Wednesday, August 17, 2016 Travelweek Group Geckos’ Gap Year tour through Asia comes with $500 for tuition Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Asia, Geckos Adventures Posted by TORONTO — Geckos Adventures’ new 60-day Ultimate Gap Year tour in Asia, priced from $6,500 and geared to students looking to take a break between stints at school, includes a $500 contribution towards textbooks or tuition upon return.The tour starts in Delhi on Jan. 1, 2017 and heads to iconic sites like the River Ganges and Taj Mahal before venturing into the Himalayas. The trip continues to Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand before wrapping up on March 2 in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.Geckos Adventures is the Intrepid Group’s youth operator for travellers 18-29. The company says it chose Asia based on its increased popularity among student travellers. The operator has seen bookings in Asia grow 15% this year among passengers 18-21, whereas bookings in Europe have remained flat.“Not everyone is ready to continue their education in a classroom,” says Leigh Barnes, Regional Director for Geckos Adventures and the Intrepid Group in North America. “We hope young travellers will recognize all the opportunities that exist abroad and take advantage of seeing the world while they’re young.”More news: Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoThe Ultimate Gap Year tour is open to all travelers ages 18-29. While traditional Gap Years are taken after high school, they are becoming increasingly common after Undergraduate, Masters and Doctorate studies, adds Barnes.Upon completion of the trip students are eligible to receive a $500 contribution towards their tuition at an accredited post-secondary institution. Travellers must send a copy of their enrollment letter to Geckos Adventures within a year of the trip. The full terms and conditions are available on the website. See geckosadventure.com/gap-year.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by [PEOPLE] Silversea, Amex GBT hire top execs Tags: AMEX, People, Silversea Cruises Michael Smith Share Silversea has announced the appointment of Roberto Martinoli as Chief Executive, effective Sept. 19. Martinoli, a Board Member of Silversea sine 2013, becomes CEO after an extensive career in the cruise and shipping industry and will be based in the company’s headquarters in Monaco. He replaces Enzo Visone as CEO.“Roberto is a dedicated professional with a long track record of driving great companies to even higher heights. I am certain that he will be instrumental in pushing Silversea Cruises to consistently deliver unrivalled levels of luxury, service and business performance,” said Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Executive Chairman of Silversea Cruises.American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is also making news with the appointment of Philippe Chérèque as President, effective immediately. IN this newly created position, Chérèque will continue to oversee the Commercial and Product Technology organizations, which he has successfully led the past two years, and will also assume responsibility for Supplier Relations, Marketing and Consulting.More news: Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong Kong“Philippe’s new role is part of our larger strategic imperative to restructure our commercial group into regional teams in an effort to better serve our customers,” said Doug Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, American Express Global Business Travel. “We are confident that this structure, under Philippe’s proven guidance, will foster a closer working relationship with our customers offering global reach and local expertise.”Additionally, with respect to the structure of GBT’s regional sales efforts, Elyes Mrad and David Reimer will continue to lead sales in both the EMEA and APAC regions, respectively, while Philippe will lead sales efforts in the Americas on an interim basis.
Posted by Tags: Business Travel, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Flight Centre, Global Business Travel Association, Merit Travel Group, Trend Watch, Vision Travel Solutions TORONTO — “Have you seen our app?” was a question you heard a lot while walking on the trade show floor of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) conference in Toronto earlier this week. The corporate travel arms of Flight Centre, Vision, Merit and CWT all vied for the attention of travel managers from some of the biggest companies in Canada, with one common theme tying them together: custom apps for corporate clients.FCM Travel Solutions, Flight Centre’s business division, for example, was promoting an app that features Sam the chat-bot, who will ask you questions like “Would you like us to book you a taxi or Uber from the airport” and provide reminders about your itinerary. The app is linked to the client’s agent, giving the option to call directly. It also gives helpful tips like emergency phone numbers and weather updates when arriving at a new country.FCM’s Sam. Credit: FCMThe ‘Travel-Ready with MeritBiz’ app promises to simplify business travel with features such as full itinerary management with check-in, city guides, offline maps, weather, world news, a translator, currency conversion, airport wait times, visa advice, alerts and expense reporting capabilities.More news: AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’nsDirect2U is Vision Travel’s app offering airport guides, weather forecasts, currency converter, calendar sync and traffic updates. Its biggest feature is a promise to connect the agent to client with push notifications, flight status, itinerary, and communication from the agent when flight confirmation changes.Nancy Tudorache, Regional Director, Canada, GBTA. Credit: GBTAThe Toronto conference was hailed as GBTA’s second largest in North America, and featured keynotes from former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Canadian astronaut Julie Payeete. It also featured one-on-one interviews with AccorHotels’ COO Kevin Frid, Vice-Chairman of FocusPoint International Peter Martin, and Executive Director and COO of GBTA Michael W. McCormick.Throughout the conference, the GBTA also filmed one-on-one interviews for its YouTube channel. You can view the interviews here:For more information on the GBTA, go to gbta.org. Share Michael Smith Friday, May 26, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> What’s app-ening? GBTA conference highlights the latest corporate apps
