ACTA takes a stand on latest goround of currency surcharges

first_imgACTA takes a stand on latest go-round of currency surcharges << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, July 10, 2018 Posted by TORONTO — ACTA is weighing in on the currency surcharge controversy with an update to travel agents from ACTA President Wendy Paradis.Agents have been reaching out to ACTA to share their feedback about Sunwing’s recent $20 currency surcharge, says Paradis. Currency surcharges are nothing new and aren’t limited to one tour operator, as Paradis points out. Just a few years ago, in 2014, several tour operators including Air Canada Vacations and Sunwing introduced a $35 currency surcharge to shore up against a deflating Canadian dollar.This new surcharge was introduced by Sunwing on June 21 for departures Aug. 1 and beyond.Paradis says ACTA “strongly believes that only real taxes belong in the tax field and all other ‘service fees and surcharges’ are a cost of the product and belong in the base fare.”Travel agencies in the province of Quebec were most vocal expressing how unhappy they were about yet another non-commissionable fee by taking to social media to express their disappointment, she noted.Sunwing says: “As a tour operator, most of the products and services that we contract are based on U.S. dollars. Unfortunately, the current unfavourable exchange rate against the U.S. dollar has necessitated us to impose a temporary currency surcharge. The $20 per person surcharge applies to new bookings only for departure dates from August 1st onwards.  The surcharge was introduced on June 21st; existing bookings made prior to this date are unaffected. We will continue to carefully monitor the situation until such time that this surcharge can be removed.”The issue of non-commissionable fees, a hot button topic in the cruise industry in particular, is a global issue, says Paradis, and ACTA “has been pushing for change about this problem for some time.” Paradis says ACTA has and will continue to raise this matter globally through the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) and push for change not only in Canada, but worldwide, and tells agents ACTA will provide updates on its progress.“There is a huge level of strain being put on vacation packages both from the Canadian dollar being so low but also due to the continuously rising fuel costs,” says ACV’s Managing Director, Nino Montagnese. However Air Canada Vacations as well as Tranast and also TravelBrands say they have no current plans to implement a currency surcharge.center_img Travelweek Group Tags: ACTA, Air Canada Vacations, Sunwing, WTAAA Sharelast_img read more

Lastminute summer savings with Karisma Hotels Resorts

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Last-minute summer savings with Karisma Hotels & Resorts SAN FRANCISCO — Clients seeking last-minute summer vacation deals can check out Karisma Hotels & Resorts and its fun-in-the-sun savings.Vacationers can get a Caribbean family escape at The Fives Azul Beach Resort, treat their loved ones to a luxurious getaway at the all-suite, all-oceanfront Generations Riviera Maya, spend quality time with their significant other at the adults-only beachfront culinary haven that is El Dorado Royale, or choose from other Karisma properties in beachfront locales, and save while they’re at it.El Dorado RoyaleThe Fives Azul Beach Resort Playa del CarmenGuests who book travel by July 31 are eligible for up to 62% savings to celebrate summer, for stays now through December 21, 2021.With each booking, agents can earn up to Cdn$250. Rates start at $163 per person/per night. Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Share Tags: Karisma Hotels & Reosrts Friday, July 19, 2019 last_img read more

First Starbucks to open in Costa Rica on June 20

first_imgRelated posts:Starbucks’ most expensive coffee is from Costa Rica Residents split on Starbucks announcement Second Starbucks announced for Costa Rica, will open in November Starbucks buys coffee farm in Costa Rica Residents in Costa Rica can sip Starbucks coffee for the first time here on June 20.The famous U.S. coffee chain announced it would open its first store in two weeks at the Plaza Avenida Escazú, southwest of San José.Starbucks has locations in 55 countries, including multiple locations in El Salvador and Guatemala. However, the coffee giant has not yet announced plans for another store in Costa Rica. Some market analysts have wondered whether Starbucks can compete in a culture that already thrives on cheap, locally grown coffee.Bella Vista Coffee, hailing from Tres Ríos, southeast of San José, will be the first Tico coffee for sale in Starbucks. It was selected because it is grown between 1,350 and 1,500 meters above sea level, and has good quality, flavor and acidity. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rican daily La Nación cancels presidential election poll citing inconvenient timing

