New Zealand plans rescue of tourists stranded by earthquake

first_imgTags: New Zealand, Travel Alert Share Monday, November 14, 2016 WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand is planning to send in military helicopters and a navy ship to rescue about 1,000 tourists and hundreds of residents who remain stranded in the coastal town of Kaikoura after a powerful earthquake on Monday cut off train and vehicle access.The magnitude-7.8 quake struck the South Island just after midnight. It left two people dead and triggered a small tsunami. It also brought down rocks and mud that swept across highways and cracked apart roads.Home to about 2,000 residents, Kaikoura is a popular destination for travellers taking part in whale-watching expeditions or wanting a stopover with mountain views. But the quake knocked out water supplies and sewerage systems and left people with no easy way out.“From all directions, Kaikoura has essentially been isolated,” Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the Acting Commander of New Zealand’s Joint Forces, told The Associated Press. “There’s a real imperative to support the town because it can’t support itself.”Webb said the military planned to begin using four NH90 helicopters on Tuesday that could each transport about 18 people out of the town at a time. He said a ship was also leaving Auckland on Monday night that could potentially pick up hundreds of people if weather conditions allowed.“We’re going to get as many people and belongings out as quickly as we can,” Webb said.He said the weather forecast wasn’t looking great and the operation could take several days. He said that if needed, a C-130 military transport plane could drop fuel, water, food and other supplies to the town.Elsewhere, strong aftershocks continued to shake New Zealand on Monday, rattling the nerves of exhausted residents. The country was largely spared the devastation it saw in 2011 when an earthquake struck the city of Christchurch and killed 185 people. That quake was one of New Zealand’s worst disasters, causing an estimated $25 billion in damage.Monday’s quake caused damage in Wellington, the capital, and was also strongly felt in Christchurch. Residents said the shaking went on for about three minutes.More news:  Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?Police said one person died in Kaikoura and another in Mt. Lyford, a nearby ski resort. Several other people suffered minor injuries in Kaikoura, police spokeswoman Rachel Purdom said.Prime Minister John Key flew over the destruction in Kaikoura by helicopter as aftershocks kicked up dust from the landslides below. Cars could be seen lying on their sides and parts of the road were clearly impassable.“It’s just utter devastation,” Key said.Heading south with Gerry Brownlee and Andrew Little to check in on the people of Kaikoura and surrounding areas.— John Key (@johnkeypm) November 14, 2016He later toured the area and met with locals. He estimated the cleanup effort would run into the billions of dollars and said clearing the debris and blocked roads could take months.Kaikoura resident Terry Thompson said he was out of town when the quake struck but managed to reach his wife on her cellphone before the phone died.“She said the glass exploded right out of the double ranch-slider,” he said. “The neighbour’s chimney was gone, there were breakages and things smashed everywhere.”Thompson said his wife helped a 93-year-old neighbour and a tourist into her car and drove to higher ground.“They stayed in the car all night but couldn’t sleep,” Thompson said. “They’re all very, very tired and concerned about the state of their property.”Video taken from a helicopter near Kaikoura showed three cows stranded on an island of grass in a paddock that had been ripped apart in the quake. The patch of grass was surrounded by deep ravines of collapsed earth, trapping the animals where they stood.The quake temporarily knocked out New Zealand’s emergency call number, 111. In Wellington, it collapsed a ferry loading ramp, broke windows and caused items to fall from shelves. It also forced hundreds of tourists onto the streets as hotels were evacuated.Australians Paul and Sandra Wardrop and their children, Alexander, 15, and William, 12, were on the 10th floor of the Park Hotel when the shaking began.More news:  Can you guess the one and only hotel company to rank on Indeed’s Top Workplaces in Canada list?“We felt that the building was going to collapse,” Sandra Wardrop said. “You could hear the sounds of the building shaking and see cracks appearing in the walls, in the plasterwork in the bedroom.”The family was among dozens of people who took shelter in the capital’s parliamentary complex, which threw open its doors.Police, meanwhile, stepped up their patrols after receiving several reports of burglaries in homes and businesses that had been evacuated due to the quake.Authorities in Wellington told people who work in the city’s central business district to stay home on Monday. Officials said some large buildings were showing signs of structural stress. The city’s suburban rail network was shut while crews checked tracks, bridges and tunnels.New Zealand, with a population of 4.7 million, sits on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.The location of Monday’s quake largely helps explain why the damage was so minimal compared to the 2011 temblor, said Mark Quigley, associate professor of active tectonics at the University of Melbourne in Australia.The 2011 quake was located almost directly beneath Christchurch, meaning tens of thousands of people were exposed to the most violent shaking at the epicenter. Monday’s quake was centred in a rural area that is home to just a few thousand people.The 2011 quake also had a tremendous amount of high-frequency energy, including very strong vertical ground motions that felt “like you’re being picked up by a giant and being shaken around,” Quigley said.But for those in Christchurch on Monday, the shaking felt very different – more of a rolling motion. “They were far enough away that a lot of that high-frequency energy was dissipated,” Quigley said.The quake was centred 93 kilometres (57 miles) northeast of Christchurch at a depth of 23 kilometres (14 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS initially estimated it had a magnitude of 7.4 before revising it to 7.8. << Previous PostNext Post >> New Zealand plans rescue of tourists stranded by earthquake Source: The Associated Presslast_img read more

What a dump Google Maps apologizes for Trump fauxpas

first_img Posted by VANCOUVER — Google Maps is apologizing for what it says were inappropriate names used for Trump landmarks that surfaced on its maps over the weekend, including in Vancouver.For a brief period on Saturday, Google Maps displayed the Vancouver building carrying the name of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump as Dump International Hotel and Tower.The Associated Press said users of the mapping service also reported on social media that Trump’s Manhattan building was renamed Dump Tower.Trump has been using several floors of the New York City building as the base for his transition operation leading to his inauguration in January.A statement from Google Maps says it apologizes for any offence that may have been caused by the renaming and its teams immediately took action to fix the issue.Questions about how the problem could have occurred or who might have caused it were not answered. Tuesday, November 29, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >> The Canadian Press center_img Tags: Donald Trump, Trump Hotels Share What a dump! Google Maps apologizes for Trump faux-paslast_img read more