Tags: Iceland Wednesday, March 28, 2018 Travelweek Group You have just three more weeks to book the world’s coolest hotel Posted by KILPISJARVI, FINLAND — What’s the coolest hotel you’ve ever stayed at? However cool it may be, we bet it hardly comes close to what Finland has just come up with.Deep in the Arctic Circle, six kilometres east of Kilpisjärvi, Aurora Wilderness Camp is a new glamping cabin that’s just been launched by Off the Map Travel. At first glance, it resembles nothing more than a glorified tent…until you look down and notice its skis.Yup, this hotel is perched on skis to allow guests to chase the Northern Lights. The cabin is one of three rooms that can be moved to an optimal viewing spot, and features a clear roof, a wide bed, table, dry toilet, gas heater with thermostat and a even a gas stove. It spans 2.5 metres wide, 4.5 metres long, two metres tall and can comfortably sleep two people – tiny but definitely cozy!Aurora Wilderness CampGuests also have exclusive use of the cabin’s snowshoes and kicksleds so that they can explore the local area during their stay. And according to Jonny Cooper, founder of Off the Map Travel and an Arctic travel expert, they’ll definitely want to get out and explore.More news: Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truck“The wilderness surrounding Kilpisjärvi is known for its remote and uninterrupted Arctic tundra. Away from any manmade light pollution, it is here that the wilderness camp is placed for the winter, giving guests the best possible opportunity to experience the Northern Lights and simply enjoy the silence of the Arctic plains,” he said.The experience starts at 6 p.m. when an experienced guide transports guests by snowmobile to their room. They’ll be taught how to make a campfire and grill local sausages before settling in for the incredible light show. Local snacks and hot drinks are provided, with a warm breakfast also included in the overnight experience.Aurora Wilderness CampEvery itinerary can be customized to suit guests’ preferences. As an example, a three-night itinerary costs from £1599 per person based on two adults sharing on a full board basis. This includes private transfers to and from the airport in Tromso, accommodation for two nights in a log chalet and one night in the new Aurora Wilderness Camp, and all meals. Other activities are available upon request. Flights are not included.More news: Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?The three cabins are available to book through Off the Map Travel until mid-April 2018. After the end of the season, Aurora Wilderness Camp will reopen in January 2019.For more information go to offthemap.travel/aurora-wilderness-camp. Share << Previous PostNext Post >>
TORONTO — The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism debuted its brand new Culinary Guide with an intimate cooking and mixology demonstration at the LCBO Summerhill this week in Toronto.In celebration of the launch, Cayman culinary all-stars Chef Massimo De Francesa of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, and James Beard Award-winning Master Mixologist Charles Joly prepared a menu of Caymanian dishes and cocktails representing the destination’s world-class epicurean offerings.“Foodies flock to the Cayman Islands and we wanted to give visitors a resource to help navigate the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean with ease,” said Oneisha Richards, Deputy Director International Marketing & Promotions for the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.“Canadian travel to the Cayman Islands continues to increase steadily and we hope that the Cayman Culinary Guide will help visitors discover the plethora of offerings and help create an even better vacation experience.”The Cayman Culinary Guide was developed to give travellers insight into how to best explore and experience the tiny trio of islands offering over 200 restaurants and myriad gourmet delicacies.More news: Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaVisitors can use the guide to learn about native ingredients and cuisine, local food events such as Restaurant Month and Cocktail Week, top restaurant picks from notable Canadian chefs, recommended epicurean attractions, recipes, not to be missed restaurants and farmers’ markets.The event kicked off with a ‘Caymankind’ welcome to invited guests and an introduction to the Cayman Culinary Guide.Chef Massimo De Francesa and Charles Joly then hosted an interactive program in which they prepared modern Caymanian dishes and cocktails including traditional ingredients.The menu included a ‘Seven Mile’ smoked ahi crudo with citrus and Cayman sea salt, Caribbean snapper filet with star fruit relish and guava glaze. Dessert was vegan coconut panna cotta with toasted white chocolate and mango gel. Cocktails included Cayman twists on the classic daiquiri and old fashioned with Caribbean flavours such as grapefruit and papaya.For more information about the Cayman Islands see visitcaymanislands.ca. Travelweek Group Cayman Islands launches ‘Official Guide to the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean’ Share Tags: Cayman Islands, Food Friday, May 18, 2018 Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>
