Oceanias newly added Cuba cruises feature Cienfuegos Santiago de Cuba for the

first_img Friday, February 17, 2017 Travelweek Group Tags: Oceania Cruises Posted by Oceania’s newly added Cuba cruises feature Cienfuegos & Santiago de Cuba for the first timecenter_img MIAMI — Cuba is red hot these days, with more and more cruise lines announcing new sailings to the destination. The latest cruise line jumping on the Cuban bandwagon is Oceania Cruises, which has just announced an additional series of journeys to the island in November and December 2017.Ranging in length from six to 13 days with departures from Miami, these voyages include the line’s first calls to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, in addition to Havana. New itineraries are already open for reservations.“There is tremendous demand from consumers for voyages to Cuba and our inaugural voyages to the island have been a sellout success,” said Bob Binder, President & CEO of Oceania Cruises. “An Oceania Cruises voyage is the best way to experience all Cuba has to offer with nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, warm and welcoming people, and a burgeoning culinary scene.”Itineraries include:Panoramic Caribbean: 10 days from Miami, departing Nov. 14, and visiting Havana, Roatan, Santo Tomas, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya and NassauHemingway’s Hideaways: 7 days from Miami, departing Nov. 24, and visiting Key West, Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de CubaTimeless Cuba: 7 days from Miami, departing Dec. 1 and 8, and visiting Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de CubaVibrant Vistas: 6 days from Miami, departing Dec. 15, and visiting Key West, Havana, Cozumel and Great Stirrup CayHolidays in the Tropics: 13 days from Miami, departing Dec. 21, and visiting Key West, Havana, Roatan, Santo Tomas, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, Cozumel and NassauMore news:  Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemGuests will sail to Cuba onboard the Insignia, which accommodates just 684 passengers. Her 342 staterooms and suites are elegantly appointed, with 70% of them featuring a private teak veranda. Guests also enjoy four open seating gourmet restaurants onboard, and lectures by experts on Cuban history, culture and art. Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Up to 500 shipboard credit available on Regents 2017 voyages

first_img Share Posted by Tags: Regent Seven Seas Cruises Monday, April 3, 2017 Up to $500 shipboard credit available on Regent’s 2017 voyagescenter_img MIAMI — Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering passengers some extra spending money with a limited-time promotion that applies to any of its voyages in 2017.With the ‘Book Now Bonus’ offer, travellers will receive US$500 shipboard credit, per suite, for any new bookings made between April 1 and May 31, 2017 on a 2017 Mediterranean or Alaska voyage. A $250 shipboard credit per suite applies to all other 2017 voyages.Guests must register the code ‘Book Now’ at the time of reservation in order to receive the offer. ‘Book Now Bonus’ is combinable with the doubled Ambassador Offer for 25th Anniversary voyages, public National Account promotions, and Seven Seas Society savings of up to $700 per suite for returning guests.Travellers taking advantage of the ‘Book Now Bonus’ offer can, for example, receive $500 shipboard credit on the Aug. 20 Mediterranean voyage aboard the recently refurbished Seven Seas Voyager. The special nine-night, 25th anniversary-celebratory itinerary takes guests from Lisbon to Rome and features daily calls at chic destinations along the Spanish, French and Italian Rivieras.More news:  Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongGuests can apply their shipboard credit to make their voyage extra memorable, such as choosing an indulgent treatment in the ships Canyon Ranch SpaClub. They also can choose extra special Regent Choice excursions, such as a Tuscan cooking class and lunch in an exclusive Lucca restaurant when calling at Livorno, Italy, or a new Seven Seas Wellness experience in Provence, France, which combines a very intimate Tai Chi class in the garden courtyard of the Pharo Palace with a signature Canyon Ranch SpaClub service.Alternatively, guests can apply their Book Now Bonus credit toward an Executive Collection private tour for two in select destinations. Augmenting up to 59 free shore excursions on this voyage, Regent Choice and Executive Collection options require a supplemental charge to preserve the exclusive, intimate and limited nature of the experiences.“Regent Seven Seas Cruises delivers the most-inclusive and luxurious travel experiences that showcase more than 425 destinations worldwide,” said Randall Soy, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “Travellers should take advantage of the Book Now Bonus to select an unforgettable experience in a part of the world they have always wanted to visit, or visit again. While we have this great value-added offer, it’s very important that vacationers understand that booking early will help ensure that they have the voyage, suite selection and shore excursions that they prefer.” Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Qatar Airways buys 10 stake in Cathay Pacific for 662M