AmaWaterways has suite savings for AmaMagnas inaugural season

first_img Travelweek Group Tags: AmaWaterways, Discounts Share << Previous PostNext Post >> CALABASAS, CA — AmaWaterways is offering savings worth up to $944 per person to clients booking AmaMagna SA or SB suites during the ship’s first season along the Danube.“We are thrilled to offer special savings to the first guests traveling on board AmaMagna, as they are part of a very memorable, historic moment for AmaWaterways,” said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “With more personal space, the freedom of multiple dining venues and exceptional accommodations, AmaMagna represents a dynamic take on river cruising and offers an incredible opportunity for new and past river cruisers to experience the Danube in a whole new way.”Clients can upgrade from a base category stateroom to a 355-square-foot SB suite with a supplement of $3,539 per person.AmaMagna’s SA and SB suites feature full outside balconies, open seating areas and well-appointed bathrooms, complete with marble-clad walk-in showers and double sinks. Six Grand Suites (474 square feet) and an Owner’s Suite (710 square feet) provide more amenities with separate seating areas and expansive bathrooms complete with spa-like bathtubs.More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksAll suite guests receive a Suite Amenity package that includes a welcome gift including a bottle of champagne, mobile WiFi device for unlimited WiFi while exploring on shore and unlimited complimentary laundry service.AmaMagna has a total of 98 staterooms, most of which are suites measuring between 355 and 710 square feet.Complementing the Main Restaurant and the intimate Chef’s Table Restaurant will be two new dining venues: Jimmy’s Wine Bar Restaurant, named for AmaWaterways’ late co-founder Jimmy Murphy, and the Al Fresco Restaurant, with retractable windows and outdoor seating.The ship’s complementary daily excursion program includes escorted hiking and biking tours and group fitness classes lead by a trained Wellness Host.  Additional features include a large sundeck swimming pool and wellness studio.The upgrade supplement from Category E to Category SB is per person, in Canadian dollars, on a seven-night cruise based on double occupancy (SA supplement $3,893).The Suite Amenity package is applicable to categories SB, SA, GS and OS, is offered per stateroom, has no cash value, is nontransferable and may be subject to change without notice.center_img AmaWaterways has suite savings for AmaMagna’s inaugural season Friday, June 29, 2018 Posted bylast_img read more

Avalons flash sale includes 1200 in savings and 499 airfares

first_img Share TORONTO — Avalon Waterways has slashed prices on a select number of sailings with a newly launched flash sale.Applicable to 16 ‘Tulip Time’ and ‘Active & Discovery on the Rhine’ sailings, the sale allows clients to save $1,200 per person plus gain access to affordable airfares to Europe.Using major scheduled airlines, Avalon will fly clients from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal for just $499, taxes included. And for an additional $100-$150, clients can add on connecting fares from 16 other cities across Canada.Eight-day ‘Tulip Time’ cruises, which depart in March, allow travellers to sail past acres of colourful tulip fields and enjoy the urban vibes of cities like Amsterdam and Antwerp. With the flash sale, prices start at $1,895 (excluding airfare).Clients can also sail from Amsterdam down the Rhine on an eight-day ‘Active & Discovery’ sailing. Departing from May to October, these cruises include a daily choice of a classic walking tour or an experience of discovery, all included in the Avalon price. During the flash sale, prices start at $3,209 (excluding airfare). Some departures sail from Wiesbaden, Germany back to Amsterdam.More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksFor more information go to Avalon’s flash sale includes $1,200 in savings and $499 airfares Travelweek Group Tags: Avalon Waterways, salecenter_img Posted by Wednesday, January 9, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Time to pay up Drivers caught speeding by traffic cameras will have

first_imgNo related posts. The Roadway Safety Council (COSEVI) announced Monday the agency will begin collecting some 6,000 fines issued to drivers caught speeding by surveillance cameras on highways from January to November 2011.Collection of the fines had been put on hold pending a ruling by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, which reviewed several appeals by drivers and consultations by government officials, including President Laura Chinchilla.The 16 cameras were installed on three major highways: Florencio del Castillo, which connects San José with the eastern province of Cartago, General Cañas, which connects San José with the province of Alajuela and the Circunvalación, a belt route around the city.At the time drivers were caught on camera, a traffic violation for speeding was ₡308,000 ($610). But the Sala IV considered the fine disproportionate to the infraction, and reduced it to ₡20,000 ($40). COSEVI is waiting for a separate court ruling to determine which amount will be applied. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Oscar Arias praised for role in peace deal

first_img Alberto Font From the print editionIt is fair to say that none of the 350 young students at San José’s National Theater on Wednesday have any recollection of the conflicts that ravaged the Central American region a quarter century ago.“There is something intangible in the pain of war,” said Oscar Arias, former president and architect of the peace negotiations that ended regional wars in the 1980s. “To be unaware of the taste of gunpowder, the color of death and the cries coming from behind your neighbor’s wall is a privilege.” Arias, who served two terms as the nation’s president from 1986-1990 and 2006-2010, helped bring peace to five Central American nations with the signing of the Esquipulas II Peace Agreement in the Guatemalan city of the same name in 1987. On Wednesday night, more than 400 guests, including students, dignitaries and lawmakers, attended a celebration marking the accords’ 25th anniversary.The agreements facilitated the end of civil wars taking place in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, which claimed more than 250,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people. The wars also forced more than 250,000 refugees to flee into Costa Rica during those bloody decades. 25 years later, former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias commemorated the accords in a ceremony on Wednesday at San José’s National Theater. Also pictured are President Laura Chinchilla, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo. During a long negotiation process, Arias condensed a 200-page document into less than three pages that detailed in simple terms what the region’s leaders had agreed to.“His main message was that every person should carry a book instead of a rifle,” said Arturo Cruz, Nicaragua’s former ambassador to the United States.Other speakers in attendance included President Laura Chinchilla, who thanked Arias for his role in the peace process, and spoke about the accomplishments the countries have achieved as a region, and the work that remains ahead.“We should commend ourselves for the fact that half of Central Americans today have been born into a peaceful period that began in 1987,” Chinchilla said.Arias admitted that in order to reach an agreement, the leaders involved had to give up some of their aspirations, such as a dream to see Central America become the first demilitarized region in the world.“It was important that we limited our ambition and gave up on perfectionism,” said Arias, who received the Nobel Peace Prize that year for his role in fostering peace. “If each of us had held on to our positions, we would not be here tonight.” Among the details of the agreement were the guarantee of free elections and the disarming of rebels groups in the region.Arias said that despite U.S. pressure at the time, Nicaragua participated in the negotiations from the beginning.“It is not possible to conduct a successful negotiation if the legitimate interlocutors of a conflict are not present,” he said.During the event, a journalist, historian and former ambassador participated in a round-table debate where Arias was praised for his efforts.“There was a constant loss of lives during that period,” former U.S. diplomat Amber Moss said. “It is essential to remember. We have to do it. If we forget our past we cannot guide ourselves towards the future.” Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Independence Day meal with a side of history

