More choice customization when booking Trafalgars Australia NZ trips

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> More choice & customization when booking Trafalgar’s Australia & NZ trips Tags: Australia, Brochures, New Zealand, Trafalgar Travelweek Group Sharecenter_img Posted by TORONTO — Trafalgar is enticing travellers to book a trip Down Under with new guided vacations, early payment discounts and increased customization that will allow them to build trips that are perfectly suited to individual preferences.Clients can choose from 27 handcrafted vacations to either Australia or New Zealand and select from five travel styles. New for 2017 is ‘Contrasts of Australia’, a nine-day guided vacation that includes Melbourne, Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef. Guests will also enjoy an educational Be My Guest experience at the iconic Gardener’s Lodge Café and meet Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Beryl, for a feast of fresh local produce and traditional bush flavours.Unique with Trafalgar, clients can mix-and-match mini-stays to create a customized vacation from a collection of 11 handmade itineraries. Ranging from two to seven days, each itinerary includes hotels, transport, selected meals, visits to iconic sights and free time. Clients can plan their trips in the order they prefer that best meets their travel desires.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & Mexico“The vibrant and feel-good destinations of Australia and New Zealand offer a magnitude of adventures and bucket-list experiences which will appeal to Canadians,” says Wolf Paunic, president of Trafalgar Canada. “As the industry leader, Trafalgar continues to innovate by offering these mix-and-match mini-stays so our loyal agents can offer more flexibility and choice to their clients.”In addition, clients can save up to 10% across Trafalgar’s 2017 Australia and New Zealand program with Early Payment Discounts of up to $1,885 per couple, available when they book and pay in full before Jan. 12, 2017. Past guest discounts of 5% per person are available for guests who have previously travelled with TTC’s family of brands. Tuesday, September 6, 2016 last_img read more

Read More →

The other shoe falls Hilton follows Marriott with group booking commission cut

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Share Friday, March 23, 2018 Travelweek Group Tags: Commission, Group Travel, Hiltoncenter_img TORONTO — Hilton Hotels & Resorts is reportedly cutting commissions on group bookings, following competitor Marriott’s lead.The move takes effect Oct. 1, 2018 and drops the commission rate from 10% down to 7%.Hilton’s properties in both Canada and the U.S. are impacted.Numerous media reports quote Danny Hughes, Hilton’s Senior VP and Commercial Director, Americas as saying Hilton’s decision is based on “growing group distribution costs and the complexity of intermediary services.”He adds that the cut “will allow our owners, over time, to make further investment in products and offerings that enhance the guest experience.”Marriott was the first to cut group booking commissions, announcing in January that it was dropping the rate from 10% to 7% effective March 31.Agency groups including ACTA and ASTA railed against the move.A statement from ACTA President Wendy Paradis said: “Travel agencies play a vital role in the group travel business and we are disappointed that Marriott has chosen to find cost savings through travel agency commission reductions.”More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”And in the U.S., ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby said: “In our view, a 30% cut in intermediary compensation diminishes the value of the role agents play in this complex and ever-changing industry.”This isn’t the first time the hotel companies have followed each other and it no doubt won’t be the last. In June 2017 Marriott was the first to tighten up its cancellation-with-fee policy to a 48-hour window. Hilton fell in line in July 2017 and Hyatt followed in January 2018. The other shoe falls: Hilton follows Marriott with group booking commission cut Posted bylast_img read more

Read More →

Florida Keys and Key West debut valueadded ValuCation promotion

first_img FLORIDA KEYS — The Florida Keys tourism council has launched a value-added ValueCation program for travellers to the Florida Keys & Key West.ValuCation, valid now through Oct. 21, includes offerings of value-added hotel and bed and breakfast stays, complimentary visits to Keys signature attractions for children and adults, and special offers on popular activities such as sportfishing, snorkel, scuba and sunset sailing trips.Travellers can access and download ValuCation offers, available from businesses throughout the 200-kilometre-long island chain that includes Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, the Lower Keys and Key West, at fla-keys.com/ValuCation.Specials include those for accommodations, attractions, bars and restaurants, services, retail items, fishing, diving, watersports and entertainment.The Florida Keys was hit hard by Hurricane Irma in fall 2017 but rebounded relatively quickly. The island chain re-opened to visitors on Oct. 1, 2017, just three weeks after Hurricane Irma passed through, and over the past 10 months hotels and attractions in the area have let the industry know they’re back in business. Florida Keys and Key West debut value-added ‘ValuCation’ promotion Posted by Monday, August 13, 2018 Travelweek Group center_img Share Tags: Florida, Florida Keys << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Read More →

