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Book Sandals Beaches through Unique Vacations and earn bonus commissions

first_imgBook Sandals, Beaches through Unique Vacations and earn bonus commissions Travelweek Group Monday, April 17, 2017 SECAUCUS, NJ — Good news for agents – Sandals Resorts International has upped its commissions on Sandals and Beaches stays when booked through Unique Vacations, the company’s sales and marketing arm.According to Travel Weekly, the commission boost includes 1% bonus for luxury rooms, 2% for club and concierge rooms, and 3% for butler and Love Next suites.This is in addition to a US$25 instant credit booking bonus when booking with Unique Vacations and the base 10% commission. Sharecenter_img Posted by Tags: Beaches Resorts, Commission, Sandals Resorts << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Did you watch Flight Centre debuts firstever TV series

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> BRISBANE — Flight Centre is going Hollywood with a newly launched TV show called ‘The 48 Hour Destination’.Recently debuting on Channel 10 in Australia, the in-house produced travel series comprises 13 episodes and highlights how to spend two days in destinations like San Francisco, Vancouver, Phuket, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Auckland and more.According to KarryOn, seeing how the show is produced by a travel group, the underlying message in each episode is to book through a consultant. Host Greer Gardiner, a Flight Centre consultant, pushes this message in each destination he visits.“This is a truly integrated marketing approach working together across brand, product, creative and content to bring this to life,” said Luke Wheatley, Flight Centre Travel Group Head of Creative Studio. Travelweek Group Did you watch? Flight Centre debuts first-ever TV series Tags: Flight Centre, Videocenter_img Share Posted by Wednesday, August 30, 2017 last_img read more

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Avalon announces Eat Pray Love author as godmother of its latest ship

first_imgAvalon announces ‘Eat Pray Love’ author as godmother of its latest ship Posted by Thursday, October 11, 2018 Share Travelweek Group center_img Tags: Avalon Waterways, Danube TORONTO — The author of the bestselling novel ‘Eat Pray Love’ has been named as the godmother of Avalon Waterways’ Avalon Envision, set to sail on the Danube in 2019.Gilbert will christen the ship in an international ceremony that will take place on April 7, 2019 in Budapest. Following the ceremony, the 443-foot, 166-passenger Avalon Envision will join an all Suite Ship fleet on the Danube throughout 2019.Of her godmother duties, Gilbert said: “As somebody who is almost pathologically obsessed with travel and adventure, what could be more fun than being named the godmother of a beautiful riverboat? I’m honoured and delighted to be part of this lovely endeavour.”Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways, praised the author for encouraging her readers to step outside of their comfort zone.“An inspired choice as godmother of the Avalon Envision, she has helped us embrace curiosity each day in search of extraordinary. This is something we ask our travellers to do on their journeys across the world with Avalon,” said Hoffee.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthWith the addition of the Avalon Envision, Avalon’s entire fleet in Europe and Southeast Asia will be comprised completely of Suite Ships for the first time. Each ship features the line’s signature Panorama Suites with the industry’s only Open-Air Balcony, and a bed facing the balcony so guests will never miss out on views. These wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows open almost three metres wide in Europe, and over three metres wide in Southeast Asia, wider than any other balconies in the industry.Gilbert’s book, ‘Eat Pray Love’, chronicled her solitary journey around the world in search of solace following a difficult divorce. The book became an international bestseller, translated into more than 30 languages with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. In 2010, it became a film starring Julia Roberts, causing ‘Time Magazine’ to name Gilbert as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Mix of bricksandmortar agencies homebased agents make the move to TDC

first_imgMix of bricks-and-mortar agencies, home-based agents make the move to TDC TORONTO — Transat Distribution Canada added a total of 13 agencies across Canada and an additional 51 home-based agents in 2018.“We know that despite the earlier success of the OTAs and the ability for consumers to book online direct with the supplier, more and more people are using the services of a travel professional again,” says Nathalie Boyer, General Manager, TDC.“Clients are looking to add experience to their vacations, combining business with pleasure and also looking beyond the traditional beach holiday. They are finding it is so much easier to let a travel professional guide them to what they are looking for.”She added: “Clients are realizing that the travel professional is available during and after their travel, should they need any assistance. You don’t usually get that kind of service online.”Boyer said that the TDC brands continue to attract new owners and agents because they want to become part of one of the best established Canadian leisure travel brands in Canada, one that is well known and trusted by consumers and is recognized as knowledgeable and dependable, she said.More news:  Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truck“We offer an experienced team dedicated to helping owners manage their business and making it even more successful with innovative marketing initiatives that drive customers to our agencies and grow revenue,” she said.In Ontario and Western Canada, there were five new agencies added under the Marlin brand this year – two in Saskatoon, one in Port Hope, Ontario; one in Beamsville, Ontario and one in Hanover, Ontario.Transat Travel’s company-owned division added four agencies this past year: Transat Travel, Guelph; Goligers Travelplus, Waterloo; Marlin Travel, Elbow Drive, Calgary; and Voyages Transat, Chicoutimi, Quebec.In Quebec, two new agencies joined the Voyages en Liberté affiliate program: Nicole et Cie in Vaudreuil and Voyages Prestige in Blainville. Two affiliate agencies migrated to Club Voyages network: Voyages Brigitte Gagné and Voyages Beauport both in Québec City. And two Club Voyages members added branches to their portofolio: Club Voyages Agathe Leclerc in Drummondville and Club Voyages Fascination in La Guadeloupe. Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Port Hope, TDC, Transatcenter_img Thursday, December 20, 2018 Travelweek Group Sharelast_img read more

