Grupo Nación announces more layoffs new investments

first_imgOne of Costa Rica’s most prominent media groups, Grupo Nación (GN), said Wednesday on its website that it plans to lay off 156 employees in coming months. The company did not say which workers face the ax.Grupo Nación also plans to invest nearly ₡2.8 billion ($5.5 million) in the construction of a new building for staff from the company’s many holdings. The new building will house workers from the daily newspapers La Nación, Al Día and La Teja, the weekly El Financiero, ADN Radio and various magazines.Grupo Nación also announced the termination of SoHo Magazine, which targeted men, the launch of a new radio station called Q’Teja (the fourth radio station for the media group), and a new matchmaking website.Antonieta Chaverri, GN media manager, said the changes “are part of a plan that aims to keep the company at the forefront of the media industry in Costa Rica.”Last December, the company laid off 11 employees while announcing that a “reorganization process” would continue through 2013. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Private sector workers ask for 412 percent salary hike

first_imgRelated posts:Private-sector employers offer 1.33 percent salary hike Private sector employers propose 1.62 percent salary increase for 2015 Government, private-sector unions negotiate wage hikes for second half of 2015 Private-sector employers offer 0.94 percent wage increase for second half of 2015 Unions leaders on Monday presented Labor Ministry officials with a request for salary hikes for the private sector, to be applied in the second half of the year.“Our basic proposal is a wage adjustment of 4.12 percent, corresponding to 3.75 percent of cumulative inflation from the first five months of the year, plus 0.37 percent still pending from previous negotiations,” said Rafael Mora, a leader of the National Association of Public and Private Employees.The unions’ request is a first step in the process of setting wage increases, which will continue next Monday when representatives of employers will present a counter-proposal.On June 25, Labor Ministry officials will present the government’s proposal in a meeting with members of unions and employers’ chambers. The three sectors, combined in the National Wages Council, will try to reach an agreement on a final figure.Mora said unions also would seek to change wage policy so that increases mostly benefit base salaries, or lower ranking workers.“I hope this administration finally changes wage policies and that a change generates a positive influence on social inequality,” Mora said in a statement.Labor Minister Víctor Morales last week said officials may change the formula used to calculate wage hikes, which has been in place since October 2011. The current system uses projected inflation for the first half of the year. Officials may instead use real inflation for the same period.Accumulated inflation through May was 3.75 percent, while the Central Bank estimates first-semester inflation at 1.98 percent.“If we follow the established formula, the increase would correspond to just 0.31 percent. That increase would be unacceptable not only for workers but for this administration as well,” Morales said.Private-sector employees, estimated at 1.3 million, received a 3.78 percent salary increase last October. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas food industry joins growing chorus of privatesector complaints

first_imgLeaders of Costa Rica’s food industry on Tuesday reported that their production has increased by only 1.79 percent this year, a low figure that has prevented the sector from growing or creating new jobs. It also increases uncertainty for next year, they said.The Costa Rican Food Industry Chamber (CACIA) on Tuesday presented the report “Results for 2014 and Expectations for 2015,” which also notes that Costa Rica for the second consecutive year has tallied the worst employment figures in the last 10 years.The local food industry laid off 249 workers this year, due to a drop in domestic and international sales, CACIA President José Manuel Hernando said.Businesses this year exported 5.3 percent less than in 2013, the only decrease in exports registered by the sector in the past decade.“In this context and with all the contradictions expressed by our government, we expect a less-than-flattering 2015,” Hernando said. The chamber’s projection for next year is less than 1 percent growth, with a similar number of layoffs, he added.Among the “government’s contradictions,” Hernando said President Luis Guillermo Solís had promised no new taxes for at least two years.“Just six months later, an increase in sales tax from 13 to 15 percent is currently under discussion,” he said.The CACIA leader also claimed that Solís pledged not to approve more trade agreements and focus on improving internal competitiveness. But there is strong pressure to approve tax exemptions and other benefits due to Costa Rica’s affiliation with the Pacific Alliance, he said.Hernando said that Solís also had promised to maintain electricity rates unchanged until next year and to evaluate increasing the participation of private generators.“But rates are still hiking and Solís has closed options for more private electricity generation,” he said.Solís’ controversial lifting of a veto on the Labor Procedures Bill also was part of the chamber’s report. CACIA leaders — like other private-sector groups — oppose that move, claiming the president broke a promise to postpone discussion of the veto for at least one year.“Solís has signed a blank check in favor of the most radical labor groups, who are now more likely to paralyze the country and are now protected by law,” Hernando said.The chamber leader claimed the president’s decisions “reinforce the lack of direction the country is showing right now and affect local entrepreneurs’ capacity to create more jobs.”CACIA’s findings coincide with results of a study by consulting firm Deloitte that on Monday reported 45.2 percent of private-sector employers who were surveyed believe the country’s economic situation will worsen within a year. Facebook Comments Related posts:Pessimism prevails in Costa Rica’s business sector for 2015 Energy prices and politics weigh down business confidence, Costa Rica private-sector survey notes Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís promises to cut extreme poverty by 45 percent by 2018 Some members of Costa Rica’s business sector alarmed over ‘historic’ jump in unemploymentlast_img read more