TORONTO — For your most independent clients, Exodus Travels is offering 10% off over 70 self-guided walking and cycling adventures between now and July 16.Each self-guided itinerary is ideal for couples, groups of friends and families, and includes detailed excursion routes, restaurant recommendations, support through Exodus’ local offices, 24-hour emergency access and luggage transport. Clients can also enjoy the company’s wine service, which provides free pick-up and delivery for as many bottles as one pleases to their final destination.As for accommodations, a wide range of unique properties is available, from stately manor homes and wine chateaux to converted Galician farmhouses, 11th-century monasteries and historic water mills.Clients must book by July 16, 2018 and quote code SG2018 to receive the discount. Go to www.exodustravels.com/10-selected-self-guided. Tags: Discounts, Exodus Travels << Previous PostNext Post >> Over 70 self-guided tours now on sale with Exodus Travels Share Posted by Monday, June 25, 2018 Travelweek Group
Airlines waive change fees as Calgary deals with record snowfall Travelweek Group Wednesday, October 3, 2018 Share Posted by Tags: Calgary, Weather CALGARY — As Calgary digs out from 35 cm of snow Air Canada and WestJet have issued advisories for passengers booked to fly in or out of the city today.A warming centre was set up for the hundreds of people stranded for up to 13 hours yesterday by the bad weather on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Calgary.Roads and highways in and around the city Tuesday were covered in heavy, wet snow, and more fell overnight.Parts of Calgary reported snowfall amounts of up to 40 centimetres in a 12-hour period with similar amounts in the mountain parks and other areas of southern Alberta.People were being urged to stay home and cautioned to keep off of roads.Canmore RCMP say the Trans-Canada Highway west of Calgary was closed Tuesday in both directions near Dead Man’s Flats.The westbound lanes opened around 6:20 a.m. but the eastbound lanes remain closed.More news: Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencyVehicles were in the ditches and highway crews and tow trucks were trying to clear them out.Part of the main highway between Calgary and Edmonton was also closed overnight due to a multi-vehicle fatal crash involving more than 20 vehicles.In Calgary, 59 sanders and 22 graders hit the streets to start clearing the major roadways after the heavy snowfall.Officials said about 74 operators and 40 pieces of equipment were added to Calgary’s existing resources from Edmonton, Red Deer, Okotoks and Medicine Hat.They asked motorists to use caution on the roads or even stay home until this afternoon if possible.Both Air Canada and WestJet are waiving change fees for passengers booked on flights scheduled in and out of Calgary on Oct. 3 and looking to change their travel plans because of the snowstorm.With files from The Canadian Press << Previous PostNext Post >>
Data released this week by the Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine (PROMED) indicate that 2012 will close with a figure of 45,000 foreign tourists who chose the country for some type of medical procedure.Medical tourists, according to the report, pay some $7,000 for an average stay of 15 days, which represents an income of $300 million annually for the country. These tourists usually travel accompanied by at least one person, which increases travel expenses.Regular tourists on average spend some $1,200 per visit, the report said.PROMED said that 90 percent of medical tourism visitors come from the United States and Canada, attracted mainly by lower rates on services such as dentistry, plastic surgery and orthopedics.These procedures can reach an average cost of $30,000, to which must be added additional costs, such as recovery therapies, nursing, food and others.It is projected that by 2015, the U.S. will spend more than 20 percent of its annual gross domestic product on medical services. Facebook Comments No related posts.
No related posts. Consistent fishing over both legs of the Club Amateur de Pesca won Mario Saenz the National Championship in this year’s annual tarpon tournament.Saenz finished one fish behind Cynthia Brown in the first part of the tournament, with seven releases to Brown’s eight. He finished second in part two again, one fish behind Moises Emiliani, who released nine fish. Saenz’s 15 total fish moved him ahead of Brown, who landed six fish in part two to give her a 14 fish total – a second place finish. Domingo Dominquez rounded out the field with a tournament total of nine releases. He took third place.Club President Alberto Laurenchic was pleased with the turnout and the fishing. “Most of the fishing was done between Tortuguero and Barra Colorado during Part I of the tournament, and the fish were [biting] really well on the last day of the tournament. During Part II, most of the fishing was done at Barra del Colorado, but the shrimp were running close to shore, so it was more difficult to get the fish to eat.”Laurenchic went on to say the club is headquartered in San José, 25 meters west of Princesa Marina restaurant in Sabana Oeste. They meet every Monday at 7:30 p.m. and have tournaments almost monthly. More information can been found on the web at http://www.clubamateurpescacr.com or by calling Grace Mora on weekday mornings at 2232-3430.The next tournament will be held Nov. 10, and will be a bottom fishing tournament with boundaries between Quepos and Cabo Blanco. Contact the club for more information. Facebook Comments