first_imgQatar Airways buys 10% stake in Cathay Pacific for $662M Tags: Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways Monday, November 6, 2017 Share HONG KONG — Qatar Airways is buying nearly 10 per cent of Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific Airways for about $662 million, the companies said Monday, in a deal making it Cathay’s third-biggest shareholder.The Middle Eastern carrier said it bought almost 3.8 million Cathay shares, which represents a 9.6% stake in Hong Kong’s biggest airline.Hong Kong conglomerate Swire Pacific owns 45% of Cathay, state-owned Air China has 30% and the rest is publicly traded.Qatar Airways bought the shares from Hong Kong’s Kingboard Holdings, according to a stock exchange filing by the company, which makes circuit boards and invests in property.Kingboard expects to reap an 800 million Hong Kong dollar ($102 million) profit from selling its Cathay stake, the company said in the filing.Cathay, which last year reported its first annual loss in nearly a decade, is carrying out a three-year corporate overhaul that includes laying off hundreds of workers as it battles to keep up with intensifying competition from rival Asian carriers.More news:  Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truckThe investment adds to Qatar Airways’ overseas portfolio. The company also owns 20% of International Airlines Group, which controls European carriers Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling; 10% of Chile’s Latam Airlines Group; and 49% of Meridiana, Italy’s second-biggest carrier.Cathay shares fell 1.5% on Monday, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index finish nearly unchanged. By: Kelvin ChanSource: The Associated Press << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Demand and capacity recovering nicely after hurricanes says IATA November report

first_img GENEVA — IATA has released its November Airlines Financial Monitor report, and has found increases in both demand and capacity across the industry.Year-on-year growth in industry-wide revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose to a robust 7.2% in October, up from 6.0% the month before. As expected, passenger volumes recovered in October following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Americas in September. However, the broader upward trend in SA RPKs has slowed over the course of 2017.As for capacity, industry-wide available seat kilometres (ASKs) increased by 6.2% year-on-year in October. Having also been affected by Irma and Maria, ASKs also recovered strongly in October. A total of 126 new aircraft were delivered in October.The passenger load factor posted a record high for the month of October, at 80.8%, 0.8 percentage points higher than October 2016. In seasonally-adjusted terms, the passenger load factor remains elevated and very close to its all-time record high. Tuesday, December 12, 2017 Share Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Demand and capacity recovering nicely after hurricanes, says IATA November report Tags: IATA, Trend Watch Travelweek Group last_img read more

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Strike alert Air France to ground 50 of longhaul flights on Thursday

first_imgStrike alert: Air France to ground 50% of long-haul flights on Thursday PARIS — Air France has warned fliers of travel delays and disruptions on Thursday due to a pay-related employee strike.According to the airline, half of its long-haul flights departing Paris will be cancelled, 25% of medium-haul flights to and from Paris-Charles de Gaulle will be grounded, while approximately 15% of shorter flights will also be impacted. A number of U.S.-bound flights are expected to be cancelled as well, reports USA Today.In total, the strike will impact a quarter of all Air France flights. Air France flights operated by the aircraft of any other airline, including HOP!, will not be affected by the strike.Flights on KLM, part of the Air France-KLM group, will also not be affected.Worker unions representing Air France pilots, cabin crew and ground staff called for a strike after their demands for a 6% pay rise were not met.Air France is offering rebooking options at no extra cost, no matter the fare. As written on airfrance.ca., customers whose bookings are cancelled will be informed via SMA or email the day before their departure.More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksIf a passenger has a valid Air France ticket issued on or before Feb. 19 for a flight operated by Air France or Joon on Feb. 22, they can move their trip to another date between Feb. 20-21, 2018, or postpone their trip between Feb. 23-27, 2018.They may also choose to postpone their flight to sometime after Feb. 27, 2018, change their country of destination or origin, or cancel their trip. In these cases, Air France will provide them with a non-refundable voucher valid for one year, which can be used on Air France, Joon, KLM or HOP! flights.For updates go to airfrance.ca/CA/en/common/page_flottante/hp/news-air-traffic-air-france.htm. << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Share Tags: Air France, Travel Alert Wednesday, February 21, 2018 last_img read more