Urban flocks Part 1 5 common birds of San José

first_img The clay-colored thrush can be distinguished from similar brown birds by its red iris and pale yellowish bill. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi)Spanish & Costa Rican local names: Mirlo Pardo, YigüirroThis drab species (formerly known as clay-colored robin) doesn’t seem like the obvious choice for Costa Rica’s national bird, but it was chosen for its song, not its looks. According to local lore, the Yigüirro “calls the rain” just before the rainy season, with its long, wandering song:The clay-colored thrush is often seen hopping on the ground, as it forages actively for invertebrates. It belongs to the Turdidae family, which includes thrushes, robins, solitaires, and others. In good light, the blue-gray tanager’s plumage shows striking shades of blue, but in low light it tends to look dull gray overall. (Courtesy of Andy Morffew/Flickr)Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupus episcopus)Spanish & Costa Rican local names: Tangara Azuleja, Viudita, ViudaTanagers are among the most colorful birds in the neotropics, and this species is no exception. Blue-gray tanagers prefer open and semi-open areas, and are commonly found along roads and in urban parks and gardens. They are monogamous, and typically travel in pairs (sometimes forming small flocks) year-round. They eat berries and other fruits and also forage for arthropods. They belong to the Thraupidae family. A group of male great-tailed grackles points skyward during a breeding display. Males look black, but actually have an glossy purple sheen, while females (not pictured) are duller brown overall.  (Courtesy of Joyce Cory/Flickr)Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)Spanish & Costa Rican local names:  Clarinero, Zanate Grande, SanateFew birds can match the attitude of the great-tailed grackle, which can be seen strutting around parks and plazas throughout Costa Rica, flashing its piercing yellow eyes and trailing a giant V-shaped tail. Grackles are highly intelligent (many have been observed stealing dog food and soaking it in water to soften it), and are considered pests in some parts of the world where their populations have expanded rapidly. Grackles belong to the Icteridae family, along with orioles and blackbirds. They produce a variety of bizarre sounds: Inca doves have a scaled pattern and black bill, and are significantly smaller than common city pigeons. (Courtesy of Sebastian Wallroth/Wikimedia Commons)Inca Dove (Columbina inca)Spanish & Costa Rican local names: Tortolita Colilarga, San Juan, TórtolaThese tiny doves can often be seen walking on the ground in pairs or small groups, foraging for seeds. As if their mutual preening weren’t cute enough (see video), they also engage in “pyramid roosting,” wherein as many as 12 birds will pile up 3 layers high to sleep. Inca doves belong to the Columbidae family, along with pigeons. Related posts:Urban flocks (Part 1): 5 common birds of San José Urban flocks (Part 2): 5 more common birds of San José Grab your binoculars: It’s Christmas Bird Count season in Costa Rica! Urban flocks (Part 2): 5 more common birds of San José * All Spanish and local species names are taken from the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica.Check out other “Into the Wild” columns here.Robin Kazmier is general manager of The Tico Times Publications Group, editor of various field guides and natural history books, and author of the forthcoming National Parks of Costa Rica (with photographer Greg Basco). She lives in San José. “Into the Wild” is published monthly – stay tuned for the second installment in this guide to city birds. Facebook Commentscenter_img The Tico Times is pleased to welcome Robin Kazmier, the general manager of our Publications Group, into an additional role: at the helm of  “Into the Wild,” the monthly wildlife column written by Lindsay Fendt over the past year. This column will continue to explore all kinds of species found in Costa Rica, but with an emphasis on birds for the next few months.Despite the best efforts of many a telescope-wielding nature guide, I fell in love with birds while sitting at my desk in San José, editing a field guide to the birds of Costa Rica in my previous job. As it turns out, birding is the nature-lover’s antidote to living in the city, because birds are everywhere. And the ones you see while sitting in traffic are no less amazing than those deep in the rain forest.So, if you find yourself in a jungle of the concrete variety, here’s a quick introduction to some of the most common birds of San José (and many other urban areas of Costa Rica). This is the first in a two-part series. The great kiskadee has several lookalikes in Costa Rica, but is distinguished by its large size, rufous (reddish-brown) tint to its wings and tail, and white “eyebrows” that join on the back of its head. (Courtesy of Andy Morffew/Wikimedia Commons)Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)Spanish & Costa Rican local names: Bienteveo Grande, Cristo Fue, Pecho Amarillo*The great kiskadee is a raucous bird whose name is derived from its call in both English (“KIS-ka-DEE”) and Spanish (“bien-te-veo”). Here’s what a group of great kiskadees sounds like:Great kiskadees are common in gardens and open areas throughout the country; in San José they perch in trees and on utility wires, and make an enormous amount of noise. They belong to the tyrant flycatcher family (Tyrannidae).last_img read more