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Academy helps protect intellectual property

first_imgFrom the print editionCosta Rica has a newly minted body for promoting and developing the protection of intellectual property rights. Somebody should have told the band that played to celebrate the occasion.During a musical interlude at the inauguration of the Costa Rican Academy of Intellectual Property, on April 19, the band Soul Beat, a San José-based trio, played Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” complete with a blistering saxophone solo by Sebastián Castro. Castro admitted the band had not paid royalties to perform the song.The academy is an initiative of the Justice Ministry supported by the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM). The academy unveiled a new National Strategy on Intellectual Property April 19 in the newly constructed Intellectual Property building at the National Registry in San José.Geoffrey Onyeama, assistant director of the World Intellectual Property Organization, picked up on the gaffe, mentioning it during his speech. Afterward, Onyeama said that while the band should pay royalties to perform the song, the situation only highlights the need for a national strategy on intellectual property.“All that should fit into the national strategy,” Onyeama said. “The whole problem of royalties is important, but they are reciprocal. Costa Rican music is being played anywhere else in the world, so putting into place the appropriate structures to collect these royalties and pay them to the people who should have them is necessary, and the reciprocal benefits will work for Costa Rican musicians, too.”Onyeama praised the work that went in to developing the strategy presented by the academy.“Intellectual property impacts on so many different sectors and ministries,” Onyeama said. “So it is important for a country to first do a stock-taking of intellectual property, where it is being used, why it is not being used, the policy dimensions, and it is important to create a roadmap where all the different ministries work together.”In Costa Rica, the Justice Ministry is the coordinating body tasked with implementing the strategy and making sure policies, according to Onyeama, “have a coherence … in the context of national development goals.”According to an AMCHAM press release, the academy will provide training to public, private and academic sectors on issues related to the protection of intellectual property rights.The initiative is receiving substantial support from agro-chemical industry, though the National Intellectual Property Strategy aims to include protections for four key sectors: technology, agro-industrial, cultural (music and creative endeavors) and biotechnology.Javier Fernández, legal director of CropLife Latin America – a nonprofit trade organization that represents Bayer CropScience, FMC, Syngenta, Basf, DuPont, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto and Arysta LifeScience – said a strengthening of intellectual property rights would drive innovation in the country.“For a product to reach the market, [a company] must complete approximately 120 studies, which can take around 10 years and invest some $256 million,” Fernández said.A robust system for protecting the fruits of that research and investment is needed to continue to attract companies to the country to develop new products, Fernández said. “We think we have a lot of resources here that we don’t want to sell as raw materials,” Fernández said. “We don’t want things to be made in Costa Rica, we want things to be created in Costa Rica.”Onyeama cautioned that in the development of a national strategy for intellectual property rights, it is important to include all voices from the large-scale agro-industrial interests represented by CropLife Latin America, down to the small-scale or subsistence farmers in Costa Rica.“It really is a framework to address all the needs of all the sectors,” Onyeama said. “Otherwise the kinds of problems you identify with small-scale farmers, for example, might be exploited and disadvantaged, and their voices will never be heard.”Vice President Alfio Piva spoke at the event, focusing on the role of intellectual property rights as a tool for economic development.“I am sure that in the context of the current knowledge economy, the initiatives we are introducing today will promote greater trust between our researchers, increasing investment flows in areas related to technology and innovation,” Piva said. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Legally dead man wins local election in Mexico

first_imgMEXICO CITY — For a dead man, Lenin Carballido apparently ran a pretty good campaign.Last Sunday, nearly three years after he was officially declared dead, Carballido was narrowly elected mayor of San Agustín Amatengo, a small town in Mexico’s Oaxaca state.Carballido faked his own demise in 2010, according to Mexico’s Reforma newspaper, in order to evade charges stemming from a 2004 sexual assault.With police on his trail, Carballido “died” and obtained a coroner’s certificate in September 2010, affirming he had succumbed to “natural causes” after slipping into a diabetic coma. The charges were dropped.Carballido’s resurrection occurred this year when he ran as a local candidate for Mexico’s leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), beating his opponent Sunday by a margin of 11 votes, 515 to 504.Isidoro Yescas, a state election official in Oaxaca, said investigators were seeking to obtain an official copy of Carballido’s death certificate, which would leave him unfit for office.“Even if he’s been elected, such proof that he committed a crime would make him ineligible and strip him of his right to serve,” Yescas told Reforma, adding “this is not a typical electoral crime.”PRD officials said they were not aware that their candidate was legally dead.Washington Post special correspondent Gabriela Martinez contributed to this report.© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Forgotten Costa Ricans featured on Facebook