first_imgThe daily La Nación has decided not to publish a final elections poll scheduled for Wednesday by polling firm Unimer, because it is “too close” to Election Day. In one week, Costa Ricans will head to the polls to elect a new president and Legislative Assembly.According to La Nación Editor-in-Chief Yanancy Noguera, the decision was made last week not to move forward with the Unimer poll in order to avoid “more confusion.” Noguera cited three previous polls that had drawn inconclusive results when compared with each other, and a high number of undecided voters, just days before the Feb. 2 election.“It has to do with undecided voters,” Noguera told The Tico Times. “Instead of contributing (to helping voters make up their minds), … it (the poll) would have instead generated more confusion.”She didn’t explain why another poll would confuse undecided voters, other than repeating it would be inconvenient for them.Noguera said La Nación has been satisfied with previous polls conducted by Unimer, and that the polling firm had not shared any new results or statistics with the newspaper before the decision was made last week.The three most recent polls – one by Unimer and published in La Nación, a second by CID-Gallup and published by La República, and a third by the University of Costa Rica, published in Semanario Universidad – obtained notably different results.The Unimer-La Nación poll, published on Jan. 16, had three candidates in a dead heat for the presidential race: the Broad Front Party’s José María Villalta, the ruling National Liberation Party’s Johnny Araya and the Libertarian Movement Party’s Otto Guevara.CID-Gallup had Araya just 1 percentage point away from capturing the 40 percent of votes needed to become elected and avoid an April runoff.The UCR poll also listed Araya as the leader among decided voters, but with only 20.4 percent of projected votes, compared with Villalta’s 15.3 percent. Guevara and Luis Guillermo Solís, of the Citizen Action Party, were in a statistical tie for third place with 11.2 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively. Undecided voters totaled 24.5 percent.Given the current circumstances, it would be inconvenient to publish a poll so close to the elections,” Noguera said.Despite those comments, rumors circulated Monday that La Nación was suppressing numbers that showed Solís gaining significant ground, a charge Noguera denied.In 2010, La Nación published a Unimer poll on Wednesday, Feb. 3, just five days before voters elected the PLN’s Laura Chinchilla.Alleged poll numbers that had circulated in La Nación’s newsroom and that were sent to The Tico Times by an anonymous source appeared to show that support for Solís had jumped by more than 8 percent. If accurate, the result would place him among the top four presidential candidates in a virtual tie.The Tico Times asked Unimer Central America President Carlos Paniagua to comment on those circulating numbers, as well as to verify Noguera’s statements, and he responded in an email by saying only, “There are numbers of supposed results circulating, and the ones you mention are another example of that.”Chatter also has come from inside Solís’ campaign about La Nación’s decision.“The newspaper has the right to do what it wants,” said Solís’ campaign manager Melvin Jiménez. “But what’s clear to us is that from the beginning we have been invisible. Our own internal polling shows significant progress. … Polls are designed to help people make up their minds, so if they started one, I think they should publish the results.”UPDATE: La Nación posted a tweet explaining that they “made the decision to cancel the last Unimer poll due to the electoral climate.” The note states that the daily “considered it inconvenient to publish poll results a few days before a election.” Related posts:UCR poll: Araya, Villalta, Solís neck-and-neck as campaigns close Luis Guillermo Solís and Johnny Araya head to April 6 runoff after close Costa Rica vote Raising chickens on the ‘Ruta de Alegría’ A victory for the ages Tomamos la decisión de cancelar el último estudio de opinión sobre el clima electoral de Unimer. #EleccionesCR— La Nación (@nacion) January 28, 2014center_img Once again, we’ll point out that La Nación published a presidential election poll five days before the election in 2010. But during that election, polls showed Chinchilla heading toward an easy victory.UPDATE 2: On Tuesday, La Nacíon wrote an editorial expanding on their decision to cancel the poll.  The editorial said: “Under the circumstances of this election, we didn’t see the value of publishing results a few days before people go to the polls — we didn’t think it would help clear up doubts.”The editorial repeated that it didn’t make sense to publish the poll due to the large amount of undecided voters. It explained that the poll would be inaccurate since all the undecided voters would become decided voters in five days. La Nación denied ever seeing the actual results.UPDATE 3: We thought La Nación’s editorial didn’t make any sense. So we asked @SamWangPhD, who perfectly forecast the 2012 U.S presidential election, what he thought. You won’t want to miss what he said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica to play Japan in World Cup warmup in the United

first_imgRelated posts:Report: Costa Rica, Ghana to face off in international friendly in Los Angeles Here’s how South Korea scored to beat Costa Rica in a World Cup warm-up over the weekend Get your tickets for the Costa Rica national team’s final home game before the World Cup Joel Campbell among Costa Rican stars playing in World Cup warm-up against Paraguay next Wednesday The Costa Rica Men’s National Team will play Japan in a friendly, less than a month before the teams go to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.The match will take place June 2 in the United States, in a city in Florida, according to Costa Rican Football Federation President Eduardo Li. He told the daily La Nación the team plans to schedule a second match in the U.S. between May 20 and June 7. Li said the second match almost certainly will take place in Denver, Colorado. The city was the site of a major controversy the last time Costa Rica played there, but “La Sele” shouldn’t have to worry about another surprise blizzard in late May.The biggest concern for Costa Rica will be whether its team can rally after a trio of languid performances since qualifying for the World Cup last October. In three warm-ups against fellow World Cup qualifiers, Costa Rica has failed to score a goal. Those games mainly have been played with reserve players, but the squad needs all the help it can get from its back-ups, especially if star Bryan Oviedo misses the World Cup after breaking his leg in late January.Costa Rica last took on Japan in 2002, right before that year’s World Cup in South Korea/Japan. The teams played to a draw, 1-1.After the pair of friendlies in the U.S., Costa Rica will return home briefly before heading to Brazil. The team’s first World Cup match is June 14 against Uruguay. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