Además reitero el respeto por los compromisos adoptados durante la campaña política, sin excepción.— Luis Guillermo Solís (@luisguillermosr) May 1, 2014 A lackluster victory is what the Citizen Action Party earned today in gaining control of the Legislative Assembly’s directorate. Instead of today’s events being seen as a brilliant triumph, the PAC has mud on its face. Yes, they won, but not before opening wounds and creating distrust among key supporters who helped put them in office.The political impulse with which the new ruling party made its debut has left a bad taste in the mouths of many. From day one, PAC sought the allied votes of fundamentalist Christians in the legislature – those who belong to Justo Orozco’s party – just as the former ruling National Liberation Party had been criticized for doing in the past four years.The problem PAC created for itself is one of image. We all know the importance of first impressions, and that golden opportunity to begin on the right foot has now disappeared for the former opposition party of PAC. They now must work to overcome this setback and avoid further diminishing the brief honeymoon the party has so far enjoyed with an overwhelming majority of voters since February.Thankfully for those of us who gave those lawmakers our votes, the disastrous agreement between PAC and the National Renovation Party never materialized. In a matter of hours, the pressure from outraged supporters weighed heavily. A significant number of voters who are angry that human rights issues were negotiated in the first place forced PAC reconsider its position. In the end, PAC gained enough votes to win the Legislative Assembly presidency, thanks to the Social Christian Unity Party.But what would have happened if the reaction from the LGBT community and other sectors hadn’t been swift and strong?This regrettable episode leaves us with more questions than answers. Here are some of those questions:–How important are the issues that PAC lawmakers are negotiating, and how much does it matter with whom they negotiate? More simply, do the ends justify the means?–Was it vitally important, as in life or death, that PAC win the legislative directorate? Did it merit negotiations with the most radically conservative elements of our country?–What symbolic value does PAC see in the fact that its first publicized action as the ruling party (thankfully it never materialized) was a broken campaign promise?–Would an agreement not to discuss same-sex civil unions for one year have affected the human rights agenda, or is that issue not going to be discussed for a year anyway, with or without an agreement with the evangelical block?We have four long years ahead of us to learn the answers to these questions, but the lessons we’ve learned in the past 24 hours are crystal clear. On the plus side, 1.3 million Costa Ricans voted for PAC, and there is nothing preventing us from criticizing the actions of the party. None of us signed a blank check.If they’re clever, PAC’s legislative block will learn from this and take note that we are not prepared to cede an inch on issues that represent the true change we demanded at the polls.On the minus side, we are convinced that religious groups are powerful enough to dictate our national politics and set the legislative agenda if we let down our collective guard down. Nancy De Lemos is a journalist and former director in Costa Rica for the news agency EFE. A graduate of the University of Costa Rica, she now works in communication for global environmental NGOs.Recommended: Joining the ranks of the hopeful Facebook Comments Related posts:Dismantling Costa Rica’s lesbian and gay closet Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber to evaluate appointment of Lutheran bishop as presidency minister Disinfecting government: The light of a new day dawning provides needed transparency for Costa Rica President of ruling Citizen Action Party steps down after just two months
Related posts:Costa Rica’s franchise sector grows by nearly 13 percent in 2014 Another fast-food chain closes in Costa Rica Local franchises look for investors at open house in San José Starbucks buys coffee farm in Costa Rica A new Johnny Rockets location was inaugurated this week in San José. (Via Johnny Rockets Facebook)California-based burger chain Johnny Rockets on Thursday inaugurated its third restaurant in the country, which represents a $400,000 investment and 15 jobs, bringing to 90 the total number of jobs the local franchisee currently has here.The new restaurant is located at the food court of Plaza Universal, in downtown San José, and is part of an expansion plan that includes the opening of three more restaurants over the next 18 months.The next opening will take place later this year at City Mall in the province of Alajuela, and two more openings are scheduled at the commercial complexes Escazú Village and Terrazas de Lindora, both west of the capital.Desarrollos Gastronómicos Internacionales, the local franchisee, reported that the restaurant in Alajuela will require an investment of $1 million, and each of the other two will require $800,000.The company already has invested about $2 million in three existing locations.The company also plans to expand its regional presence, opening this year its third restaurant in Honduras and first in El Salvador, according to the weekly business newspaper El Financiero.These openings represent a change in Costa Rica’s franchise market that this year already saw the closures of Wendy’s on Jan. 9 and Bagelmen’s on Jan. 24. Those closures entailed the loss of 220 jobs, according to a report from the National Franchise Center, part of the Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce. Facebook Comments
Marcos Vega picks up his daughter Tamara at the Buenaventura Corrales Public School in downtown San José. They will celebrate Father’s Day by going out for lunch on Sunday as they usually do every year. “Raising the kids is something the couple should do together, without leaving more responsibility to only one of the parents,” said Vega. Facebook Comments No related posts.
