonetheless, former English star and current TV pundit Gary Lineker proclaimed on Twitter after the Barcelona-Manchester City affair: “Messi is indisputably the greatest player ever to don a pair of football boots. Don’t even attempt to argue the point.”Four days after that game, Messi assisted on the opening goal in Barcelona’s 2-1 victory over Real in El Clasico, the sport’s greatest rivalry. Barca leads Real by four points through 28 of 38 league matches. Messi is atop the scoring chart with 32 goals, one ahead of Ronaldo.Messi’s gems are the antithesis to soccer’s ugly side: FIFA chicanery, match-fixing scandals and racial incidents. Not all is well on Planet Futbol. But with Messi in full bloom, the game is forever beautiful.“Messi is the best player in history,” Barcelona teammate Xavi Hernandez said. “He’s only competing against himself because he has no rival.”© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:No Messi, but Argentina is still too much for El Salvador Canadian soccer player accuses Tico fans of racial slurs FIFA denies Blatter deputy approved $10 million payment Switzerland will rule on FIFA extraditions next monthlast_img read more

Ammunition fire rages at Russian military base

first_img How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Russian munitions, which frequently date back to the Soviet era, have exploded several times in recent years and the resulting fires usually rage for days. In October, a soldier caused a devastating fire at an ammunition depot by dropping a cigarette butt. In other cases, shells have exploded during munitions disposal.The Emergencies Ministry said about 30 people had sought medical help and 11 of them were hospitalized, while more than 6,000 people were evacuated from the village of Nagorny. More than 600 emergency workers were trying to put out the fire, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.The Interfax news agency said the shells at the Chapaevsk base have a range of less than a kilometer (half a mile).(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 sober MOSCOW (AP) – Exploding shells set off a fire that was triggering explosions Wednesday at a military depot in southern Russia, injuring about 30 people and causing the evacuation of more than 6,000 from a nearby village, investigators and emergency workers said.No cause has yet been determined for the fire at the Chapaevsk military depot in the Samara region, which the federal Investigative Committee said was set off Tuesday by the “involuntary” explosions of shells. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Top Stories center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

Volcano erupts on southern Japanese island

first_img Comments   Share   Japan, which sits atop the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” has dozens of volcanoes and is frequently jolted by earthquakes.In March 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake rocked northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 18,500 people and ravaged much of the northern Pacific coast.Authorities recently closed part of a popular hot springs about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Tokyo because of fears Mount Hakone, which sits to the southeast of Mount Fuji, might erupt.The eruption last September of another volcano, Mount Ontake in central Japan, killed 57 people.Setsuya Nakada, a professor at Tokyo University, told NHK that the eruption on Kuchinoerabu was stronger than Mount Ontake’s.Since the 2011 disasters, “this sort of activity has continued,” Nakada said, when asked if more eruptions were likely on the island. “Probably the eruptions will continue.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Check your body, save your life Top Stories A military helicopter was sent to survey the island and assess damage. Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo that the Coast Guard had dispatched a ship to help evacuate the residents.Nobuaki Hayashi, a local village chief, said about 120 of the island’s 137 residents were gathered at a local evacuation facility.“There was a really loud, ‘dong’ sound of an explosion, and then black smoke rose, darkening the sky,” he told the national broadcaster NHK. “It smelled of sulfur.”Hayashi said a few people on the island were still unaccounted for. One person, who lives in an area that is generally off-limits, was to be evacuated by boat as he could not travel safely to the shelter by land.“The skies here are blue, but smoke is still rising to the west,” he said.Kuchinoerabu is 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of the main southern island of Kyushu. A heavily forested, mountainous island bordered mostly by rocky cliffsides, it is a national park supported mainly by tourism and fishing.Footage from NHK showed the mountain shrouded in light gray ash as the clouds from the eruption cleared.Kuchinoerabu usually can be reached only by a once-a-day ferry from Yakushima island, 12 kilometers (about 7 miles) to the east, which has an airport and a population of more than 13,000 people. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Patients with chronic pain give advice TOKYO (AP) — A volcano erupted on a small island in southern Japan on Friday, spewing black clouds of ash and rock towering into the sky and prompting authorities to tell residents to evacuate the island.No injuries were reported after Mount Shindake erupted about 10 a.m. (0100 GMT) in spectacular fashion, sending dense pyroclastic flows of rock and hot gases seaward, the Japan Meteorological Agency reported.The agency raised the volcano alert level for Kuchinoerabu island, where Shindake is located, to five, the highest on its scale. Shindake also erupted in August last year for the first time since 1980. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