Hundreds of gay couples sign up for expanded health insurance coverage in

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica to reach population of 5 million by 2018 Taboo on LGBT blood donation lingers, according to survey Costa Rica to extend same-sex couples equal rights for public health insurance, care access Costa Rican police join human rights group to launch campaign against LGBT discrimination Hundreds of same-sex couples have successfully applied to insure their partners after the Costa Rican Social Security System board of directors votedto expand health care benefits, a policy that went into effect a year ago Tuesday.From Nov. 10, 2014 to September 2015, the Social Security System, also known as the Caja, accepted 221 applications to cover same-sex partners. Some of the highest acceptance rates occurred in rural parts of Costa Rica, according to data obtained by The Tico Times.In addition to access to insurance, the Caja board also voted to cover reforms that allowed same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in public health care matters, including visitation rights and the ability to make medical decisions, among other benefits. Those health care benefits can be accessed at public hospitals and community clinics, known as Ebais.“I saw gay patients dying in hospitals alone or not getting access to medicine they needed because they didn’t have health insurance,” said Geovanny Delgado, an LGBT activist and Caja employee who was involved in the fight to recognize same-sex partners in the public insurance system. “People don’t understand what a change that was for gay couples, for the dignity of the patient in the institution.”San José is the site of Costa Rica’s annual gay pride parade and other LGBT activism, but rural parts of the country saw the greatest interest in the new coverage in the last year. Guácimo – a Caribbean canton better known for banana fields than LGBT issues – had the single largest number of inscriptions at 32. The northern canton of La Fortuna followed closely with 30. Delgado said that the agrarian parts of the country would have fewer opportunities for formal employment that would offer insurance benefits, increasing the need for these benefits in places like Guácimo. Geovanny Delgado, a Caja employee and member of the Diversity Movement, speaks at a vigil in front of the Costa Rican Supreme Court in May 2014. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesDelgado said that the Costa Rican government’s move to recognize a same-sex relationship for insurance purposes is a major step forward. A legislative bill to recognize same-sex civil unions has been bogged down by amendments from conservative lawmakers, but President Luis Guillermo Solís has taken a more aggressive stance on LGBT issues. In May, Vice President Ana Helena Chacón announced an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public institutions overseen by the executive branch.Delgado said that the next battle for gay and lesbian couples in the Caja would be advocating for the right to pass on pensions to surviving partners.“Think about how many people have been able to insure their partner, to stay by their side at the hospital during the most trying moments of their life,” Delgado said. “That wasn’t possible before.”How do you register?The process for ensuring that an unmarried partner of either sex enjoys equal benefits is as follows:Visit an Ebais or Caja clinic or hospital and register at the Registro de Parejas de Convivencia (Registry of Cohabitant Couples).Present identification for both parties.Fill out a “Beneficio Familiar” (Family Benefits) form.Present proof that you have lived together for at least three years (this can include sworn testimony by third parties, or documentation that you are co-owners of real estate).The Caja will interview and prepare a socioeconomic study to establish your financial codependency.The process should take no more than 10 days.Related: Costa Rica files criminal complaint against same-sex couple who married due to clerical error Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas Christiana Figueres drops out of UN SecretaryGeneral race

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rican women who made us cheer this year Costa Rica’s Christiana Figueres nominated for UN secretary-general Christiana Figueres sees lessons for UN leadership in climate talks Costa Rica President Solís advocates for migrants at UN General Assembly Con profundo agradecimiento por tantas expresiones de apoyo retiro candidatura para aligerar proceso #NextSG @ONU_es— Christiana Figueres (@CFigueres) September 12, 2016 “Faced with the results of surveys of the Security Council, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for the General Secretariat of the U.N.,” she said.Figueres thanked President Luis Guillermo Solís and Foreign Minister Manuel González for their support and efforts to promote her candidacy.Last month President Solís promoted her candidacy in the U.S. during an official trip to the White House. He was also planning to promote Figueres’ bid during the 70th U.N. General Assembly in New York next week.The former head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat led 195 countries to agree in December to an historic pact to slow global warming.She left her post in July to run for U.N. Secretary-General but didn’t garner enough support to continue in the race.Still, Figueres said her candidacy had strengthened the country’s image and shown that it can compete for “the highest levels of international and multilateral diplomacy.”Figueres said her participation was a triumph for the country and for women. The U.N. has never had a female leader in its 70 years.Minister González said Costa Rica has pressed for a woman to lead the world body and will continue to work toward that goal.Last Friday, at the fourth straw poll of the U.N. Security Council, Figueres and three other female candidates — Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, Moldavia former Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark — placed in the last four spots.Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres remains the favorite to replace Ban Ki-Moon, who will leave office on Dec. 31.Figueres is the third candidate to withdraw from the race. Montenegro’s Foreign Minister Igor Luksic and former Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic have also dropped out.See Christiana Figueres’ withdrawal statement (in Spanish): Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres Olsen said Monday that she was dropping her bid to succeed Ban Ki-moon as the United Nations Secretary-General due to the lack of support at the U.N. Security Council.At a news conference held at Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry in downtown San José, Figueres said she withdrew her candidacy, with respect and gratitude for all the support received, in order to expedite the process. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Amnesty Jamaica panel should probe alleged abuses