The rise of the Costa Rican health food store

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica launches catalog of premium food products Food and Fútbol: Learning from the Netherlands Seaweed can help feed the world. But will we eat it? Recipe VIDEO: Rebooting Costa Rican cuisine at Al Mercat For a country with slogans like “pura vida” and “sin ingredientes artificiales,” Costa Rica isn’t an easy place to find organic produce, hempseeds or gluten free flours. In fact, the average Costa Rican citizen consumes more than six pounds of pesticides in food every year, and more than 20 percent of the population is obese.Ana Victoria Granera Varela, proprietor of the Moravia based “eco-store” Mundo Verde, has joined a growing number Costa Ricans offering organic food and a corresponding education on more healthy eating in Costa Rica. “The situation for Ticos right now is that they are realizing that their nutrition has become very bad, so now they are making a conscious movement,” Varela says.She’s right. Although the market for healthy goods in Costa Rica isn’t quite as strong as the U.S. market, it has been growing since the 1990s and is expected to continue. Lee Kaplan-Unsoeld/The Tico TimesHaving lived in San Francisco, Varela got the inspiration for Mundo Verde when she went to a nearby town called Sebastopol, where local, organic agriculture was popular. “I went to a Whole Foods Market and loved it, and I thought that there wasn’t anything as diverse in Costa Rica with local and organic foods. From there I started to look for local producers. I found Feria Verde (in Barrio Aranjuez) and Feria Treque (in Barrio Carmen) as well, and Mundo Verde came as a result.”Having been open for around seven months, the store attracts health junkies who want gluten free flours and super-foods like chia seeds, as well as people looking for local, organic chocolates or jams. In addition to the take-home products, Varela offers fresh organic smoothies, and her family’s artisan bakery is across the street.While certain health foods are available at supermarkets like Automercado, the majority of these products are imported from other countries. Varela mentioned that in addition to supporting local farmers and small businesses, local products often “don’t have as many chemicals; they’re free of a huge amount of preservatives.”People in Costa Rica seeking local options take advantage of the farmers markets and make sure to stock up on locally grown vegetables and other products, but these usually take place just once a week. A craving for healthy food on a Tuesday is tough to satisfy.Varela pointed out that other health food stores do exist around San José, including Ecomercado in San Pedro, Iriria Tienda Verde in Aranjuez, El Mercadito de San Rafael in Escazú, and Minisuper Verde in Rohmoser, and others. She says she’s glad to have the competition if it means everybody gets to eat better food. “I see them as support for others, support in between everyone.” Shelves at Mundo Verde. Lee Kaplan-Unsoeld/The Tico TimesVarela recognizes that healthy food is often expensive food, and admits that most of her customers are middle-to-upper-class. But she wonders if it really has to be that way. While many companies break into the health foods and organic markets to capitalize on the growing number of interested consumers, as evidenced by Wall Street’s takeover of organic companies in the U.S., Varela says her aim is different.Like most businesses, Mundo Verde hopes to expand and create new locations around the country. However, Varela’s plans to turn the back area of the store into an educational space. She envisions workshops on urban and organic agriculture taking place, as well as yoga, tai chi and other alternative therapies taking place in the space.More than three-quarters of the U.S. natural foods market is controlled by large retail chains, which hasn’t been ideal for local farmers and small businesses. With the future of the Costa Rican natural foods market still being mapped out, stores like Mundo Verde are a good thing. They can see that profits are distributed more equitably than in the U.S., while selling delicious and healthy food to anyone willing to pay for it.More information can be found at, Mundo Verde is located 25 meters North of the Megasuper in San Vincente Moravia, San José, Costa Rica. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Japans Abe calls Latin America indispensable partner

first_imgSÃO PAULO, Brazil – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed Latin America as an “indispensable partner” Saturday as he wrapped up a swing through the region after sealing a series of deals.Abe’s five-country tour comes just after China’s President Xi Jinping finished his own visit to the region, which boasts coveted raw materials and, with its emerging economies, a market for exports.“Latin America has a large presence on the international stage and is an indispensable partner in my vision of diplomacy,” Abe said in a speech in São Paulo.“With my visit, I want to go one step further and sign an agreement between Japan and Latin America,” he said, adding this marked a “new chapter” in the relationship between the two.During his speech, Abe recalled the economic and trade ties linking Japan and Latin America, as well as agreements signed during his tour.On Friday, during a visit to the capital Brasilia where Abe met with President Dilma Rousseff, local state-owned oil giant Petrobras signed a loan of $500 million with two Japanese financial institutions, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance and Mizuho Bank for the construction of oil platforms.Abe, without providing details, said a Japanese company had signed a contract for São Paulo metro construction work.Brazil is home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, with a population of some 1.8 million people of Japanese descent. About 60 percent live in the southeastern and most developed state of São Paulo.The first wave of immigrants came to Brazil to escape poverty and to work on coffee plantations following an accord between the two countries.Abe honored the memory and hard work of these individuals, saying they established themselves well over the course of 100 years of “sweat and tears.”Abe began his nine-day tour of the region on July 25 in Mexico and then visited Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia and Chile before heading to Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy.In Chile on Thursday, Abe signed a series of agreements in areas ranging from mining to minimizing damage from earthquakes.Earlier in Mexico, meanwhile, he struck several energy deals, including one between state oil firm Pemex and Japan’s development bank, and another between Pemex and the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation. Facebook Comments Related posts:Chinese leader’s visit has big implications for Latin America Latin America, Israel trade after trading insults The tides of Latin American populism The professor at the heart of Brazil’s market meltdownlast_img read more