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Manuel AntonioQuepos Tidings

first_imgNo related posts. Weird fact: This July has five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays. This happens once every 823 years.CompuQuepos is a new computer store in town. It’s located in the old Sansa office, across from Escuela Corea. The store sells computer supplies, including hardware.Services include repairs, virus removal, setting up new computers and web design. CompuQuepos can be reached at 2774-0202 or by email: compuquepos@hotmail.com. The family that owns the business also owns Librería Castro next door.Gamboa, owned by Juan Gamboa, is a new vet store in town, located in front of Ramu’s Licorera. The store carries pets, supplies, food and more. It’s open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon.-Fri., and Sat. from 8 a.m.-noon. The store can be reached at 2777-7254 or by email at veterinariagamboa@hotmail.com. –Jennifer Ricejennifer@kidssavingtherainforest.org Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Puerto Jiménez Rustic charm by the bay

first_imgTake an early-morning stroll along the new, paved promenade facing the Golfo Dulce and enjoy cool breezes and spectacular views across to the mainland. Photographers can catch the play of changing light over the water from sunrise to sunset. New concrete benches and tables under palm trees provide perching spots along the pleasant walkway, complete with decorative balustrades and elegant lampposts. Part of the daily show is watching the aerial ballet of passing scarlet macaws and swooping sea birds.At the south end of the promenade, there is easy beach access, with public picnic benches shaded by palm and beach almond trees. The water is clear and cool, with a pebbly bottom. The new, open-air Delfines Bar/Restaurant nearby serves excellent fruit naturales and cervezas to keep you cool, along with comida típica.If you want to ride with the tide, book a cruise with La Sirena Adventure Boat Tour (2735-5090). The four-to-five-hour tour includes snorkeling, plane-boarding and dolphin-watching, with lunch and snacks included ($50 per person, min. six people). Want to boat under your own power? Rent a kayak from Aventuras Tropicales Golfo Dulce (2735-5195) or take one of their kayak tours, to watch dolphins on the gulf, or explore mangrove communities ($40). Seeing the day’s catch brought in from the fishing boats bobbing around the public dock, you might be inspired to try your luck at some inshore fishing. Check out local operators Tropic Fins (www.tropicfins.com) or Almentour Sportfishing (8339-3509).Just east of PJ lies one of the town’s best-kept secrets, Playa Platanares, a stretch of pristine beach that’s ideal for swimming on calm days, with warm water and a gradual, sandy bottom. On windier days, enjoy boogie-boarding and breezy beach walks. Take a taxi or, better still, rent a bicycle in town from Ciclo Mi Puerto (2735-5297) and pedal the 6 kilometers out to La Perla de Osa, a handsome beachfront restaurant/hotel, where you can park your bike, enjoy a swim, then shower off and relax with a cool drink or lunch on the La Perla terrace. The Platanares Wildlife Refuge, which parallels the beach, has some great birdwatching, just steps from La Perla.Another chance to view wildlife is just five minutes south of downtown, at Cacao Monkeys (www.cacaomonkeys.com), a new restaurant and cabinas complex with a primary forest, where you can join an hour-and-a-half guided Monkey Trail Tour at 7 a.m. or 4 p.m. ($12 per person) or set off on your own ($5). Where to eat No related posts. Alberto Font For bayside snacks, head to Corcovado Marisquería (2735-5659, open daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m.), a cheap and cheerful restaurant/bar with garden tables shaded by palm trees. The draw here is bocas – more than 40 “small bites,” featuring local seafood.Right next door is the more upscale Il Giardino a la Playa (2735-5129, open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; closed Mon.; no credit cards), a long-time, Northern Italian restaurant that recently moved from downtown to gulf-side. Jaunty yellow and lime-green umbrellas cover tables for two balanced on the sea wall, and there’s a breezy, covered terrace. Seafood, Italian-style, and pasta are the main offerings, along with special BBQ nights with steak, pork ribs and chicken. Save your pizza-eating, though, for an evening at Mail-it Pizza (2735-5483; open 4-10 p.m. daily), across from the soccer field in what used to be the post office. It may seem odd to come all this way south for pizza, but it’s worth it. This authentic pizza is made by the Colovatti family, originally from the Italian seaside town of Trieste. Their pasta dishes, strictly homemade, are also excellent.For a romantic, candle-lit dinner at the beach, head to La Perla de Osa (8848-0752; open 11 a.m.