China Japan hold finance talks stalled amid tensions

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Lou and Aso also agreed to hold the sixth and next round of the China-Japan Finance Dialogue in Tokyo next year.Both ministers agreed the talks help to “further advance China-Japan strategic and mutually beneficial relationship in the economic and financial fields,” according to a statement cited by Xinhua.Saturday’s talks were the fifth round of dialogue between the finance ministers from the world’s second- and third-largest economies. The last round was held in April 2012, before relations became tense over disputing claims to islands in the East China Sea and a visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2013 to a shrine that honors Japan’s World War II victims, including war criminals.Contacts between the two countries are slowly improving, and Abe and Xi have met twice since late last year.Xinhua didn’t mention whether the pair had discussed Beijing’s proposal for a Chinese-led Asian regional bank, but said the two sides agreed to promote infrastructure development in Asia. The U.S. and Japan have not sought membership in the bank, whose charter is due to be signed later this month.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security systemcenter_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   BEIJING (AP) — Chinese and Japanese finance ministers held talks Saturday to deepen economic cooperation that had been delayed for about two years over strained relations between the Asian giants.Finance Minister Lou Jiwei and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso agreed to deepen financial cooperation and support collaboration in the economic, trade and investment fields, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported. Quick workouts for men 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

Sudans alBashir returns home from South Africa

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has arrived in Khartoum to cheers of supporters after leaving South Africa, where a court had ordered his arrest based on an international warrant for war crimes charges.Al-Bashir raised a stick in the air as he stepped out of the plane Monday, waving to a few hundred supporters who greeted him at the airport. Some chanted “God is Great” while others cried in joy. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Comments   Share   center_img Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall A South African court ruled that al-Bashir, who was attending an African Union summit, should be arrested. The ruling came after he left.Al-Bashir, in office since a 1989 military coup, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes allegations linked to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Mexico Manhunt on after drug lord El Chapo Guzman escapes