Police raid shops Public Security Ministry offices in gunrunning investigation

first_imgRelated posts:Landmark Arms Trade Treaty spearheaded by Costa Rica’s ex-President Óscar Arias goes into effect FARC rebel pleads guilty to taking US hostages in 2003 The US Pentagon’s latest missing missile lands in Cuba Waging peace in Colombia Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) on Tuesday raided 12 locations — including some Public Security Ministry units — as part of an ongoing gunrunning investigation allegedly connected to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), according to statements from the OIJ and the ministry. There were no arrests.Panamanian authorities alerted OIJ agents that AR-15 assault rifles and other guns that appear to have been legally imported into Costa Rica were showing up on the streets of Panama, where the weapons have been illegal for important and sale since 2012, according the OIJ. Authorities did not specify the number of weapons in question.The ministry’s General Armament Administration and the Private Security Services Administration were among the locations searched by the OIJ, whose agents were looking for gun ownership records, among other evidence. The ministry released a statement Tuesday saying it is cooperating with the investigation. Along with the Public Security Ministry units, OIJ officers raided residences, gun stores and security companies.One of the businesses raided Tuesday was Grupo Chiribogo, the same company targeted in an Oct. 31, 2013 raid by the OIJ that prompted the arrest of five Colombians and a Nicaraguan. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration provided intelligence that tipped off local authorities to the smuggling ring with alleged ties to the FARC.The OIJ confiscated 27 rifles, seven pistols, one revolver and a silencer in the 2013 raid. Authorities said that the gunrunners removed serial numbers and could have made other modifications. Agents also seized 492 kilograms of cocaine during one of the raids, which took place in capital neighborhoods of Sabana Sur, Curridabat and Barrio Escalante over a year ago.Other locations in Tuesday’s raids were Martin’s Restaurant, 506 Tactical Store, Geo International Training Academy, S.I.A.S.A. Álvarez International Security, SC Seguridad Morgan, S.A., Servicios Especiales de Protección y Seguridad Intelligent, S.A., and the homes of Juan Carlos Martín Víquez and Javier Aguirre Herrera, OIJ press spokeswoman Mónica Álvarez told The Tico Times in a telephone interview.According to the Private Security Services Administration, only 443 of the 1,560 registered private security companies — 28 percent — are not compliant with the digital registry for tracking weapons and reporting new hires, ControlPas, as of Jan. 31.The number of guns imported legally to Costa Rica has decreased, according to a statement from the General Armament Administration. During 2014, 4,168 firearms were imported, compared to 4,071 in 2013 and 5,799 in 2012.No charges have been filed. The investigation is ongoing. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Making a difference in a oneofakind town

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica tourism minister sees no threat from Cuba, Nicaragua Costa Rica TV spot competes in World Tourism Organization contest Police to streamline crime reporting in far-flung beach spots Indigenous tour guides to open their own Bribri tour agency The smoothly paved road abruptly turns to dirt and gravel as you hike up into a verdant mountain vale. You’ve decided to stay with a local family; unknowingly, you’re passed by your new neighbor, who waves as he trots alongside on a white horse. Children laugh and play in a nearby school. You see your hosts as you reach a small intersection. They take you into their home, treating you to dinner and conversation. Tomorrow, you’ll be working with them on their farms, picking coffee and enjoying cane juice freshly squeezed from an antique press. You’re in San Jerónimo, Buenos Aires, four hours away from San José, nestled in the foothills below Chirripó, experiencing a bit of the famed “pura vida.”Starting your daily routine with breakfast at 6, you are to help paint a new soccer field at the local elementary school. The process is to lay down tape across the faded lines and to paint fresh new lines over them. During every break the students have, which is quite often, they come out and start helping you as you paint, which is not only inspiring but also practically cuts your job in half. The growing ball of used tape results in a spirited game of, well, “Tape Ball,” with 40 students running, screaming and jumping on top of each other. You have not had this much fun in you don’t know how long.You wake up the next morning and begin preparing to climb to Frog’s Peak with your guide, don Alvarado. He is 74 years old and supposedly does this hike every day. You start to believe that it will be a piece of cake – but reevaluate at the 800-meter mark, where the trail disappears and don Alvarado takes out his machete. For the next 700 meters, you will have to carve your own trail, which is both unnerving and exhilarating. At, the top, however,  you can see for hundreds of miles all around – an unforgettable vista.These were just a few of the experiences we had as members of a student group that planned a community service project in San Jerónimo as part of our participation in the Atenas, Alajuela-based educational initiative Summit to Summit: Bridge Program, which facilitates the transition from dependent teenager to independent adult. The six-day trips we plan and carry out each quarter as a complement to our usual schedule afford us opportunities for cultural immersion and meaningful engagement with the communities we visit.In the case of our visit to San Jerónimo, it wasn’t just an opportunity to see the sights, swim the waterfalls, and hike the trails (we also helped build bridges to connect hiking paths at the Chakra resort outside of town); it was a chance to live the rural mountain life in the company of a welcoming community, while engaging in an enriching cultural exchange. Our week left us convinced that there is something really special about San Jerónimo. Come and see it for yourself.The authors are students at Summit to Summit. For more information on the program, visit the organization’s webpage. For more on San Jerónimo and its place in the tourism industry, read our recent story, ¡Vivan los Apuntados! Forging a new path to Chirripó. (Courtesy of Summit to Summit) (Courtesy of Summit to Summit) Facebook Commentslast_img read more