-8 p.m.), the town’s most sophisticated restaurant. Standouts here are large portions of excellent seafood with intriguing Asian flavors, accompanied by spicy ginger marmalade. A range of well-prepared Mediterranean and Mexican dishes has something for everyone. Wash it all down with fresh-fruit naturales, sangría by the pitcher, Costa Rican craft beers on tap and tropical cocktails from the full bar. Friday night is Salsa Night, when platters are piled high with nachos, and the joint is jumping with music and a whole lot of dancing going on.Where to stayThe closest to a “resort” in town, with a garden, beach access, plunge pool and panoramic gulf views, is the comfortable, casual and affordable Cabinas Jiménez (www.cabinasjimenez.com; 2735-5090), right on the waterfront. Rooms (from $50 double) and bungalows (from $90) all have a/c, Wi-Fi, fridges, coffeemakers, lots of hot water and cheerful wall murals featuring wildlife and sea creatures. There’s no breakfast served, but you can make your own coffee, or walk a couple of blocks into town for an early-morning espresso or latte at the new Café Monka sidewalk and Internet café (open 6 a.m-7 p.m.).The best bargain lodging is Cabinas Marcelina (2735-5007, on Main Street near the new BCR branch) run by two genteel Italian sisters. Clean, comfortable rooms open onto a lush garden where breakfast is served under a thatch-roofed rancho. A room with a/c is $52 double; cheaper with a fan only. Both hotels also have gated parking areas.Where to shop“Downtown” stretches only three blocks or so, with wooden arcades on both sides of the street, giving the town a bit of an Old West look. There are the usual “department stores” selling a jumble of everything. If you’re in the market, though, for a higher-quality local souvenir, stop in at Artes de Osa on Main Street beside the BCR branch (open Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-7 p.m.), an emporium of local arts and crafts with an array of spectacular wood carvings large and small, bamboo furniture, hanging chairs, Borucan masks, and huge fish plaques. If you don’t have a car to transport larger items, they can ship them for you.The other shop not to miss is Jagua Arts & Crafts, (open daily) between the airport and the National Park office, facing the runway. Look for miniature, lifelike bird carvings, made by an artistic family in nearby La Palma; exquisite glass-bead jewelry crafted by local glass artist Karen Herrera; dolls and embroidered dresses made by indigenous Guaymí artists; plus art ceramics and mosaic boxes. There’s also a great selection of natural history books and locally made chocolateWhat not to missBefore you leave town, whether you are going south off the grid into the Osa wilds, or heading north back to civilization, be sure to make a stop on Main Street, beside the farmacia, where you will find Jade Luna Ice Cream (Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.). The array of 15 or more flavors here is astounding: from refreshing blackberry cabernet sorbet to decadent Aztec chocolate, made with local cacao spiced with chili and cinnamon. Carefully crafted in small batches by U.S. chef Barbara Burkhardt, these small tubs of ice cream ({1,800/$3.60) or ice-milk palettas on sticks ({500/$1) will leave a delicious taste in your mouth, along with a lasting, pleasant memory of your visit to Puerto Jiménez.Going there Puerto Jiménez is 387.5 kilometers (241 miles) from San José, and now driving is relatively easy. Take Caldera Highway west to the Costanera, then south to the Chacarita exit, and on to Rincón-PJ. The alternate route over Cerro de la Muerte is spectacular but longer. Transportes Blanco buses (2257-4121) leave daily at 8 a.m. and noon from Ca. 14 between Av. 9-11. NatureAir and Sansa both make regularly scheduled, daily flights. Facebook Comments Alberto Fontcenter_img Exotic plants and animals are part of what you can see in Puerto Jimenez. See a more scenes from Puerto Jiménez in our photo galleryFrom the print editionThe main gateway to the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park, Puerto Jiménez, is fast becoming a destination in itself. And fast is the operative word. A spate of road building and repairs now makes it possible to drive from San José to PJ in about six hours – without hitting a pothole. Repairs to the formerly bone-rattling Chacarita-Rincón road now make it easier to connect from the Costanera Highway to the smooth, new super-highway from Rincón to Puerto Jiménez.Puerto Jiménez is the last outpost of civilization – i.e. electricity, air-conditioning and telephones – on the Southern Zone’s Osa Peninsula. It still has a frontier feel and some rustic architectural character, as well as a lot of wizened, local characters squinting under straw cowboy hats. There’s no mistaking that you are in the hinterlands here. But some new attractions in town are making PJ more inviting than ever to both locals and visitors in search of a laid-back travel experience.The newest attraction in town is a brand new waterfront promenade, with knockout views of the Golfo Dulce. Two pleasant beaches, one right in town and one a six-kilometer bicycle ride east, make the warm, placid waters of the gulf easily accessible; farther out, dolphin encounters, kayaking, fishing and boat tours await. Everywhere you go in town, you’ll hear, then see, one of the signature natural attractions of the Osa: raucous scarlet macaws foraging in the almond trees that shade the town’s dusty streets.Add in some affordable accommodations, alfresco restaurants with gulf views, a couple of notable souvenir shops and the best ice cream in the Southern Zone, and you have an affordable waterfront vacation spot with a lot of character. Here’s a sampling of what’s new and notable in Puerto Jiménez.What to do Golfo Dulce view from Il Giardino restaurant.last_img read more