first_imgFor the guacamango:1 small red onion, dicedThe juice from one big lemon1 garlic clove, minced2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped1/2 tsp. ground cumin1/2 tsp. ground coriander1 big ripe mango, cubed1 ripe avocado, cubed1 tsp. extra virgin olive oilA dash of hot pepper sauce or to tasteSalt and pepper to taste1. In a medium bowl, combine onion, lemon, garlic and cilantro and let rest for five minutes.2. Add spices, mango, avocado, and olive oil and toss until well combined.3. Add salt, pepper, hot and mix well. 4. Reserve refrigerated with the avocado pit inside to prevent browning.For the chorreadas:4 ears of corn in a cob or 2 cups canned corn1/3 cup of corn masa or flour1/2  tsp. saltA sprinkle of sugar1 tsp. extra virgin olive oilWater if needed for bindingButter or oil for cooking Palmito cheese to serve, shredded1. Wash well and degrain the fresh corn, or use can-ready, well washed and drained.2. In a blender or food processor, work the corn with the salt, sugar, masa or flour and a little water if needed until well blended. Reserve.3. In a skillet at medium heat, add 1/2 tsp. of butter or oil and spread 1/3 cup of the mix over it as it if was a pancake about 1/4 inch thick.4. Cook for two minutes each side or until golden brown, adding more butter if needed. Reserve.5. Repeat with the rest of the mixture until all pancakes are ready.To assemble:1. Heat up the chorreadas and have them ready.2. In a plate assemble the hot pancakes alternating with the grated palmito cheese up to three layers.3. Top and garnish with the guacamango and serve with extra hot sauce if desire.Makes 3 servings Chorreadas with Palmito Cheese and Guacamango  I remember spending many cold and rainy September afternoons inside my grandmother’s den, where she cooked our meals in her outdoor wood-fired stove. My cousins and I would feast and listen to her stories as the smells of burning coffee wood, pastries and breads wafted to our noses. It was a magical event, and led us to wonder about the origins of the food.Costa Rica’s culinary tradition is a symphony of many songs, and it has been evolving for more than 500 years. All the items in my grandma’s kitchen were a combination of ideas and flavors perfected through the centuries, and a merging of different cultures that clashed on this tiny, rugged isthmus. The recipes date back to our aboriginal ancestors’ diet of corn, beans and squash, which are complemented by bountiful fruits, greens, tubers, legumes and vegetables as well as fishing and hunting. This was happening for hundreds of years on the edge of the Mayan empire in Guanacaste, all the way down to where the Incan influence crept north from Panama. At the time the Spanish conquistadores arrived, they found an organized system of kingdoms and cacicazgos divided along the country, with vast areas under the control of powerful kings. The most famous was Cacique Garabito, king of the western Huetares and the country’s first guerrilla leader. He fought the Spanish and opposed their cruel practices and brutal control system of encomiendas. From the print editionPreparing for the Independence Day feast, I could not help but wonder what it should be. Typical tamal and rompope with guaro? Gallos, grilled meat, corn and Imperials?  Marco González No related posts. After arriving at the Pacific, settling for a while, then marching into the jungles, conquistadors like Juan de Cavallón, the Central Valley’s first explorer and Garabito’s latter sworn enemy, settled inland and established themselves south of San José. In March of 1561, they founded the city of Castillo de Garcimuñoz, the first town in the valley where the city of Desamparados now stands. Later, under Juan Vásquez de Coronado’s leadership, the Spaniards moved the main city to the eastern part of the valley and founded Santiago de Cartago in 1563, just over the Ochomogo hills.Most of the settlers moved here, and then the colonial merchant era began with bovine, equine and porcine cattle, along with products like lemons, oranges, rice and wheat from Spain and Europe. This helped establish a new diet based on the availability of fruits and veggies, and the beginning of the production of meat and dairy. Costa Rica began to obtain European staples such as butter, cheese, cream, milk, ham, and bacon.The pasturelands, replete with rich volcanic soil, rolled down the foothills of Irazú and Turrialba volcanoes, where fresh air, fog and rain created a perfect environment for cattle. Creamy milk, rich butter, thick sour cream and soft fresh cheese became a normal part of the diet in the soon-to-be capital of Costa Rica. Cartago grew as a city and became the political, economic and gastronomic center of the country for almost three centuries, with tremendous growth in the agricultural production of potatoes, corn, squash, beans, greens, coles, berries and all things dairy. This lasted well until the mid-1800s, when San José, Alajuela and Heredia became powerful players and exploited the high elevation of the mountains to develop similar economic activities. European techniques started to appear, as some cheese was made mozzarella-style and rolled in balls to what we know now as palmito cheese, commonly sold at roadside stops. Another was queso fresco, which grew up to be either Turrialba cheese or aged and salted Bagaces cheese, which is used by Tico cooks as parmesan. The rich products such as cheese and ground beef were combined with ever-present corn, mostly in the Mesoamerican standard of tortillas. Take a freshly made tortilla and slap some grilled skirt steak or pork chop and some fresh stringy cheese on top, and you have the birth of a classic Costa Rican gallo. Potatoes thrive in the higher hills, so the meat, onion and achiote (annato) made their way with potato cubes to form picadillo de papa or hash; then it was wrapped around a soft tortilla or encased in masa dough to be fried into empanadas. A new dish included a cornmeal pastry filled with hash or beans and cheese, and deep fried in hot oil or butter, European style.Then in the early 19th century, coffee was introduced in the country, and another European staple came to the heart of the Costa Rican society. The soil was perfect for growing arabica coffee, and a new era was born.After that, generations of cooks have mixed old European recipes with the bountiful products of the New World to make unique cuisines that vary even within the country. From the Guanacaste meat and corn-based cowboy dishes to the Caribbean coconut, seafood and spice-based coastal diet, we’ve got quite an array of flavors here in Costa Rica.So I planned my mid-September menus with all this in mind, and with a better understanding of our culinary past. When I think back to my grandmother’s den three decades ago, I can still smell the hominy boiling, along with the fresh cheese and butter for the corn tortillas or just-baked sour cream bread.I can picture a nice big cup of steaming coffee with milk, brown sugar syrup and a spoonful of chirrite, along with warm chorreadas (sweet corn pancakes) and fresh tortillas topped with palmito cheese or dipped in fresh sour cream. Inspired by that memory, I made a dish that exemplifies the convergence of cultures that have enriched Costa Rica and made it a melting pot since the days of conquest and colonization, all the way to our independence and to the present day. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rican health officials confirm eight deaths from AH1N1 virus