New Moín container terminal set to open in 2017

first_imgTanker dockSolís also visited the construction of a new tanker terminal in Moín that, according to a report from the National Oil Refinery (RECOPE), is 83 percent complete. The $96 million project originally was scheduled for completion by the end of last year.RECOPE hopes the new dock will allow it to increase its capacity to store and distribute fuel. The agency also expects the tanker dock to improve its efficiency by cutting operating costs, as the project will double its RECOPE’s docking capacity and freight costs.The new terminal will be able to receive ships up to 80,000 tons, equivalent to half a million barrels, RECOPE reported.Construction of the new tanker dock was awarded in a public bid to a private consortium formed by Mexico’s ICA and Tico company MECO. Facebook Comments Related posts:Moín cargo terminal will not be ready in January Opening of Moín container terminal postponed to 2019 On Afro-Caribbean Day, government promises new cruise ship terminal in Limón Route 32 expansion project receives environmental permits Construction of the new container terminal in the Caribbean port of Moín in Limón province is 27 percent completed, according to a report issued Friday during an inspection by President Luis Guillermo Solís and some of his ministers.The new terminal is set to quadruple the Moín port’s current capacity, allowing for an estimated 2.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) annually by 2030, according to the project’s plan.When finished, the new docks will be able to receive ships more than three times bigger than the current docks are able to receive. The project is also expected to ease the high costs the country incurs when cargo ships are stuck waiting to unload onto the current port’s limited docks.According to the timetable for the $1 billion project, the terminal’s first berth should be operational by September 2017 and the second is to open in January 2018.When those first two berths are operational, there will still be two more stages to go to complete the project, which was granted in a private bid to Dutch company APM Terminals.Solís and his entourage inspected the artificial island being built to house the terminal using 3.7 million cubic meters of dredged material. The island’s current surface is some 10 hectares; it is expected to spread over 40 hectares at the end of the project.To government is currently in the bidding process to choose the company that will build the last stretch of road to the new container terminal. The chosen company will be responsible for the design and construction of a 2.1 kilometer road connecting the port with Route 32, the main road between Limón and the Central Valley.The first two lanes of the road are scheduled to be ready by July 31, 2017 and the other two by November 30.Eighty percent of Costa Rica’s exports pass through Limón ports, according to the Foreign Trade Ministry.Construction of the Moín deep water port will create an estimated 700 jobs, many of which are to be filled by Limón residents.Limón residents hope the project gives a major boost to the economy of Costa Rica’s most depressed province.Watch a video of the project’s current status:last_img read more

French town famed for extreme sports bans wingsuit

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk The next day, the mayor of Chamonix-Mont Blanc banned wingsuits.The decision has triggered a debate about how to weigh the dangers of extreme sport against the passion of the thrill-seekers the Alpine town has famously encouraged. The ban isn’t meant to be permanent _ local officials hope to come up with a set of rules on wingsuits that will satisfy everyone. But Chamonix remains shaken.“For us, adventure doesn’t mean extreme risk,” said Chamonix mayor Eric Fournier. “We have to ask questions of responsibility and respect for other sports.”In Chamonix, near the Swiss and Italian borders, paragliders and hikers share space with mountain gondolas, climbers and BASE jumpers, adventurers who leap from high places and float down by parachute.Last month, nine experienced climbers died in an avalanche on the French side of the mountain. And there have been increasing concerns that the area is becoming just too crowded.Wingsuits are a relatively new offshoot of BASE jumping, coming into their own only in the late 1990s. Flyers start high and hope for a breeze strong enough to make the flight last, before opening their chutes to land.Mont Blanc winters are long and harsh, and the wingsuit season there is short, dependent upon warm air and favorable conditions for landing. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories Malnuit learned to fly in a wingsuit from his father, who was a BASE jumping pioneer in the 1980s. Malnuit said his father gave it up at age 50 “because the risks became too great. He said he was happy to have lived it.”“I love nature, I love sports, I love the mountains,” Malnuit said, explaining his own path to wingsuit flight. “I had my father who was there to teach me. He taught me that it’s a sport of risk.”Tore Hovda is the brother of 38-year-old Jon Inge Hovda, who was killed after jumping from the Brevent cliff on July 23.Hovda said his brother got into the sport 15 years ago after starting out with parachuting. “That (BASE jumping) was his whole life. He just couldn’t stop with it.”Despite his brother’s death, Hovda said he did not think the sport should be forbidden.“People should be able to jump if they want to,” Hovda said from his home in Stavanger, in southeastern Norway. “It would be wrong to put a ban on it.”Many public places have done just that, including national parks in the United States. Even in California’s Yosemite, where solo rock climbing without safety gear is permitted and considered a mark of the highest skill, wingsuits are banned along with other BASE jumping, for many of the same reasons Chamonix is struggling with the sport. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family “With wings, you truly arrive at flying,” he said. “You can steer, you can accelerate. You’re truly in flight.”___Associated Press writers Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm, Sweden, and Traci Cone in Fresno, California, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img Associated PressPARIS (AP) – The French town of Chamonix, deep in the shadow of Mont Blanc, has always embraced danger.Climbers scale Europe’s highest peak in dire conditions. Backcountry skiers risk avalanches or falling off cliffs.But the arrival this summer of the wingsuit flyers offered peril on an entirely new scale. For nearly two months, daredevils in skin-tight suits with batwing sleeves and a flap between their legs hurled themselves off the Brevent cliff, soaring through the Alpine skies. Last week, tragedy struck: A Norwegian wingsuit flyer was killed when his parachute failed to open. That’s where the cliffs above Chamonix come in. Popular in winter among skiiers, in summer among paragliders and hikers, the cliffs are easily accessible by trail. That’s just high enough to allow for a wingsuit jump and close enough for multiple jumps in a day _ a rarity in the wingsuit world. As a wingsuit site, Brevent was relatively unknown until late this spring, when YouTube videos caught the attention of flyers everywhere.They came by the dozens, according to Fournier and Roche Malnuit, who lives in Chamonix and is president of the French BASE Association.It’s an exhilarating, dangerous sport with a small number of passionate adherents, numbering a couple hundred in France and perhaps a thousand or two in the world. The suits can cost over (EURO)1,000 ($1,200) and are made from the same synthetics used for hot-air balloons or parachutes. Flyers commonly jump from planes or helicopters _ less commonly from cliffs _ and can soar long distances before opening their parachutes to land.The world record, set from an airplane jump, stands at 16 miles. For BASE jumping wingsuit flyers, the distance is considerably shorter, Malnnuit said. At Brevent, where the cliff’s stands at an altitude of 2,500 meters (7,500 feet), Malnuit said flyers can expect to travel about 4.5 kilometers (nearly 3 miles). 4 must play golf courses in Arizona More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements “Yes, we allow free soloing and rock climbing, which are also high risk activities. However, the ban on BASE Jumping is not based on the high risk nature of the activity, rather it is based on its overall impacts to other park activities: the `circus-like’ atmosphere it creates, its impacts on climbers, potential impacts to park resources, etc.” Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite, told The Associated Press in an email. Yosemite has dozens of climbers a day at the high season and thousands of visitors on the trails.Gediman said he himself watched a BASE jumper leap to her death in 1999 when her borrowed chute failed to open.Fournier, whose sports include skiing, paragliding and mountain climbing, doesn’t envision a permanent wingsuit ban in Chamonix. He doesn’t want to try wingsuits, but he understands the appeal and he expects to work with flyers to figure out how to proceed.“It’s a practice that taxes the mind and the body,” said Fournier. “In these last few weeks, it was opened too quickly to too many people.”Malnuit supported time to reflect on the dangers, but said he hoped the cliffs will reopen soon to wingsuits. Comments   Share   Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img