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Costa Rica seeks Guinness record with fried rice

first_imgCosta Ricans of Chinese descent will celebrate the coming Chinese New Year by cooking the world’s largest Cantonese fried rice.On Feb. 12 at 10 a.m., 50 chefs and 20 assistants from 25 Chinese restaurants will prepare a dish that includes 735 kilograms of rice, 260 kg of chicken, 20 kg of sausage, 80 kg of eggs, 53 kg of scallions and 35 kg of pepper.The ingredients will be cooked in a giant wok specially made for the occasion, at the newly built Chinatown in downtown San José.The dish, weighing nearly a ton, will be served to 7,000 people, according to Chinese Residents Association in San José President Isabel Yung.A judge from the Guinness Book of World Records will arrive on Monday from England to certify the event.The judge and auditors from the London firm Baker Tilly will monitor the entire process, which includes weighing the ingredients, cooking, weighing the final dish and serving attendees. The giant dish will be served at 1 p.m.The celebration is organized by the Chinese Residents Association in Costa Rica and the Municipality of San José. It will include folk dances and a regional costume exhibition from the two countries.The Chinese New Year, which starts on Feb. 10, is the Year of the Water Snake, which according to Chinese belief promotes completion of personal projects and financial wellness. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Mexico struggles to sort selfdefense forces from cartels as players switch sides