first_imgGuzman climbed down a hole 10 meters (30 feet) deep that connected with a tunnel about 1.7 meters (5 feet-6 inches) high that was fully ventilated and had lighting, said National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said.Authorities also found tools, oxygen tanks and a motorcycle adapted to run on rails that they believe was used to carry dirt out and tools in during the construction.The tunnel terminated in a half-built barn-like building in a farm field, according to radio transmissions among authorities, who cordoned off the structure that sits atop a small rise with a clear view of the prison.One woman who lives near the barn-like structure where the tunnel emerged, said outsiders bought the surrounding land about a year ago and immediately started building. The woman, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals, said that her son had been employed as a construction worker on the surface buildings and that the builders paid well.Guzman faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the U.S. as well as Mexico and he was on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list.After Guzman was arrested on Feb. 22, 2014, the U.S. said it would file an extradition request, though it’s not clear if that happened. Sponsored Stories FILE – In this Feb. 22, 2014, file photo, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, is escorted to a helicopter in Mexico City, following his capture overnight in the beach resort town of Mazatlan. Mexico’s security commission said in a statement late Saturday, July 11, 2015, the top drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has escaped from a maximum security prison, the second time he has fled after being captured. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File) How men can have a healthy 2019 MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico mounted an all-out manhunt Sunday for its most powerful drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who authorities said escaped from a maximum security prison through a 1.5-kilometer (1 mile) tunnel from a small opening in the shower area of his cell.The elaborate underground escape route, allegedly built without the detection of authorities, allowed Guzman to do what Mexican officials promised would never happen after his re-capture last year — slip out of one of the country’s most secure penitentiaries for the second time. “This represents without a doubt an affront to the Mexican state,” President Enrique Pena Nieto said while on a previously scheduled trip to France. “But I also have confidence in the institutions of the Mexican state … that they have the strength and determination to recapture this criminal.”Guzman’s escape is a major embarrassment to the Pena Nieto administration, which had received plaudits for its aggressive approach to top drug lords. Since the government took office in late 2012, Mexican authorities have nabbed or killed six of them, including Guzman.If he is not caught immediately, Guzman lord will likely be back in full command and control of the Sinaloa Cartel in 48 hours, said Michael S. Vigil, a retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief of international operations.“We may never find him again,” Vigil said. “All the accolades that Mexico has received in their counterdrug efforts will be erased by this one event.”Thirty employees from various part of the Altiplano prison, 55 miles (90 kilometers) west of Mexico City, have been taken in for questioning, the federal Attorney General’s Office said. He finally was tracked down to a modest beachside high-rise in the Pacific Coast resort city of Mazatlan, where he had been hiding with his wife and twin daughters. He was captured in the early morning of Feb. 22, 2014, without a shot fired.Before they reached him, security forces went on a several-day chase through Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. They found houses where Guzman supposedly had been staying with steel-enforced doors and the same kind of lighted, ventilated escape tunnels.___Associated Press writers Cristian Kovadloff in Toluca, Mexico, Maria Verza in Almoloya, Mexico, Christopher Sherman in Mexico City and Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.___Katherine Corcoran on Twitter: Eduardo Castillo on Twitter: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. It was difficult to believe that such an elaborate structure could have been built without the detection of authorities, though photographs show the corrections facility surrounded by construction, with large open ditches and lots of metal drainage pipes that could have camouflaged such a project.Guzman’s cartel is known for building elaborate tunnels beneath the Mexico-U.S. border to transport cocaine, methamphetamines and marijuana, with ventilation, lighting and even railcars to easily move products.He was first caught by authorities in Guatemala in 1993, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison on drug-trafficking-related charges. Many accounts say he escaped in 2001 in a laundry cart, although there have been several versions of how he got away. What is clear is that he had help from prison guards, who were prosecuted and convicted.During his first stint as a fugitive, Guzman transformed himself into arguably the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. His fortune was estimated at more than $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, which listed him among the “World’s Most Powerful People,” ranked above the presidents of France and Venezuela. Comments   Share   Men’s health affects baby’s health toocenter_img When the escape was discovered late Saturday, a widespread manhunt began immediately for Guzman, whose cartel is believed to control most of the major crossing points for drugs at the U.S. border with Mexico.Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel empire stretches throughout North America and reaches as far as Europe and Australia. The cartel has been heavily involved in the bloody drug war that has torn through parts of Mexico for a decade, taking an estimated 100,000 lives or more.Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said a special task force of police and soldiers were watching its border with southern Mexico for any sign of the fugitive drug lord.To the north, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch issued a statement offering “any assistance that may help support his swift recapture.”Associated Press journalists near the Altiplano prison saw roads being heavily patrolled by federal police, with numerous checkpoints and a Black Hawk helicopter flying overhead. Flights were suspended at Toluca’s international airport near the penitentiary in the State of Mexico, and civil aviation hangars were being searched.Guzman, who is 58 according to Interpol, was last seen about 9 p.m. Saturday in the shower area of his cell, according to a statement from the National Security Commission. After a time, he was lost by the prison’s security camera surveillance network. Upon checking his cell, authorities found it empty and a 20-by-20-inch (50-by-50 centimeter) hole near the shower. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The Mexican government at the time vehemently denied the need to extradite Guzman, even as many expressed fears he would escape as he did in 2001 while serving a 20-year sentence in the country’s other top-security prison, Puente Grande, in the western state of Jalisco.Then Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told the AP earlier this year that the U.S. would get Guzman in “about 300 or 400 years” after he served time for all his crimes in Mexico.He dismissed concerns that Guzman could escape a second time. That risk “does not exist,” Murillo Karam said.Mexico’s extraditions of drug suspects to the United States have dropped under Pena Nieto’s administration, with Mexico preferring to try them at home.Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat from Texas, wrote that Mexico’s failure to extradite Guzman and other figures facing charges in the United States “is an insult to the law enforcement and prosecutorial personnel who have worked for years to build criminal cases against these drug profiteers.”“The United States needs to exercise stronger diplomatic muscle” to ensure Guzman and others are sent north to face charges, Vega wrote. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywalllast_img read more