first_imgNo related posts. You salivate over the fabulous food photos on Instagram. You plan dream vacations on Pinterest. You keep up with your neighbors on Facebook. But what about that other neighbor – the neighbor who is more concerned with finding food for her children than in photographing it for the Internet?With so much of our lives happening on the Internet today, it is easy to forget about those who are not online.“Social media has united people but has also created a bubble where we unwillingly exclude people in need,” said Major Gerardo Gochez, public relations officer with Costa Rica’s Salvation Army. “Most of the daily tweets are about food, joy, beach trips and outings with friends. With this campaign, the Salvation Army wants to give the forgotten a place in social media where they can show their reality, thus making the community aware of them.”The goal is to raise awareness that the poor, sick and hungry need much more than money. These “forgotten” people need understanding and a hand from all of us to get their lives back together. By putting photos of their lives on social media, the Salvation Army hopes to raise this awareness and inspire more people to volunteer.The campaign started last March. So far, it has received almost 7,000 likes on Facebook, where photos and videos of the forgotten are shared. Before the campaign, the Salvation Army had very few volunteers. Within the past two months, more than 70 volunteers have showed up to help. Yet while the campaign has increased the number of volunteers, more are needed, Gochez said.Plenty of opportunities exist to donate time at any of the 14 community centers located throughout the country. Volunteer possibilities range in scope. For example, a language school has partnered with the Salvation Army to provide service opportunities for foreign students in Costa Rica who want to learn Spanish. The students volunteered in corps to help children in need. Currently, the Salvation Army is in dire need of bilingual volunteers to work in the office, translating letters from sponsored children or doing simple paperwork.The Salvation Army also accepts money and donations of used goods. It resells the used goods at low prices in the San José store located between 3rd and 6th streets, on the corner of 18th Avenue. Donating your gently used items also helps the environment by giving the items a second use, as opposed to sending them to a landfill.“I believe in this project. It will save the life of a whole family, not just one person. My family is proof of it,” Gochez said.Gochez himself has personal experience with the saving grace of the Salvation Army. His alcoholic father entered the ARC center in Costa Rica 30 years ago seeking help for him and his family. His father received support and became sober, Gochez said, which was something he had never seen before.Today, Gochez and all of his siblings are leading happy lives. “Without the help of the Salvation Army, the story of those five children could have been very different and even tragic,” Gochez said.The Salvation Army invites you to follow and support the “forgotten” campaign. Here’s how you can help:Follow and share the links below on social media:Facebook: los olvidados por la sociedadTwitter: @losolvidadoscrInstagram: @olvidadoscrDonate money (85-89 percent of donations will go to sustain programs in needed communities)Donate gently used goods (these can be dropped off at any of the 14 locations located throughout Costa Rica)Donate your time as a volunteerCall or email for more information: 2257-7535, ext. 107, lan_relacionespublicas@lan.salvationarmy.org Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Saving Central America

