Globus 2018 Tours featuring Britain Ireland now on sale

first_img Tweet << Previous PostNext Post >> Friday, October 13, 2017 Travelweek Group Tags: Britain, Globuscenter_img Posted by TORONTO — Globus says there’s no better time to raise a glass, raise your sights and raise the roof – the thatched roof – to the UK and the Emerald Isle with its 2018 Britain & Ireland tours, now available to book at a 10% savings.For 2018 Globus is unveiling vacations that shine a light on England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. “Our tours are a wonderful way to explore – every itinerary is hand-crafted, we include front-of-the-line admission to such popular sites as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle, and the House of Waterford Crystal, and you can leave the driving to someone else! Best of all, you get to travel with new friends from around the world,” says Stéphanie Bishop of the Globus family of brands.The lineup of 16 vacation itineraries range from seven to 25 days and include (all prices in Canadian dollars and exclude airfare):The Best of Southern England (seven days, priced from $2,149): This week-long vacation highlights some of Southern England’s historical monuments like Stonehenge, Hever Castle, the Roman relics at Bath and Anne Hathaway’s cottage (Shakespeare’s birthplace) in Stratford-Upon-Avon and its beautiful cities and villages including Oxford, Broadway (a Cotswolds village) and BrightonFrom Ireland’s Ancient East to the Wild Atlantic Way (nine days, priced from $2,449): This vacation which takes travelers from coast to coast features everything you think of, when you imagine Ireland: Lush, green landscapes, historical sights, medieval castles, vast farmland and pubs. Destination visits include Kilkenny, Waterford, Blarney, Kinsale, Garinish Island, Killarney, Limerick and of course, Dublin.Bonnie Scotland (seven days, priced from $2,269): Scotland is famous for its historic castles, fascinating and often bloody history, beautiful scenery, lively cities, charming villages and the legendary Loch Ness monster. On this Scotland tour clients will get an introduction to this enchanting country including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Culloden, Stirling, Pitlochry and Broadford.Essential Britain (12 days, priced from $3,519): On this vacation, travellers will experience some of Britain’s best-loved towns and cities as they travel through England, Wales, and Scotland, with overnights in London, Plymouth, Cardiff, Liverpool, Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh and York.More news:  Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughtsBook any Globus Europe vacation by Nov. 28, 2017 and save 10% on the land portion. For more information go to agentlingo.ca. Globus’ 2018 Tours featuring Britain & Ireland now on salelast_img read more

Crystal Cruises to offer shorter cruises in 2019 with Crystal Getaways

first_imgCrystal Cruises to offer shorter cruises in 2019 with Crystal Getaways MIAMI — There are nine new Crystal Getaways coming in 2019, with destinations as near as North America to as far as Australia and Indonesia.According to Crystal Cruises, Crystal Getaways are abbreviated segments of existing longer voyages, and will sail in January, February, April and October of next year. Seven of them will sail aboard Crystal Symphony while the remaining two will be aboard Crystal Serenity.Getaways range from six to16 days and explore South America, Australia and Indonesia, the North American Gulf Coast, South Pacific and New Zealand, and South Africa.Both Crystal ships have recently undergone redesigns within the last year that include enhanced butler-serviced penthouses and suites, open-seating dining with new restaurants, new entertainment venues, and enhanced décor in public areas and lounges.Crystal Getaways itineraries include the following:Crystal Symphony January 5: 6 days, New Orleans to Curaçao, WillemstadJanuary 11: 8 days, Curaçao, Willemstad to Recife, BrazilJanuary 11: 10 days, Curaçao, Willemstad to Salvador da Bahia, BrazilJanuary 11: 13 days, Curaçao, Willemstad to Rio de Janeiro, BrazilJanuary 24: 8 days, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Montevideo, UruguayApril 14: 12 days, Cairns, Australia to SingaporeOctober 15: 10 days, Panama City, Panama to New OrleansMore news:  Can you guess the one and only hotel company to rank on Indeed’s Top Workplaces in Canada list?Crystal SerenityJanuary 20: 16 days, Honolulu to Auckland, New ZealandFebruary 28: 13 days, Port Louis, Mauritius to Cape Town, South AfricaCruise fares for the new Crystal Getaways start at US$2,560 per suite, with Book Now Savings of up to $1,500 per suite available for bookings by Dec. 31, 2018. Share Tuesday, November 27, 2018 Travelweek Group center_img Posted by Tags: Crystal Cruises << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

TDC Softvoyage team up to launch new B2B portal

first_img Travelweek Group Posted by TDC & Softvoyage team up to launch new B2B portal MONTREAL —Transat Distribution Canada (TDC) has signed a new deal with Softvoyage for an advanced B2B portal designed for its dedicated network of agencies.As part of the agreement, Softvoyage will create a private label version of SIREV with unique features that meet the needs and requirements of today’s travel agency environments.According to Nathalie Boyer, General Manager of TDC, the company came up with the idea of a new B2B engine after receiving feedback from its members.“Following a series of discussions held with our members to identify what is needed on the front line in order to be more efficient and provide exceptional customer service, we prepared a wish list of what our vision of a new B2B engine could look like,” she said. “After a few months, Softvoyage as able to present and demonstrate how they could help us reach our goal by providing exactly what we would need in order to help us grow by becoming more efficient and more productive.”More news:  Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochureDan Langevin, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Softvoyage, added: “Agencies within the TDC network were very involved in this process. The developments we introduce to achieve for our various booking engines is often driven by our customers. Sometimes, the small details are what make a significant different in the day to day life of a travel professional.”Langevin added that the company believes the new TDC private label version of SIREV will “undoubtedly” improve the reservation process and expand on pre- and post-booking tools.“All of us at Softvoyage are thrilled with this new relationship and look forward to working with the team at TDC,” he said. Thursday, June 13, 2019 center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Tags: SIREV, Softvoyage, TDC, Transatlast_img read more

Costa Rican officials agree to study bikers demands after another day of

first_imgRelated posts:Tico motorists to pay 12 percent more for vehicle circulation permits Costa Rican biker protest ends without agreement Deadline to pay marchamo ends at midnight Monday Marchamo payments begin this week Motorcycle owners protesting on Tuesday against an increase in the cost of mandatory circulation permits – known asmarchamos – delivered a list of demands to government officials, who said they would study them for a day before responding.Presidency Vice Minister Francisco Marín received the document from the president of the National Association of Public and Private Employees, Albino Vargas, saying, “we will attempt to open a space for dialogue, probably tomorrow [Wednesday].”Marín stressed that the government is open to dialogue, contrary to what protest leaders have said.Previously, Communications Minister Francisco Chacón had demanded bikers refrain from blocking streets in the capital, including near the Casa Presidencial, before talks would occur.On Tuesday, bikers blocked La Hispanidad and Las Garantías Sociales roundabouts, both east of San José, and then obstructed three main entrances to Casa Presidencial in the southeastern district of Zapote.At about 2 p.m., after delivering the letter, protesters left Zapote and headed out on their motorcycles to “tour” different parts of the capital.A similar demonstration was held Nov. 21 outside the National Insurance Institute (INS), but the protest ended in a stalemate after INS President Guillermo Constenla refused to budge on the issue.Motorcycle owners are upset that 2013 marchamos are more expensive than permits for cargo trucks. Officials say motorcyclists are more prone to accidents, driving up the cost of insurance. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Nicaragua files final arguments in world court case against Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Nicaragua claims ‘cleaning’ of the Río San Juan follows world court order VIDEO: Costa Rican officials present new evidence of alleged damage to its territory by Nicaraguan workers Nicaragua’s Pastora calls Costa Rica’s latest accusations ‘a bunch of lies’ aimed at boosting President Solís’ image International Court of Justice to rule on Costa Rica-Nicaragua border dispute on Dec. 16 Nicaraguan officials on Monday appeared before the International Court of Justice in The Hague to file a last response in the case against Costa Rica for alleged environmental damage caused by the construction of a road parallel to the San Juan River, a natural border between the two countries.Last December, the court rejected Nicaragua’s claim that Costa Rica’s border road had caused environmental damage inside Nicaraguan territory. The court then set a deadline for Nicaragua to reply to that ruling. Nicaragua’s representative before the world court, Carlos Argüello, delivered that reply ahead of the court’s deadline.In the December ruling, the court declined to set preventive measures in favor of Nicaragua, arguing that the country failed to demonstrate that construction of the road represented “a real and imminent risk” for the San Juan or the species that live there.Nicaragua’s complaint does not specifically explain how or which species would be threatened by construction of the road, the court’s 2013 ruling stated.Costa Rica has until February to respond to Nicaragua’s latest rebuttal, and then the court will set dates for final arguments and a final ruling.The legal bickering began in 2010 when Costa Rica accused Nicaragua of sending military personnel to build a canal inside Costa Rican territory between the Caribbean Sea and the San Juan River. The complaint stated that Nicaragua caused irreparable environmental damage to a wetland area protected by international conventions. The court in 2013 ordered Nicaragua to repair damages in the area.Nicaragua responded by filing a similar complaint accusing Costa Rica of causing environmental damage to the San Juan during construction of a 160-kilometer road that runs parallel to the river.Both complaints are being resolved in the world court as a single case.Earlier this year, Costa Rica filed another lawsuit against Nicaragua before the court demanding the delimitation of maritime boundaries between the two countries.Costa Rica argues that Nicaragua is offering oil-drilling concessions in both the Caribbean and Pacific in areas where sovereignty is undefined. Costa Rica claims some of these areas as its own. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Jamaican agents seize cocaine hidden inside Xbox