first_imgCosta Rica’s Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed the eighth death this year from the AH1N1 influenza virus.The latest cases were patients at Hospital México in the capital who died this week after suffering respiratory complications caused by the virus.The first victim, a 33-year-old woman from the south-central Pacific port of Quepos, died on Monday. On Tuesday, a 58-year-old woman died at the same hospital.According to Health Ministry records, another 19 people have died in the country this year from other respiratory viruses.The San Juan de Dios Hospital, also in the capital, currently has four patients who tested positive for the AH1N1 virus, and two other cases are being tested to confirm the disease. Hospitals outside the capital activated security protocols due to the recent increase in cases.Respiratory viruses are keeping hospitals busy throughout the country, boosted mainly by the beginning of the rainy season, which in Costa Rica runs from May to November.Health Ministry officials so far have not ordered the suspension of major public events as occurred in 2009, when for the first time in more than 200 years they cancelled the traditional pilgrimage Ticos make every Aug. 2 to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles in the province of Cartago, usually attended by more than 1 million Catholics. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican health officials alarmed at spike in respiratory illnesses Annual vaccination against influenza begins early Caja distributes influenza vaccine Caja to distribute flu vaccines next weeklast_img read more

Our favorite quotes about Costa Rica from the past year

The best – and the worst – things that were said in 2013:ARCHBISHOP: LESBIANS ARE COOL“[Lesbians are] nobler. They are more respectful and you can easily see that. One of them once told me: ‘Oh, so I cannot go to church with my girlfriend?’ Meaning, for me, homosexuality is incredibly immoral. It’s not that I think lesbianism is ideal … but with lesbians … at least the ones I know are more polite.”-Archbishop Hugo BarrantesContext: The Costa Rican church leader explained in an interview with the daily La Nación why gay men are rude. As for lesbians, Barrantes remarked he’s all right with them. (He also listed one more reason he’s disgusted by gay males. He doesn’t like to think about two men having sex. Of course.)GIMME A JOB, COSTA RICA“¡Contráteme!” (“Hire me!”)-(Now-retired) slogan for Johnny Araya’s presidential campaignContext: Though it wasn’t his most visible blunder, asking Costa Ricans to “Hire Him” made for a clunky and pathetic calling card for the former San José mayor. He decided to retire the slogan in December after watching his enormous lead in the polls dissipate over a couple months.‘HELP IS ON THE WAY’“My name’s Carlos. You’re going to be OK. Help is on the way.” -Boston bombing hero Carlos Arredondo Context: The Costa Rica-born Arredondo had lost both his sons in recent years: One was killed in Iraq in 2004 and the other died by suicide in 2011. That’s why Arredondo was at the marathon on April 15. Members of the National Guard and a suicide prevention group were running in honor of his sons. He was cheering them on. When the first bomb went off, he was in the bleachers. After the second bomb exploded, Arredondo scrambled toward the blasts. The photo snapped of Arredondo rushing bombing victim Jeff Bauman to a medical tent became the iconic image of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. As he helped move Bauman to safety he reassured the young man, who lost both his legs in the bombing, that he would survive. The two have since become good friends, and visited Costa Rica together in the fall.HOT TAMALES. COLD RESPONSE.“It’s time to come together and share.”-Invite sent to presidential candidates to a tamal hosted by José María VillaltaContext: In a thinly veiled, albeit very amusing, political ploy, the Broad Front Party candidate invited his fellow hopefuls to come eat tamales with him, a Tico Christmas tradition. Not a single candidate accepted the invitation. Johnny Araya, Villalta’s likely opponent in a possible presidential runoff, jabbed back at the invite and said he was too busy preparing for the election to attend.MORE BORDER BATTLE B.S.“Given the fact that this issue [of Guanacaste] has not been debated in the [world] court, we could consider taking the case to the ‘ICJ’ [the Hague-based International Court of Justice] and it could permit Nicaragua to recover that territory.”-Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, insinuating that his country has deigns on the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste.Context: At a military event in August, Ortega gave a speech where he talked about Nicaragua taking over Costa Rica’s northwestern province of Guanacaste, by presenting a case on the area to the International Court of Justice, in the Netherlands. This, naturally, became the latest touchstone for a feud between the not-so-friendly neighbors. Ortega said he wanted to discuss the return of the “occupied” province with Costa Rica. Chinchilla rejected that idea. Instead, in an overblown display of national pride, she chose to lead a march with Guanacastecans to “defend the province’s sovereignty.”NOT GOING DOWN WITHOUT A FIGHT“I have fought and worked every day of my life for a chance to go to the World Cup, and today I have succeeded. It is one of the happiest days of my life.”“The braver the bull, the better the fight. … Costa Rica usually puts up its best game against big teams.”-Costa Rica men’s national team head coach Jorge Luis PintoContext: These quotes come from the once-maligned, currently celebrated head coach who brought Costa Rica back to the World Cup for the first time since 2006. The first Pinto quote was said during the fiesta after Costa Rica qualified for Brazil 2014 in October. The latter quote came after Costa Rica’s World Cup draw put a damper on all the jubilation. Costa Rica learned that it will face three former World Cup champions in its group: Uruguay, Italy and England. OBAMA’S NEW SLOGAN: ‘PURA VIDA’“In the United States we’re thankful for the many Costa Ricans who contribute to our prosperity and our liberty. In my best Tica, ‘Pura vida.’”-U.S. President Barack ObamaContext: The most powerful leader in the world stumped in Costa Rica in May to firm up economic ties between the U.S. and Central America and the Dominican Republic. While in San José, Obama tried out the country’s catchphrase in his best “Tica,” whatever that means.OROZCO SAYS MORE LOONY THINGS“That preference is not a right. It’s a stunted development of sexual identity. It can change like alcoholism, tobacco addiction.”“We could mobilize half a million people anywhere we want. … This is a demonstration of what Costa Rica wants.”-Conservative lawmaker Justo OrozcoContext: The oh-boy-is-he-ever controversial leader of the evangelical National Renovation Party keeps making grand statements that garner nationwide attention, for better or worse. The above quotes refer to homosexuality and a march against in vitro fertilization, respectively. Costa Rica remains the only country in the Western Hemisphere to maintain a ban on IVF.‘OVIEDO BABY’“Can’t wait for Bryan Oviedo to score the winner against England. OVIEDO BABY OVIEDOOOOO WOAH”“Tough draw for England, he’s unplayable at the moment. Can we possibly cope with @Bryan_Oviedo?”“What you on about mate? Bryan Oviedo is going to knock us both out““England got no chance in that group, especially against premierships most lethal finisher: @Bryan Oviedo.”“Go easy on ‘Inglaterra’ Bry”“It’s not Italy and Uruguay [that] England have to be worried about it’s Bryan Oviedo!”“Sh**. It’s only just clicked that Bryan Oviedo is part of the Costa Rican national team. We’re royally f**ked.“-Comments on Twitter about Costa Rican soccer star Bryan OviedoContext: Premier League defender Bryan Oviedo scored a late goal for Everton to give the club its first victory over powerhouse Manchester United in 21 years. The Tico was only in the game as a sub for an injured starter. But once Oviedo knocked off the vaunted rival, Everton fans fell in love (He even gets his own chant: “Oviedo Baby,” sung to the chorus of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”). The upset victory led to some teasing over Twitter once England was drawn into Costa Rica’s World Cup group. Hence, the above tweets.READ THIS, MRS. PRESIDENT#LauraLeaEsto (#LauraReadThis)–Tico Internet denizens on TwitterContext: After President Laura Chinchilla announced a lawsuit against an alleged defamatory Facebook comment, social media users in Costa Rica pushed back by trying to post as many inflammatory remarks as possible and appending them with a hashtag that translated to #LauraReadThis.SPY-GATE“NSA spying has been a ‘strong blow to the United States’ credibility and its democratic standards.”-President Laura Chinchilla, commenting at her weekly press conference.Context: Costa Rica became the latest nation to condemn the U.S. government surveillance program that came to light last year.THAT’S SNOW FAIR“Que horror!! Están degradando el deporte!!” (“What horror!! They’re degrading the sport!!”)-President Laura Chinchilla, on Twitter“U-S-A. No fair play.”-Angry Costa Rican soccer fansContext: Chinchilla tweeted the thoughts of many Costa Ricans after the U.S. toppled the Costa Rica national team in a World Cup qualifying match in March that took place in Denver during a blizzard. Six months later, Ticos stayed miffed about the snow game during a rematch at home. Supporters of “La Sele” (the national men’s team) greeted the visiting U.S. team with heckling and the chant “U-S-A. No Fair Play.” A few fans welcomed U.S. team members by tossing eggs at the team bus and trying to organize a traffic jam. It was petty stuff, but in the end Costa Rica got revenge where it mattered most – at the National Stadium Costa Rica defeated the U.S. 3-1, though Costa Rica would later be fined for its own fair play issues during the match.VANDER-WHO???“It was an ‘irresponsible, isolated’ study from ‘some university in Tennessee.’”-Communications Minister Carlos Roverssi Context: Roverssi dismissed a public opinion survey that Ticos have the lowest support for their political system since 1978. What was that “some university in Tennessee?” Vanderbilt University – one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, which has conducted the Latin American Public Opinion Project since 1978, when Roverssi was 20 years old. The first LAPOP country of study? You guessed it – Costa Rica.VICTIM BLAMING?“The responsibility for the incident, from a legal point of view, was with the student, now deceased, for his imprudent actions in running from an adjacent field to the hotel, in the early morning hours, leading to the error.”-Judge Luis CalderónContext: A security guard named Jorge Guevara shot and killed 16-year-old U.S. student Justin Johnston while Johnston was on a school trip in La Fortuna in northern Costa Rica in June 2011. Guevara received a 15-year prison sentence for manslaughter. But two years later, a panel of three judges overturned the decision. In a staggering ruling, the trio of judges stated that the teenager’s decision to return to the hotel late at night (after curfew) led to his accidental death.  Facebook Comments No related posts. read more