first_imgRelated posts:In Guatemala, anti-establishment presidential candidate benefits from corruption scandals Latin America’s anti-corruption crusade Why Guatemala’s Pérez Molina turns a deaf ear to widespread calls for his resignation Mexico’s Peña Nieto is not suited to building trust MEXICO CITY – Four Central American countries – Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua – are struggling, still burdened by the legacy of the last century’s wars. They are resilient yet incomplete democracies, challenged by poverty, violence, and corruption – and all but forgotten by the international community. But now there is reason to hope that these countries’ prospects could improve.Nicaragua, it should be noted, is not quite in the same category as Central America’s other three. Like them, it suffered through a brutal and protracted civil war; unlike them, however, successive governments have built institutions capable of supporting a reasonable level of territorial control and domestic security.By contrast Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras suffer levels of violence that are among the highest in the world, laying waste to cities and slums, bleeding younger generations, and driving away investment and tourism. The specifics vary across countries, but the results are the same.In Honduras, local gangs work with international organized crime groups. Since 2005, with the help of Venezuelan Chavistas and Mexican capos, the country has served as a pipeline for illegal drugs, especially cocaine, from Venezuela to Mexico and the United States.In Guatemala, the major criminal organizations have long been embedded in the state, making gangs more of a vehicle of social mobility than anything else. Since Mexico closed its air space to drug traffickers’ planes from Colombia and Venezuela, Guatemala’s coasts and highways have become crucial to the trade, with local, Mexican, and Colombian traffickers fighting for control.In El Salvador, drug traffickers have a smaller presence (the country is not exactly a route to the north), and the country’s armed gangs have a different origin: Los Angeles. During El Salvador’s civil war, hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans fled to the United States, where some joined gangs for protection and a livelihood. About 15 years ago, many of these gang members were deported, bringing their criminal activities with them.A ceasefire with the gang leaders, reached under the previous government, dampened the violence for a while. But the current administration’s decision to cancel the deal (which was weakening anyway) triggered a fierce response from major gangs. With the government now fighting back, violence has reached unprecedented levels: 250 deaths just in the first week of August.Given their instability, it is perhaps not surprising that these countries’ diasporas play a central role in their economies. Nicaragua, whose emigrants typically head south to Costa Rica or to work in Panama’s construction industry, depends on remittances for 10 percent of its GDP. Guatemala receives as much as 10 percent of its national income from expatriates, usually in the U.S. Remittances account for 17 percent of Honduras’ GDP, and 17 percent of El Salvador’s.Despite U.S. efforts to deport Central Americans who reach its territory, and Mexico’s attempt to seal its southern border to help its northern neighbor, the flow of immigrants continues. As the former Salvadoran politician Joaquín Villalobos has warned, the region is at risk of becoming so dependent on external funds, whether remittances or aid, that its labor capabilities and capacity for innovation could all but disintegrate, condemning it to persistent poverty.US active again in Central AmericaCentral America’s struggling countries need help to escape their current predicament. Fortunately, after decades of mostly staying out of the region’s affairs, the U.S. appears ready to get involved again, this time in a positive way. This is appropriate, given the U.S.’ role – from the “war on drugs” launched in 1971 to the dirty wars of the 1980s – in creating and sustaining the region’s problems.So far, the U.S. has focused almost exclusively on limiting drug trafficking. But the variety and scale of the challenges facing the region is compelling President Barack Obama’s administration to act on other issues, from migration, which affects the U.S. directly, to violence and corruption.Most promisingly, the U.S. is taking an active role in revitalizing and transforming the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), created in 2006. Originally financed by the European Union and others involved in the 1996 peace agreements, which ended 36 years of civil war, CICIG aimed to aid in the investigation and prosecution “of the crimes committed by members of the illegal bodies of security.”More recently, CICIG has focused on government corruption, becoming a more significant body than ever. Since the start of this year, it has implicated several members of ex-President Otto Pérez Molina’s Cabinet, as well as the president himself, in major corruption scandals. Vice President Roxana Baldetti was forced to resign, after reports linked her to a group accused of taking bribes to avoid levying customs taxes, and was arrested in August. Then Molina himself stepped down and was arrested immediately.With a strong new Colombian commissioner and 200 security officers and 200 prosecutors, all of them foreigners, together with sufficient resources and the support of the U.S. embassy, CICIG has become a powerful instrument in the fight against one of Guatemala’s worst blights. As a high government official has put it: “It hurts to admit that we are unable to clean up our own house, but it is better that someone else does it than that nobody does.”The rest of Central America is taking note. In Honduras, citizens have taken to the streets, sometimes even approaching the U.S. Embassy directly, to demand the establishment of an equivalent to CICIG in their country. Even in El Salvador, where corruption poses a lesser challenge, demands for an analogous commission have arisen.Such institutions, together with the billion dollars that the U.S. promised to the three countries last year, could help put them on the path toward stability. Perhaps it could even enable them to revive the old dream of a customs union, possibly including Nicaragua and/or Costa Rica.This is the first ray of hope the region has seen in a while. One hopes that it signals a long-awaited new dawn.Jorge G. Castañeda, former Mexican secretary of foreign affairs, is Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University.© 2015, Project Syndicate  www.project-syndicate.org Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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To conserve the Amazon the forest must become an economic asset