first_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How do cataracts affect your vision? The vital role family plays in society Amnesty said an independent inquiry commission with a broad mandate and powers offers “the best way to shed light on the overall scale of the alleged human rights violations.”“It is now time for the government to take effective measures to prevent such violations being repeated,” the group said.The hunt for Coke killed at least 73 civilians in his West Kingston stronghold in the Tivoli Gardens slum, a politicized “garrison” community that has long been a bastion of support for the Jamaica Labor Party. Days before the fighting broke out, gangsters from across the island traveled to the barricaded neighborhood in a show of support for Coke.The security offensive led to one of the bloodiest episodes in Jamaica’s recent history. Details of the operation remain murky but there have been numerous claims of unlawful killings and arbitrary arrests by security forces. Even the death toll is disputed. Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, who built the Tivoli Gardens housing complex in the 1960s and is still revered as a patron by residents, has estimated that as many as 150 were killed.An investigation by Public Defender Earl Witter into more than 1,000 complaints about rights violations by security forces during the state of emergency is still pending. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Associated PressKINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Amnesty International urged Jamaica’s government Tuesday to appoint an independent fact-finding panel to investigate human rights violations allegedly committed during a bloody state of emergency to catch gang boss Christopher “Dudus” Coke.The London-based rights group complained that “two years have passed with no answers” since the May 2010 emergency was declared and security forces launched an offensive to capture the fugitive leader of the Shower Posse, a notorious Jamaican gang named for its members’ tendency to spray victims with bullets. 0 Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Parents, stop beating yourself up ___David McFadden on Twitter: Witter and civic groups have repeatedly called for Jamaica to form a fact-finding commission but successive governments have declined to do so.The government that was in power at the time of the crisis, led by the now opposition Jamaica Labor Party, said it could only decide whether to establish a commission of inquiry once it received the public defender’s findings.A spokeswoman for the People’s National Party-led administration, which has been in power since January and enjoys a 2-to-1 margin in parliament, said officials are also waiting for Witter’s report before making any decision.“We are mindful of concerns and we can only imagine the pain of the families and friends of those affected,” said Information Minister Sandrea Falconer.Coke is awaiting sentencing in New York. He pleaded guilty last year to racketeering and assault charges. Federal prosecutors are trying to persuade a judge to give him the maximum penalty of 23 years in prison.Leighton “Livity” Coke, the gang leader’s brother, was recently freed on gun charges stemming from the Tivoli Gardens raid. He was greeted by dozens of cheering supporters as he walked out of a Kingston court earlier this month.last_img read more

EUChina summit opens with emphasis on trade

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Barroso pointed to greatly increased trade over the past 10 years — 280 percent in goods, 380 percent in services.For his part, Wen called for the EU’s arms embargo against China, which was imposed in 1989 following the suppression of protests Tiananmen Square, to be lifted.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day BRUSSELS (AP) – An EU-China summit is emphasizing the increasing trade ties between the two.The high-level meeting, which is being held Thursday in Brussels, is also being used as a fond farewell to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. China will choose new leadership this fall.European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said it was “appropriate” to use the occasion look at progress made since Wen took office ten years ago and almost ten years since the launch of a strategic partnership between the two sides. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Comments   Share   last_img read more

AP Photos Syrias war shatters a village economy

first_img(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Assuming they find buyers, the farmers say they would be lucky to sell a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of green olives _ which used to go for a dollar _ for just 50 cents. The fighting prevents them from marketing their products in most of Syria, and Turkish traders across the border say they can’t import the olives anymore.“At the moment we are lost,” said farmer Mohammed Kadur Hassan, 63. “We don’t know what to do with the extra (olive) oil.”The war has hit other sectors as well. Petrol products are scarce since President Bashar Assad’s government stopped distributing them to areas controlled by rebels seeking to topple his regime.This leaves locals at the mercy of traders who truck gas in from other regions at a substantial hike in prices.Fighting for months in and around the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s main economic and commercial hub, has crippled commerce in the surrounding areas by making it difficult for merchants to buy goods for their stores.A kilogram of sugar, which used to cost about 25 cents, now costs three to four times as much, residents say.Few see a swift end to the war that has killed more than 36,000 people since March 2011, according to anti-regime activists. Top Stories Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Associated PressATMEH, Syria (AP) – The civil war raging through Syria has battered much of the country’s economy, making life harder for impoverished Syrians who struggled even before the fighting broke out.The struggles are stark even in places that have been spared large-scale destruction. One such place is Atmeh, a village abutting Syria’s northern border with Turkey.For generations, Atmeh’s farmers have lived off their olive harvests. But this year, they say the war has drastically limited their access to markets and cut in half the prices they can expect for their products.last_img read more