Former BBC presenter Savile abused 2yearold report

first_imgRelated posts:US State Department lists Costa Rica among major drug-transit countries Mexico horrified by suspected massacre, incineration of 43 students Is the US taxpayer-funded Central America Regional Security Initiative effective at stopping violence? Costa Rica is Central America’s most honest country, says latest TI corruption index A journalist holds a copy of the Pollard Report into the BBC’s handling of the child sex abuse claims against late presenter Jimmy Savile upon the report’s publication at BBC Broadcasting House in London on Dec. 19, 2012. AFP/Pool/Chris RadburnLONDON – More than 500 reports of abuse on victims aged as young as 2 have been made against late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, according to a new investigation by the NSPCC charity published Monday.The probe found that Savile, one of the biggest TV stars in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, exploited high-level contacts to gain access to vulnerable victims at a high-security psychiatric hospital.“There’s no doubt that Savile is one of the most, if not the most, prolific sex offender that we at the NSPCC have ever come across,” said Peter Watt, director of child protection at the children’s charity. “What you have is somebody who at his most prolific lost no opportunity to identify vulnerable victims and abuse them.”The investigation was commissioned by BBC program Panorama and will be aired at 8:30 p.m. local time (1930 GMT).The report uncovered government documents that showed a senior civil servant had pushed for Savile to be appointed as head of a task force to resolve a dispute between trade unions and management of the Broadmoor psychiatric hospital in southern England in 1988.Thames Valley Police says it has now received 16 reports of abuse by him inside the special hospital, for which he had his own set of keys.Savile ‘swapped autographs for kisses’Former Broadmoor manager Trevor Smith said Savile would give young girls autographs in exchange for a kiss.“He kissed these girls who were about 13 smack bang on the lips, held his hand behind their neck to pull them forward and he virtually was giving them French kisses,” he explained.Savile, who died in October 2011 at the age of 84, was a hugely popular but eccentric figure, famed for his shock of white hair, tracksuits and chunky gold jewelry. He was knighted in 1990.He used his fame as presenter of BBC TV’s “Top of the Pops” chart show and children’s program “Jim’ll Fix It” to rape and assault victims on BBC premises as well as in schools and hospitals, where he was welcomed by his fans.The latest NSPCC figures show the most common age group for Savile’s victims was between 13 to 15.A year after his death, five women went on television to complain Savile had abused them when they were girls, opening the floodgates for hundreds of similar allegations.An joint NSPCC and police report published last year gathered claims from around 450 people, detailing 214 criminal offenses, including 34 rapes — 28 of them of children.The scandal threw the BBC into crisis and its botched handling of the fallout led to the resignation of director general George Entwistle in November 2012.It has commissioned an independent review into the culture and practices of the BBC during the years that Savile worked there.“The BBC has said it is appalled at Jimmy Savile’s crimes,” a BBC spokesman said in response to the new report.“We’re unable to give a commentary on statements in these specific documents as they are over 40 years old, but the Dame Janet Smith review is considering the culture and practices of the BBC during this period and has had our full cooperation. We will await their full report.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Read More →