first_img Eline van Nes/The Tico Times Eline van Nes/The Tico Times Eline van Nes/The Tico Times Eline van Nes/The Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:4 things not to miss during bird migration season Happy International Sloth Day! One of Sea Shepherd’s missions in Costa Rica: Protecting whales Ayahuasca, the sacred jungle vine that lures Westerners to the Amazon Eline van Nes/The Tico Timescenter_img Eline van Nes/The Tico Times IQUITOS, Peru – When the brisk 66-year-old Julio Conwachi Sandow takes tourists through the jungle to go bird-watching, he talks a lot about flora and fauna. With his machete, he cuts away a piece of bark and explains how it helps cure stomachaches, and a few hundred meters on he points to an exotic bird hiding behind the bushes.The path to the main bird-watching tower, which takes about an hour to reach, used to be farmland, he explains. But since the villagers began earning a living from tourists, some 6,000 hectares have been reforested.From everything he tells you about the plants and birds in the forest, you might get the impression Conwachi has a doctorate in biology and has researched the Amazon for years. But the truth is he was a simple farmer before.Initially, he says, he didn’t trust the people from conservation group Naturaleza y Cultura Internacional when they first arrived in his village eight years ago with ecotourism plans. According to the Amazonian people, many organizations tend to have a lot of money that is spent only on themselves more than anything else.“The people living here used to be intruders in the forest,” says 32-year-old biologist Carla Rojas Flores, who works for Naturaleza y Cultura Internacional, a group that operates in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico. “For them, the forest was a source of wood or fishing, which they exploited on a large scale. There are still examples of fishing with dynamite and poison in villages in the surrounding area.“When an organization comes to tell the villagers how to deal with nature, they become suspicious. But now, Don Julio is one of the most enthusiastic people here,” she says. In the swamps with Don Julio. Eline van Nes/The Tico TimesSustainable tourismFor four months each year, Santa María de Fátima is flooded, with water levels reaching one meter above the football field in the middle of town. Residents move around in canoes, and their lives revolve around the swamp.Members of the community also used to eat the eggs of three different types of herons breeding in the swamp, not realizing they were slowly killing the entire population of the species. The eggs were simply tasty, villagers recall.The agami heron (Agamia agami), one of the birds nesting in the swamp in Santa María de Fátima, is listed as “vulnerable” by Bird Life International. The swamp was an ideal location for an ecotourism bird-watching project because the herons come to mate and breed, offering ample opportunities to see and photograph them. An agami Heron (Agamia agami) searches for food in the lowlands of Costa Rica. (Via Chris Jiménez/Flickr)Now that the project is up and running, up to 60 tourists arrive monthly in the small village of 300 to go on a jungle tour. A logbook kept in the simple wooden house of Mónica Patricia Chotol shows the many signatures of visitors from all over the world. The bird-watchers pay an entrance fee of $20 to Chotol, eat some food at one of the villagers’ homes, buy a handcrafted wooden statue of an agami heron or other craftwork, and thus pump money into the economy of the community.It’s one of many small-scale conservation projects that have begun popping up all over the Amazon in recent years. Simply protecting the forest doesn’t seem to be working: Logging and overfishing, for example, still happen on a large scale. And providing logging concessions so that loggers are appointed to specific areas has been ineffective, according to a 2014 study by Scientific Reports.“The problem with the Amazon is its remoteness, which makes it difficult to oversee exactly what is happening,” says 25-year-old Harlem Mariño, who works for the Lima-based environmental organization Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, or DAR. She grew up in the Amazon region and knows of the difficulties working in the area. She also sees firsthand how many communities don’t always use the land in a sustainable or environmentally friendly manner.“When I was young, there used to be many problematic agricultural projects in the communities around us. For instance, people would try to grow rice, for which you need a lot of fertilizer in the Amazon. It basically depletes the soil. Now, you see the same thing happening with palm oil,” Mariño says. “Progress is always two steps forward, one step back.” Children from the village of Santa María de Fátima, a small Amazonian community in Peru. Eline van Nes/The Tico Times‘A slow process’Conservation begins with land entitlement. Without the official rights to their land, there is little locals can do to stop outside intruders. One example is the story of the late indigenous activist Edwin Chota of the Asháninka tribe in the province of Ucayali, Peru. Efforts by Chota and members of his community to fight illegal logging were hampered when loggers simply chased them away because they didn’t have land titles. In September 2014, Chota was killed by illegal loggers along with three of his friends. International media coverage followed, after which the Asháninka tribe finally received entitlement empowering them to protect their land.The next step is to turn the forest and its animals into economic “assets,” which gives inhabitants the incentive to conserve. The agami heron is just one example; using wood for artwork, or projects for controlled turtle populations where one-third of the eggs are sold and the rest protected are other examples.“It’s a slow process,” Rojas, the biologist, explains. “But we believe people will change. They will start to grasp the concept of conservation. We Peruvians have always related to nature in an extractive manner, taking oil or gold from the ground without giving anything back. We never saw conservation as a means to earn money. It is more rewarding to have a forest standing, than a dead one.”One of the places where Don Julio always stops on his way to the bird-watching tower is next to an enormous tree that towers 30 meters into the sky. It is clearly older and bigger than the surrounding forest. Don Julio puts his hand on the trunk of the tree and smiles.“I’m happy no one ever cut down this tree,” he says. “This way, at least our children know what this area used to look like. These giants used to be everywhere around us. Imagine.”More great photos of Santa María de Fátima by Eline van Nes: Eline van Nes/The Tico Times Eline van Nes/The Tico Times Eline van Nes/The Tico Timeslast_img read more

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Farewell work week

first_imgThanks to reader Robert Murray, who sent us this photo of a recent sunset at his home in Nosara, on the Guanacaste coast in northwestern Costa Rica.Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to kstanley@ticotimes.net. We’d love to see the sights with you. Facebook Comments Related posts:Osa acrobatics Off like a shot October in Costa Rica: when the Caribbean comes a’callin’ To the streets we go, bearing lanternslast_img read more