China to lend financial support to Qantas Virgin Blue

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F China has emerged as a possible financial backer for Qantas, Virgin Blue and a number of other major European and US airlines. Both Qantas and Virgin have told The Herald Sun that Chinese banks had become a ready source of financial support, although they were reluctant to disclose the level of funding they received.Shanghai-based CBD Leasing will commit almost $US10 billion to finance future aircraft sales by major western manufacturers, the newspaper reported.The news follows an announcement by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce that the airline may raise air fares this year as demand for travel picks up.”In the domestic market in particular we saw air fares increase before Christmas, and we are hoping that will occur pretty soon with some of the international markets,” Mr Joyce said.Mr Joyce also told Bloomberg Television that the airline was set to make a record profit from its Frequent Flyer unit this year.last_img read more

Sabre wins TSAX best supplier award

first_imgTravelscene American Express recognises Sabre with Most Supportive Preferred Supplier AwardSabre has been voted Most Supportive Preferred Supplier by Travelscene American Express members at the agency’s annual National Consultants Conference (NCC) in Melbourne over the weekend. CEO Gai Tyrrell says the award highlights the strength and ongoing strategic partnership between Sabre and Travelscene American Express.”This year marks the first time Travelscene American Express has recognised a Preferred Supplier category.  I speak for everyone here at Sabre when I say that we’re truly honoured to have been considered for this award,” says Tyrrell.  “We’re dedicated to supplying Travelscene American Express with the latest and greatest in travel solutions.  Together, we’ll continue to work to develop a range of tailored solutions to improve efficiency and deliver outstanding customer service.” Source = Sabre Pacificlast_img read more

Rendezvous to rebrand hotels

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J The Marque Hotels and Rendezvous brands will be absorbed into one Rendezvous title as the Hospitality Group (RHG) makes a multi-million dollar adjustment to its hotel portfolio. Rolling out the new model from December this year, the rebranding will divide its properties into three tiers including Rendezvous Grand Hotels for premier accommodation, Rendezvous Hotels targeting upper-midscale travellers and Rendezvous Studios for the value-conscious traveller.While Rendezvous Hotel Auckland, Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne, Rendezvous Hotel Perth and The Marque Hotel Perth are currently undergo refurbishments, the first hotel to unveil the new structure will be the Rendezvous Grand Hotel Singapore.As well the Marque Sydney and the Marque Brisbane will be renamed Rendezvous Studio Sydney Central and Rendezvous Studio Brisbane on George respectively.“We have exciting plans to improve our product and we intend to build on our strengths as a provider of superior, value accommodation for business people travelling for work and/or leisure who want a unique hospitality experience,” Rendezvous Group chief executive Eric Teng said. The Rendezvous brand began in Singapore in 1997 and its parent company, the Straits Trading Company has a history of tradition and strong Asian heritage which remains the source of inspiration to the organisation today.last_img read more

Job cuts as Air NZ profits fall

first_imgAir New Zealand has announced it will axe up to 441 roles before the end of 2012 to counter a 71 percent decline in normalized earnings before taxation for the final six months of 2011 compared to the same period the prior year.Announced this morning the airline’s chief executive Rob Fyfe acknowledged the carrier’s performance as “disappointing” with net profit after taxation falling from $98 million in the six months ending 31 December 2010 to $38 million during the same period last year.Despite carrying 0.4 percent more domestic passengers, the carrier’s long haul passenger count fell 7.7 percent from 876,000 to 808,000.Hoping to counter any future losses, Fyfe said up to 441 positions would be cut with the carrier, with 266 of the positions to be removed from non replacement roles or non renewal of contracts while the remaining 175 roles will be redundancies announced to affected staff this morning.He explained the company would organize cost cuts, improve efficiencies and focus on revenue growth to improve the carrier’s profitability by more than $195 million by 2015.Other initiatives to build its business include growing its international network with a charter flight into South America.Targeting soccer fans, the carrier said tickets for the charter flight will go on sale over the coming weeks and would fly into Buenos Aires in time for first game against Argentina. The carrier’s head also noted that the airline has increased its Boeing 787-9 order up to ten, claiming that despite delays on the aircraft’s delivery it is “the right aircraft for Air New Zealand and worth the wait”.Looking cautiously ahead, the carrier expects the full financial year 2012 to challenging with continued high fuel prices and a tough economic environment.For the year the carrier is predicting its normalized earnings before taxation to be down by $79 million while net profit after taxation is expected to fall $60 million. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Aviation suffers Sandys scourge