Patriotism abroad loving one culture while embracing another

first_imgRelated posts:Save the date: A Costa Rican abroad encounters social calendars Going out on ‘un date’ – the cultural quirks of romance Food choices, then and now: from Guayabitas to cage-free eggs Roommates: a strange concept for Ticos, but are we missing out? For anyone who grew up in Alajuela, April conjures up images of flag-filled parades, where the humming of the drums and the whistling of the flutes merge with the sound of a thousand shoes marching to the rhythm of grand anthems, all in commemoration of the 1856 Campaign and the burning of the House of Guerra by Juan Santamaría, the drummer boy whosepurported heroic action helped repel the invasion of the filibuster army of William Walker.The date is honored with ceremonies and speeches, as well as the occasional school reenactment in which blond kids get casted as filibusters, while anyone exhibiting higher levels of melanin is enlisted in Mora’s army, in a curious reversal of racial profiling. People pack the streets amid the suffocating heat of summer, and everyone joins in the traditions that aim to instill in the population a sense of civic engagement.I have many memories of April 11, from my mom drawing my brother’s soldierly moustache with her eyeliner, to my sister enduring an excruciating ear infection while holding a flag in a daylong parade. I must even confess to having been a baton twirler at the age of 7, an art for which I displayed such an extraordinary lack of talent that I fear it derailed any prospects for a career in the entertainment industry.Above all, I remember the feeling of April 11: the purity and candor of a child’s sentiment of national pride. Not unlike the way they sometimes take to religious fervor, children welcome the foundational mythologies of their country as part of the narrative that makes up their world. It feels natural for them to learn about the past and embrace it. They accept the characters and the twists of the plot as with any story. Of course, history is not a fabrication. Most of what we are taught in school about the glories of yore is true, albeit a bit exaggerated and simplified. Like any nation, Costa Rica enjoys a rich history, in which it is possible to find the roots of its current dynamics.As I grew older, however, I began to feel a little uncomfortable with the rhetoric surrounding our fiestas patrias. I sensed there was a fundamental incongruity in our glorification of these battles and our professed adherence to pacifism. I also struggled with the practice of defining one’s identity through conflict with others: waging wars, seceding from empires and expelling invaders. I shrank from any mention of national exceptionalism, as I do from the notion that any country is superior to another.Some of this is basic sociology: the tendency of individuals to define themselves as members of a group, in opposition to outsiders. We have a strong instinct – a survival instinct, in fact – to uphold social identities and communal worldviews. We derive certainty from the feeling of belonging to one particular culture. At the same time, we must admit that our nationality is essentially accidental: We happen to be born on one side of a border and not on the other, without any intervention on our part. No matter how connected we feel to one particular place or people, we must always remember that we could just as well feel connected to a different one.Living abroad casts an interesting light on your sense of nationalism. People you used to regard as foreigners become your friends and neighbors. Social norms that you used to perceive as alien come to be part of your everyday life. Though it is not the case for everyone, most people develop a fondness for their host country and its culture. They begin to understand its nuances and, gradually, to merge into its social current.While this process of assimilation takes place, you also learn to appreciate your own country in a subtler manner. You gain a different perspective of its flaws and virtues. You realize very few things are actually unique to your culture. You become more lenient in some of your criticisms and harsher in others. You discard the notion that there is such thing as “the best country in the world.”This is not to say that people who live abroad have a better understanding of nationalism or that others are unable to gain a similar perception. I only mean to say that I feel abysmally distant from that 7-year-old baton twirler who sang about Juan Santamaría’s “vengeful torch” lighting up a roaring fire and “flying for the homeland, smiling, towards death.”I am thankful for the hospitality the United States has shown me and for the opportunities it has afforded me. I have come to love this country, with its particular features and oddities. That feeling is combined with the conviction that I am still Tica through and through. I’ve noticed I have a tendency to overemphasize my nationality in casual conversation, perhaps in an attempt to remain true to myself. My U.S. friends – who I presume had little prior contact with Costa Rica – have become accustomed to unsolicited explanations on everything from our political system to the ingredients in Salsa Lizano.While I continue to be moved by certain traditional symbolisms, by the sight of the Costa Rican flag waving in the air or the sound of our National Anthem being played in a foreign land, I have noticed a shift in the things that most inspire me. With apologies to my primary school teachers, I have very little attachment to the Battle of Rivas or to General Cañas. Rather, I am affected by the sight of children wearing the simple white and blue uniform, rushing towards school. I am moved by the image of cars honking their horns on Election Day, with flags of different political parties emerging from the windows. I feel inspired by nature and salsa dancing and soccer games at the beach. My nationalism is less and less defined in opposition to others and more as a celebration of what I love in my country, regardless of its exceptionality. Like the Little Prince in Saint-Exupery’s beautiful tale, I love my country as the rose in a distant planet: not because it is superior, or stronger, or better. I love it because it is mine. And that feeling is worth parading for.Read previous Please Send Coffee! columns hereRaquel Chanto is a lawyer and policy wonk trying to survive international bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. In her monthly column “Please Send Coffee!” she explores aspects of Costa Rican culture and how they contrast with life abroad. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Read More →

PHOTOS Human rights office uses images to show the everyday side of

first_imgRelated posts:Anti-poverty programs enjoy success, but jobs would be better, says UN Costa Rica unveils partnership with Oxford University to tackle persistent poverty Troubling statistics: Nearly a quarter of Costa Ricans live in poverty More than 1.1 million Costa Ricans live in poverty Facebook Comments A new collaboration between the Ombudsman’s Office, Veritas University and the University of Costa Rica aims to personalize the plight of poverty faced by many Costa Ricans.Eighty students from across Costa Rica participated in a photo course designed to explore the theme of poverty in everyday life. The photographs will be on display at the National Museum this weekend until Sunday, Sept. 27.“This photography course aimed to help educate people about human rights. Poverty is a kind of exclusion that harms and mistreats a person’s dignity. What better way to show this than through images?” asked Ombudswoman Montserrat during the exhibit’s opening this week.According to the latest State of the Nation report, 20.7 percent of Costa Ricans live in poverty and 6.4 percent live in extreme poverty.See a selection of some of the winning photos below. “In the happiest country on Earth” Camila Trejos “Cooking outdoors” Cristian Cartin “Waiting” Cristian Cartín “Crime: When poverty reaches its limit” Jéssica Vargas “Without fire, without food, without peace” Ricardo Araya “After the Finca Tres eviction” Ricaro Arayalast_img read more