first_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family The Department said Tuesday the man acknowledged he was paid $5 million to transport the drugs.Last month, authorities at Guyana’s main airport revoked security passes for a dozen employees following a rise in cocaine-stuffed suitcases intercepted on flights to New York.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Jamaican authorities have seized 24 pounds of cocaine concealed inside the shell of an X-Box.The Jamaica Customs Department says that the cocaine was discovered at Kingston’s airport shortly after a Guyanese traveler cleared customs with a laptop and a suitcase.The man returned to the baggage area, claiming he left a third item. Officials say customs officers scanned and searched the Xbox in his bag and found the cocaine. Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Romney praises Polish spirit creativity in Warsaw

first_imgBut Solidarity, the organization Walesa helped found more than two decades ago, characterized Romney as being hostile to unions and against labor rights. It emphasized that it had no role in organizing the visit and expressed support for American labor organizations.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Controversy accompanied the former Massachusetts governor in Poland as in previous stops in Britain and Israel, and comments he made earlier in the trip drew criticism from China.Xinhua News Agency said Romney’s “hawkish remarks” made in Jerusalem could worsen an already tense Mideast situation, or even re-ignite a war between Palestinians and Israelis.Earlier this week, he declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, even though U.S. policy holds that the city’s designation is a matter for negotiations between the Jewish state and the Palestinians. He also sparked a charge of racism from Palestinians when he told donors that the strength of Israel’s economy was due in part to the country’s culture.At his first stop, in London, he drew criticism from British political leaders when he appeared to question whether the nation was fully prepared for the Olympic Games, now underway.The Republican presidential contender has been highly critical of China throughout his campaign, promising to challenge Beijing’s growing influence in East Asia and get tougher with the communist government on its human rights record.There was some tension between reporters and Romney aides as the campaign looked to Poland as a final opportunity to project the image of a leader ready to stand on the world’s stage. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates “On behalf of our countrymen, I express deep appreciation for your willingness to fight with us, to stand with us, and to be our friends in times of crisis and military conflict,” Romney said.“Poland has excellent ties with the United States, regardless of which American party is in power,” Sikorski said. “We remember Ronald Reagan’s warm feelings for Poland’s Solidarity and also the fact that we joined (NATO) during Bill Clinton’s term.”Romney also stopped to view a memorial to Pope John Paul II, who was born in Poland. He then met with President Bronislaw Komorowski.The candidate ignored shouted questions from reporters about his comments on Israel and the Palestinians. Asked why Romney has taken just three questions from American reporters during the trip, traveling press secretary Rick Gorka said, “Shove it.” He later called some journalists to apologize.Romney’s visit, campaign officials said, was at the invitation of Lech Walesa, the Polish labor leader who co-founded the Solidarity movement and served as the country’s president during the country’s transition out of communism.Walesa effectively endorsed Romney when they met Monday. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements “The world should pay close attention to the transformation of Poland’s economy,” Romney said. “A march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards, a strong military that defends liberty at home and abroad, and an important and growing role on the international stage.”While holding up Poland as an economic example, Romney did not mention that the nation’s unemployment is measured at 12.4 percent. Unemployment in the United States is 8.2 percent.Romney did not mention Obama by name during his speech, but he frequently accuses the president of failing to understand the importance of the private economy and favoring government solutions to the nation’s problems.Romney resumes his campaign at home with appearances Thursday in Colorado.His aides told reporters that despite any mistakes, the trip had been a success.Already, they were eager to turn the campaign focus back to the race against Obama.The campaign issued a statement from its headquarters in Boston noting that the announcement of Romney’s selection of a vice presidential running mate is getting closer. It unveiled an app for smartphones that it said would “serve as the campaign’s first official distribution channel” for the news. Associated PressWARSAW, Poland (AP) – Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney said Tuesday that Poland’s economy is a model of small government and free enterprise that other nations should emulate, an unspoken criticism of President Barack Obama’s policies in the wake of the worst recession in decades.Wrapping up an overseas trip, the former Massachusetts governor said that “rather than heeding the false promise” of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade and live within its means” after the Communist era. Comments   Share   Shortly before ending his stumble-marred trip, Romney sought to minimize any damage from comments in Israel that sparked strong criticism from Palestinian leaders, saying his words had been mischaracterized.In an interview with Fox News, he said he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy” when he told Jewish campaign donors that their own culture is part of the reason the Jewish state is more economically successful than areas where Palestinians live.Romney also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw before flying home to the United States, and paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Poles who died in a World War II ghetto uprising against the Nazis. Both are traditional gestures for dignitaries visiting Poland.His speech seemed an attempt to link his overseas trip to the campaign at home.He said that in his talks on Monday, one unnamed Polish leader “shared with me an economic truth that has been lost on much of the world. `It is simple. You don’t borrow what you cannot pay back,’” said Romney, who frequently criticizes Obama at home for the growth of the U.S. debt in the past four years. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The two-day trip to Poland was aimed in part at building support among Polish-American and Catholic voters in the United States.Poles generally have been skeptical of Obama’s “reset” with Russia, and Romney has cited Polish concerns in his criticism of Obama. Some in Poland and the neighboring Czech Republic were upset by the Obama administration’s decision to revise the Bush-era missile defense plan for Europe, which included sites in both countries.In his speech, Romney said of Poland: “At every turn in our history, through wars and crises, through every change in the geopolitical map, we have met as friends and allies. That was true in America’s Revolutionary War. It was true in the dark days of World War II. And it has been true in Iraq and Afghanistan.”Romney delivered his remarks in a deeply Roman Catholic country that for years has favored Republicans over Democrats. This is partly a legacy of President Ronald Reagan, whose efforts helped bring down communism across Eastern Europe, for which Poles remain grateful.Poland has been a stalwart U.S. ally and significant contributor to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.Romney met earlier in the day with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. They discussed the longstanding ties between the two nations as well as the conflict in Afghanistan. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Sponsored Stories Top Stories last_img