France calls US spying unacceptable after WikiLeaks claims

first_imgRelated posts:The NSA has surveillance system to record ‘100 percent’ of a foreign country’s phone calls Obama: US spies to remain ‘interested’ in foreign gov’ts Oliver Stone to make Snowden film Hollande in Haiti to promise help from resented France PARIS – France expressed outrage on Wednesday at “unacceptable” U.S. spying on President Francois Hollande and his two predecessors that was detailed inleaked documents.Hollande spoke by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama, who gave fresh assurances that spying on European leaders had ended, while France’s foreign minister summoned the U.S. ambassador for a formal explanation.“President Obama reiterated without ambiguity his firm commitment … to stop these practices that took place in the past and which were unacceptable between allies,” Hollande’s office said in a statement after the call.The documents — labelled “Top Secret” and appearing to reveal spying on Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Hollande between 2006 and 2012 — were published by WikiLeaks along with French newspaper Liberation and the Mediapart website.Hollande earlier convened his top ministers and intelligence officials to discuss the revelations, with his office stating that France “will not tolerate any acts that threaten its security”.The leak was embarrassingly timed for French lawmakers, who were expected to approve sweeping new powers to spy on citizens later on Wednesday.The new law will allow authorities to spy on the digital and mobile communications of anyone linked to a “terrorist” inquiry without prior authorization from a judge, and forces Internet service providers and phone companies to give up data upon request.Addressing parliament, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Washington’s actions “constitute a very serious violation of the spirit of trust” and France would demand a new “code of conduct” on intelligence matters.The White House earlier responded that it was not targeting Hollande’s communications and will not do so in the future, but it did not comment on past activities.Claims that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on European leaders, revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, had already led to promises from Obama that the practice had stopped.“Commitments were made by the U.S. authorities,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement. “They must be remembered and strictly respected.” French Senate President Gerard Larcher, left, French President Francois Hollande, center, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius prior to a defense council meeting on June 24, 2015 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. AFP Photo Pool/Charles PlatiauSecret meetings on Greece The leaked documents include five from the NSA, the most recent dated May 22, 2012, just days after Hollande took office.It claims Hollande “approved holding secret meetings in Paris to discuss the eurozone crisis, particularly the consequences of a Greek exit from the eurozone.”It also says the French president believed after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she “had given up [on Greece] and was unwilling to budge.”“This made Hollande very worried for Greece and the Greek people, who might react by voting for an extremist party,” according to the document.Another document, dated 2008, was titled “Sarkozy sees himself as only one who can resolve the world financial crisis.” It said the former French leader “blamed many of the current economic problems on mistakes made by the U.S. government, but believes that Washington is now heeding some of his advice.”One leak describes Sarkozy’s frustration at U.S. espionage, saying the “main sticking point” in achieving greater intelligence cooperation “is the U.S. desire to continue spying on France.”In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price insisted: “We do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose. This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike.”France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gerard Araud, appeared to downplay the revelations, saying on Twitter: “Every diplomat lives with the certainty that their communications are listened to, and not by just one country. Real world.”, confidential discussions are held by “secure methods of communication”, he continued, but “all our other devices are, by definition, listened to.”WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said French citizens had a right to know their government was “subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally,” and promised more “timely and important” revelations soon.At the time of the Snowden leaks, British newspaper The Guardian reported that the NSA had listened in on the phone calls of 35 world leaders, including the leaders of France, Mexico and Brazil.While it was not known then if Hollande’s phone was bugged, the French leader had said on a visit in Washington in February 2014 that the two allies had resolved their differences over U.S. digital eavesdropping.“Mutual trust has been restored,” Hollande said at the time. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Off the eaten path Pad Thai