Read More →

For 2nd time appeals court overturns conviction of Costa Rica exPresident Miguel

first_imgRelated posts:Alcatel-Lucent makes $10 million payment to Costa Rica’s ICE in corruption settlement Court overturns acquittal of Costa Rica’s former President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez on influence-peddling charges, orders new review of case Former Panama VP arrested in widening corruption probe Guatemala’s Pérez Molina says he’s ‘calm’ as impeachment storm swirls around him For the second time, a San José appeals court has overturned the convictions of Costa Rica’s former President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echeverría and four other defendants on charges ofinfluence peddling involving the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) and French telecommunications giant Alcatel.The court on Friday declared unlawful the testimony and evidence provided by former ICE board member José Antonio Lobo, the prosecution’s star witness. That led to the overturning of convictions – based on reasonable doubt – against Rodríguez, who served as president from 1998-2002, and ICE ex-managers Joaquín Fernández and Guido Sibaja, as well as Alcatel manager Édgar Valverde and Luis Adrián Quirós, a private-practice lawyer.The court also ordered a new trial for ex-lawmaker Eliseo Vargas García. A news release issued by the judicial branch on Friday did not mention the court’s decision on ex-ICE official Eduardo Fonseca García, and the conviction against him is still in force. The two men were sentenced to two years each on charges of aggravated corruption and illicit enrichment.A criminal court in April 2011 sentenced Rodríguez to five years in prison for influence peddling that led to the granting to ALCATEL of contracts for supplying ICE with 400,000 GSM mobile lines between 2000-2004. At the time, the court based its ruling widely on Lobo’s statements and evidence, but an appeals court in 2012 overturned the conviction leading to an acquittal.In 2014, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court overturned that acquittal and ordered the appeals court to conduct a comprehensive analysis of Rodríguez’s conviction and to issue a new ruling.Judges will read the full ruling on Dec. 9, and all defendants will then assess the possibility of filing complaints against the government seeking damages.ALCATEL-Lucent reached an out-of-court settlement in the civil case for damages against Costa Rica and ICE in 2008, and that same year made a first payment of $10 million to the Costa Rican government. Between 2012 and 2013, the government rejected various additional settlement proposals, all under $5 million, and last August ALCATEL made an additional payment of $10 million. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Read More →

Nicaraguan comedian who trashes Ticos barred from entering Costa Rica

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica winds down humanitarian mission for Cuban migrants with presidential send-off What the US can learn from its ‘Cuban immigration policy’ President Solís, church leaders discuss Cuban migrant crisis Latin America ministers agree to emergency meeting on Cuban migrants A Nicaraguan comedian who insults Costa Ricans in online videos was barred on Thursday from entering Costa Rica for personal safety and public order reasons, officials said.Land and air border posts were alerted to stop Reynaldo Ruiz from crossing from Nicaragua, the Costa Rican Public Security Ministry said in a statement.Ruiz was meant to visit Costa Rica next week to put on a comedy performance with a partner, José Ramón Quintanilla, who was also barred.The Costa Rican statement criticized “xenophobic outbursts that tiny sectors of both countries throw at each other,” and said it was barring Ruiz under a law deeming his presence would “compromise public safety.”It said Costa Rica’s intelligence service had information showing Ruiz could be targeted by unidentified people because of the jokes he made in the online video.In the video, Ruiz jokes that he dislikes Costa Ricans, whom he characterized as “faggots,” “smelly,” and “slackers.”“I want to puke when I see a Costa Rican,” he says in the video, which inflamed Costa Ricans on social networks.Some 400,000 Nicaraguans live in Costa Rica, many of them in low-wage agricultural, security and domestic jobs.Diplomatic tensions are significant between the two neighboring countries, fueled by border disputes and opposing political stances.See Ruiz playing the incendiary character “Rod Wailer Martínez” (in Spanish):last_img read more

Read More →

Missing persons alert Limón

first_imgAndré Devoto, the son of Costa Rican Association of Tourism Professionals (ACOPROT) President Massi Devoto, has disappeared in Limón, according to information published on Facebook by his family. He was last seen on Monday, June 11, in downtown Limón at 9:00 pm. If you have any information or know where he might be, call the following numbers: 8847-2582 or 8336-1882. You can also contact Massi Devoto directly viaFacebook. Facebook Comments Related posts:Police investigate disappearance of US expat in Costa Rica Costa Rican surfer disappears off Pacific coast Men caught with one ton of drugs in Costa Rica allowed to walk free, police say October in Costa Rica: when the Caribbean comes a’callin’last_img read more

Read More →

Women in north Mali protest veil leader

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Comments   Share   Women have been subjected to curfews, and have been publicly whipped for failing to wear veils. It’s also forbidden for them to be in the streets with men who aren’t their husbands or relatives.The Islamists now control an area as large as France in the north of Mali.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) – A resident says about 200 women have marched in protest in the Malian city of Timbuktu, where Islamists are requiring women to wear veils.Mahi Toure said the Islamists fired shots into the air Saturday morning to disperse the women protesting against the man in charge of implementing veil requirements.The women accuse Mohamed Mossa of carrying out abusive arrests since the Islamists began enforcing their interpretation of Islamic Shariah law. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Quick workouts for men Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous oflast_img read more