first_imgRelated posts:Mexico captures most-wanted ‘drug-cartel kingpin’ Suspected Colombian cartel leader secretly flown out of Costa Rica on DEA plane Undermining Mexico: How ‘El Chapo’ built a criminal empire, and escaped prison, by digging deep VIDEO: Hilarious parody of ‘El Chapo’ prison escape TEPALCATEPEC, Mexico – For a man who faked his own death by posing with red paint running down his neck and who has recorded a video tell-all to be sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration in the event he is murdered, José Santiago Valencia Sandoval seems to lead a remarkably stress-free life.A jolly, beer-swilling bear of a man, he spends his time teaching his Aztec horse to prance, mounting deer heads on his living room wall and driving around in an armored Suburban pockmarked with bullet holes.A former tough for the Knights Templar cartel, Valencia, 42, is a member of one of the self-defense militias that have seized control in much of the state of Michoacán – a ragtag collection of gunmen the Mexican government is struggling to control.Valencia might seem at ease because his bizarre story is almost run-of-the mill here: Switching sides to survive in this conflict is as normal as swapping players on a soccer team. For the government, which is trying to establish its authority, that fluidity risks entrusting security to some of those they’ve been fighting for years.“There are so many of them,” Valencia said. “They were Knights before, and now they are self-defense militiamen. They felt they had lost, so they switched sides. They put on a white shirt, and just like that — ‘Long live the militia!’ ”From afar, the events in Michoacán sometimes seem like a made-for-TV tale, an uplifting story of the downtrodden lime and avocado farmers who banded together to throw off the yoke of the murderous drug cartel. Up close, the reality is less inspiring. Many of the gun-toting young men manning roadside checkpoints once served as spotters or assassins for the very cartels now considered their enemies.Most of the former gangsters who have switched sides are simply fair-weather gunmen, “ready to fall behind whomever seems most powerful,” said the Rev. Javier Cortes, a priest in the local diocese in Apatzingán, the city at the center of the militia war. “These young men are simply going along with whoever is willing to pay them.”At the movement’s higher levels, personal rivalries and power-grabs have become so intense that they could provoke a new round of violence.Leaders who stand shoulder-to-shoulder at news conferences one day accuse each other of being criminals the next. José Manuel Mireles, the mustachioed surgeon who was once the militia movement’s most respected figure, has been disowned by several of his former comrades, who claim he is sick in the head and stealing money. Mireles in turn accuses them of being paid off by a rival out-of-state cartel, the New Generation, and of using the cover of the government-approved neighborhood watch to get a foothold in Michoacán.Mexican authorities have arrested one prominent militia leader, Hipolito Mora, on charges of participating in the murder of two rival vigilantes. And they are investigating Mireles on suspicion of being linked to five deaths.One group of vigilantes, who call themselves “H3,” has been accused of operating as a mini-cartel. Government officials are investigating their leaders, men called “the Viagra Brothers,” but are not describing them as a new drug-running group. José Santiago Valencia Sandoval, seen May 9, 2014 in Tepalcatepec, Mexico, left the Knights Templar cartel to join a militia when it formed in his community. Now he thinks the movement has been corrupted by another drug group and by those seeking power. Photo for The Washington Post by Dominic Bracco II/PrimeSorting the noble from the criminal has become almost impossible. The men who have taken the law into their own hands carry military-grade weapons but don’t wear uniforms. Some identify themselves with yellow ribbons on gun barrels, homemade militia T-shirts or decals on their trucks. The vigilantes from Tancitaro use an avocado logo; an Apatzingán group goes with cattle and limes. At a cattle corral last week, Mireles used a marker to sign new militia T-shirts to certify that they were legit. Since no one had given him the job as militia leader, he said, “can anyone take it away?”Whatever the costume, the backgrounds and allegiances of these disparate armed factions remain, in most cases, a mystery. The Mexican government’s plan, to convert the vigilantes into a rural police force with uniforms and registered weapons, is in part an attempt to understand who they are. The government’s point man on Michoacán, Alfredo Castillo, said this past week that authorities had captured 155 cartel members posing as militiamen.“It’s a terrible confusion to live under,” said Cortes, the priest.In 2001, Valencia returned to Tepalcatepec after five years of applying drywall and painting houses outside Yakima, Washington. As he worked at fattening cattle and buying and selling land, he witnessed the encroaching drug war.Valencia was vague about his own beginnings in cartel life, although one defining event, he said, took place Oct. 15, 2010, when two teenagers he held dear were shot by a drug trafficker from Jalisco.“Their parents had fed me, they gave me work. I was raised among them. They used to call me uncle,” he said. “So when they were killed, like all the cabrones who have courage in their veins, I went to fight against this injustice.”He allied himself with the La Familia cartel, itself originally a group of vigilantes intent on restoring order, and received its protection as he pursued his revenge. When the cartel split and some of its leaders formed the Knights Templar, Valencia said he got conscripted by force into the new gang. On the sidewalk outside a school, he recalled, a guy put a gun to his head and told him, “You’re screwed.”Valencia’s job, he said, was to patrol the border of Knights Templar territory and that of the Jalisco cartel, making sure nobody crossed. He was not allowed to leave the state or buy a plane ticket without the permission of his cartel boss.He got to know some of Mexico’s most-wanted men. He chatted with Servando “La Tuta” Gómez, currently the subject of a manhunt in the caves of western Michoacán, while at a cockfight. He claimed that Nazario Moreno, the Templars’ cultish figurehead who was killed by Mexican marines this year, bragged to him about murdering 3,000 men. He learned about their unbelievable revenue, from stealing fuel and re-selling it by force to gas stations to taxing shipments of iron ore to China. Hundreds of assault rifles were delivered to a newly created rural police unit in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán State, Mexico, on May 10, 2014. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFPValencia admitted to killing men but said it was in combat, not assassination-style. At one point, being tipped off that a hit man had been dispatched for him, he staged his own death. In the photo he had sent to his enemy, he sits in a plastic chair, his head slumped back with red paint all over his neck. He recorded a video of himself on his living room couch naming his various associates with drug and mafia connections and sent it to his relatives living in the United States so they can get it to authorities if he is killed.Never enamored with Knights Templar life, Valencia switched quickly to the militia when it first formed in his town.“At first, I didn’t want him here with us,” Mireles said of Valencia. “But he saved my life the first time we got in a gunfight. Do you think I’m going to wish something bad for him? Never.”Valencia was pleased with the movement for a while and with its early success driving back his former cartel. But now he believes it has been corrupted by another drug group and those obsessed with power.“The movement is not yet totally rotten,” he said. “But if we don’t do something, it’s going to rot.”Washington Post correspondents Dominic Bracco and Gabriela Martinez contributed to this report.© 2014, The Washington Post Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Wildlife numbers halved over past four decades says WWF