On the ground in Syrias bloody civil war

first_img Top Stories The U.N. agency is planning a new international appeal to help the refugees on the borders, as well as those still inside the country, including winterizing tents and distributing blankets and warm clothing.“Already … the displaced are suffering from cold in the evening _ this is a real concern,” Wilkes said. She said the number of registered refugees has far exceeded earlier estimates, growing more than 12-fold from about 20,000 in June to 250,000 today.Another 1.5 million Syrians are displaced inside the country, while an additional 1 million are in urgent need of assistance because they have run out of money for food and other essentials, according to U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliassan. A $180 million emergency response plan is only half-funded, he added.Temperatures during the winter months can drop below freezing in northern Syria, and it often rains heavily. Most houses are designed to deal with the scorching summers, but are not well insulated against the cold.Neighboring Turkey has already taken in 80,000 refugees in overflowing camps and for weeks had to temporarily close its borders to new refugees.At the Bab al-Salameh border crossing, more than 5,000 Syrians are camped out in hangars once used by customs officials to inspect trucks _ structures without walls, running water or electricity. A French physician with Doctors Without Borders working near the front lines in Aleppo said in an interview last week that based on style of dress and what their companions said, half of the rebels he treated were jihadis, both foreign and Syrian.In the end, the 12 bearded men who threatened the car full of journalists may have backed down because of wanting to maintain a good relationship with the civilians from the nearby village.The more a rebel group is entrenched in the population, the more self-discipline it will exercise and the less likely it will engage in atrocities, Harling said. The problem with the jihadis and foreign fighters is that they often have few links with civilians.“There is no jihadi precedent in the Islamic world that hasn’t ended in one way or another in total failure, which makes it difficult to understand how it carries so much appeal,” he said._______09/11/2012Wounded flood hospitals in Syria’s largest cityALEPPO, Syria (AP) _ It had been a calm day in Aleppo’s Shifa Hospital, said Dr. Osman al-Haj Osman, his face etched with exhaustion from just three hours of sleep. Then, a man burst in bearing the shrieking bundle of a 6-year-old girl who’d had a machine-gun bullet rip through both her knees. Yet many people used up their savings to make it through the last winter. Some of those who’ve flocked to the refugee camps in Turkey did so not just out of fear of the fighting, but because they’ve run out of money.With more than 80,000 crossing the border to the refugee camps, there are fewer mouths to feed in the villages.“So many people have fled to Turkey, so there is enough, though sometimes we have some shortages,” said Zahra, who isn’t looking forward to the colder weather. “This winter will be so difficult. There will be problems with the heating and the cooking because we have no fuel.”It is with an eye to the future that France announced Sept. 5 that it had started giving direct aid to five unidentified towns in the northern provinces of Idlib, Aleppo and Deir al-Zour that all have large areas outside the regime’s control.The aid is largely practical, including rebuilding bakeries, water systems and developing health care facilities. Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said it would prepare the ground for a future without the regime.“The humanitarian dimension also has a political goal. It is clearly in our minds to prepare for after Bashar al-Assad, what we call, `the day after,’” he told reporters Friday. “When winter comes, how will I keep them warm?” asked Fatima Abdallah, gesturing worriedly at her tiny newborn twins as she sat on the concrete floor. Turkey has started admitting a few hundred Syrians at a time, but it’s unclear if everyone will be housed in the camps by the time the cold weather sets in.While food supplies seem to be holding steady, the biggest challenge will be staying warm and preparing food. The parts of the country outside government control have to rely on smuggled supplies of gasoline and heating oil, which have already tripled in price.Smugglers drive to government-controlled areas, usually to the east, load up their cars with butane tanks and jerry cans of gasoline and drive them back to the rebel-controlled areas.“There are already shortages of kerosene used to heat homes and there is also a shortage of fuel and cooking gas. And when winter hits, the prices will go up for everything,” said Marixie Mercado of UNICEF, noting that the displaced tend to live in public buildings like schools or stadiums that cannot easily be heated.Many also have taken refuge in construction sites or half-built houses without windows, which will offer little protection against the country’s wet winters. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project On Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported shelling in several areas across Aleppo that killed more than a dozen and collapsed a three- story building in the nearby neighborhood of Haideriya.Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have been increasingly relying on the government’s artillery and air power to fight the tenacious rebels who so far refuse to be dislodged from Aleppo.The city is Syria’s commercial hub, and its middle and upper classes were bastions of support for Assad. If the rebels took such a key city, it would give them a quasi-capital to complement the large swaths of territory they control in the north, up to the Turkish border.Osman said the rebels he treats mostly have gunshot wounds from the ubiquitous snipers scattered over the many front lines.The hospital itself has been hit directly twice by shells, demolishing two of the upper floors. Bombs fell nearby several times, spraying the entrance with shrapnel and debris.The hospital has a staff of only five doctors and no surgeons, so difficult cases are often farmed out to other facilities, including a hospital in the town of al-Bab, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the northeast. Rebels often wear the beards associated with religious Muslims and pepper their conversations with references to their faith, but that does not necessarily mean they subscribe to ultraconservative views.“Having a beard is not a symbol of extremists. It just means we’re religious, like a woman wearing a headscarf or a Christian wearing a cross,” said Abdel Malik Atassi, a young rebel in the town of Marea, as he gestured to his bearded comrades.Atassi also noted that the fighters tend to be more religious.“As a fighter, I am constantly close to death, so yes, I am more religious and I want to follow the prophet’s traditions more closely in case I die,” he added.Rebel leaders like Abdel Aziz Salameh, one of the top commanders in the countryside, said that while he hopes for a future government system based on Islamic law, it will ultimately be the people’s choice.“We don’t let the foreign fighters spread their way of thinking in our home,” he told AP. “We don’t need foreign fighters. We have 100,000 men who want to fight, but we don’t have weapons for them.”While Salameh and other rebel commanders have pledged to respect Syria’s pluralistic society, which includes many ethnic and religious minorities, the jihadis are increasingly framing this war as part of a regional struggle between the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam. While this is a small amount compared with the thousands of rebels estimated to be battling the regime, Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group warns that the religious extremists will have an influence on the rebellion.“I think numbers are irrelevant,” he said, adding that the extremists are a “very important phenomenon in many ways. Their presence is very divisive, whether there are many or not.”“They are certainly visible, and this increasingly shapes the complexion of the opposition in ways that are not negligible,” Harling said.Reflecting their extreme sensitivity to the topic, the media center on the Syrian-Turkish border investigated and questioned any journalists they discovered who had written about foreign fighters in Syria.“My brother died in this revolution. This revolution means everything to me, and if the world thinks that al-Qaida is involved, it is finished,” said Nader, a young rebel with the media center who declined to give his last name.The media center investigated and questioned any journalists they discovered who had written about foreign fighters being involved in the rebellion.Most of the rebels fighting in the north come from the countryside and have always been more traditional and religious than the more cosmopolitan urbanites of Aleppo. The next day, Monday, the injured went to the balcony to wave to their comrades prepared to head back to Aleppo.Some rebels used the last moments before the journey to pray. Others loaded bullets into their magazines and checked the straps on their battle fatigues.“We will make our stand to the last drop of blood,” said Abu Yaari, a 39-year-old rebel, who like many fighters gave only a nickname for fear of retribution. “All the fighters you see are living martyrs.”With cries of “God is great,” they then all piled into a pickup truck and a battered SUV and roared off in a cloud of dust.The rebels in Aleppo province, most of whom say they are under the umbrella of the Tawhid or Unification Division that launched the assault on Aleppo in July, also are involved in governing these small towns that could well become the kernel of a new Syria outside of Assad’s control.“The rebels control the area and help the civilians govern it, and then there are our military duties,” said Abdel Malik Atassi, a 27-year-old rebel from a battalion based in the town of Marea. “We protect the bakeries and resolve local problems.”The rebels have even set up a court system here. Acting as a judge is Ibrahim al-Najjar, a lawyer who fled from Aleppo after he woke up one morning to find government tanks ringing his apartment building. Support from rebel-controlled towns and villages dotting the rich farmland of this northwestern pocket near the Turkish border is likely one reason that rebel forces have been able to keep going in a now 2-month-old battle for control of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo. The region is the rebels’ strategic depth. Towns provide fighters. Residents help funnel food, supplies and ammunition to the front lines. And rebels engaged in the fight can find a safe refuge to rest and recuperate.Rebels in July launched an audacious assault on Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub that until then had been untouched by the fighting. Eight weeks on, the rebels have held large chunks of the city and show no signs of being driven out as they were in a failed assault on the capital of Damascus over the summer. According to the rebels, the vast majority of those fighting in Aleppo come from the towns and the villages to the north, many of which have been free from government control since May.The rebels are proving the wisdom of Che Guevara, who preached the importance of establishing safe havens and local support in the countryside. “The guerrilla fighter needs full help from the people of the area. This is an indispensable condition,” he wrote in the introduction to his 1960 manual “Guerrilla Warfare.” Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Qassem said they had been driving through a neighborhood when their car was raked by machine-gun fire from government troops.In the operating room, Fatima’s crying grew muffled as an anesthetic was administered and her mouth went slack. Osman cleaned the blood away from the wound and tried to find a way to repair the damage.Just a few feet away from the commotion, on the next bed, a nurse calmly bandaged the hand of a stone-faced rebel who was oblivious to the stricken child nearby.A tiny boy walked in and stared with curiosity at the blood and ruin of Fatima’s legs before a nurse suddenly saw him and ushered him out. It was Osman’s 4-year-old son, Omar.When Osman started pulling all-day and all-night shifts during Syria’s civil war, his wife and two children moved into the hospital so that he would actually get to see them.“He plays between the wounded. It’s a great upbringing,” Osman joked in the few calm moments before another patient was carried in. He spoke in English _ a language he said he learned from watching the Fox Movie Channel on satellite TV. Perhaps another joke.The 30-year-old doctor estimated that 80 percent of the patients are civilians, wounded by falling buildings and exploding shells from the constant bombardment that government forces mete out to the parts of the city outside their control. ___Associated Press writer Nebi Qena contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “It is a very large concern for all of us, and I hope we can all work together to make sure that … nobody freezes to death in this very frightening time,” she said.As the second winter approaches in an 18-month-old conflict that has claimed more than 20,000 lives, fighting has spread to many more parts of the country and people’s resources are dangerously low.Abu Mustafa, Mohammed’s brother, said the family survived last winter on savings, but now the financial situation is much worse.“Last winter, people had money, but now people have nothing because there is no work,” he said. “Most of the work was in Aleppo and most went there for jobs, but now they can’t.”An agricultural breadbasket, northern Syria has food, but not everyone can afford it. In many cases, families are forced to flee to refugee camps on the border not only for fear of fighting but because they have run out of money for food.The length of the conflict is also wearing people down, leaving them even more vulnerable, said Sybella Wilkes of the U.N. Refugee Agency.“The more people are displaced, the longer they are living in difficult situations of hardship, the more stretched their coping skills are,” she said. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “We know all American journalists are spies. Now tell us what you are doing here and who you are spying for,” he said in English before going on to accuse the U.S. of the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.“I really want to cut your head off right now,” he added, telling his men, many of whom appeared to have North African accents, that this American kills Muslims.With the intervention of nearby villagers, the confrontation eventually was defused. But it underscored the unpredictable element that foreign fighters bring to the Syrian conflict.Most of those fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad are ordinary Syrians and soldiers who have defected, having become fed up with the authoritarian government, analysts say. But increasingly, foreign fighters and those adhering to an extremist Islamist ideology are turning up on the front lines. The rebels are trying to play down their influence for fear of alienating Western support, but as the 18-month-old fight grinds on, the influence of these extremists is set to grow.On Monday, a U.N. panel reported a rise in the number of foreign fighters in the conflict and warned that it could radicalize the rebellion.center_img While there are enough drugs in the hospital so far to deal with the daily violence _ which on Monday killed 25 and wounded dozens in shelling believed to be in retaliation for the rebel capture of an army barracks _ the staff is overstretched.“What day is it? I don’t know. What time is it? I don’t know,” Osman said, adding that he goes to sleep at 4 a.m. and wakes up at 8 a.m. _ unless he’s roused earlier for an emergency.“My life is just the wounded and the dead,” he said.Outside the hospital, in the surprisingly bustling neighborhood of Tareeq al-Bab, there is the sound of gunfire. A helicopter gunship is lazily circling the neighborhood and rebels on the roofs of the apartment buildings are futilely emptying the clips of their inadequate Kalashnikovs into the sky.Abu Hassan, who was once a carpenter, sells vegetables on the street facing the hospital because there is no other work. He navigates the tortuous jigsaw of rebel- and government-controlled neighborhoods every day.“When we are under bombardment, the water and electricity can be cut for days,” he said, explaining that if he had the money, he would try to follow the hundreds of thousands of other Syrians who have fled for the border. Since the uprising against Assad began 18 months ago, activists estimate that at least 23,000 people have been killed. UNICEF is stockpiling supplies, including baby blankets and thermal underwear for children, as well as stoves to heat schools _ assuming the fuel is available.“People are cutting down trees to get wood,” said Abu Mustafa, relying on wood-burning stoves to cook as gas supplies have run out. “We cut off a bunch of dead branches in our orchards and collected them, but the next time we went to our fields to pick them up, someone had stolen them. People are getting desperate.”International agencies are working with local partners, particularly the Syrian Red Crescent to distribute food and supplies around the country, said Ben Parker of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.The Red Crescent can cross the lines of the conflict, but even then, their efforts have been stymied by the proliferating checkpoints and rising violence.“It will be a bitter winter,” Parker warned.___09/19/2012Extremists showing up on front lines in SyriaTEL RIFAAT, Syria (AP) _ The bearded gunmen who surrounded the car full of foreign journalists in a northern Syrian village were clearly not Syrians. A heavyset man in a brown gown stepped forward, announced he was Iraqi and fingered through the American passport he had confiscated. The sound of the jet suddenly builds to a crescendo and there is a muffled crump, mercifully in the distance. Another airstrike. The men gesture in the direction of the explosion and say that just this morning, a bomb fell a block away, killing a woman.“We can’t sleep here during the night or day,” said Abu Abed, who looks much older than his 40 years. “In the morning, it’s the jets. In the afternoon, it’s the helicopters. And at night, it’s the shelling.”___09/10/2012Syrian countryside gives vital support to rebelsSURAN, Syria (AP) _ When the uprising against President Bashar Assad started, Fatima Zahra gave up her life as a dressmaker in a small town in northern Syria and began cooking and delivering meals for the rebels.Bucking tradition in conservative rural Aleppo province, the stern, blue-eyed matron has also opened her and her husband’s home to soldiers defecting from the army, providing them with sanctuary before they either join the rebels or head back to their villages.“There are two or three other families in the village doing this kind of work but they are afraid to be known,” she said. “I am not afraid of what I am doing because I believe the revolution will be successful.” Two months into the battle for Syria’s largest city, civilians are still bearing the brunt of the daily assaults of helicopter gunships, roaring jets and troops fighting in the streets.Shoving aside the orderlies and armed rebels milling around the cramped lobby Tuesday afternoon, the man deposited Fatima Qassem onto a gurney as a nurse swooped in and began cutting away the blood-soaked bandages on her knees.A doctor reached in and pulled out an inch-long fragment of metal. There was a gush of blood. Large sections of bone and muscle were missing from the back of her knee.She cried out plaintively for “Baba,” because the man who brought her was not her father _ just someone who had rushed her across town to the hospital. The family was hopefully on its way.There was a piercing scream as the nurse picked her up again, jostling her awkwardly dangling legs and carrying her around a narrow corner into a small operating theater. Her cries subsided into a steady moan.Her father, Abdu Qassem, came in 15 minutes later, his shirt covered with blood, probably from carrying his daughter out of the car, and frantically asked the orderly behind the desk how she was doing. 0 Comments   Share   Check your body, save your life Assad and many of the top people in the regime belong to the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, and the jihadis are framing the struggle in Syria as another front in the battle against what they perceive as heretical Shiites.In the numerous online statements celebrating their nearly daily operations in Syria, Jebhat al-Nusra, or Victory Front, the largest jihadist group, often states that the attacks are to “avenge the Sunnis killed by the apostate regime.”Despite their smaller numbers, the jihadis bring experience in fighting guerrilla wars as well as their own supply lines for much needed weapons and ammunition, making them attractive to local Syrians to join.“The infiltration of weapons and funding to these groups, as well as the ethno-religious component of the Syrian uprising, is likely to continue to serve as a source of attraction for many fighters, some of whom are ex-Free Syrian Army soldiers and many of whom are from foreign countries,” noted the September report by the Quilliam Foundation about the role of jihadis in the rebellion.The jihadis also have a reputation for heading straight to the front lines. Few were in evidence in the countryside, where many rebel units are involved in managing the civilian areas. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Every village has a base for the local battalion, where some rebels stay to patrol the countryside and those fighting in Aleppo can come back for a much-needed break before returning to the fray. Government forces, meanwhile, have to conserve manpower for fear of overstraining the elite units that are the only ones trusted to not defect in battle.In the village of Suran on the outskirts of Aleppo, several young men fresh from the Aleppo fighting sprawl on thin mattresses and share a nargileh, puffing out aromatic clouds of apple-scented tobacco. For now, their uniforms are off and Kalashnikovs are stacked in the closet, but in days they will be back in Aleppo.Abu Leith may have to wait a little longer than his comrades. In his wallet he carries the fragment of the sniper bullet that ricocheted off a wall and slammed into his shoulder the day before in a successful assault on a government barracks in the northeastern Aleppo neighborhood of Hananu.“The fight is going well,” he said, echoing the inexplicably high morale of his fellow rebels in the face of an enemy possessing a modern air force and mechanized brigades. “We believe in what we are doing, and they don’t.” Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The streets between the shattered apartment buildings are choked with garbage that can no longer be collected.Although meat is scarce, residents of Aleppo are eating adequately, said Alaa Mursi, gesturing at the eggs, chickpeas, tomatoes and other produce being sold. Many, however, are surviving on handouts.“People give us food to eat,” he said. “There are rich people who distribute food for us.”Just a few blocks away is the neighborhood of Hanano, on the city’s edge, where the rebels began their assault two months ago. The streets are largely deserted because most residents were recent immigrants who could flee to relatives in the comparative safety of the countryside.A few men lounge in the shade of a scraggly tree in the otherwise grim vista of cheaply built concrete five-story buildings.Overhead is the whirring noise of a jet’s engines _ a mundane sound in the West that can mean sudden, inexplicable and random death in Aleppo.“We are afraid to stay in the houses, so we hang out on the street,” said Abu Alaa, a jovial 30-year-old who hasn’t worked in months. “We sent our families to the countryside and we stay here to look after the place, in case of thieves.” TEL RIFAAT, Syria (AP) _ The days are still warm across the fertile plains of northern Syria around Aleppo, but night brings a chill _ an ominous harbinger of winter’s approach and the deepening of the already severe humanitarian crisis gripping a country wracked by civil war.Warm temperatures and plentiful food have cushioned the blow somewhat for hundreds of thousands of Syrians displaced from their homes or living in refugee camps across the border. But the arrival of near-freezing temperatures could mean greater suffering and even deaths from exposure, as international aid agencies scramble to cope.Among the first things to go will be the practice of sleeping outside to avoid the artillery and airstrikes that rain down late night death on homes.“Most people sleep in the fields at night, out of fear of the bombardments of the towns,” said Abu Mohammed, who has taken to sleeping in the olive orchards outside Tel Rifaat, a rebel-controlled town north of Aleppo. “In the winter the suffering will only increase.”Like many people in Syria, he asked that his real name not be used for fear of retribution should the government retake his town.At a news conference earlier this month, actress Angelina Jolie, a special envoy for the U.N. Refugee Agency, reported that many of the refugees living in camps along the Turkish border were worried about the approach of cold weather. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day “We have a mixture of civil and Islamic law,” he explained, leaning on his motorcycle outside a home that been demolished by a regime jet the week before. “Marriages, for instance, are under Islamic law, but money and commercial matters are under civil law. … With the new system, there is more justice and it is swifter.”Flush with food from a good harvest, the villages have enough to feed themselves as well as the rebels in their midst, many of whom receive home-cooked meals from residents such as Zahra every day.Zahra, who wears a traditional headscarf common in the rural areas, used to travel to Aleppo buy fabric for her dresses but then began ferrying food to the fighters in the city until the road became too dangerous.Now, she cooks up lunches of meat and vegetables, often with supplies donated by other villagers, for a band of several dozen rebels.“They know I’m a strong woman, so they never say anything to my face,” she said about some of the local women who disapproved of her mixing with so many men in a conservative society. “But I can tell the way some look at me that they had something on their minds.”Marketplaces in these towns are bursting with bright red peppers, purple eggplant and golden bushels of corn, while herds of sheep roam the countryside. The Syrian government has always blamed the uprising on foreign terrorists, despite months of peaceful protests by ordinary citizens that only turned violent after repeated attacks by security forces. The transformation of the conflict into an open war has given an opening to the foreign fighters and extremists.Talk about the role of foreign jihadists in the Syrian civil war began in earnest, however, with the rise in suicide bombings. U.S. National Director of Intelligence James Clapper said in February that those attacks “bore the earmarks” of the jihadists in neighboring Iraq.Rebel commanders are quick to dismiss the role of the foreign fighters and religious extremists, describing their numbers as few and their contribution as paltry.Col. Abdel-Jabbar Aqidi, a top rebel commander for the Aleppo area, told The Associated Press there were maybe 500 jihadis involved in the battle for Aleppo, while a report from the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based think tank studying extremism, estimated a total of 1,200-1,500 foreign fighters in all of Syria.Other commanders estimated that at most, jihadis, whether local or foreign, made up no more than 10 percent of the fighters. Associated Press (AP) – Journalist Paul Schemm was part of a four-member Associated Press team that spent two and a half weeks traveling around Aleppo province in northern Syria, gathering firsthand information on the increasingly bloody rebellion against President Bashar Assad _ the longest and deadliest uprising of the Arab Spring.___9/24/2012Syria’s humanitarian crisis set to deepen with onset of cold weatherlast_img