first_imgIATA’s global traffic results for October revealed a continued pattern of softening of passenger traffic growth and a considerable deterioration in freight demand.Passenger demand increased 2.8 percent compared with October last year but was 0.5 percent down from September’s results. October’s freight demand declined 3.5 percent compared to the same period 2011 and dropped 2.2 percent when compared to September 2012. “Slowing world trade and weak business confidence are affecting demand for air travel, while Hurricane Sandy delivered a concentrated punch to US domestic and North Atlantic travel,” IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said.“Airlines are managing the softer passenger demand environment by limiting capacity growth to keep load factors high but the rapid decline in freight traffic is outrunning the industry’s ability to respond.”Hurricane Sandy caused 17,000 flights cancellations to the five most affected airports – John F. Kennedy, Newark, LaGuardia, Washington-Dulles and Philadelphia.At its peak the storm grounded 8-9 percent of global air capacity, equal to 1.6 billion available seat kilometres.“The human toll and physical destruction of Hurricane Sandy remain foremost in our minds,” Mr Tyler said.“At the same time, the disruption of thousands of flights demonstrated just how connected the aviation industry has made the world – direct flight cancellations reached airports as far apart as Singapore, Johannesburg and Santiago.“A smooth functioning aviation industry is a critical component of modern life that is often taken for granted.” Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the international aviation industry. Hurricane Sandy’s “impact was felt globally” amongst the aviation industry, with lost revenues estimated at half a billion dollars, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported.center_img Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

Aimia AirAsia Think Big Digital Form Partnership to grow AirAsia BIG

first_imgResults indicated in forward-looking statements may differ materially from actual results for a number of reasons, including without limitation, dependency on top accumulation partners and clients, changes to the Aeroplan Program, conflicts of interest, greater than expected redemptions for rewards, regulatory matters, retail market/economic conditions, industry competition, Air Canada liquidity issues, Air Canada or travel industry disruptions, airline industry changes and increased airline costs, supply and capacity costs, unfunded future redemption costs, failure to safeguard databases and consumer privacy, changes to coalition loyalty programs, seasonal nature of the business, other factors and prior performance, foreign operations, legal proceedings, reliance on key personnel, labour relations, pension liability, technological disruptions and inability to use third party software, failure to protect intellectual property rights, interest rate and currency fluctuations, leverage and restrictive covenants in current and future indebtedness, uncertainty of dividend payments, managing growth, credit ratings, as well as the other factors identified in this news release and throughout Aimia’s public disclosure record on file with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities. Source = AirAsia “Asia represents a key region for Aimia as we expand our presence globally, and we believe the partnership between ourselves, AirAsia and Tune Group provides a fantastic platform to further demonstrate our unique capabilities in the loyalty industry,” added Marc Allsop, Aimia’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. “This partnership brings three innovative, forward-thinking brands together for the long-term benefit of our customers.” “With AirAsia’s customer base of over 43 million guests a year, the potential of BIG to deliver deeper, more meaningful relationships to a broad membership base is significant,” said Alice Goh, CEO AirAsia BIG Loyalty program. “We believe that this potential extends beyond flight revenues and we look forward to working with all BIG partners to build a cutting-edge program.” “The AirAsia BIG loyalty program is a great opportunity to export Aimia’s coalition business model and to help our clients create deep and lasting relationships with their customers,” said Rupert Duchesne, Aimia’s Group Chief Executive. “Through this partnership with AirAsia and Tune Group, we look forward to sharing our experience with this program, while also growing our presence in the high-potential Asian loyalty market.” AirAsia BIG loyalty program spans across Southeast Asia, a growing market with a population of 634 million. The region is ranked fourth globally in airline market size. Forward-looking statements are included in this news release. These forward-looking statements are identified by the use of terms and phrases such as “anticipate”, “believe”, “could”, “estimate”, “expect”, “intend”, “may”, “plan”, “predict”, “project”, “will”, “would”, and “should” and similar terms and phrases, including references to assumptions. Such statements may involve but are not limited to comments with respect to strategies, expectations, planned operations or future actions. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent Aimia’s expectations as of November 13, 2013, and are subject to change after such date. However, Aimia disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required under applicable securities regulations.  Aimia Inc. (TSX: AIM) (“Aimia”), a global leader in loyalty management headquartered in Canada, AirAsia Berhad (BM: AIRA) (“AirAsia”), Asia’s fastest growing and largest low-cost airline, and Think Big Digital (“Think Big”) Sdn Bhd , today announced the signing of a partnership agreement for Aimia’s acquisition of a minority stake in Think Big, the owner and operator of BIG – AirAsia and Tune Group’s loyalty program. “The partnership between AirAsia, Think Big Digital and Aimia is yet another way that AirAsia and Tune Group are innovating and driving change in the Asian airline market – all to the benefit of our members, guests and investors,” said Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia and co-founder of Tune Group. “With its experience running the world’s largest standalone frequent flyer programs, the Aimia team has unique and invaluable insight. We are thrilled to be working together to leverage that knowledge as we continue to grow the AirAsia BIG loyalty program.” Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements Forward-looking statements, by their nature, are based on assumptions and are subject to important risks and uncertainties. Any forecasts, predictions or forward-looking statements cannot be relied upon due to, among other things, changing external events and general uncertainties of the business and its corporate structure. Aimia will initially invest approximately (C$16 million) in Think Big, with up to an additional (C$7 million) to be invested if certain milestones are achieved by December 31, 2015. The AirAsia BIG loyalty program continues to benefit from the growing customer base of both AirAsia and Tune Group. It has already attracted a broad coalition of partners ranging from credit card companies, retail stores, petrol stations, and insurance and telecom firms, in addition to the AirAsia and Tune Group family partners. The partnership combines AirAsia’s unrivaled success in the Asian market, which has seen it grow from just two aircraft to more than 160 in 12 years, Tune Group’s portfolio of successful companies including hotels, pre-paid Visa cards, insurance and music companies – and Aimia’s unmatched expertise in the design and management of travel-based loyalty programs, to provide BIG members and partners with a loyalty proposition that is truly rewarding.last_img read more