first_imgAt Pad Thai, everything is grounded down fresh. I’m talking all the curry paste, turmeric, galangal, basil and coriander; all ground with a mortar and pestle. I could taste the difference. Ellen Kantawong, who owns the restaurant, is also the one in the kitchen, responsible for cooking everything herself.She was born in China, to a Thai mother, and has lived in Costa Rica for almost five years. She arrived here via a stint in Hollywood, where she was learning the business side of things from her Thai family who now reside there, but it was her mother who taught her the recipes that she now serves to her customers.“My mom told me that Thai food is health food and that Thai people do not cook with spice powders,” Kantawong said. Delicious and William Ayre / The Tico TimesPad Thai has a five-page menu full of food and drinks. Every item on the menu includes a photo, which will be beneficial for those who are less familiar with Thai food.Categories in the menu include salads, appetizers, soups, rice, drinks, desserts and of course, their namesake Pad Thai. I’ve tried a lot and have not been disappointed with anything they have placed in front of me. But the stars of the show are their Som Yum, Tom Yum Goong Khao Pad, Pad Thai and their Kao Niew Mong.All these names probably don’t make any sense yet, but they will soon.Be prepared for sensory overload when the food hits the table. The colors, smells and flavors come together impressively.The Som Yum, a green papaya salad that is a staple in Thai restaurant, is a perfect option to start your meal and the version here is as good as I ever had during my travels through Thailand. Som Yum William Ayre / The Tico TimesServed with a dressing of fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice that perfectly balances the acidity of the green papaya and the sweetness of cherry tomatoes, at Pad Thai the salad is garnished with peanuts for a little bit of added crunch. I’ll never get tired of eating this salad.Next up was the Tom Yum Goong, a hot and sour prawn soup. They serve this it in a large sharable portion, or a smaller individual one.The large portion comes in a wok, placed on top of a lit candle to keep it warm. Overflowing with seafood, this soup includes prawns, crab and mussels. The presentation is breathtaking and their decision to serve it over a flame makes eating it, and sharing it, an experience. William Ayre / The Tico TimesNot to be outdone by its visual aspect, the flavor of the Tom Yum Goong is off the charts. The broth is tangy, with bits of fresh lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves making welcomed appearances in almost every bite. This one is a must try.Save room though, we still must talk about the Khao Pad and the Pad Thai, which hit the table just as we are literally drinking the last drops of broth out of the wok.Don’t judge me.Kha Pad is a stir-fried rice with pineapple, chicken and shrimp. It was delicious, but the Pad Thai was my favorite; as it should be at a restaurant named Pad Thai.While they serve Pad Thai with just egg, chicken or shrimp, I opted for the Pad Thai that included all three proteins, mixed, served over a bed of rice noodles, tossed in a perfectly balanced Tamarind-based sauce. You surely know this one. I was getting quite full at this point. I would have ordered a second serving otherwise. Pad Thai William Ayre / The Tico TimesLast to hit the table was the Khao Niew Mong, a sticky rice dessert topped with mung bean seeds, sweetened coconut milk and fresh mango. While I barely had any space left in my stomach for dessert, I ate the whole thing.OK, you can judge me now.For those with a sweet tooth, this one is another must-try. Mango sticky rice William Ayre / The Tico TimesTo drink, though they do offer a selection of beers and wines, go for their Thai Tea, which is absolutely delicious. It is very sweet and could be left as a dessert but now that I know how good it tasted, I can’t wait until the end of the meal to have one.It is some sort of black tea with red fruits, served over a generous portion of ice, and topped with a sweetened coconut milk.For my next visit, I have my eye on their Thai curries, which are available in red, green or yellow.Pad Thai is located 350 meters west of the TicaBus station, in the Paseo Colon neighborhood of San Jose. There are three parking spots directly in front of the restaurant, exclusively for their customers, as well as public parking along the street.Look for a two-level building with stringed lights hanging over the parking spaces and a white and orange sign, showcasing the restaurant’s name and logo.The 44-seat restaurant is located on the ground floor of this building, Entering the front door you will be greeted by a very friendly, and very capable, gentlemen who will be happy to seat you and explain the menu. He does a great job, considering he is Costa Rican, and the offerings here are as foreign to him as ice hockey. The seating arrangement at Pad Thai William Ayre / The Tico TimesWhile you wait for your food, be patient, remember Ellen is alone in the kitchen; you can enjoy the interior design of this humble restaurant, which does its best make the room feel exotic.You can choose to watch one of their two flat screen TVs, or, as in my case, daydream while looking at the water fountain, which is peacefully home to a golden statue of Buddha. (Buddhism is, of course, the main religion in Thailand.)Though Ellen has a lot of fond memories in the kitchen with her mother when she was younger, Pad Thai is Ellen’s first restaurant – and it has only been open for a month and a half, so it has not yet developed the loyal following that I predict it soon will. This means that reservations are not yet necessary – but word of mouth should quickly change that.It is a truly special place. I expect that expats will be attracted to this restaurant, as they are already accustomed to eating this kind of food back home in North America and Europe, as well as curious Tico diners, who are constantly getting hungrier to try something foreign and new.For now, Pad Thai is only open from Wednesday to Sunday. During the week their hours are 6 p.m.-10 p.m. and then Saturday and Sunday, they are open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Price per main dish averages around 7,500 colones (about $15) including tax. Major credit cards are accepted. Search “Restaurante Pad Thai” in Waze or Uber to arrive conveniently.William Ayre is a Canadian born chef and restaurateur who has spent the last half of his life doing business in Costa Rica, where he now considers to be home. Inspired by Anthony Bourdain, Ayre’s passion of experiencing different cultures through food has taken him to 35 different countries over five continents. Whether it’s a 20-course meal at a fine dining restaurant in Toronto, or cantina hopping in search for the best chifrijo here in San José, he fits in just fine. Facebook Comments Related posts:Off the eaten path: Bar La Selegna Off the eaten path: Bar y Restaurante Rio de Janeiro Off the eaten path: Villa Oro Off the eaten path: Al Masri Cocina Egipcialast_img read more