Russia raises questions on nonnuclear US weapons

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The difference between men and women when it comes to pain ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) – Russia’s foreign minister said Friday that conventional weapons must be taken into account when Washington and Moscow meet to discuss President Barack Obama’s proposal to make radical reductions in their nuclear arsenals.Obama said Wednesday in a speech in Berlin that he wants U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles reduced by one-third, more than required by a treaty that took effect two years ago. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told The Associated Press and Bloomberg news agencies Friday that talks on further nuclear reductions should also factor in new types of American weapons, such as so-called “prompt global strike” weapons that would let the U.S. strike targets anywhere in the world in as little as an hour.Lavrov didn’t specify how Russia wants to limit such weapons, but noted that they have a capability comparable to nuclear weapons.“Imagine a weapon which is delivered to any part of the Earth in one hour, that’s the goal,” he said. “It doesn’t have an inhumane effect of a nuclear weapon, but militarily it’s much more efficient. We have to take this into account before we decide on any further reductions.”Lavrov’s comments reflected Moscow’s reluctance to conduct further nuclear arms cuts at a time when it is lagging far behind the United States in designing new weapons, and its conventional forces are a shadow of the Red Army’s former might. All that has prompted Moscow to rely increasingly on its nuclear deterrent, and it has invested a large share of its petrodollars into modernizing its nuclear missiles and atomic submarines. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The minister said U.S. missile defense plans have remained a top concern for Moscow, and the U.S. refusal to conclude a treaty that would bar space-based weapons has worried Moscow. He added that NATO’s edge in conventional forces also should be taken into account.“And besides, if we speak about further reductions, provided we agree on all these things comprehensively, then the reductions would already be meant at a level which would be very commensurate with the level of the nuclear weapons of other states, not just the Russian Federation and the United States,” he added. “It has all to be taken into account.”He said that U.S. and Russian experts will meet to discuss those issues in detail.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona 4 must play golf courses in Arizonalast_img read more

Palestinians receive Yasser Arafat test results

first_img How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   Last year, a Swiss lab discovered traces of polonium-210, a deadly radioactive isotope, on clothes provided by Arafat’s widow. More samples were subsequently taken from his remains in the West Bank.Polonium disintegrates rapidly, and experts have cautioned that too much time may have passed to reach a conclusive result.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous ofcenter_img Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – A Palestinian official says the commission probing the death of Yasser Arafat has received long-awaited test results from a Swiss laboratory.Tawfik Tirawi said the report was received Tuesday in Geneva. He said the results will be studied before they are made public.The longtime Palestinian leader died at a French hospital in 2004, but the cause of death has never been determined. Many Palestinians believe Israel poisoned Arafat, an allegation that Israel denies. Top Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health toolast_img read more