Read More →

China congress highlights contrast with Taiwan

first_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean With a population 50 times bigger and an economy 15 times greater, China overshadows Taiwan in almost every respect. But one area where Taiwan is envied by many in China is its freewheeling political system.Split since Mao Zedong’s Communist forces drove Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist government from the mainland, China and Taiwan used to engage in a propaganda and ideological war against each other. Since Taiwan jettisoned one-party rule in the 1980s and moved toward democracy, the competition for hearts and minds continues but is more low-key.“There is now no excuse for the Chinese government to tell its people that Chinese culture is somehow at odds with democracy,” said Emile Sheng, who served as culture minister during Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s just-completed first term. “Taiwan’s experience proves this wrong.”Stepped-up trade and travel between China and Taiwan as well as a revival in longstanding cultural and social ties are all carrying Taiwan’s success with democracy to mainlanders. Wang, the mainlander bride, is one of 300,000 Chinese spouses living in Taiwan. More than 2 million Chinese tourists travel to Taiwan every year, often holing up in their hotels to watch Taiwan’s many politically relentless all-news television stations. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day “They were really taken with the openness of the electoral process, the way the candidates conducted themselves, the graciousness of Tsai’s concession speech after she lost,” he said.Despite Sheng’s optimism, even some Chinese impressed by Taiwan’s democratic transition believe it is naive to assume that a robust democratic system can take root on the mainland anytime soon. Decades of repressive policies mean there is no ready opposition party, and many Chinese fear the chaos that might result from a collapse of the Communist Party. Then there’s the leadership’s resistance to losing power.“They realize what kind of purge they could expect if democracy ever came,” mainlander Eric Zhang wrote in a recent post on Sina Corp.’s popular Weibo service, a Chinese version of Twitter. “They would no doubt fight democracy as if their lives depended on it.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Men’s health affects baby’s health too China’s ruling Communists continue to hail their model as superior, noting its state-directed economy has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty in recent decades and government policies have warded off the recession and weak growth that have wracked the West during the past four years. In his opening speech to the congress Thursday, President Hu Jintao said China would never adopt a Western-style political system.“There is a contest of ideology between China and Taiwan,” said political scientist George Tsai of Taipei’s Chinese Culture University. “It is dictatorship versus democracy. Many people are wondering if Taiwan’s model of democracy is appropriate for China’s future.”Sheng, the former culture minister, said a high watermark for Taiwan’s influence came earlier this year when millions of politically literate mainlanders closely followed Taiwan’s hard-fought presidential election between Ma and challenger Tsai Ing-wen.He said the thousands of favorable comments that appeared on Chinese blogs _ which mainlanders use to skirt government restrictions on officially sanctioned media _ left little doubt that some in China had been won over by the vibrancy of the Taiwanese system. Top Stories center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Comments   Share   Associated PressTAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – While ties between China and Taiwan may be closer than at any time since they split in a civil war, the staid, formal Communist Party congress being held in Beijing highlights how far apart the two sides are politically.“Taiwan’s democracy has learned from the United States,” said Wang Yingying, who moved from eastern China to Taiwan in 2005 with her Taiwanese spouse. “We in China cannot vote for our national leaders. Mainland politics are backward, Taiwan’s democracy is much better.”last_img read more