India police stop immolation bid by Tibetan exile

first_img Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Sponsored Stories Top Stories Sangay said the “repression” in Tibet was driving Tibetans to the self-immolations.Hundreds of Tibetan exiles also gathered in New Delhi to protest against Chinese repression. Many wore T-shirts with images of the Dalai Lama, while others carried Tibetan flags.In the Belgian capital of Brussels, nearly 5,000 Tibetans from around Europe marched to press the European Union to help with the Tibet issue, urging the EU to appoint a fact-finding mission and open a dialogue with Beijing.“Don’t wait. As quick as possible we need you to support us very, very urgently,” said Kasang Lhanmo, a Briton who was born in Tibet.Another British Tibetan, Ztenzin Dsunsel, described the marchers as “the voice of the Tibetan people who have died.”___Associated Press writer Mark D. Carlson in Brussels contributed to this report.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Every year, Tibetan exiles in India mark the anniversary of the failed March 10, 1959, uprising with speeches and marches.China maintains that Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, but many Tibetans say the region was functionally independent for much of its history.More than 100 self-immolations have been reported in Tibetan areas of the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu since 2009, with the protesters calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans’ spiritual leader.A Tibetan exile in Nepal self-immolated last month, and another did so last year in New Delhi, India’s capital.Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of inciting the self-immolations, a charge the religious leader denies.The Dalai Lama also denies China’s charge that he is pushing for Tibet’s independence, saying that he only wants China to grant Tibetans cultural and religious freedoms.He has been living in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala since he fled Tibet 50 years ago when Chinese troops marched in.“We dedicate this day to all the self-immolators and those who have died for Tibet,” Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of the government-in-exile, told a gathering of hundreds of exiles in Dharmsala on Sunday. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix DHARMSALA, India (AP) – Police in India prevented a Tibetan man from setting himself on fire as hundreds of Tibetan exiles gathered Sunday to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, officials said.Dawa Dhondup, 30, was marching with hundreds of Tibetan exiles through the streets of Dharmsala, the home of Tibet’s government-in-exile, when he consumed and poured gasoline over himself, police constable Sanjeev Kumar said. Police stopped him from setting himself on fire and took him to a hospital. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

EU warns Spain against imposing Gibraltar tax

first_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso discussed the spat with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy by telephone Monday and agreed that a commission fact finding mission should go to the Gibraltar border area as soon as possible and examine the border control and movement of people and goods questions, the commission said in a statement.Barroso expressed hope that Spain and Britain would address the issues in line with their EU membership.Last week, Barroso talked with British Prime Minister David Cameron.The row stems from Gibraltar’s construction of an artificial reef, which Spain says affects its fishermen. In apparent retaliation, Spanish police enforced border control checks on cars entering Gibraltar, creating massive tailbacks.The dispute has led to a sudden souring in diplomatic relations. Spain says it will take all legal measures to defend its interests, while Britain pledges to stand by Gibraltar.On Monday, a British Royal Navy warship arrived in Gibraltar for what Britain’s government said was a planned naval exercise in the Mediterranean.Spain ceded sovereignty of Gibraltar to Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, but has persistently sought its return. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img The fishermen claim the reef of around 70 concrete blocks _ some with steel rods protruding _ could snare and damage their nets and have stopped fishing there.Rajoy has defended the border controls, saying they are needed to combat drug and tobacco smuggling, adding that the checks are in line with security policies employed by member countries of the Schengen free travel zone. Britain and Gibraltar are not part of the Schengen agreement.Besides floating the idea of charging people entering and leaving Gibraltar 50 euros ($66) to provide compensation for the losses that the fishermen face, Margallo has also talked of investigating Gibraltarians living in Spain for possible financial fraud.Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, said the reef protects fish stocks from being over-exploited. He said Sunday that that “hell will freeze over” before Gibraltar removes the reef, and he has accused Spain of behaving like North Korea.Gibraltar has accused Rajoy of using the reef dispute to deflect domestic attention away from Spain’s severe economic crisis and allegations of corruption involving his ruling Popular Party.____Associated Press writer Juergen Baetz contributed to this report from Brussels. Giles contributed from Madrid. Sponsored Stories GIBRALTAR (AP) – The European Commission said Monday it hopes Britain and Spain will be able to resolve their latest dispute over Gibraltar by themselves, but warned that Spanish threats to impose a border tax would be illegal.European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said the entry tax suggested by Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo was not official but that “any tax or fees imposed at the border of a member state will be illegal under EU law. Illegal. Not in line with EU law.” 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   last_img read more