French president vows tough Iran stance in Israel

first_img Sponsored Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Relations warmed significantly under Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Hollande’s tough stance on the Iranian nuclear program has made him popular with Israelis.The six powers negotiating with Iran _ the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany _ failed to reach an agreement earlier this month. The U.S. has expressed optimism that an initial deal can be wrapped up at the next round of talks, providing a six-month period to reach a final agreement.Netanyahu believes the sanctions seriously have weakened Iran and that providing any relief, even temporarily, will be lead to the crumbling of international pressure. He has urged the world to step up, not ease, the pressure on Iran until it completely dismantles what he says is a military nuclear program.Netanyahu’s strong objections have raised tensions with the U.S., which said his concerns are premature.Meanwhile, Hollande has struck a tone far more amenable to Israeli ears.“The goal is that Iran renounces nuclear weapons forever,” he said Sunday. “We are against nuclear proliferation, and in Iran there has been a will _ even once expressed _ to enrich uranium to military capabilities.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The warm atmosphere comes at a time when Israel increasingly finds itself at odds with its top ally, the United States, over the talks with Iran.Netanyahu has tried to play down his differences with the Obama administration as a disagreement between the “best of friends,” but he went out of his way to charm Hollande _ peppering his remarks with French and embracing him often.Hollande, accompanied by his companion Valerie Trierweiler, was welcomed by an honor guard at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv. With trumpets playing in the background, a line of politicians, religious leaders and other dignitaries greeted the French leader. Later, he visited Israel’s national cemetery as well as Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial, before a meeting and dinner with Netanyahu.“Israel sees in France a true friend,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony.Initially a strong ally of Israel, France was an early provider of weapons to the country and was instrumental in establishing Israel’s nuclear program. But relations soured after the 1967 Mideast war, when France imposed an arms embargo and began adopting more policies critical of Israel.Many Israelis have traditionally viewed France as biased in favor of the Palestinians, and reports of rising anti-Semitism toward the French Jewish community _ at 600,000 the third-largest in the world _ has only fanned the flames. Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement JERUSALEM (AP) – Visiting French President Francois Hollande vowed to maintain his country’s tough stance in upcoming nuclear talks with Iran this week, earning praise from his Israeli hosts Sunday as he began a three-day visit to the Jewish state.Israel has repeatedly voiced concern that the emerging deal global powers are negotiating with Iran gives it too much, without guaranteeing that the Islamic Republic’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon is eliminated. ErrorOK ErrorOKHollande vowed to keep up pressure on Iran and not make any concessions regarding nuclear proliferation.“If there hadn’t been sanctions, if they hadn’t been enforced, it’s clear that we would never even have had the words from Iran _ and I don’t yet speak of actions _ that we had in the last few weeks,” he said In a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We have a duty to resolve this problem that has been under discussions for too many years because Iran for too long has participated in discussions without taking actions.”Netanyahu has been outspoken in his opposition to a potential deal in which the international community would ease some sanctions on Iran in exchange for some curbs on Iran’s nuclear program. The countries fear that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, a charge Iran denies.Speaking alongside Hollande, Netanyahu once again warned that Iran could soon have enough fissile material to develop a bomb within weeks and that Israel would not be bound to what he called a “bad deal.” At the same time, he thanked Hollande for leading a tough stance that has blocked a deal thus far. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day ErrorOK ErrorOK New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its very existence, citing its repeated calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, Tehran’s long-range missile program and its support for violent anti-Israel groups like the Hezbollah in Lebanon.Netanyahu has repeatedly denounced the potential agreement between the six powers and Iran and hinted at readiness to attack Iran if it appears close to getting a bomb, saying Israel is ready to “defend itself.”Invoking the memory of the Holocaust, Netanyahu said it was his obligation to prevent it from happening again.“It is my duty to prevent anyone from credibly threatening or executing another Holocaust against the Jewish people,” he said. “When someone says they are out to destroy you we have learned in our Jewish history to take them seriously.”Netanyahu said the Iran talks would dominate discussions with Hollande, as well as meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to visit Jerusalem on Friday.Newly restarted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are also on the agenda and Hollande is to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday in the West Bank. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

Leaders line up to visit Fidel Castro in Cuba

first_imgHAVANA (AP) – Fidel Castro has lived mostly out of the public eye since a near-fatal illness in 2006 forced his retirement after nearly five decades at the helm of Cuba.This week he had his busiest social calendar in years as nearly a dozen world leaders attending a regional summit in Havana stopped in to pay their respects to _ and have their picture taken with _ the man considered the godfather of the Latin American left. The vital role family plays in society Photos of the encounters taken by Castro’s photographer son Alex show a gray-bearded, elderly man, seemingly alert and animated. The conversations reportedly ranged from history and world current affairs to remembrances of Castro’s late friend Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.Argentine President Cristina Fernandez got things started Sunday. She and Castro sat chatting in the comfortable living room of a home where he apparently lives, along with Castro’s longtime companion, Dalia Soto del Valle. Fernandez asked Castro to autograph several photographs.Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff came calling the following day. A beaming Rousseff held Castro’s arm as they walked, she in a bright orange blazer and he in a striped-black track suit.Next were Kenny Anthony, prime minister of the tiny Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban said he found the 87-year-old Castro “spiritually alert” and physically strong.But it was Wednesday when the Castro household really grew busy.Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Jose Mujica of Uruguay and Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico all sat down with Castro, in a kind of mini-summit parallel to the one taking place nearby in a Havana convention center. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Comments   Share   (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories center_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober “Like him or not, he’s a large figure in Latin American history, and so they visit him for that reason,” said Philip Peters, a longtime Cuba analyst and head of the Cuba Research Center in Virginia.“None of (the visitors) run a one-party state. None of them would dream of adopting his economic policies,” Peters continued. “But they all probably admire the fact that he stood up to the United States for 50 years.”___Peter Orsi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Philippine leader says charges will be filed in factory fire

first_img 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Top Stories Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 ways to recognize low testosterone MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president said Monday that charges will be filed against all those responsible for last month’s factory fire that killed 72 people, and blasted government agencies for failing to do their duties.President Benigno Aquino III told a news conference that local officials and fire bureau personnel who ignored the rubber slipper factory’s failure to meet safety requirements would be among those charged. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories center_img He said he did not want a repeat of the tragedy and has ordered the inspection of some 300,000 factories in metropolitan Manila. The fire was one of the worst in the country after a 1996 disco blaze that killed 162 people. A fire at a budget hotel in 2001 killed 75.Aquino said an investigation showed Kentex Manufacturing Corp. in Valenzuela city, a northern Manila suburb, failed to install an automatic sprinkler system and a protected fire exit inside the facility. The company also failed to obtain the required fire safety inspection certificate since it began operating in 1996, except in 2012, and even that certificate is in question, he said.“We do not want a repeat of this tragedy and to pin down through the filing of charges all those who conspired for this tragedy to happen,” he said.He urged the public, especially factory workers, to report to authorities any safely risks. The fire shows that each agency of government failed to do what it should have done, he said.“We need to take out the whip and say, ‘Hey, you have obligations and if you have been negligent of your obligation there will be a corresponding punishment,’” Aquino said.Government lawyers will determine the charges to be filed but that among them are reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, falsification of public documents and dereliction of duty. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian told reporters rules cutting red tape set by the Department of Interior and Local Governments allowed the city government to issue the factory a provisionary permit to operate, with the fire safety certificate to follow within the year of operation. He said the rule was made because of the fire bureau’s backlog of inspections.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 Philippine President Benigno Aquino III points at a scale model of the rubber slipper factory Kentex Manufacturing Corp that left 72 people dead during a fire as he holds a press conference at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines Monday, June 1, 2015. Aquino said charges will be filed against all those responsible for last month’s factory fire that left 72 people dead, including local officials and fire bureau personnel who ignored the establishment’s failure to meet safety requirements.(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)last_img read more