Organizers meet to create 100b climate fund

first_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches 4 must play golf courses in Arizona The initial meeting in Geneva was set back for months by bureaucratic delays. Advocacy groups say the U.N.-administered fund can’t get going fast enough but want to ensure it remains transparent to outside observation and participation.“The timing really couldn’t be more urgent. In the U.S. alone, we’ve heard all these stories about droughts and massive crop damage and rampant wildfires this summer with concerns over rising food prices,” said Brandon Wu, a senior policy analyst at ActionAid USA. “A lot of scientists have linked the summer’s weather trends to climate change, and it’s only going to get worse by the end of the century. The effects are even more severe in developing countries, where vulnerable smallholder farmers don’t have the protection of things that we have here like crop insurance and social safety nets.”The fund was created in addition to the $30 billion in “fast-track financing” for poor countries that rich nations agreed to provide at the December 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen. The Green Climate Fund is envisioned as the world’s biggest financier for helping the developing world mitigate and adapt to climate change from 2020 onward. Associated PressGENEVA (AP) – A new global fund on climate change that aims to channel $100 billion a year in aid to poor countries selected officials from South Africa and Australia as its leaders at its first meeting Thursday.The U.N.’s Green Climate Fund _ created as part of a deal struck in December 2011 at the 194-nation climate talks in Durban, South Africa _ will be led by Zaheer Fakir, head of international relations for South Africa’s environment agency, and Ewen McDonald, deputy head of Australia’s international development agency, the fund said in a statement. Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The board’s members include a Chinese assistant finance minister, a U.S. deputy assistant treasury secretary, a Russian deputy chief in the president’s office, a Danish central banker, a Czech deputy finance minister, a Bangladeshi environment minister, and a Pakistani U.N. ambassador.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Sponsored Stories In what is hoped will serve as a new model of climate financing, the fund would receive and distribute $100 billion that rich nations have pledged annually by 2020 to help poorer countries adapt to changing climate conditions and to move toward low-carbon economic growth.The commitment to provide those billions in climate aid through the new “green” fund came as part of a hard-fought agreement in Durban that was meant to set a new course for the global fight against climate change for the coming decades.But the U.N.-brokered climate agreement did not specify how that money would be mobilized, and a series of technical decisions on how and where it should be run and even how it could raise those funds were put off for later.Meeting in Geneva by invitation of the Swiss government, the fund’s new 24-member board began by organizing itself, setting rules and hearing offers from six nations that would like to host the fund’s operations: Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland, South Korea and Switzerland.Swiss Cabinet member Doris Leuthard, who directs the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, welcomed the board to Geneva for the fund’s inaugural three-day meeting, which runs through Saturday. She also began pressing the Swiss case for serving as the fund’s long-range hosts. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   last_img read more