At 91 Zimbabwes Robert Mugabe is a frequent flyer

first_img Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Comments   Share   JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The African president has his hands firmly on the reins of government at home and is frequently on the move, flying around the globe.At age 91, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe shows few signs of slowing down amid periodic speculation about whether he is ill or in decline.Cabinet ministers from both his party and the opposition who have worked with him say he pays immense attention to detail regarding policies, laws and the national budget. During negotiations ahead of a new constitution in 2013, Mugabe sat with his party’s key leaders for as long as 10 hours, scouring through each clause. Yet Mugabe was soon on the road again.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Mfundo Mlilo, spokesman for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a group that seeks change in Zimbabwe, lamented a kind of fatigue among many Zimbabweans, saying the message that Mugabe must resign “somehow got lost” in the past decade and that few people respond to calls for street protests. He anticipates, however, that economic hardship will drive popular discontent.In one possible flashpoint, Zimbabwe’s government has threatened to evict vendors who can’t get formal employment from the streets of major towns. Some vow they’ll stay despite the order.Still, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party remains dominant, sweeping parliamentary by-elections in 16 constituencies on Wednesday. Major opposition parties boycotted the vote, saying a lack of electoral reforms favored the ruling party, which has been rocked by internal purges seen as the early stages of a battle by rival factions to succeed Mugabe. The president has two vice presidents, including longtime aide Emmerson Mnangagwa; a previous deputy, Joice Mujuru, was fired after being accused of plotting to assassinate Mugabe.The president has traveled to Singapore in recent years for medical care, and in February, he tripped at the Harare airport after returning from Ethiopia, triggering fresh speculation about his health as well as Internet memes that depicted his falling pose on a dancehall stage, a running track and plunging in a waterfall. Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 must play golf courses in Arizona FILE – In this Thursday, May 14, 2015 file photo, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, centre, officiates at the Presidential Graduation ceremony of police officers at the general police headquarters, in Harare, Zimbabwe. The African president has his firmly hands on the reins of government at home and is frequently on the move, flying around the globe. At age 91, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe shows few signs of slowing down. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)n This weekend, he will preside as chairman of the African Union over a meeting in Johannesburg of leaders from around the continent. The talks could focus on political unrest in Burundi, the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and African migrants fleeing conflict.The selection of Mugabe as head for one year of the 54-member African Union strikes some as a poor precedent on a continent where democratic change has struggled for a foothold in many regions. Mugabe is also the rotating chief of the Southern African Development Community, a 15-nation group.“It sends a very bad message in terms of peaceful transfer of power,” said Muna Ndulo, a law professor and head of the Institute for African Development at Cornell University in America.Africa’s oldest leader, Mugabe is a resilient, sometimes ruthless operator who fought in a guerrilla war, denounces the West, crushed or co-opted dissent at home and has been in power for 35 years with no clear successor.This weekend’s gathering in South Africa will follow more than a dozen international trips that Mugabe has made this year, including to Russia to mark the 70th anniversary of the World War II victory over Nazi Germany and most recently to Egypt for a trade conference. In public, the frequent flyer looks dapper in a suit and tie and often shows a wry sense of humor, though observers say his speeches tend to be shorter than in the past, which suggests he is slowing down a tad. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Only President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea have ruled longer than Mugabe in Africa.On a trip to South Africa earlier this year, Mugabe mixed statesmanship with self-deprecating humor at a news conference, calling for a “political environment of freedom” that allows Africans to be “masters of ourselves” and thanking journalists “who focused on me as a real dictator” for giving him publicity.“The gift of politicians is never to stop speaking until the people say, ‘Ah, we are tired,’” Mugabe said in closing. “You are now tired. I say, thank you.”Mugabe’s extraordinary longevity is, needless to say, discouraging to long-suffering opposition figures who blame him for Zimbabwe’s economic dive and what they call a flagrant disregard for human rights. He became leader after independence from white minority rule in 1980 and was re-elected as president in 2013 in a disputed vote that highlighted opposition disarray. Under Zimbabwe’s new constitution, he can serve a maximum of two five-year terms, theoretically making him eligible to rule until 2023. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Allure of the Seas changes maiden voyage schedule

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Royal Caribbean International has pushed the first revenue voyage for Allure of the Seas’ inaugural season forward by one week.  The ship’s maiden voyage will be a seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary, which will now set sail on December 5, 2010 instead of on December 12, 2010 as originally planned. Guests booked on the original sail date of December 12 will be contacted by their travel agent or a Royal Caribbean representative, and given the opportunity to move their cruise vacation to December 5*. Booked guests who opt for the December 5 sailing will be re-accommodated in the same stateroom and category, and the cruise fare will be the lower of either the fare paid or current prices. Guests booked on the December 12, 2010 sailing will have until the end of the month to switch to the December 5 sailing and ensure they keep the same stateroom. Australians who want to experience the Allure of the Seas firsthand can call 1800 754 500 and travel professionals should call 1300 754 500.Prices for seven night Eastern Caribbean cruise start from $1,795** (sailing in March 2011).  Royal Caribbean International was able to push the Allure dates forward because the ship is ahead of schedule; the yard is now able to complete the ship earlier than planned.* No guests travelling from Australia were affected by this change.**Prices are for inside cabin, per person, including all taxes and gratuities. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

Peninsula Hotels sets sights on Europe

first_imgJean Forrest and Malcolm Thompson Imperial Palace Gardens: The view from The Peninsula Tokyo The Peninsula Hotels is looking at destinations such as London, Delhi, South America, and Sydney, Ms Forrest said. However, the hotel brand is already eyeing other key destinations for future expansion, following from the success of its properties across Asia and America. The hotel group is self-confessedly “healthy and wealthy”, hotels across its portfolio undergoing complete renovations or soft refurbishments.“We haven’t stopped investing,” Ms Forrest said, “We have deep pockets.”According to Ms Forrest, The Peninsula New York recently underwent a complete renovation while The Peninsula Beverly Hills is just starting a soft renovation in preparation for its twentieth anniversary celebrations next year.Conde Nast’s reader’s choice for the best hotel in Asia, The Peninsula Tokyo, while a little young for renovations is actively engaging its local and international market through a range of promotions including giving away the latest offering from Mini Cooper.“This competition highlights the fun element of The Peninsula Tokyo and shows that while we are a leading luxury hotel, we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” The Peninsula Tokyo general manager Malcolm Thompson said.With domestic tourism accounting for about 35 per cent of The Peninsula Hotel’s business, followed by American then Hong Kong and Chinese guests, Mr Thompson said that the Peninsula reputation for location and service is a great drawcard. The Peninsula Pariscenter_img Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A Luxury hotel group The Peninsula Hotels is set to expand its footprint into Europe with the opening of the Peninsula Paris slated for 2012. Located on Avenue Klebe “just off the Arc de Triomphe on Champs Elysees” The Peninsula Paris is the hotel group’s first foray into the European region, The Peninsula Hotels marketing general manager Jean Forrest told e-Travel Blackboard. “Location is key to us,” Ms Forrest said, detailing how the building of The Peninsula Tokyo even involved knocking down an existing wall to get its current views of the Imperial Palace Gardens.“We have always wanted to be in London, but given the importance we place on location, we need to be where the location opens for us.”last_img read more