Read More →

North Koreas show of force greets US diplomatic overture

first_img Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The State Department said launches using ballistic missile technology are “a clear violation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Washington urged North Korea “to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations.”Just this past week, a South Korean envoy had visited Washington and Beijing as countries involved in long-stalled aid-for-disarmament negotiations with the North mulled their diplomatic options.Even before the latest flexing of the North’s military might, U.S. officials said the North had not shown it was seriously interested in re-engaging on the nuclear issue.Former senior U.S. official Victor Cha, an expert on North Korea, said he wasn’t sure whether the latest test “will create an impetus for talks or kill it.”“It shows that North Korea’s missile capabilities are advancing at a clip that is concerning, if not alarming,” he said.North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. International penalties were intended to prevent the North from obtaining sensitive technology and starve the country of funds. Yet U.S.-based experts forecast that North Korea could increase its nuclear arsenal from at least 10 weapons today to between 20 and 100 weapons by 2020. WASHINGTON (AP) — North Korea greeted a U.S. diplomatic overture with a fresh show of force, seemingly testing the Obama administration’s resolve for new nuclear talks.After three years of diplomatic deadlock, the U.S. appears open to preliminary discussions to assess North Korea’s intentions and the prospects of ridding the country of nuclear weapons.Then came Saturday’s claim that North Korea successfully test-fired a newly developed ballistic missile from a submarine. Not long after that announcement, South Korean officials said the North fired three anti-ship cruise missiles into the sea off its east coast. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home The U.S. was willing to be flexible about a format for “serious dialogue” on denuclearization, a senior U.S. official said. The official was not authorized to be named and requested anonymity to discuss U.S.-North Korea policy.___Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, and Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Quick workouts for men Comments   Share   North Korea wants to be recognized as a nuclear power. But a denuclearized Korean Peninsula is the aim of the negotiating process that China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. say they want to revive if North Korea takes concrete steps to show good faith.The last public U.S. attempt to negotiate a nuclear freeze and get the six-party process restarted collapsed in 2012 after the North launched a long-range rocket.North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February 2013, and has test-fired numerous shorter-range missile since then.The U.S. quietly proposed a meeting with North Korea this January, before the U.S. and South Korea began annual military exercises that North Korea regards as a provocation. The two sides, however, failed to agree on who could meet and where.The recent completion of those military exercises offers a potential window of opportunity for engagement that is likely to close again when a new set of drills begin in August.China, North Korea’s traditional benefactor, has pushed for resumption of dialogue. South Korean envoy Hwang Joon-kook, who met separately with his U.S. and Chinese counterparts this past week, said all five parties were ready for talks to understand North Korea’s intentions and whether it was committed to denuclearization. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober FILE – In this Dec. 26, 2014 file photo, a North Korea’s mock Scud-B missile, center, stands among South Korean missiles displayed at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea. After three years of diplomatic deadlock, the Obama administration says it is open to holding preliminary talks with North Korea to see if there’s a prospect of ridding the country of nuclear weapons. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File) How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

Read More →

US home sales slide in April amid listing shortage

first_imgThe shortage shows the long reach of the 2008 financial crisis and the housing bust, which continues to haunt the housing sector even as the economic recovery approaches its seventh year. Millions of homeowners still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth — and they’re unwilling to sell at a steep loss, depriving the market of inventory.Nearly 17 percent of mortgage holders were underwater at the end of 2014, according to the real estate firm Zillow.The lack of supply should help prices rise to a level that fixes this problem. But too swift an increase also poses a destabilizing risk for the market. If home values accelerate too quickly, economists warn that more buyers will be priced out of the market and demand will fall.One way to address the shortage would be to build more homes. The government reported this week that homebuilders upped the pace of construction in April to the fastest level since November 2007. But developers say that the process of planning new developments that could provide a greater inventory of homes can take at least a year.Solid hiring and low mortgage rates have helped fuel the demand from buyers.Over the past 12 months, employers have added 3.1 million workers, each of them with a new paycheck to be spent. The additional income has led to many economists to forecast an increase in home sales this year. WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of existing U.S. homes slipped in April due to relatively few listings and rising prices, a trend that could weigh on the recovering housing market.The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales of existing homes fell 3.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million. April marked the second straight month of the sales rate topping 5 million homes. Purchases have recovered from a disappointing 2014 because strong job growth and low mortgage rates have generated more would-be buyers. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories But greater demand in recent months has failed to convince more people to list their properties for sale. Only 5.3 months’ supply of homes is on the market, versus an average of six months in a healthy market. The number of listings actually tumbled 0.9 percent in April compared to a year ago.The tight supplies have caused properties to fly off the market and prices to rocket upward. The median home sold in just 39 days last month, versus 52 days in March and 62 days in February. Sales levels dropped in the Northeast, South and West, but they edged up 1.7 percent in the Midwest.Median home prices climbed 8.9 percent over the past 12 months to $219,400. That’s more than four times faster than average hourly wage growth. Home values are now just $2,500 shy of the 2006 peak.“With steady job growth, low mortgage rates, and easier credit conditions, there is fundamental support for housing,” said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. “But with prices heading up again, and inventories still tight, potential buyers may be a little more choosy in the buying process.”Unless more homes come onto the market, there is a cap on how much sales can rise as more buyers face bidding wars and are priced out of the market. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Top holiday drink recipes New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mortgage rates remain below historical average, despite increases in recent weeks.Average 30-year fixed rates were 3.84 percent this week, according to the mortgage giant Freddie Mac. That average has dropped from 4.14 percent last year.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Comments   Share   last_img read more