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Threes company

first_imgFor an intense hit of nature’s beauty, look no further than these wonderful scarlet macaws whose vibrant colors brighten up the scene. This distinctive bird species can be found on the surroundings of Carara National Park on the Pacific coast as well as the area surrounding Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula. Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to kstanley@ticotimes.net. We’d love to see the sights with you. Facebook Comments Related posts:Sun, sand, waves, dog: bliss PHOTOS: Celebrating independence in Limón It’s not a proper Costa Rican outdoors adventure unless you’re teetering on a bridge Ocean-gazing under the domecenter_img British Embassy funds project to save Costa Rica’s macawslast_img read more

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Start the day with a howler

first_imgBreezy, sunny summer days are upon us in Costa Rica: time to relax and simply enjoy the view, just like this howler monkey.Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to kstanley@ticotimes.net. We’d love to see the sights with you. Facebook Comments Related posts:To the streets we go, bearing lanterns Just another manic Monday… Waiting for the weekend Waiting for the perfect wavelast_img read more

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Communities to commemorate World Oceans Day with cleanups events

first_imgRelated posts:Meet Costa Rica’s cleanest beaches ICE to create artificial reefs with waste from electrical grid National campaign collects used batteries for recycling Op-ed: Reduce and Recycle to Remain Relevant in Global Tourism Facebook Comments Communities across Costa Rica will commemorate Saturday’s World Oceans Day with cleanups and similar events.The efforts aim to remind participants about the importance of the oceans and to make an impact — however small — in protecting Costa Rica’s 800 miles of shoreline.World Oceans Day, held annually on June 8, offers “a unique opportunity to honor, help protect, and conserve our world’s shared ocean,” according to its website. Last year, Costa Rica was the worldwide host of the celebration.In addition to their tourism appeal, oceans generate oxygen, provide food and regulate the climate, among many other benefits.Below is a compilation of events we’ve found. We’re sure there are more, so if you know of others, let us know at alejandro@ticotimes.net.The Jade Museum and Misión Tiburón are hosting a discussion in San José on June 5 at 6 p.m. More info here.Marina Pez Vela and FECOP invite the public to a beach cleanup in Quepos. Contact Marina Pez Vela for more information at: 2774-9000. Conservación Osa and Lapathon 2019 will offer cultural events, games and talks at the Puerto Jimenez soccer field. More info here. The Municipality of San Ramon is hosting road cleanups in conjunction with SINAC and MINAE. More info here. Melania Guerra — “La Tica Polar,” whom we featured in January — will share ocean-themed content and giveaways on her Facebook page.The Cartago amphitheater will host “Nuestro Planeta,” a free concert, on June 7. More info here.last_img read more

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Myanmar pays price for lost generation of educated