Courtyard by Marriott announces seventh Caribbean hotel

first_imgMarriott International  announced plans to open the first Courtyard by Marriott brand hotel in Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica. The project is being developed by Caribe Hospitality Jamaica.The property has a practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions, allowing it to seek a LEED Silver Certification. This building will be 30% more energy-efficient than a standard building with a 16% reduction in water consumption, a 30% use of regional materials and will produce 5% of its energy on-site through solar panels.The 129-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel, scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2015, will be located 19km from the Norman Manley International Airport and close to the city’s best dining and shopping.“The changing economic climate across the world and today’s technology has changed how people travel,” said Andrew Houghton, Area Vice President of the Caribbean at Marriott International. “Our guests want a room that has purpose and flexibility that enables a seamless transition between relaxing and working. Courtyard is designed to offer them a relaxing and functional space to work the way they want to, when they want to.”“With the success of the brand across the region, the Courtyard by Marriott brand has become a favorite amongst regional travelers”, Laurent de Kousemaeker, Chief Development Officer, Caribbean & Latin America, Marriott International. “The new hotel in Jamaica will be a significant milestone in our rapid expansion across the Caribbean and our company crossing borders into new and exciting markets.”The hotel will feature the brand’s refreshing business lobby, lobby bar, a casual dining restaurant, flexible meeting space and recreational facilities including a swimming pool and fitness center.  Additionally, it will include the brand’s new modern guestroom design which is intuitive and thoughtful, offering flexible yet comfortable spaces that enable technology. Signature furniture and architectural elements will replace traditional art in the new guestroom design.Source = Marriott Internationallast_img read more