Survey Half of Chinese like US ideas on democracy

first_imgAssociated PressBEIJING (AP) – People in China are increasingly worried about corruption, inequality and food safety, according to a survey that also found that about half of Chinese like American ideas about democracy.Chinese citizens have become far more concerned about domestic quality-of-life issues over the past four years, the Pew Global Attitudes Project report on attitudes in China found.The new attitudes highlight the challenges China’s new leadership will face when it assumes power in a once-in-a-decade transition next month. China’s runaway growth in recent decades has led to a yawning gap between rich and poor and worsening pollution. The Communist Party has said repeatedly that pervasive corruption threatens its hold on power. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Pew said the survey was based on face-to-face interviews with 3,177 respondents between March 18 and April 15. It gave a margin of error of 4.3 percent. The poll represents approximately 64 percent of China’s adult population, and the sample was disproportionately urban. China prohibits foreign polling organizations from surveying Chinese directly, so Pew obtained the poll data from Horizon Research Consultancy Group, a respected Beijing-based polling company.(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 Most Chinese say they are better off financially, according to the Pew survey, but inflation remains their top concern, with 60 percent saying it’s a “very big problem,” though that figure was down from 72 percent in 2008.Half of the respondents said corrupt officials are a major problem, up from 39 percent four years ago. The gap between rich and poor was the third biggest concern, with 48 percent of respondents citing it, up from 41 percent in 2008.Concerns over the safety of food and medicine have increased the most. In 2008, 12 percent said food safety was a major problem; this time, after numerous food scandals involving products from baby powder to pork, the number more than tripled to 41 percent.Quality of life issues are coming to the foreground in China as average incomes rise and leisure time increases, said Steve Tsang, a professor of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham, who wasn’t connected to the survey.“People have to live with them on a daily basis,” he said. “When one was too busy making a living to get bothered by them in the past, less attention was paid to them. Now that the overall standard of living has improved and individuals have more scope to slow down and reflect a bit, the poor quality of life becomes more of an issue.” The survey released Tuesday indicated a small increase in the embrace of U.S. democratic ideas _ up to 52 percent, from 48 percent in 2007 _ though it was unclear whether that reflected a real increase, because the difference was smaller than the poll’s margin of error.A decrease in the number of people rejecting American democratic thought was more dramatic, down to 29 percent from 36 percent in 2007.Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong, said tightening state control over dissidence in the past five years has prompted many Chinese to become frustrated with their political system, but he doesn’t think they are ready to press for Western-style democracy.“While the appeal of Western democracy has been enhanced, Chinese people have no intention and they haven’t the political will to challenge the existing regime,” Cheng said. “Chinese people understand that their living standards have been improving in the past 30 years and more and they still expect further improvements in the coming decade.”The research by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center also found that a growing number of Chinese are concerned about China-U.S. ties. A quarter described the relationship as hostile, up from 8 percent two years ago. Meanwhile, confidence in President Barack Obama to do the right thing in world affairs slipped from 52 percent to 38 percent. Comments   Share   center_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too Top Stories Check your body, save your lifelast_img read more

A glance at Europes unemployment rates

first_img Top Stories European Union (28 countries) 10.5 11.0 11.0 Here is a breakdown of unemployment across Europe and the eurozone. Eurozone (17 countries) 11.5 12.1 12.1 Finland 7.8 8.0 7.9 Luxembourg 5.1 5.7 5.7 Malta 6.3 6.1 6.0 Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Austria 4.5 4.7 4.8 Germany 5.4 5.4 5.3 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Spain 25.4 26.3 26.3 Country/Region July 2012 June 2013 July 2013 Estonia 10.1 7.9 n/a Portugal 16.0 16.7 16.5 Belgium 7.6 8.7 8.9 Ireland 14.8 13.9 13.8 Unemployment levels in the 17 European Union countries that use the euro remain at a record high in spite of recent signs that the region’s economy is improving.center_img Comments   Share   Slovenia 9.3 11.2 11.2 France 10.2 11.0 11.0 Cyprus 12.2 17.0 17.3 Slovakia 14.0 14.4 14.3 Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Netherlands 5.3 6.8 7.0 U.S. 8.3 7.6 7.4 New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Italy 10.7 12.1 12.0 Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Jun 2012 May 2012May 2013Source: Eurostat Sponsored Stories Greece 23.8 27.6 n/a Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

Trash piles in Beirut raise fears of an environmental crisis

first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 4 must play golf courses in Arizona But Naameh was scheduled to close July 17. Since then, residents of Naameh and nearby villages have blocked roads to prevent trucks from reaching it to unload trash out of fears it could be reopened. That’s left Beirut’s residents dodging the growing piles of litter, now baking in the summer sun.Sukleen spokeswoman Pascale Nassar said the company kept collecting trash until Sunday night, when their facility in Beirut could not take any more garbage. Nassar said Sukleen is waiting for authorities to offer them guidance on what to do.Lebanon’s notoriously gridlocked government has yet to take any action on the issue ahead of the next Cabinet meeting on Thursday. Meanwhile, the trash pile grows as workers spray them with white powder to knock back the smell and spread of pests.Environment Minister Mohammed Machnouk said after a meeting of parliament’s environment committee that there is no strategic solution for the crisis, though there are 670 dumps around the country that can be used.“Trash has to be collected from the streets and this can only happen with everyone’s cooperation,” Machnouk told The Associated Press.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. A Lebanese woman passes by a pile of garbage on a Beirut street, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Garbage is piling up on the streets of Beirut amid a growing dispute over tiny Lebanon’s largest trash dump. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 0 Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies BEIRUT (AP) — Garbage piled up Tuesday on the streets of cosmopolitan Beirut amid a growing dispute over tiny Lebanon’s largest trash dump, picketed by residents as it should have closed permanently days earlier.The main company in charge of picking up the trash, Sukleen, had its workers sweeping Beirut’s streets, though not picking up any of the garbage. Typically, the refuse would have gone to the Naameh landfill, just south of Beirut, which has been functioning since 1997. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