first_img 0 Comments   Share   Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Associated PressYANGON, Myanmar (AP) – The dormitories are empty, the once charming bungalows of professors overgrown with vines and weeds. Only grass grows where the Student Union building stood before soldiers obliterated it with dynamite.This is Yangon University, once one of Asia’s finest and a poignant symbol of an education system crippled by Myanmar’s half a century of military rule. Only graduate students are still allowed to study here. Fearful of student-led uprisings, the regime has periodically shut down this and other campuses and dispersed students to remote areas with few facilities. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Myanmar is saddled with two generations of chemistry professors who have never conducted a proper laboratory experiment and mechanical engineers yet to handle hands-on equipment, says Moe Kyaw, a prominent businessman involved with education issues.From MBAs to lawyers and accountants, shortages abound. Of particular concern, Moe Kyaw says, is the lack of skilled technicians and workers, who will be sorely needed if an investment boom does come. Government officials at a recent conference on the future of Yangon, the largest city, said the country has only about 50 urban planners but needs 500.“You could say Myanmar might be exploited, but they will also lose out on lucrative job opportunities because if locals aren’t qualified to fill positions the foreigners will bring in their own,” says Sardar Umar Alam, a UNESCO education expert.Although the government boasts 160 institutions of higher learning, many graduates scoff at their own degrees, often saying they are “not worth the paper they’re printed on.”Many also lament the loss of English skills in this former British colony since xenophobic former leader Gen. Ne Win banned its teaching at lower school levels in the mid-1960s. Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “We had to learn a lot in the streets, not in the classrooms,” recalls Phone Win, who took 10 years to finish his medical degree because the faculty was closed for three of them.His generation, people now mostly in their 40s, should be moving into senior positions in government and business. Those who have are shortchanged by their schooling, while others, disillusioned, slumped into jobs well below their potential or joined an exodus to foreign countries.Throughout the years of authoritarian rule, the education system spiraled downwards. Cheating on exams became widespread. Poverty induced a staggering dropout rate: some 70 percent at one time did not finish their primary schooling. University standards plummeted.“In Myanmar, professors don’t need to research, write papers or attend conferences. On Friday you apply to the government and on Monday you can be a professor,” says Phone Win.With the recent easing of military rule, the public is venting its anger. On one popular blog, Ministry of Education officials are accused of being ignorant military officers using their positions to get rich.But the government appears to be trying to improve the lot of the country’s 9 million students. “I have a very capable woman staffer in Mandalay with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but she can’t even spell the word in English,” says Moe Kya, the British-educated head of Myanmar Marketing Research Development Company.The opening salvo in what many here call “a war on education” came when troops blew up Yangon University’s Student Union, regarded as a hotbed of dissent, after the military seized power in 1962.But probably the darkest days followed a failed 1988 pro-democracy uprising, led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi with students as the driving force. The regime began shutting down universities and sending students to the countryside to prevent more anti-government protests.“University life has been shattered because of a perceived need to keep students in order,” Suu Kyi said in a recent speech before the British Parliament.The education system is “desperately weak,” she added in another speech at Oxford University. “Reform is needed, not just of schools and curriculum, and the training of teachers, but also of our attitude to education, which at present is too narrow and rigid.”Even attendance at the rural campuses was discouraged in favor of distance education, still the road to a degree for some 70 percent of students. Typically, they are given audio cassettes and a few simple take-home assignments and only need to attend classes for 10 days or less each year. Now, as the nation also known as Burma opens its doors to the outside world, it is paying a heavy price. The crackdown on universities has spawned a lost generation. The pace of development will be slowed and Burmese exploited, educators say, as the poorly schooled populace deals with an expected influx of foreign investors and aid donors, along with profiteers looking for a quick dollar.“To catch up with the rest of the world we will need at least ten years. We have to change our entire education culture, and that will be very difficult,” says Dr. Phone Win, a physician who heads Mingalar Myanmar, a group promoting education.Initial steps are being taken. President Thein Sein, a former general who has loosened the military’s vise on power through unprecedented reforms, pledged in his inauguration speech last year to improve education and seek foreign expertise to lift standards to international levels.The education budget, though still dwarfed by military spending and widely criticized as inadequate, was increased in April from $340 million to $740 million. For years, about 25 percent of the budget went to the armed forces, compared to 1.3 percent for education. Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Men’s health affects baby’s health too Salaries of teachers, while still at the poverty level, have been raised to $30 a month, with those in rural areas receiving double that.Long-severed links with foreign universities are being re-established. America’s John Hopkins University plans to set up a Center of Excellence at Yangon University focusing on graduate students and teacher training.“The president is really pushing for educational reform. But it’s top-down and often stops at the director-general level,” says Thaw Kaung, former chief librarian at Yangon University and one of the country’s most respected scholars. “The government is also listening to the MPs and they are asking some hard questions that the ministers have to answer.”Many educated Burmese are eagerly waiting for the leadership to respond to a passionate open letter this month from U Myint, a presidential adviser who urged that Yangon University be reopened to undergraduates and the Student Union rebuilt through public donations. He described the university as “an important landmark in national reconciliation and a memorable way to start a new chapter in our history.”The outcome could prove a key test of the seriousness of the regime’s intent _ and whether it has shed its fear of student power. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your homelast_img read more

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Gunmen kill son of Filipino antimining activist

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day New York-based Human Rights Watch in July said it has documented three cases since October 2011 in which critics of mining and energy projects have been killed in the Philippines, allegedly by paramilitary forces under military control. The military denied any involvement.Amnesty International also quoted a police report saying that guards hired by a Canadian mining company were responsible for a fatal shooting in July.That month, Aquino issued a presidential decree that encourages mining investment through streamlined policies and guidelines. However, human rights group say it does not address abuses against the local population.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 0 Comments   Share   Associated PressMANILA, Philippines (AP) – Gunmen in the southern Philippines ambushed a tribal chieftain who was campaigning against mining and destruction of forests, killing his 11-year-old son in the latest of several attacks on environmental activists, a human rights group said Wednesday.Amnesty International said Lucenio Manda was driving his son, Jordan, to school in Zamboanga del Sur province on Tuesday when assailants fired at them. The elder Manda was wounded and said later via text message that his son was sacrificed to protect his people’s rights and ancestral domain. Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix How men can have a healthy 2019 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories “It is very painful and I thirst for justice. I vow to continue my struggle in order not to make my son’s death in vain,” Manda said.Police said they are investigating. Amnesty International noted that Manda’s family has been targeted in the past. His cousin was fatally shot a decade ago.Manda, the chief of the Subanen animist tribe in a region dominated by Christians and minority Muslims, has led efforts against logging and mining, said the head of Amnesty International Philippines, Aurora Parong.Manda filed a court petition to revoke mining permits at the Pinukis Range Forest, among the last untouched forests in the resource-rich southern region where several multinational companies are extracting gold and silver.“The killing of Jordan Manda, groomed to be a next Timuay (tribal leader), is a painful reminder that indigenous peoples are not protected,” Parong said in a statement. She called on President Benigno Aquino III’s government to bring perpetrators to justice and stop what the group says is a culture of impunity that has left 36 tribal activists dead over the last several years.“The indigenous peoples’ future depends on genuine efforts and concrete actions by the government to fulfill their duties in holding mining corporations accountable for any human rights abuses,” Parong said. 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