Vatican insists on interreligious dialogue

first_imgVATICAN CITY (AP) – The Vatican underlined Pope Benedict XVI’s push for dialogue among religions in the aftermath of the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya by a mob enraged by an anti-Muslim film.The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement on Wednesday saying that `’unjustified offense and provocations” against Muslims have `’sometimes tragic results” that `’nourish tension and hatred” and unleash `’unacceptable violence.” 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Men’s health affects baby’s health too Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project The Vatican said respect for `’beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols” of all religious is `’essential” for peaceful coexistence.It is a message the pope will be taking on a trip to Lebanon that begins on Friday.U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed along with three of his staff members in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday night.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img

Balkan leaders wary of Macedonia crisis fallout

first_img TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s president and other Balkan leaders expressed concern Tuesday that the ongoing crisis in Macedonia could be a setback for the region’s efforts to add new members to the European Union.President Bujar Nishani told regional leaders meeting in Tirana that the Macedonia crisis showed the “fragility of stability in the region.”Macedonia is grappling with a political crisis triggered by wiretapping allegations against the government, while tension has been stoked by a shootout this month between police and suspected ethnic Albanian militants that left 18 dead. Top Stories The leaders were meeting as part of the 13-nation South-East European Cooperation Process. Five of its members are in the EU, while five others are candidates.“We must preserve a stable region to promote integration,” Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta told a news conference.Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said the crisis in Macedonia demonstrated the “need to reaffirm our support for the independence and the territorial integrity of the country.”The summit brought together representatives of west Balkan countries with long-troubled relations, including Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.It was held a day ahead of the landmark visit to Tirana by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, the first to Albania by a Serbian premier.Countries at the summit reaffirmed a commitment to support each other’s EU membership drives, and cooperate with a global coalition against violent extremism and terrorismTuesday’s meeting marked the end of Albania’s one-year presidency of the regional body, which passed to Bulgaria.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Men’s health affects baby’s health too Four benefits of having a wireless security system Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Albanian President Bujar Nishani, left, meets with visiting Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta in Tirana, Tuesday May 26, 2015, during the South East European Cooperation Process summit, a regional grouping of 13 Balkan and eastern European countries. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)last_img read more

Pot remains Europes most used drug agency report says

first_img Comments   Share   Patients with chronic pain give advice Men’s health affects baby’s health too 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Top Stories Sponsored Stories LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Marijuana continues to be the European Union’s most commonly used drug, with almost 79 million EU citizens estimated to have tried it at some point in their lives, the bloc’s drug agency said in a report published Thursday.That is almost a quarter of the EU’s adult population and compares with some 15.6 million who have tried cocaine, the second most popular drug, the Lisbon, Portugal-based agency said. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The annual European Drug Report said marijuana accounts for 80 percent of drug seizures on the continent and 60 percent of all reported drug law offenses.The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction also noted that while recent laws allowing the regulated sale of marijuana in some parts of North and South America have drawn wide interest and debate among drug experts, attention in Europe is still centered on the drug’s potential health costs.Organized crime groups are becoming more deeply involved in marijuana production and trafficking, making it a drug of growing importance for law enforcement agencies, the report said.At the same time, there are increasing cases of serious health problems linked to high-potency cannabis products. The agency has recorded increases in the purity or potency of all the most commonly used drugs in Europe.Last year, authorities identified 101 new synthetic drugs, up from 80 discovered the previous year. The new substances are not controlled under international law and are commonly sold as “legal highs,” often over the Internet. They try to mimic the effects of controlled drugs such as cocaine or LSD.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

European deal creates US grocery giant

first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Shoppers may be the biggest winners as the bargaining power of grocers grows along with their size, said Euromonitor retail analyst Tim Barrett.The latest tie up is between the Dutch retailer Royal Ahold NV and its rival, Belgium’s Delhaize Group. Yet the combined company, to be called Ahold Delhaize, will generate about 61 percent of its revenue in the U.S.In addition to Stop & Shop and Giant, Royal Ahold owns the Martin’s supermarket chain and online grocer Peapod in the U.S. In Europe, it owns Albert Heijn stores. Food Lion and Hannaford are Delhaize’s best-known brands in the U.S. It operates the Delhaize and Tempo chains overseas.Together, Ahold Delhaize, will have more than 6,500 stores around the world and it would cater to 50 million customers a week in the U.S. and Europe.Though grocers have grown larger, the grocery sector has become fragmented, with stores like Whole Foods hitting the high end, and Wal-Mart and Dollar General coming in low.That has left more traditional grocers fighting for the massive customer base that lies in between. As those grocers grow and their leverage increases, they can demand more from food and beverage supplies, said Euromonitor’s Barrett. They are likely to pass on the savings to customers in a bid to take back market share from Wal-Mart, dollar stores and other discount retailers, said Barrett.Earlier this year, the owners of the Albertsons chain bought Safeway, and Dollar Tree is in the midst of buying Family Dollar.Cerberus acquired the Albertsons stores it didn’t already own from Supervalu Inc. two years ago, along with four other Supervalu chains.Kroger Co. bought the regional chain Harris Teeter.The deal announced Wednesday consolidates the sector even further.Ahold and Delhaize had combined sales last year of $60.6 billion (54.1 billion euros).The companies said that the deal will involve one-off costs of 350 million euros that will create annual savings of 500 million euros in the third year after the combination is finalized.Ahold chief executive officer Dick Boer will become CEO and Delhaize CEO Frans Muller will be his deputy.The deal is expected to be completed in the middle of next year.___Mike Corder reported from The Hague, Netherlands. Joseph Pisani reported from New York.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Comments   Share   Top Stories NEW YORK (AP) — The owner of Stop & Shop and Giant will tie up with the parent company of Food Lion, creating a $29 billion grocer that will be in a stronger position to compete with Wal-Mart and other discount retailers.The deal, which would create the fourth largest grocer in the U.S., is the latest in a series of buyouts and mergers that has major players bulking up to carve out market share in an industry that has grown intensely competitive. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologistlast_img read more