Read More →

Pentagon lawmakers mark Vietnam War at Capitol ceremony

first_img 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The Vietnam War taught Americans many lessons, “many hard-won, some difficult to swallow,” Carter said. “But all of them have made us a better country and a better military.”Two lessons in particular are important to remember, Carter said. “First, we leave no one behind,” he said. While the U.S. is not the only military with that ethos, “there are few that have such a steadfast and sustained commitment, which is about more than raising the iconic POW-MIA symbol up on the flagpoles around the nations. It’s about the promise we make and we work hard to keep.”The Defense Department has more than 650 employees devoted to accounting for the missing from U.S. wars, including the 1,627 service members still missing from Vietnam, Carter said.The second lesson is that Americans “must support our warriors, regardless of our feelings about the war,” Carter said, calling that a lesson “some learned the hard way in the Vietnam era.”Carter and other speakers said they were gratified that “our troops today are welcomed home” and that veterans, including those from Vietnam, are often thanked for their service and appreciated by those back home. 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter and congressional leaders thanked Vietnam War veterans for their service and presented pins to dozens of veterans at a Capitol ceremony Wednesday that marked 50 years since U.S. ground troops arrived in Vietnam.House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other legislative leaders attended the ceremony. A day earlier, President Barack Obama held an unprecedented meeting with the head of Vietnam’s Communist Party as the U.S. pressed to conclude talks on a groundbreaking Asia-Pacific economic pact.center_img Top holiday drink recipes Parents, stop beating yourself up Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “I want to take this opportunity to thank you, our Vietnam-era veterans, for that lesson, and to again welcome all of you home,” Carter said.Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, himself a Vietnam veteran, told the crowd of several hundred that he and other veterans feel a special bond. He said that he, too, is grateful that the nation’s attitude toward veterans has greatly improved since he returned from Vietnam.Those who have experienced war know the truth, Hagel said: “There is no glory in war, only suffering.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Defense Secretary Ash Carter, leads applause to thank the military service members who served in Vietnam during a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)last_img read more

Read More →

Turkey 8 more Uighur refugees arrive from Thailand

first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Thailand had earlier sent a group of 173 refugees to Turkey, saying they had Turkish documents. It repatriated 109 others to China, sparking condemnation from Turkey, which has cultural ties to the Uighurs, and a barrage of international criticism.Maj. Gen. Verachon Sukhonthapatipak, the deputy spokesman for the Thai government, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the eight were sent because they had documents showing they were Turkish.“According to their documents, these eight people have been verified as Turkish. The Chinese authorities weren’t able to prove otherwise,” he said.Verachon said 52 remaining Uighurs would be sent back to their country once their nationalities were verified.On Saturday, the European Union joined the chorus of criticism and said Thailand should allow the remaining refugees “to depart voluntarily to a country of their choice that is willing to receive them.”The Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority in China’s far western Xinjiang region. The group has complained of harsh cultural and religious suppression as well as economic marginalization under Chinese rule.China says the Uighurs left the country illegally. Beijing has accused Uighur separatists of terrorism in Xinjiang, where ethnic violence has left hundreds of people dead over the past two years. Comments   Share   A Chinese state-run newspaper on Friday accused the Turkish government — without naming it directly — of abetting illegal migration by issuing documents to Uighurs.___Grant Peck and Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Thailand sent eight more ethnic Muslim Uighur refugees to Turkey, officials said Saturday, days after the Thai government faced intense international criticism for deporting 109 refugees back to China despite fears they could face persecution there.The eight — four women and four children — arrived in Istanbul early on Saturday, the Turkish aid organization Cansuyu said. Their arrival raises the number of Uighurs Turkey has taken in from Thailand to 181. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Read More →

South Korea picks preferred bidder to lift sunken ferry

first_imgSEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Wednesday selected a Chinese-led consortium as a preferred bidder to salvage a sunken ferry that killed more than 300 people in April last year in one of the country’s deadliest disasters in decades.South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said it will begin negotiating next week with the consortium led by China’s state-run firm Shanghai Salvage Co., which offered to salvage the ferry at a cost of 85.1 billion won ($74.6 million). Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Top Stories Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home If a deal with Shanghai cannot be reached, the second option involves a consortium led by state-run China Yantai Salvage. A consortium joined by Britain’s Titan Maritime Ltd. and the Netherland’s Svitzer Salvage BV was the South Korean government’s third option.Shanghai has experience in salvaging large ships and was recently involved in lifting a river cruise ship that sank in China’s Yangtze River and killed more than 400 people last month, Yeon Yeong-jin, an official from the South Korean ministry, told a news briefing.South Korea formally approved the plans to salvage the ferry Sewol in April, accepting the demands of the victims’ families who staged fierce protests in the capital Seoul for months. The relatives hope that raising the ship will reveal more details about the cause of the sinking and help find the bodies of nine passengers still missing.Experts say lifting the corroded, 6,800-ton Sewol from deep beneath a channel notorious for strong currents could be potentially dangerous and prove much harder than previous efforts around the world to salvage giant ships, which sometimes ended up costing much more than originally estimated.The South Korean government had originally planned to drill dozens of holes into the side of the ferry, which would allow it to be tied to two huge naval cranes that would lift the vessel from the seafloor. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility However, Shanghai questioned the logic of relying on cables attached to a weakening ship and instead offered to lift the ferry with a frame built with metal beams, according to a ministry official, who didn’t want to be named, citing office rules. The official said the metal-beam structure would also be safer for divers.Many large shipwrecks around the world were first cut into sections. The Costa Concordia cruise liner, which capsized after hitting rocks near an Italian island in early 2012, killing 32 people, was raised in one piece, but the 115,000-ton vessel wasn’t completely submerged and was pulled upright before being hoisted.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Read More →