Amadeus unveils new NZ Aus eSupport

first_imgThe technology solution company has redesigned its online agent support system, launching a new e-Support Centre in Australia and New Zealand.Unveiled this week in up to six languages and available 24/7, the company’s IT Pacific managing director Sari Vahakoski explained the updated system was created to “enhance the customer service experience” for agents.“This will help reduce the customer’s need for support by increasing their knowledge and will simplify their lives by presenting all content in one site, providing learning and support when and where they need it,” Ms Vahakoski said.Hoping to improve productivity while decreasing money spent on calls to the Help Desk, the company also said the new system also allows travel agents hooked-up with Amadeus product to watch ‘show me’ videos on key topics and open ‘how to’ guides for Cryptic Entries and Error Messages.The product also offers new learning content, product guides, quick cards and technical manuals. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Industrys best awarded at NTIA Awards 2012

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J It was all glitz and glam at the Westin in Sydney over the weekend, as the travel industry gathered to celebrate this year’s National Travel Industry Awards.Dressed in their Sunday best, everyone looked and felt like and winner as they applauded the 16 lucky door prize winners and 24 NTIA Award winners.Check out the list of winners below and click here for the full gallery from the industry’s night of nights.Rookie of the Year – Agent: Rebecca Scaffidi, World Travel Professionals, WABest Travel Consultant – Retail: Sophie Fitzgerald, Flight Centre Mt Hawthorn, WABest Travel Agency Retail – Multi Location: Phil Hoffman TravelBest Travel Agency Retail – Single Location: Harvey World Travel Winston HillsBest Travel Consultant – Corporate: Daryl Dickson, Globetrotter Corporate Travel, WABest Travel Agency Corporate – Multi Location: Corporate TravellerBest Travel Agency Corporate – Single Location: Spencer TravelBest Business Events Travel Agency: ETMBest National Travel Management Company: FCm Travel SolutionsBest Travel Agent Technology Innovation: Air TicketsBest Travel Writer: Angela SaurineBest Registered Travel Industry Training Institution: Victoria UniversityBest Hotel/Resort Group: Leading Hotels of the WorldBest Hotel/Resort Australian Property: Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & SpaRookie of the Year – Supplier: Erin Williams, U Tracks, NSW Best Sales Executive – Industry Supplier: Stephen Farrelly, Insight Vacations, NSWBest Agency Support Service: Air TicketsBest Tourist Office – National: Tourism QueenslandBest Tourist Office – International: Sultanate of Oman Ministry of TourismBest Car/Campervan Rental Operator: AvisBest Tour Operator – International: TrafalgarBest Tour Operator – Domestic: APTBest Cruise Operator – International Based Operation: Royal Caribbean InternationalBest Cruise Operator – Australian Based Operation: Princess CruisesBest Wholesaler – International Product: Infinity HolidaysBest Wholesaler – Australian Product: Qantas Holidays & Viva HolidaysBest Domestic Airline: Qantas AirwaysBest International Airline – Off-Line: Lufthansa German AirlinesBest International Airline – On-Line: Singapore AirlinesBest Travel Agency Group: Flight Centre Limitedlast_img read more

itravel expand to retail franchises

first_imgNew retail travel franchise network opens in Australia. The franchised retail outlets aim to provide business owners with more control and input over how their business is run, partnered with a dedicated system of support. “The key to our success is that the itravel brand has been built on family principles, when you join our network, you won’t be just another store – you will be part of our family,” Mr Labroski said. Source = ETB News: P.T. Itravel, who have been operating since early 1995, will now consist of two products; the current iTravel Mobile Travel Agent Network and the new itravel retail stores. Retail and mobile travel agency itravel has launched its new retail franchise network in Australia, increasing brand recognition and market presence.center_img “Offering a variety of purchasing mediums to the consumer gives us an opportunity to increase market presence and engage new customer segments.” “The itravel brand has received an incredible amount of positive feedback throughout the industry and it was only natural that we continued to develop new growth opportunities as part of our vision,” itravel co-founder and managing director Steve Labroski said. The itravel vision is to present the brand as a boutique style travel advisor. The new retail travel franchise network will begin by opening stores in New South Wales and then expanding nationally over the next few months.last_img read more