What Australia has to match NZ as the 1 destination for Brits

first_imgWhat Australia has to match NZ as the #1 destination for BritsWhat Australia has to match NZ as the #1 destination for BritsFor the fourth consecutive year New Zealand has been voted top dog at this year’s Telegraph Travel Awards in the UK, taking out the title ‘world’s best destination’. It also marks another year where Australia has failed to make the top three.Internal Skyscanner Australia data corroborates the burgeoning popularity of the land of the long white cloud, with YoY increase in searches from the UK up a third (33.6%) in 2016. Interestingly, it’s not just the Brits falling in love with the Kiwi isles, Aussies have also been going soft for the home of the hobbit with a 46% increase in searches over the last 12 months.As a competitive nation, there’s nothing we hate more than losing to our neighbours (except losing to the Brits themselves of course). So what does Australia have on offer that can match a blinding ski scene, Middle Earth landscapes and marine volcanos?  Global travel search engine takes a look at some of Australia’s unique offerings for travellers.Ripper surf culture – with warmer climes and beautiful soft sand beaches all over Australia, one thing we have going for us is surf culture. Whether slowing things down in Byron Bay or ripping it up on the Great Ocean Road, Aussie surf culture could be one way to entice more pommes to Aussie shores.Mesmerising mountains – it seems Brits with itchy feet just love mountain ranges and while Threadbo and Perisher can’t compete with the Queenstown ski season, we do have some mighty mountains to shout about. The Blue Mountains in Sydney provide drop dead gorgeous views and epic scenery, a mere hour and a half from Sydney.Die hard adrenalin sports – NZ is home of the bungy jump and adrenaline junkie Brits seem to be lapping up the smorgasbord of new adventure sports they have on offer, from heli-biking to ice climbing. Those with a penchant for reckless recreation can find plenty on offer in Oz. From jet fighter pilot tandem rides to fly boarding and hoverboarding there are some hidden gems for the risk inclined. For those with nerves of pure steel, Neptune Island, off Port Lincoln in SA, is teeming with great whites, and travellers can join them shark diving in the comfy confines of a cage.Culinary capitals – Australia has an exotic mix of cuisine with strong Asian influences and hipster foodie capitals like Sydney and Melbourne boasting world famous restaurants like Attica.  Sydney is home to the world’s best gelato, and we’re not just making it up. Sydney’s Cow & The Moon Gelato and gelato king Messina see the fussiest of gelato fans flocking to their gelataria. It goes without saying that Aussie coffee culture is at the top of its game and home to the world’s best barista, with a renowned festival in Melbourne and some of the world’s top baristas boasting perfect blends nationwide – check out a list of 100 hot spots for inspiration.Celebrity central – the Kiwis may have the upper hand when it comes to unspoilt natural beauty but for those who prefer celeb spotting whilst globetrotting, Sydney has more bang for buck. Travellers with stars in their eyes should head to Bondi Beach or Potts Point to see the likes of Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, Joel Edgerton, Naomi Watts and more celebrity Sydney residents doing their thing. Megastars like Russell Crowe and Richard Wilkins have already jumped ship from NZ to AU.Check out Sydney’s local list of haunts for a more informed guide to rubbing shoulders with showbiz royalty. Skyscannerdiscover more of Japan hereSource = Skyscannerlast_img read more

San Miguel de Allende named the top city in Mexico Central Sou

first_imgSan Miguel de Allende named the top city in Mexico, Central & South AmericaThe colonial city of San Miguel de Allende took top honors at Travel + Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Awards 2016, where it was named “No. 1 City in Mexico and Central and South America” and No. 3 in the overall category of “World´s Best City”. The awards were determined by readers of the publication, who were surveyed from Nov. 2, 2015 to Feb. 29, 2016.Located in the Bajio region of Mexico, in the state of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende has enjoyed a favorable reputation because of its colonial architecture, year-round spring-like climate, colorful cultural celebrations, gastronomy and romantic setting. In recent years, it has become an important tourist center for Mexico and the world.“It is an honor for San Miguel de Allende to be recognized by the readers of an influential magazine such as Travel + Leisure,” said Ricardo Villarreal, Mayor of San Miguel de Allende. “We accept it on behalf of a city and its citizens who welcome all its visitors with open arms and strive to provide a unique one-of-a-kind destination in Mexico and Latin America.”The city won the same recognition from Travel + Leisure readers in 2008, when it was also named a UNESCO World Heritage site under the title of “Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesus Nazareno de Atotonilco.” The latter distinction was granted because of the city’s cultural significance, its architectural contribution to the Mexican Baroque art and architecture movement, and also the role it played in the fight for Mexican independence.The town has a mystical quality. Its picturesque cobblestone streets and colonial architecture — combined with colonial-era traditions both religious and secular, a spectacular natural setting and the vibrant Mexican culture — are only enhanced by the embrace of all its many facets by both the friendly locals and the diverse, melting-pot population comprised of hundreds of expats, representing 63 nationalities, who have made San Miguel de Allende their home.The world’s most influential travel brand, Travel + Leisure offers insider access to destinations around the globe with a signature mix of smart advice, immersive photography, expert reporting and award-winning coverage of hotels, food, design, style, culture and trends. With a global reach of more than 6.5 million readers, the U.S. edition of Travel + Leisure — which originally launched in 1971 — is today also designed for tablet readers. Visit San MiguelSource = San Miguel de Allende Tourismlast_img read more