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Israelis pay tribute to Rabin in memorial rally

first_img Comments   Share   JERUSALEM (AP) – Thousands of Israelis are gathering at the Tel Aviv square where Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated to mark the 17th anniversary of the former prime minister’s death and remember his call for peace.Rabin was gunned down on Nov. 4, 1995 by a Jewish extremist who opposed his policy of trading land with the Palestinians for peace.Rabin’s government negotiated the first interim peace accord with the Palestinians in 1993. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationcenter_img Patients with chronic pain give advice Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Saturday night’s rally at the square that bears Rabin’s name has become an annual pilgrimage for many Israelis to pay tribute to the slain leader. Participants held candles and waved Israeli flags. Others carried aloft banners calling for protecting democracy.Israel officially marks the anniversary Sunday, according to the Hebrew calendar.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

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Lebanon prosecutor wants hardline cleric executed

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Eighteen Lebanese soldiers were killed in clashes between al-Assir’s armed supporters and the army in June. The shootout in the coastal city of Sidon deepened sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who support opposing sides in the civil war in neighboring Syria.At least three recent suicide bombers in Lebanon were al-Assir’s followers.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   The difference between men and women when it comes to pain New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories BEIRUT (AP) – A Lebanese military prosecutor has charged a hard-line Sunni cleric with being involved in a deadly shootout with government troops and killing of soldiers, demanding he face the death penalty.Lebanon’s state news agency reported Friday that military prosecutor Riad Abu Ghaida also charged 56 supporters of cleric Sheik Ahmad al-Assir with committing crimes against the military.Ghaida demanded capital punishment for them as well. They include former popular singer-turned-extremist Fadel Shaker. Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

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Protrade Democrats get a trip to Germany on Air Force One

first_imgActivists of the international campaigning and advocacy organization ONE prepare a balloon with a portrait of U.S. President Barack Obama during a protest against the upcoming G-7 summit in Munich, Germany, Friday, June 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama will host four House Democrats aboard Air Force One this weekend as he travels to a summit of leading industrialized countries in Germany. The lawmakers all support Obama’s efforts to win special authority to negotiate a Pacific rim trade deal.Obama is courting Democrats for his trade agenda against vigorous opposition from labor unions, environmental groups and liberal organizations. A majority of Republicans support the legislation, which allows Congress to reject or approve, but not change, trade deals negotiated by the administration. Sponsored Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist The four lawmakers are Reps. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, Jim Himes of Connecticut, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas and Mike Quigley of Illinois. They are among only 17 House Democrats publicly backing Obama’s request for “fast track” trade negotiating authority.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Check your body, save your life The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

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Yemen officials Saudiled coalition strike kills 25 people

first_img Comments   Share   SANAA, Yemen (AP) — An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen’s Shiite rebels and their allies struck a poor residential area in the capital of Sanaa on Monday, killing 25 civilians and wounding at least 50, according to the rebels and medical officials.The strike hit the slums of the Sawan neighborhood in eastern Sanaa early in the morning, said the rebels, known as Houthis.Smoke billowed from the struck area in Sawan, which is located just hundreds of meters (yards) from a military camp used by the rebels. Hospital officials said there were women and children among the casualties. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Mesa family survives lightning strike to home The vital role family plays in society Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories People gather at the site of houses destroyed by Saudi airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, July 13, 2015. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition targeting Shiite rebels and their allies struck several Yemeni cities on Sunday, with combat raging near the strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait despite a declared truce, military and security officials said. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Airstrikes also hit other parts of Sanaa and 10 Yemeni provinces on Monday, according to local officials.The strikes and ground fighting in Yemen have continued for the third day since the start of a U.N.-brokered truce between the rebels and the country’s internationally-backed government in exile and its allies. The Saudi-led coalition has said it is not bound by the truce because of a lack of commitment by the Houthis.In Sawan, several buildings were partially destroyed and ambulances were seen ferrying the wounded while rebel gunmen cordoned off the area. Ahmed Nasser, a resident who lives nearby said he heard the explosion and stayed indoors, fearing more strikes.Yemen’s conflict pits the Iran-allied Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against an array of forces, including southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants as well as loyalists of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is backed internationally.On the ground, security officials said clashes continued between the Houthis and their rivals in the cities of Aden and Taiz. Fighting also resumed between the two sides in Marib, according to military and tribal officials. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.The Saudi-led coalition launched the airstrikes campaign in March against the Houthis, who seized Sanaa and other parts of the country. More than 3,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the strikes began and as the ground fighting continues.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more