The on-and-off battle over the proposed road through the Atlantic Coast Tortuguero National Park is heating up again after the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) stopped an effort to open the road through the park led by the municipality of Pococí, which has jurisdiction over Tortuguero.A court motion allowed the municipality to authorize construction, but then on March 14, SINAC halted construction based on three different Supreme Court rulings protecting the parkland.According to the SINAC executive secretary, the municipality of Pococí authorized construction and provided diesel and machinery to the Road Committee of Caño Chiquero. The Caño Chiquero committee then started restoring a section of the construction site that was initially shut down by authorities in 1997.SINAC detailed evidence of construction they found in a press release: “This was corroborated by a visit of March 7, 2018, at 3:45 p.m. by officials from SINAC… and Tortuguero National Park, Cuatro Esquinas sector, where they detected traces of machinery (apparently a dragline), removal of vegetation along the trail on both banks and the existence of a rustic wooden bridge using a log of almond tree, cut longitudinally, on the Chiquero Caño, which is used as a bridge to make way for the Barra de Tortuguero community.” According to business owners in the area, virtually all of the town’s citizens oppose the road, which would bisect 1.9 kilometers of the famed national park and an adjacent protected area.“Of the people who live here, 100 percent are against the road,” said Modesto Watson, owner of the Riverboat Franchesca, a tour agency that explores the national park’s winding canals. “The people who want the road are people who own land along the route and want to sell the land for a profit, and people who want to see Pizza Huts and Burger Kings built in the area.”Darryl Loth, a Canadian citizen who runs the Marbella Lodge, said that any support for the road dried up after the government ceded to town demands for services.“They put in a boat ambulance, built a high school and a daycare center and health clinic run by the [Social Security system] seven days a week, they brought in firefighters,” said Loth. “The reasons for wanting the road have basically disappeared.”Loth said that a road bringing more people into the area would completely change the character of Tortuguero.“Right now what we have is petty crime,” said Loth. “What happens when a road is put in here and we get real drug trafficking and everything else that comes along with it?” The canals of Tortuguero: Monkeys, toucans and caimans, diay Loth helped organize a protest in the village against the road last month.Watson said that the road would allow local development that would completely change the attraction of businesses like his.“It doesn’t serve me at all. We have people who come here to see the wildlife, not to enjoy ‘sun and fun,’” said Watson. “We would have people come here for weekend jaunts and they would leave a lot of trash like they do in places like Puerto Viejo [to the south].”The road got its biggest boost in 1997 when the municipality of Pococí tore down trees and began opening a way through the national park.The National Park Service took the issue to court to have the municipality stop construction.“The opening of this road would favor the illegal transfer of turtles… It would be encouraging a real illegal trade,” said SINAC. “In addition, this area is part of the RAMSAR wetland; therefore, the environmental reputation that this country has internationally is jeopardized. In the same way, it was determined that the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which was created in order to allow the movement of the species, would be affected.” A rocket landing in Tortuguero? Loth said that illegal hunting, fishing, and lumbering currently takes place on a small scale, but opening the area with a road would mean a quantum leap in those activities.Municipality spokeswoman Grace Maria Hernández Miranda said that the municipality allowed construction to resume based on an administrative court ruling in favor of a resident of Tortuguero demanding the road be completed.The route was established by law in the 1970s, and the municipality acted to begin work on the rustic currently unpassable “ditch” based on that planning document and the fact that an appeal was made before an administrative court, according to municipality lawyer Mayra Montes Arce.“Thus, it is clear that the actions taken both by this legal unit and by the mayor’s office have been taken responsibly, with legal knowledge and respecting our legal system,” said Montes Arce.Hernández said the municipality stopped work on the road because they want to wait for the legal process to be completed.SINAC spokeswoman Virgita Molina Sánchez, however, said that construction was halted at the demand of SINAC. Facebook Comments Pirates of the Caribbean: Paranoia in Tortuguero Related posts:Lawmakers give nod to Costa Rica’s manatee with proposal to name it a national marine mammal President voices support for extending moratorium on maritime zone evictions Tortuguero business owners form new tourism chamber US man dies in boating accident in Costa Rica, marking third deadly incident this month
New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories LUANDA, Angola (AP) – Police have dispersed more than 100 protesting Angolan war veterans who claim they have not received promised payments.Police used tear gas and shots were heard during running skirmishes in downtown Luanda Wednesday that lasted more than an hour. It was unclear if live ammunition or rubber bullets.Late Wednesday, Luanda’s provincial government said in a statement read on state television that several protesters were detained. The government did not say whether anyone was injured. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 It was the second veterans protest this month. Many veterans who fought against South African- and U.S.-backed insurgents say they never received promised pensions or disability subsidies. The state news agency, Angop, quoted an army statement Wednesday saying payments were resumed June 15.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments Share
Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Associated PressBEIJING (AP) – Cases of people being forcibly evicted from their homes and land have risen significantly in China, becoming the single greatest source of public discontent and a serious threat to the country’s social and political stability, Amnesty International said Thursday.Forced demolitions have long been a way of life in China. Decades of economic growth have been driven by real estate development, much of it on the backs of millions of residents forced to relocate to make way for factories and business ventures. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing that Amnesty International “has consistently been biased against China,” adding that “The report has no credibility whatsoever.”The central government has spoken out against forced evictions, but those directives are often ignored at the local level. Last year it enacted a regulation making it more difficult for developers to demolish housing and force out landholders.Hong referred to the regulation, saying that “the legal rights of owners whose homes are seized are protected according to the law.”Amnesty’s report says that regulation covers only urban land, leaving out those living in suburbs and rural areas who make up the vast majority of people affected by forced evictions.The government technically owns most land in China and can seize property for projects deemed in the public interest. Compensation is supposed to be given to residents who are evicted, but that does not always happen or is not always fair.Amnesty said there were no reliable estimates of the number of people who had been forced from their homes or farms, “but there is little doubt the figure has risen significantly.” But evictions have escalated over the past three years during a nationwide construction boom spurred by massive stimulus spending after the global financial crisis, Amnesty International said in its report, which cited Chinese housing rights activists, lawyers and academics but did not provide estimates for the total number of evictions.The Chinese government dismissed the report as biased and lacking in any credibility.The human rights group said that local authorities seize and then sell off land in deals of questionable legitimacy, relying on the income to pay off huge debts incurred to finance stimulus projects.Developers are known to often hire thugs to threaten residents, sometimes with violence.Of 40 forced evictions that Amnesty said it examined in detail, nine culminated in the deaths of people protesting or resisting eviction. In one case, a 70-year-old woman was buried alive by an excavator as she tried to stop workers demolishing her house in Wuhan city in central Hubei province, the report said. Calls to Wuhan’s government rang unanswered Thursday and a man from the propaganda department of Wuhan police said he hadn’t heard about the case.In another case, police in Wenchang town in southern Sichuan province were reported to have taken custody of a baby and refused to return him until his mother signed an eviction order. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day “The problem of forced evictions represents the single most significant source of popular discontent in China and a serious threat to social and political stability,” the report said.China’s authoritarian government is highly sensitive to the notion of instability, signaled by its control over the media and Internet, and military crackdowns in regions such as Tibet, fearing protests there against Chinese rule could inspire people in other parts of the country with grievances against the government.Amnesty said one problem is that the ruling Communist Party continues to promote local officials who deliver economic growth, however it is achieved, and land redevelopment _ for roads, factories or housing _ is seen as the most direct path to visible results.“The Chinese authorities must immediately halt all forced evictions. There needs to be an end to the political incentives, tax gains and career advancements that encourage local officials to continue with such illegal practices,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty senior director of research.___Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Wenchang police told The Associated Press that the report was untrue and that the woman had abandoned her child at the police station. “The kid was taken away by its grandmother the next day,” said a man surnamed He at Wenchang’s police station. “Now everything has been settled and the family received subsidies from the government.”Some people who resist forced evictions end up in prison or in labor camps. Amnesty said a woman in Hexia township in southeastern Jiangxi province who petitioned authorities about her eviction was beaten and forced to undergo sterilization. Hexia’s authority confirmed the sterilization but said it was because the woman had three children against the country’s one-child policy. “The woman first refused to be sterilized, but reluctantly agreed after our strong persuasion. If she didn’t agree at all, it would be impossible for her to have surgery,” said a woman surnamed Xiao.Some despairing residents have set themselves on fire. Amnesty said it documented 41 cases of self-immolations that occurred between January 2009 and January 2012.The group called on authorities to immediately halt all forced evictions and punish and prosecute those who use violence during the eviction process. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Comments Share Sponsored Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Top holiday drink recipes
“He wants to make sure that things stay calm; apparently he has concerns about Saakashvili still wielding broad powers,” Tsintsadze said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How do cataracts affect your vision? Ivanishvili also voiced hope for a quick restoration of Georgian exports to Russia. Georgian producers of wine, mineral water, vegetables and fruits had strongly depended on the Russian market and have suffered badly since their exports were cut amid a buildup of tensions in the run-up to the war.Moving further to corner the president, Ivanishvili said Thursday that his Georgian Dream coalition controlling Parliament would move to speed up a constitutional reform.The reform, due to take effect after Saakashvili steps down in October 2013, when his second term ends will transfer most of the presidential powers to the prime minister. But Ivanishvili has moved quickly to establish full control without waiting for the formal transfer of authority.Soon after the election, his Cabinet sharply cut funds earmarked for maintaining presidential residences. Saakashvili’s office said it would have to switch off most of the lights at the brightly lit presidential palace, one of the capital’s most visible landmarks.In other humiliating moves, the Cabinet voted not to provide the equivalent of $55 million required for maintaining presidential aircraft next year and sharply cut funding for a presidential fund that Saakashvili had used for some public projects. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments Share Associated PressTBILISI, Georgia (AP) – Georgia’s new prime minister said Thursday he would move quickly to expand the Cabinet’s powers, a change that would take away even more influence from the ex-Soviet nation’s beleaguered pro-Western president.Bidzina Ivanishvili, an eccentric billionaire philanthropist who has promised to repair broken ties with Russia, also slapped his bitter rival for living in the lavish presidential palace rather than a more modest residence. Top Stories Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center “The buildings that the Georgian president had had built for himself are more appropriate for a feudal lord than a democracy,” Ivanishvili said at a news conference.Ivanishvili’s coalition unseated Mikhail Saakashvili’s party in an embarrassing defeat in last month’s parliamentary election. New constitutional reforms pushed by Saakashvili before his party lost the election will reduce the presidency to a largely symbolic role, but Ivanishvili has been relentless in his efforts to keep the embattled president sidelined even before the reform takes effect next October.Georgia, which sits on pipelines carrying Caspian crude to Western markets, has been the subject of tense rivalry between its former imperial master, Russia, and the West.Ivanishvili has pledged to improve relations with Moscow, which were ruptured in a 2008 Russian-Georgian war, but he has rejected Saakashvili’s claims that he would bring the country back into the Russian fold.Ivanishvili reaffirmed Thursday that Georgia must regain sovereignty over the rebel provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia has recognized as independent after the war. He said he wouldn’t visit Russia, but added that he could meet Russian leaders in a third country. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Check your body, save your life Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The authorities also arrested several former officials in what Saakashvili denounced as political purges.Ivanishvili, who promised to investigate official abuses during his campaign, dismissed the accusations, saying Thursday that “people are queuing up to the prosecutor’s office to report crimes by former officials.”“I have promised to ensure justice, and this is what is going on now,” Ivanishvili said.Some analysts speculated that the arrests could be a prelude for a probe against Saakashvili himself. Ivanishvili said his allies don’t have a plan to impeach the president, but added that prosecutors will continue their work.“I personally don’t want Saakashvili’s arrest, and I think that society doesn’t want it either,” he said. “But if the prosecutors launch a case against top leaders of the country, I will not meddle in that or try to have it closed.”Soso Tsintsadze, a Tbilisi-based independent political analyst, said Ivanishvili made the promise not to impeach the president under pressure from the European Union. At the same time, the prime minister would likely be able to muster a two thirds majority to speed up the constitutional reform, Tsintsadze added.
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – A Hungarian university says that a 1992 post-graduate thesis in sociology by Hungary’s deputy prime minister has “serious professional-ethical faults,” but that it won’t pursue the matter any further.Katalin Tausz, dean of Budapest’s Eotvos Lorand University, said Friday that while a three-member panel found “very significant similarities” between the thesis of Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen and another work, there were no laws providing guidance about how to proceed. Semjen acknowledged the panel’s conclusions, but since the university won’t take further steps, he said he considered the case “definitely and officially closed.”Semjen’s case isn’t the first academic scandal to hit Hungary’s politicians.In April, President Pal Schmitt resigned after experts concluded that most of his doctoral thesis in physical education was copied from other authors.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Four benefits of having a wireless security system Comments Share Sponsored Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day
The case was brought by Hasan Nuhanovic, an interpreter who lost his brother and father, and relatives of Rizo Mustafic, an electrician who was killed. They argued that all three men should have been protected by Dutch peacekeepers. Mustafic and Nuhanovic were actually employed by the Dutch, but Nuhanovic’s father and brother were not.The victims were among thousands of Muslims who took shelter in the U.N. compound as Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Gen. Ratko Mladic overran Srebrenica on July 11, 1995. Two days later, the outnumbered Dutch peacekeepers bowed to pressure from Mladic’s troops and forced thousands of Muslim families out of the compound.Bosnian Serb forces sorted the Muslims by gender, then trucked the males away and began executing some 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Those bodies were plowed into hastily made mass graves in what international courts have ruled was genocide.The slaying was the worst massacre on European soil since World War II.The ruling upheld Friday said that in the chaos of the Serb takeover of Srebrenica, U.N. commanders no longer had control of the troops on the ground, and “effective control” reverted to Dutch authorities in The Hague. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Human rights lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, who represented the Bosnian families, called the ruling historic because it established that countries involved in U.N. missions can be found legally responsible for crimes, despite the world body’s far-reaching immunity from prosecution.“People participating in U.N. missions are not always covered by the U.N. flag,” she said.But Toon Heisterkamp, a Supreme Court Judge responsible for briefing the media, said the narrow focus of the case meant it was unlikely to have far-reaching effects.Outside the courtroom, Nuhanovic said he was stunned by the ruling, which ends a 10-year legal battle and opens the door to compensation claims against the Dutch government.