Tonga plans to invest in tourism

first_imgSource = Tonga’s Minstry of Tourism Tonga plans to invest in tourismTonga’s Ministry of Tourism has new plans to triple it’s current budget and expand its industry so it can increase it’s capacity for visitors.An estimated 15,000 overseas visitors to the capital Nuku’alofa last week, meant that the industry was at full capacity.Sione Moala Mafi, an executive at the Ministry of Tourism, says the government has decided that boosting the tourism industry will be the fastest way for Tonga’s economic recovery.Mr Mafi says the increase of the budget will be sought through aid donors and foreign investors.“We are trying to open up the airlinks and even to attract investors. We don’t have to build hotels ourselves. We can attract investors to build it for us. So we are looking at reclaiming some areas in the front harbour of Nuku’alofa and so that will be most appropriate for some of the, say, 5 star hotels to be built.” Tonga’s Ministry of Tourismlast_img read more

Accomable joins with Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney

first_imgSource = Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney Accomable joins with Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney joins with Radisson Blu Plaza SydneyAccomable, a pioneering global platform for finding adapted hotels and vacation rentals for disabled and elderly people, has teamed up with the five-star Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney as the first metropolitan hotel on the website to offer guests innovative, design-led and accessible accommodation in the heart of Sydney.Through the Accomable website, disabled travellers will be able to see and book Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney’s new accessible hotel rooms, which have been upgraded as part of the hotel’s $12 million re-design, and feature trademark large windows and high ceilings, as well as larger showers, an accessible toilet and an adjusted bed, desk and basin height.Currently featuring over 500 specially adapted properties for disabled and elderly people worldwide, Accomable worked with popular Australian blogger, Julie Jones of Have Wheelchair Will Travel.  Julie, who writes about travels with her family and son who has cerebral palsy, recommended Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney, and advised the hotel during its re-design project.Accomable’s CEO and Co-founder, Srin Madipalli, said “We are delighted our guests can now book accessible stays at the Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney through Accomable. Many people think accessible rooms will be boring, but our customers love boutique-style hotels and design-led rentals. The hotel’s incredible location, just a couple of minutes from the iconic harbour, the Sydney Opera House and the Botanical Gardens, is also ideal for disabled travellers.Accomable joins with Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney to offer new design-led accessible stays for disabled guestsRadisson Blu Plaza Sydney’s General Manager, Peter Tudehope, said “Catering for guests who need accessible accommodation has been part of the hotel’s service philosophy since it opened.  This not only includes the guest rooms but providing easy access at the hotel’s entrance and also guest facilities such as the swimming pool.  We are excited to be featured as the first Sydney hotel on the Accomable website which we think serves a vital need in the hospitality industry.”Accomable, based in London, UK, was founded by disabled entrepreneurs Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley. Friends since childhood and regular travellers, Madipalli (who now serves as the company’s CEO) and Sibley are both wheelchair users due to a disability called SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). Frustrated at the lack of travel information available for disabled people, they launched Accomable in the summer of 2015.The company received funding from the US-based Skoll Foundation and Oxford University (where Mr Madipalli studied) via an initiative to support ventures that deliver social impact.Since then, Accomable has grown into one of the largest platforms of adapted properties with a presence in 36 countries worldwide. The company was also a part of an award-winning documentary that premiered in December 2015 at a UN sponsored film festival in New York City. The film charts Mr Madipalli’s journey to teach himself to code in order to launch Accomable.The price for an accessible double starts from AUD238.00 per night. Book at or visit Radisson Blu Plaza SydneyRadisson Blu Plaza Sydney is a stylish five-star hotel housed within a stunning heritage-listed building and features 336 guest rooms, 28 suites, signature Bentley Restaurant and Bar, Fax lobby bar, eight meeting rooms including two heritage-style rooms, the Lady Fairfax tea room and a Health Club and Spa.Located at 27 O’Connell Street in the heart of Sydney it offers easy access to major transport links, attractions and shopping precincts.All guests at the Radisson Blu receive complimentary internet access with wireless access available throughout the hotel. All guestrooms offer an ensuite bathroom with marble vanity, separate shower and extra deep tub, plus additional amenities including pillow menu, iPod dock, gourmet mini bar, 24-hour room service, tea and coffee making facilities, iron and ironing board, in-room safe and a daily newspaper. Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydneybook your accommodation herelast_img read more

SevenRooms rolling out software in 70 plus Jumeirah Group Restaurants

first_imgSevenRooms rolling out software in 70 plus Jumeirah Group RestaurantsSevenRooms rolling out software in 70 plus Jumeirah Group RestaurantsAs the hospitality industry’s leading reservation, seating and guest management platform, SevenRooms will be rolling out their software across 70+ Jumeirah Group restaurants and venues, expanding their United Arab Emirates footprint.In an age of increasing competition, hotels are recognizing the importance of guest personalization, with 77 percent of consumers choosing or paying more for a brand that provides a personalized experience.SevenRooms is doing just that, giving Jumeirah Group the data and tools they need to focus on their key differentiator: guest experience.With SevenRooms, Jumeirah Group will have the ability to not only personalize the F&B experience on property, but share data to improve operations and streamline service across the group. Additionally, Jumeirah Group will be able to collect and share detailed guest history and order data through a point of sale integration. This will enable them to remarket and drive business through superior guest experiences.Source = SevenRoomslast_img read more