Jetstar boss doesnt fly with pilots

first_imgAlmost 400 pilots have issued a “no confidence” vote in Jetstar Group boss Bruce Buchanan following Jetstar’s proposed planned employment changes.Just weeks after Mr Buchanan was promoted to Group Chief Executive in line with the company’s strategy to expand its Asia region operations, about 400 disgruntled pilots packed Sydney’s Wolli Creek Rowers Club in protest, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.Angry that Jetstar’s expansion into Asia would see Singapore and Vietnam-based pilots transferred to Australia and paid only award rates, the pilots passed a unanimous motion declaring the move “an offensive attempt by Jetstar management…to pit pilots against each other to secure their careers”, the newspaper reported.Pilots also declared that they “no longer have confidence Bruce Buchanan as the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Jetstar group”.The meeting saw predominantly Jetstar and Qantas pilots encouraged to “not to do the airline any favours” during September.According to the newspaper’s source Australian and International Pilots Association officials advised pilots against illegal industrial action, but to “do what they could within the law”, including refusing to show up early for pre-flight planning, likely to result in flight delays.Further action considered would see pilots refusing to work outside scheduled hours and not taking on more than a minimum load of fuel, meaning flight diversions should in-flight delays occur.”We don’t want to do anything that will cause delays to passengers,” a Jetstar pilot told the newspaper.”But we do want Jetstar and Qantas to stop undermining our wages and conditions and opportunities to progress through the company by putting pilots into shelf companies where our Enterprise Bargaining Agreement doesn’t apply.”Jetstar’s head of corporate relations, Simon Westaway told the Sydney Morning Herald rumours of a go-slow by Jetstar pilots have been in circulation for some time, but the airline’s on-time performance figures did not reflect pilot action on this front.”We’ve got a good, tight airline that is committed to the best service delivery to customers,” Mr Westaway said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.Alast_img read more

AsiaPacific Airports Sweep Best Airports Worldwide Awards in 2011 ACI

first_imgSource = ACI Hong Kong] Asia-Pacific Airports have once again sweep Best Airports Worldwide awards in the 2011 ACI Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards.Seoul Incheon International Airport is the Best Airport Worldwide followed by Singapore Changi Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport.In commenting the results, ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Director, Mrs. Patti Chau says, “I wish to extend my congratulations to all the airports being recognized in the 2011 ACI Airport Service Quality Awards. This marks the seventh year in a row that Seoul Incheon International Airport has been named Best Airport Worldwide. Asia-Pacific airports have continued their success in demonstrating their commitment to customer service excellence and received the passengers’ vote of confidence. The 2011 result is very impressive as over 75% of the recognized airports are from the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region.”ASQ Award is an annual award recognizing airports on their customer service. The awards are based on results of the overall satisfaction of departing passengers. Only airports which have participated in all four quarters of the year and followed the sampling methodology are eligible for an award. The top three airports in each region and size category will receive an award which will be presented on May 24th, 2012 during the gala dinner at the 7th ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly, Conference and Exhibition to be held in Singapore.ASQ Survey is the world’s leading airport customer satisfaction benchmark program with over 190 airports in more than 50 countries surveying their passengers every month of the year.17 Asia-Pacific airports have joined ASQ in 2011 and a total of 69 Asia-Pacific airports have joined the program since 2006.last_img read more

TripAdvisor ratings system fails

first_imgRatings system abandoned TripAdvisor has removed the new ratings system, which allowed users to rank listed businesses from one to five stars. According to the Telegraph, London the website was testing a new ratings scheme and have recently discontinued its use. Competitors and various industry bodies have long scrutinized TripAdvisor’s website and their reviewing methods, claiming many to be out-of-date, defamatory or fake. A spokesperson for the website, Emma Shaw, defended the company’s policies and systems.“We’re always trying to make TripAdvisor even better for both travellers and businesses, and as an innovative tech company we constantly test new features to make the site even more useful. “We recognise we have some work to do to ensure that ratings are as useful as they can be and so we have decided to remove displaying ratings from a business’s listing page today,” Ms Shaw said. The tested ratings system did not require reviewers to explain or justify their rating with an explanation.Chris Emmins, chief executive of KwikChex, was concerned with TripAdvisor’s tactics. “It seems astonishing that at a time when there is rising concern about deception and malice on the web and a growing desire for greater reliability and an end to anonymous bullying, that TripAdvisor should apparently introduce the least diligent system yet and produce greater levels of mistrust and distortion,” Mr Emmins said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

ATEC to advise Chinese tour operators

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T The establishment of a compliance taskforce under the Approved Destination Status (ADS) has placed the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) in a “unique position to advise and guide” Chinese tour operators, according to ATEC managing director Felicia Mariani. “Given ATEC’s singular focus and long history as Australia’s only inbound industry association, we have been asked to participate on this very important taskforce,” Ms Mariani said. The newly established taskforce will continue to build upon ATEC’s current involvement in growing the tourism industry’s engagement with China. “The Taskforce has been established as part of the enhanced ADS scheme announced by the Prime Minister last year and is aimed at ensuring Australia provides Chinese tourists with quality experiences and removing some of the negative practices around their free time, flexibility and shopping options,” Ms Mariani said. “China offers the Australian tourism industry a great deal of opportunity for growth and ATEC welcomes the invitation to represent the inbound industry on this Taskforce aimed at ensuring a high quality product and good business practice.” A strategic tourism investment grant was awarded to ATEC in an effort to provide training and educational programs about Chinese visitors. “We are well placed to provide feedback and intelligence around the issues of most concern to our operators and, in turn, support our operators by advocating for the best business environment possible,” Ms Mariani said.last_img read more

Nepal trek attracts war tourism

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W In memory of Nepal’s 10 year struggle with the Maoist insurgency a new trekking trail has been launched to attract travellers to retrace the steps of the Maoist guerrillas in what is regarded as “war tourism”. Launched by former rebel chief Prachanda in an effort to help rebuild the country’s economy, the ambitious project ‘The Guerrilla Trek’ is a 19 day hike that follows trails where thousands of Maoist guerrillas once dug trenches and ambushed enemy during their fight against the once-absolute monarchy. Organised by Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu, the launch also included a map and a guide book produced by US author Alonzo Lyons. Chief Prachanda spoke at the launch about Nepal’s big political upheavals and that the people’s revolution will be of no value unless the country goes through an economic transformation.Like other “war tourism” destinations such as Vietnam, Russia and China, Nepal’s new Guerrilla Trek has the potential of becoming a “war tourism product”.”As war tourism has been promoted worldwide for economic benefit, Nepal’s Guerrilla Trek also holds the potential to lure visitors from around the world,” the chief said. last_img read more