“I was thinking about my family, they are dead for 18 years,” he said. “It does not change that, but maybe there is some justice.”He added: “it should have happened years ago.”The Dutch government resigned in 2002 after the National War Documentation Institute blamed the debacle on Dutch authorities and the United Nations for sending underarmed and underprepared forces into the mission and refusing to answer the commanders’ call for air support. Patients with chronic pain give advice Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments Share 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The government accepted “political responsibility” for the mission’s failure and contributes aid to Bosnia, much of which is earmarked for rebuilding in Srebrenica. But it has always said responsibility for the massacre itself lies with the Bosnian Serbs.The three men were among the last to be expelled, the 2011 ruling said, and by that time the peacekeepers _ known as “Dutchbat” for Dutch battalion _ already had seen Bosnian Serb troops abusing Muslim men and boys and should have known they faced the real threat of being killed.“Dutchbat should not have turned these men over to the Serbs,” a summary of the judgment said.The Hague Appeals Court in 2011 ordered the families of the three slain men to be compensated, but no figure was ever reached, pending the outcome of the government’s appeal to the Supreme Court.Zegveld said the amount of compensation the families will receive is not important.“It’s far more important what’s been decided today than any amount that will be established in the future,” she said.The Srebrenica massacre has turned into a national trauma for the Netherlands. Dutch troops returning home from Srebrenica faced accusations of cowardice and incompetence, although subsequent inquiries exonerated the ground forces. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement ErrorOK ErrorOK THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The Dutch Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Netherlands was liable for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslim men during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, even though its forces there were part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission.The decision upheld a 2011 appeals court judgment that was seen as setting a worrying precedent for countries providing troops for United Nations peacekeeping forces, because it held the Dutch state responsible for events that happened during a U.N. mission. Sponsored Stories Top Stories (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Parents, stop beating yourself up
Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Check your body, save your life Top Stories 0 Comments Share Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Patients with chronic pain give advice Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “They’ve declared open-season on almost 99 percent of Belize’s marine area,” Janelle Chanona, Oceana’s vice president for the Central American nation, said by phone from the capital, Belmopan. “That includes seven World Heritage sites, that includes marine protected areas … and it is unacceptable.”The proposal is still in the draft stage. Government officials did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, but have said previously that they are considering possible modifications including feedback from groups like Oceana. Belize currently has a moratorium on offshore drilling.Environmental experts say even a small oil spill could jeopardize the powdery-white-sand cays and turquoise waters that make tourism the Central American country’s leading source of foreign income, responsible for up to 25 percent of its GDP.Activists say oil development also poses environmental concerns for Belize’s reefs, which in addition to being popular diving and snorkeling reserves are home to myriad marine species and help shelter the country from hurricanes and rising seas.Chanona estimated the annual value of reef protection at $750 million. BELIZE CITY, Belize (AP) — Belize is considering new offshore drilling regulations that could open nearly the entire coast to exploration and exploitation, environmental groups have warned, calling it a threat to vital reefs, fisheries and tourism concerns.The proposal recently made public by the Ministry of Energy would even allow drilling in the vicinity of the Great Blue Hole, a world-famous diving destination that can be seen from space and looks just like what its name suggests, the U.S.-based activist group Oceana said. But activists are sounding the alarm now, saying Belize has a spotty record on preservation. As one recent example, they point to a road-builder’s unauthorized 2013 bulldozing of one of Belize’s biggest Mayan pyramids to scavenge rock.“The (oil) proposal doesn’t have any legal backing in place right now, but that it has been presented as a draft … becomes a very poor starting point for meaningful, honest conversation,” Chanona said. “How do you even begin to talk about having the Great Blue Hole up for consideration as part of your zonation plan?”___Peter Orsi reported from Mexico City.___Peter Orsi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Peter_OrsiCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Past oil exploration efforts have not resulted in productive wells, and there is no proof that viable reserves lie beneath the Caribbean sea floor off Belize. The big drop in oil prices over the last year has also dampened enthusiasm for exploration of unproven or unconventional fields around Latin America.But even development that falls short of extracting crude has an impact, experts say. Drilling exploratory wells can introduce mud into ecosystems, for example, and seismic testing can interfere with dolphins’ ability to use sonar to identify food and predators, Chanona said.Lawrence Epstein, who directs Belize operations for the Environmental Defense Fund, said 15,000 people, or about 5 percent of Belize’s population, depend on fisheries for their livelihoods, and those, too, could be at risk.“By any measure, both the exploration and any sort of accident that might happen could damage the fishing industry as well as the tourism industry,” Epstein said.Chanona said Oceana sent the government a report documenting its concerns and that officials promised to take it into account during a review in the coming months before a final policy is formalized, something that could happen by the end of the year. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019