New Government lifeline for JAL but bankruptcy must be filed

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Japan Airlines has been thrown a new lifeline as the government moves to increase its line of credit, but reports out of Japan claim that the carrier will first have to move towards bankruptcy.A formal bankruptcy submission could come as early as this week, the Nikkei reported, this would enable the government to put in place a new management team as well as a restructuring program.This move would see the government reject equity investment bids by both Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, who over the last few months have been eager to ally themselves with the flailing carrier.Further indication that a government bailout was likely was given in a local press conference last week attended by government ministers including Naoto Kan, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.During the briefing indications were given that the bailout fund given to JAL could be doubled, when Mr stated that he was expecting a state-backed fund to support the flailing carrier.JAL’s debt is believed to be sitting at around some US$16 billion.last_img read more

Profit music to Amadeus ears

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H On the back of a rise in global air traffic, Amadeus announced this week an adjusted profit of €263.7 million for the first six months of 2011, an increase of 12.2 per cent on the year before.     Revenue from continuing operations for the travel and tourism technology provider rose 3.9 per cent to €1.39 billion. Amadeus president chief executive Luis Maroto said the first half of the year had been “positive and active”, highlighting the company’s outstanding performance in the Asia-Pacific region. “At an operational level, both our Distribution and IT Solutions businesses continued to grow and in particular had significant successes in the Asia-Pacific region, adding further visibility to our future growth,” Mr Maroto said.Also encouraging for Amadeus was a 32.5 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of passengers (203.9 million) booked using the company’s reservation system, a figure Mr Maroto expects to increase even further. “We are confident that our ongoing investment in developing the best technology will continue to produce long-term results and now expect our annual Passengers Boarded (PB) to be more than 700 million by 2014,” the Amadeus boss said.The global market share of travel agency air bookings for the Madrid-based company rose by 0.8 per cent to 37.2 percentage points during the first half of 2011. Profits for Amadeus are soaringlast_img read more

Aussies head abroad tourism trade deficit

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T As more and more Australians venture overseas for holidays, Australia’s tourism is suffering a steep decline, according to Shadow Tourism Minister Bob Baldwin.“As long as the Government continues to make Australia a more expensive and less competitive destination we will continue to see Australia’s tourism trade deficit grow,” Mr Baldwin said. The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) latest figures show an increase in Australian’s travelling abroad, compared with 7.4 million trips in 2010/2011. These numbers have doubled in the last decade. South East Asia arrivals increased by 9 percent during April 2012, while Australia’s performance for the same month was labelled as “weak” by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). Myanmar (35 percent), Cambodia (24 percent) and the Philippines (10 percent) all experienced substantial growth and saw double-digit monthly increases for the month of April 2012.Mr Baldwin said the Government’s new carbon tax would have an impact on future international tourist arrivals.“At a time when Australian tourism is already struggling because of the high Australian dollar the Gillard Labor Government has made a bad situation worse by introducing a series of measures that make Australia a less competitive tourism destination.” In addition to the carbon tax, Mr Baldwin said the Passenger Movement Charge increases and a rise in airport security taxes have also had a negative effect on Australian tourism.last_img read more

Qantas adjusts cargo business

first_imgHoping to integrate its air freight product across its domestic and international networks, Qantas has sold its 50 percent stake in StarTrack to acquire 100 percent of air freight business, Australian air Express.The agreement signed this morning will see the termination of an arrangement signed in 2003 that saw the two parties own 50 percent of both Australian air Express and StarTrack.Although still subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, Qantas expects the transaction to be completed in the fourth quarter this year, with a profit of up to $30 million.As well as issue return, the airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce said the 100 percent acquisition was in line with growth plans and will strengthen the carrier’s air cargo network. “By leveraging the best from both businesses and delivering efficiencies, we will provide a market-leading service to our customers,” Mr Joyce said. “It enables us to improve a core business area while divesting a non-core asset, StarTrack.”“We will continue to have a close commercial relationship with Australia Post and StarTrack remaining major customers of Australian air Express and Qantas Freight.”Late last week, the Australian flag carrier announced it had “successfully refinanced” up to AU$300 million undrawn tranche due to mature in May 2013.The airline said the undrawn tranche had increased by AU$100 million, with maturity date extended to September 2015.Qantas noted that as it was an undrawn facility, there would be no changes to its overall debt position. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Sichuan Airlines to China from only 340 return

first_imgSichuan Airlines to China from only $340* returnSichuan Airlines economy class Sydney/Melbourne to Beijing/Guangzhou/ShanghaiFrom only $340* return plus taxesSales and ticketing from Now to 15th November 2015. Departures from Now to 15th Nov 2015.For further information, please refer to your GDS or contact 3U on 1300 086 152. Source = Sichuan Airlines – World Aviation Services Click here to download full details:   Hot Airfares Issue 28 2015center_img World Aviation Services book and fly Sichuan Airlines last_img