Indonesia evacuates more villagers from volcano area

first_img How do cataracts affect your vision? Subur Tambun, head of the local disaster mitigation agency, said hundreds of residents were being evacuated Monday from several villages, bringing the number of people moved in recent weeks to more than 3,000.“They have to be moved because of increasing activities of the volcano in past days,” Subur said.Evacuees included villagers living between 3 to 5 kilometers (2 to 3 miles) from the crater on its eastern and southeastern flanks. A small number of people who’d returned to villages within 3 kilometers also were evacuated again.Jefri Bangun, a 33-year-old coffee farmer in Mardinding village, about 3 kilometers from the crater, is one of thousands of villagers who were reluctant to leave the slopes.“We need money to live,” said Bangun, who vowed to keep coming back to tend his plants.Authorities have been closely monitoring Sinabung since June 2, when its status was raised to the highest alert level due to the growing size and unstable condition of its lava dome, then estimated at 3 million cubic meters (106 million cubic feet).Subur said 99 families were moved from a village on Saturday when the mountain unleashed a new powerful burst, sending hot ash as far as 3 kilometers (2 miles) down its southeastern slopes. Check your body, save your life Comments   Share   Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Mount Sinabung is one of about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.The 2,460-meter (8,070-foot) volcano has sporadically erupted since 2010, after being dormant for 400 years. An eruption last year killed at least 17 people.Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said almost 2,800 residents were evacuated when the mountain’s alert status was raised two weeks ago.Nearly 6,200 other people have been living in temporary shelters since last year, Nugroho said.___This story has been updated to correct the elevation of the volcano to 2,460 meters (8,070 feet).Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. In this photo taken with slow shutter speed, hot lava flows from the crater of Mount Sinabung as seen from Tiga Serangkai, North Sumatra, Indonesia, early Monday, June 15, 2015. Authorities have been closely monitoring the 2,460-meter (8,070-foot) -high volcano since June 2 when its status was raised to the highest alert level due to the growing size of its lava dome. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall TANAH KARO, Indonesia (AP) — Authorities in western Indonesia on Monday evacuated hundreds of villagers living near a volcano that is spewing hot ash down its slopes almost daily.Government volcanologist Gede Suantika said at least 28 hot ash avalanches occurred Monday at Mount Sinabung on Sumatra, one of Indonesia’s main islands. There are indications the crater’s lava dome continues to grow in size, Gede said. Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Pope heads to Bolivia amid churchstate tensions

first_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories The stop in La Paz was being kept to four hours to spare the 78-year-old pope from the taxing 4,000-meter (13,120-foot) elevation; the rest of his Bolivian stay will be in Santa Cruz.Francis and Morales have met on several occasions, most recently in October when the president, a former coca farmer, participated in a Vatican summit of grassroots groups of indigenous and advocates for the poor who have been championed by Francis. Their shared views on caring for society’s poorest, and the need for wealthy countries to drastically change course to address climate change have bumped up against Morales’ anti-clerical initiatives that have roiled relations with the local church.As soon as Morales took office in 2006, for example, the Bible and cross were removed from the presidential palace. A new constitution in 2009 made the overwhelmingly Catholic nation a secular state and Andean religious rituals replaced Catholic rites at official state ceremonies.“There are some challenging issues in terms of Evo Morales taking on a quite combative role against the church, which he sees as a challenge to his authority,” said Clare Dixon, Latin American regional director for CAFOD, the English Catholic aid agency. “The church is also questioning some decisions made about development in the country.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Morales, who expelled the U.S. ambassador and Drug Enforcement Administration, came to power championing Bolivia’s 36 indigenous groups and enshrined their rights in the constitution. But he has alienated lowlands natives by promoting a highway through a nature reserve and authorizing oil and natural gas exploration in wilderness areas. Cheered by environmentalists abroad for his demand that wealthy nations do more to combat climate change, Morales has been under fire at home from critics, including activists in the church, who say he puts extracting petroleum ahead of clean water and forests.Mario Gutierrez, an environmental specialist in Bolivia with the Catholic charity Caritas, said the Morales government is poisoning indigenous communities and deforesting habitats important to them.“We are, as the church, truly concerned,” he said.Francis was expected to raise environmental concerns during his Bolivian sojourn, just as he did in Ecuador. And he’s likely to delicately insist on the Catholic Church’s right to have a voice in society, given its role in caring for the most marginal in South America’s poorest country. Other highlights of the trip include his visit to the notoriously violent Palmasola prison, where a battle among inmate gangs in 2013 left 30 people dead. As in many Latin American prisons, inmates largely control the inside of Palmasola, which teems with some 3,500 prisoners, more than four in five still awaiting trial. “I remain convinced that we Bolivians have a double religion, double faith,” he said in January. “We are Catholics, but at the same time we have rituals of our own.”Morales is never one to hide his opinions: When he met in 2010 with Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, he gave him a letter suggesting the church abolish celibacy and allow women to be priests.“The church doesn’t have to deny a fundamental part of our nature as human beings and should abolish celibacy. That way there will be fewer boys and girls whose fathers don’t recognize them,” he said at the time.Morales’ attitude toward the church changed radically when Francis became pope. He visited the pontiff twice and invited him to come to Bolivia.Inaugurating a school in the central Chapare region last week, Morales said, “The truth is he and I coincide enormously in politics, the social and the economic.”___Valdez reported from La Paz, Bolivia. Associated Press reporter Frank Bajak contributed to this report from La Paz.___Nicole Winfield on Twitter: www.twitter.com/nwinfieldCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   center_img QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Wrapping up the Ecuador leg of his South American pilgrimage, Pope Francis prepared Wednesday to head to Bolivia, where church-state tensions over everything from the environment to the role of the church in society are high on the agenda.Before leaving Ecuador’s capital Quito, Francis was to meet with the elderly and give a pep talk to local clergy. Then he was set to fly to La Paz and meet with Bolivian President Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian known for his anti-imperialist and socialist stands. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Men’s health affects baby’s health too But perhaps the most intriguing element expected Wednesday was the delicate diplomatic dance between Francis and Morales over the tensions with the church.Morales considers the Catholic Church a powerful vestige of the colonial-era servitude from which the indigenous — more than 60 percent of Bolivia’s population — are still trying to recover.The government made it obligatory to teach other religions in schools alongside Catholicism, the faith of nearly four in five Bolivians. But it lost a major skirmish when it tried to prohibit obligatory Catholic religious education in the 15 percent of schools run by the church.In the heat of the dispute, Morales accused Cardinal Julio Terrazas, then head of the Bolivian bishop’s conference, of being aligned with the opposition and stripped him of his diplomatic passport.All official ceremonies in Bolivia are now preceded by rituals venerating the Andean earth goddess Pachamama.That doesn’t square with the Bolivian church hierarchy, which in a 2012 pastoral letter called school texts that refer to Pachamama as a divinity “erroneous and a deviation.”Morales calls himself a Catholic and says he believes, as many Andean natives do, that there’s plenty of room for both Christianity and traditional beliefs. Pope Francis delivers his message during his visit to the San Francisco Church in Quito, Ecuador, Tuesday, July 7, 2015. Francis is making his first visit as pope to his Spanish-speaking neighborhood. He travels to three South American nations, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