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:US adds two macaws to endangered species list NOT GUILTY: 7 men acquitted of murder of Costa Rica sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora US government sued over sea turtles snared in shrimp nets Rich US tourists kill hundreds of lions each year, and it’s all legal PARIS – Wildlife numbers have plunged by more than half in just 40 years as Earth’s human population has nearly doubled, a survey of over 3,000 vertebrate species revealed on Tuesday.From 1970 to 2010, there was a 39-percent drop in numbers across a representative sample of land- and sea-dwelling species, while freshwater populations declined 76 percent, the green group WWF said in its 2014 Living Planet Report.Extrapolating from these figures, “the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish across the globe is, on average, about half the size it was 40 years ago,” it said.The 52-percent decrease confirmed mankind was chomping through nature’s bounty much faster than the rate of replenishment, the WWF warned.The last Living Planet Report, in 2012, found a 28-percent drop in numbers from 1970-2008, but that was based on only 2,688 monitored species.The new report tracks the growth or decline of more than 10,000 populations of 3,038 species ranging from forest elephants to sharks, turtles and albatrosses.It stressed that humans are consuming natural resources at a rate that would require 1.5 Earths to sustain — cutting down trees faster than they mature and harvesting more fish than oceans can replace.“We are using nature’s gifts as if we had more than just one Earth at our disposal,” WWF Director General Marco Lambertini said in the foreword to the biennial publication.“By taking more from our ecosystems and natural processes than can be replenished, we are jeopardising our very future.”While agricultural yield per hectare has improved through better farming and irrigation methods, the sheer human population explosion has reduced per capita “biocapacity,” or available life-sustaining land.Human population numbers shot up from about 3.7 billion to nearly seven billion from 1970 to 2010.“So while biocapacity has increased globally, there is now less of it to go around,” the report said.And, it warned, “with the world population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 and 11 billion by 2100, the amount of biocapacity available for each of us will shrink further.”The survey highlighted differences between nations and regions in consumption and biodiversity loss.“Low-income countries have the smallest footprint, but suffer the greatest ecosystem losses,” it said.The wildlife decline was worst in the tropics with a 56 percent drop, compared with 36 percent in temperate regions.Latin America suffered the most drastic losses with an overall decline of 83 percent.There were also vast differences in nations’ “ecological footprint” — the mark their consumption leaves on the planet, measured per capita.The people of Kuwait had the biggest overall footprint, followed in the top 10 by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Belgium, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, the United States, Bahrain and Sweden.Rich countries’ biggest mark was in carbon emissions, while the impact of poor countries, at the tail end of the list, was mainly in consumption of land and forest products.“If all people on the planet had the footprint of the average resident of Qatar, we would need 4.8 planets,” the report said, and 3.9 at U.S. rates.Yet despite this vast consumption, almost a billion people do not have enough food and 768 million do not have access to clean water, it added.Protecting nature’s endowment is equally important for rich and poor nations, Lambertini said.“We are all in this together. We all need nutritious food, fresh water and clean air, wherever in the world we live.”last_img read more

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Ann Patton on her new trial It is my opportunity to finally