10 former Chilean officers charged in Victor Jara killing

first_img SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A judge has charged 10 former military officers in the killing of folk singer and political activist Victor Jara during Chile’s 1973 coup.The charges announced late Wednesday by Judge Miguel Vazquez include homicide and kidnapping in the slaying of Jara and former military police head Littre Quiroga Carvajal.Jara was dragged down to the basement of an indoor stadium that had been converted into a detention and torture center after the Sept. 11, 1973 coup. He was a member of the Communist Party, and many people believe he could have served as a powerful voice against the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Instead, he was tortured in Santiago’s Estadio Chile before he was shot 44 times as a warning to those who challenged Pinochet’s authority.Local residents later found the bodies of Jara and Quiroga Carvajal, who was shot 23 times, in a vacant lot near Santiago’s Metropolitan Cemetery, according to court documents.In all, 40,018 people were killed, tortured or imprisoned for political reasons during Pinochet’s dictatorship. Chile’s government estimates 3,095 were killed, including about 1,200 who were forcibly disappeared.Pinochet died in 2006 under house arrest without ever being tried on charges of illegal enrichment and human rights violations.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona 0 Comments   Share   FILE – In this undated file photo, Chilean singer and songwriter Victor Jara poses for a photo in Chile. A judge is charging 10 former military officers in the killing of folk singer and political activist Victor Jara during Chile’s 1973 coup. The charges were announced late Wednesday, July 22, 2015. (AP Photo, File)last_img read more

Read More →

Disasters impact tourism down under

first_imgWhile many claim it is too early to predict the overall impact of recent natural disasters on inbound figures, Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) chief executive John Lee expects it to be “bad news for Australian tourism”.Numbers into Australia are likely to suffer this year, Mr Lee told e-Travel Blackboard, adding that that he anticipates the recent natural disasters in some of Australia’s key source markets to affect inbound arrival figures.According to Mr Lee, New Zealand stands as Australia’s number one market source, while Japan sits high up at number five.”Naturally, Japan will have an inward focus as it recovers and rebuilds following this devastating tragedy and that will mean fewer Japanese travelling internationally,” Mr Lee said.”Combine the likely drop in arrivals from Japan with a potential decrease in arrivals from New Zealand after the Christchurch earthquake, and it’s bad news for Australian tourism.”The setback to Australian tourism comes as the country witnessed recovery from the Japanese market last year, reporting a 12 percent increase in arrivals after figures halved between 2004 and 2009, the TTF head said. Mr Lee added that popular travel destinations in Queensland including Cairns and the Gold Coast are likely to experience the brunt in tourism decline.”The timing couldn’t really be worse for Queensland, which is ramping up its campaign to spread the word that the state is ready, willing and able to welcome visitors in the wake of the floods and cyclone Yasi,” he said.Mr Lee added that Australians can go a long way to support national attractions and destinations by booking domestic holidays.  “Going to Queensland will help out struggling operators and the more than 220,000 Queenslanders who rely on tourism for their livelihoods.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Read More →

SQ takes wwwtothesky

first_imgAiming to ‘meet and exceed’ customer demands, Singapore Airlines (SQ) has announced the roll-out of an In-Flight Connectivity program that will bring internet and mobile services to travellers in the air.Announced this morning, the US$50 million program will allow travellers to connect to the internet, send and receive emails on smartphones and other electronic devices as well as send and receive SMS text messages while flying at 35,000ft.Launching on 14 of the airline’s aircraft from today on non-stop flights between Singapore and Newark and Los Angeles, the carrier’s senior vice president product and services Tan Pee Teck described the move as an evolution in-line with customer preferences and expects the initiative to keep the airline “at the forefront of airline product innovation”. “As our customers’ preferences towards entertainment and connectivity options change over time, so must we,” he said.  “Mobile and Internet connectivity capabilities are just the start, enabling our customers to stay connected even when flying at 35,000ft. “There will be much more investment in the months and years ahead to keep our customers both connected and entertained.”The new technology will be rolled out across Singapore Airline’s long-haul fleet over the next two years, however, the carrier noted deployment on aircraft will be subject to regulatory approvals from individual countries. Promotional price plans are also being introduced from today for wireless Internet access. The promotional prices, which will last until 30 November 2012, are US$25 for 30 megabytes of data and US$10 for 10 megabytes of data. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Read More →