After evading lawsuits counterfeiter gets US green card

first_img Sponsored Stories In this Thursday, June 18, 2015 photo, a man walks outside a building in Beijing where an apartment is listed in Chinese official documents as being registered to Xu Ting, her younger brother Xu Lei, and their mother Zhao Peiyuan. Xu Ting, a Chinese immigrant living in the U.S has been sued for counterfeiting by eight different luxury brands, including Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and still owes Chanel Inc. $6.9 million in damages for counterfeiting, according to U.S. court documents. None of this has stopped her from becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States and amassing the trappings of a solid middle class life. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said the government has done “a number of significant prosecutions.”“Large-scale commercial counterfeiting is one of the top enforcement priorities of the department’s Intellectual Property Task Force,” he said.China is the largest source country for counterfeit goods seized in the U.S., and apparel and accessories are the largest category of merchandise. Luxury goods are typically made in Guangzhou and sent by container or courier like FedEx to the U.S. They may be sold in stores or flea markets but are usually hawked online.“Unfortunately, once you shut one (website) down, they have 10 more ready to open up in a different name,” said Bruce Foucart, director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a multiagency group led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Foucart didn’t know about Xu Ting.Brand owners also bear responsibility.“The biggest game changer for me would be if foreign companies took a more aggressive attitude toward enforcing their rights,” said Mark Cohen, former intellectual property attache at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. “At the end of the day, there may be an economic calculation about how much money it’s worth to pursue these people.” “There’s a million ways to game the system,” said Dan Plane, an intellectual property lawyer in Hong Kong. “Probably the only thing that’s going to stop her is when she passes away — probably on an island resort somewhere — or if she gets arrested.”So far, Xu Ting has simply refused to show up in court. She has worked toward a graduate degree at San Diego State University, helped her family accumulate at least $890,000 in bank accounts in China, and bought a $585,000 house with her husband, public records and court cases show.“The essential point for Chanel is really shutting down the counterfeiting operations which we did successfully,” Chanel spokeswoman Kathrin Schurrer wrote in an email. Schurrer added that the legal process is ongoing and declined further comment, but did note that “California has a law prohibiting the civil seizure of a home if it is a primary residence.”In 2009, a Florida judge ruled against Xu Ting and shut down seven websites selling fake Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Celine.In 2010, Gucci and other brands in France’s Kering group filed a lawsuit in New York federal court against Xu Ting, her future husband, and eight others who allegedly sold more than $2 million worth of fake handbags and wallets online to U.S. customers. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home ___Spagat reported from San Diego. Associated Press writer Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report and news researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York. Associated Press news assistants Fu Ting and Liu Zheng contributed from Shanghai and Beijing.___Kinetz can be reached at http://twitter.com/ekinetzCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Men’s health affects baby’s health too Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility In February 2014, Xu Ting got a green card, thanks to her husband’s advanced degree or “extraordinary ability,” according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke anonymously because immigration records are not public. Immigration authorities also have the Rancho Penasquitos address on record as her residence, the person said.U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Christopher Bentley declined comment, citing privacy concerns.Dan Kowalski, an immigration attorney and editor of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, said immigration officials may not have known about Xu Ting’s legal problems but more likely didn’t consider them a disqualification. Grounds for denying a green card range from committing a serious crime to having communicable disease but there’s nothing about civil liabilities. A vaguer requirement of “good moral character” is more commonly applied for citizenship, not legal residence.In the U.S., most counterfeiting prosecutions are civil cases brought by companies. Lawyers say criminal cases, which carry the possibility of jail time, are a more effective deterrent.“A person is more likely to be struck by lightning than imprisoned for counterfeiting,” said Geoffrey Potter, an intellectual property lawyer at New York’s Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of SHANGHAI (AP) — The Chinese woman has a history of selling counterfeit luxury goods. She has been sued in the U.S. by eight luxury brands. She owes Chanel Inc. $6.9 million for selling products online under its name.None of it has stopped Xu Ting, a 45-year-old immigrant, from achieving a comfortable suburban life in San Diego with her husband and their 3-year-old son. Last year, she became a legal resident.China is not the only country with a counterfeiting problem. Most fakes are made in China, but they are sold in America, where counterfeiting is rarely prosecuted as a crime. Lack of cooperation with China makes it easy for counterfeiters to move their money beyond reach — and hard to root out counterfeiting kingpins. As long as counterfeiters can stay out of jail and hold on to their profits — and consumers continue to buy — the trade in fakes will thrive. Xu Ting’s husband, Xu Lijun, has settled. A licensed civil engineer in California, he denied wrongdoing but agreed to let Gucci keep $400,000 in seized counterfeiting proceeds and pay a $7,500 fine.His lawyer, Eric Siegle, said he was “a small-time nobody.”“The people they are arresting or suing here in the United States are low-level people,” Siegle said. “If you can find where the money is going, you can get to the heart of the problem.”But Gucci couldn’t find where the money went once it landed in China because Chinese banks refused to disclose account details.“BOC cannot comply with such orders without violating Chinese law,” the Bank of China said in an email.The case is ongoing. Kering spokeswoman Charlotte Judet said Gucci would “vigorously enforce any judgment” it obtained.Xu Ting declined multiple requests for comment.A slight man in wire-rimmed glasses answered the door in San Diego’s Rancho Penasquitos area and identified himself as Xu Lijun but declined comment.“After your colleague’s visit, we communicated and she still did not want to do the interview,” the family’s lawyer in Beijing, Chen Peng, said. Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywalllast_img read more

Pew Chinese stay optimistic in an otherwise gloomy world

first_img Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Only Nigerians (92 percent) and residents of the West African country of Burkina Faso (85 percent) are more optimistic about the next year, according to a Pew survey, released Thursday, of 45,435 adults in 40 countries.Overall, Pew found that people around the world are still gloomy six years after the end of the Great Recession: Just 45 percent — and 40 percent of Americans — describe economic conditions in their country as good.The survey was conducted before the Chinese stock market started tumbling June 12. And Bruce Stokes, Pew’s director of global economic attitudes, notes “people’s views on the economy may take a while to change. As in the U.S., economic sentiment may take a while to jell.”In America, the survey revealed a partisan divide: Just 25 percent of Republicans say the U.S. economy is good, compared to 55 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independents.People in low- and middle-income countries tended to have a more positive outlook on their economies. Ethiopians were almost as upbeat as the Chinese: 89 percent say their economy is good, as do 86 percent of Vietnamese.Among advanced economies, 75 percent of Germans, 57 percent of Canadians, 55 percent of Australians and 52 percent of British give their economies high marks. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 0 Comments   Share   Between 2014 and 2015, Nigerians registered the biggest improvement in attitude: 57 percent say their economy is doing well this year, up from 39 percent in 2014.Just 3 percent of Ukrainians felt good about their economy, perhaps not surprising for a country contending with deep financial problems and an ongoing confrontation with Russia. Only 10 percent of Lebanese and 12 percent of Italians described their economies as good.Malaysians’ attitude deteriorated the most last year: Just 46 percent say their economy is good, down from 72 percent last year. Chile saw positive ratings drop to 45 percent from 69 percent in 2014. Only 24 percent of Russians rate their economy as good, down from 44 percent in 2014.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WASHINGTON (AP) — Maybe someone should tell the Chinese their economy is slowing. They don’t seem to buy it.The Pew Research Center finds that a world-beating 90 percent of Chinese say their economy is good. And 84 percent expect things to be even better in 12 months.According to the International Monetary Fund, China’s economic growth will decelerate this year to the slowest pace since 1990: 6.8 percent, down from 7.4 percent in 2014. But Pew found that Chinese are feeling even sunnier about today’s economy than they did in 2007 when growth surged 14.2 percent. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Top Stories last_img read more

Hilton gearing up for billiondollar float

first_imgAccountants are believed to be preparing the books of Hilton Worldwide hotels, as private-equity giant Blackstone readies the hotel chain for an eventual flotation on the New York or London stock exchange. It is understood that Blackstone executives want Hilton to be ready for a quick sale, although the timetable for a move will be dependent on favourable market conditions, the Independent reported. According to the newspaper, a source close to the group said that “the focus is on getting the timing right, so that if you wake up one morning and decide to go for it you can”. Blackstone and Hilton have stressed however that the listing would not be rushed, with Hilton chief executive Chris Nassetta saying earlier this month that the sale was  something they “will consider at some point”.US-based Blackstone purchased the hotel group for US$26 billion in 2007, a year after the Hilton brands were reunified following a 42-year split. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

Airport taxi levy advances Australias fares

first_imgWhen you’re next hailing a taxi at Sydney Airport expect to pay an extra 50cents as of next month after the airport announced that it would raise its taxi access fee to AUD3.50.An additional AUD1.00 will be charged for mini-buses, buses, coaches and limousines making the airports taxi levy the highest in the country.The hike in fees is attributed to Sydney Airport’s recently completed upgrade of their taxi rank aimed to ease congestion at the International terminal and the proposed upgrading of the domestic terminal rank later this year.The International terminal rank received an AUD2.8million upgrade and has provided an extra eight taxi spaces and improved access for maxi-cabs to assist in reducing the queuing time.The pending AUD1million upgrade of the domestic T2 terminal will increase the amount of taxi spaces from the current 10 to 15 vehicle spaces and provide a new undercover walkway from T2 to the public pick-up area.“Separating large vehicles from the taxi traffic will allow for more efficient traffic flow and reduce queuing time for passengers,” an airport spokesperson said.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has criticized the airport regarding its fees and says no other Australian airport charges taxis more than AUD$3.00. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

Expedia fined for misleading the French

first_imgThe French branch of Expedia has been forced to pay up to €427,000 (AU$590,000) to hoteliers after it was found guilty by the French court for advertising misleading accommodation prices, information and availability.The decision made earlier this week by the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris was made after the company was investigated by a French anti-fraud agency, DGCCRF, The Connexion reported.According to the newspaper, the investigation found that online shoppers were advised certain hotels were full and then re-directed to other hotels that were found to have commercial ties with Expedia and its sub-brand Hotels.com.The court advised that up to €305,000 of the money will be directed to the hoteliers federation, Synhorcat, while the rest will be awarded to the two hotels involved in the incident Hôtel de la Place du Louvre in Paris (€79,000) and the Château Guilguiffin, in Landudec, Finistère (€43,000). Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more