first_imgNearly nine months after a panel of Costa Rican judges found Ann Patton guilty of killing her wealthy U.S. husband in 2010 and sentenced her to 22 years in prison, she suddenly found herself a free woman on Thursday.An appellate court judge in Cartago threw out the sentence against Patton and ordered her immediate release as the courts prepare for a third trial on the shooting death of her 44-year-old financier husband, John Felix Bender. Patton had been serving a nine-month preventive detention order in Costa Rica’s women’s prison, Buen Pastor, as the appeals court reviewed her case.“I was told to get my stuff to together and I left the prison. I’m still in the same clothes I left in,” Patton told The Tico Times at the office of her attorney, Fabio Oconitrillo, hours after her release.“I’m very grateful the appellate court made the right decision,” she said. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesOne of the few people Patton called when she was released Thursday was her 97-year-old grandmother. “She’s waiting for me,” Patton said, small and thin as she spoke sitting down behind a large wooden table in Oconitrillo’s office.Patton is staying with her brother, Kenneth, in a condo near Guachipelín, southwest of the Costa Rican capital.“My only comment is that my sister did not murder her husband,” Kenneth Patton told The Tico Times.While Ann Patton was released and the previous sentence thrown out, her legal battle is far from over. The court ordered her to surrender her passport, and she cannot leave Costa Rica. She also must sign in weekly with the nearest prosecutor’s office. The Cartago appellate judge ordered another trial – the third Patton will have faced for allegedly shooting her husband to death. There is no double — or triple — jeopardy in Costa Rica.“What was keeping me going for the last nine months was surviving and getting out. I did. Now I need to see what I do next. One thing I’ve learned in the last five years is not to plan too far in advance,” Patton said. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesPatton and family members – and friends of her late husband – have maintained her innocence in the shooting death of her husband, which occurred at the couple’s luxury jungle estate in Florida de Barú, Pérez Zeledón, in southern Costa Rica. The couple moved to Costa Rica in 2000 to found a reserve for injured and endangered animals. There, the eccentric couple built a circular glass-walled mansion on the 9.65-square-mile property they named Boracayán.But their idyllic lifestyle soon started to fall apart. Patton contracted chronic Lyme disease that wasted away her body and left her walking with a cane. Bender was known to suffer bouts of depression. After an attempted kidnapping plot against them involving local police officers, the couple became reclusive and Bender began to collect guns.On Jan. 8, 2010, police answered a call to find Bender dead in the couple’s bed with a gunshot wound in his neck.Patton was acquitted in her first trial in 2013, but an appellate court ordered a retrial that was held in May 2014. Patton called her second trial a “travesty” where officers of the law allegedly perjured themselves and police tampered with evidence during what she and her lawyer say was a bungled investigation. Oconitrillo said that they could prove that investigators moved evidence that in turn implicated Patton as the shooter instead of her husband.“This second trial was a show put on by the Prosecutor’s Office, and unfortunately, the judges on the panel fell for it,” Oconitrillo said. Ann Patton speaks with reporters on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. Earlier in the day, a Costa Rican appellate court ordered her release from prison. The Tico TimesOconitrillo told The Tico Times that they were hopeful about the upcoming case. No date has been set as of this writing. The lawyer said that while he has not yet seen the final court documents, the judge’s decision to immediately release Patton promised strong criticisms of how the police and prosecutors conducted themselves in the case.The lawyer said that they would still have to face a third trial, but he was hopeful after the first trial ended in an acquittal and the second’s guilty verdict was thrown out.Patton said that she was not looking forward to the third trial, but saw it as a way to conclusively prove her innocence. “It is my opportunity to finally, hopefully, get true justice,” she said.Along with the coming trial, Patton said that one of her first priorities was getting her health back under control. Estimating her health as between “poor and lousy,” Patton said that prison was the worse place for someone in her condition. Patton said she was hospitalized just last week.Despite the difficult conditions at the Buen Pastor prison, Patton said that the staff there treated her kindly and “bent over backwards” to accommodate her, including granting her a cane to walk with, which is against regulations.Patton mustered a smile to joke that she was ready to take a shower first thing when she got home.“I’m relieved to be out. I’m relieved to be alive,” Patton said. “Tomorrow is another day.” Facebook Comments Related posts:US expat Ann Patton faces third murder trial in Costa Rica  US woman and 2 Ticos arrested at hydroponic marijuana operation Costa Rica appeal of Patton ‘not guilty’ verdict would have little to stand on, legal experts say 145,000 to go without water in Escazú, Santa Ana and western San José on Saturdaylast_img read more

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World champ surfers keep doing their thing at kölbi 2015 Natl Surf

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rican surf team honored by president Puerto Viejo native Gilbert Brown wins Latin Pro surf competition in ALAS debut Jason Torres takes Billabong Fest surf title Costa Rica’s top two surfers bow out against the sport’s best at Vans World Cup Many of the world’s champion surfers were on hand in Nosara this past weekend to compete at the COPA Nosara Beach Club date of the Circuito Nacional de Surf kolbi 2015, and as expected the final with three of them proved to be as exciting as any heat so far this year.Carlos Muñoz of Esterillos ended up winning the Playa Guiones date in front of 2,000 spectators; however it was Jason Torres, of Jacó, whose 2nd place finish made the most news. Torres, already ranking No. 1 in the Open for the year, is one step closer to locking in the national championship.  He is 420 points ahead of the nearest competitor, Olman Morales, and with the most points coming to the winner of the Gran Finals July 17-19 in Playa Hermosa, the optimistic surfer knows the champion crown is not a lock.“I’m feeling great, working hard for the next event,” Torres said. “Just waiting for this moment. I know it’s going to be hard but I have confidence and am ready.”How did he manage to get to No. 1 this year?“I just kept trying to get to the top and keep the dream alive. I’m doing this because I’m focused on the QS [World Surf League Qualifying Series]. I want to be there. I know my time is coming.”The COPA Nosara Beach Club final included Muñoz and Torres as well as Anthony Fillingim (Malpais) – all recent gold medal winners in last week’s International Surf Association (ISA) World Surfing Games in Popoyo, Nicaragua. Rounding out the heat was Jacó’s Juan Carlos Hernández. They battled it out with Muñoz coming in 1st place, Torres 2nd, Fillingim 3rd and Hernandez 4th.“I’m happy to share this date in Nosara with my friends and it serves as a great warmup for what will come to me in South Africa and Indonesia in the coming week,” said Muñoz about his upcoming WSL QS dates. “I love coming here to Nosara, and after many years, I have very fond memories of this place.”It’s been a very interesting race this year in the Women’s division as well. Yet, it is more than certain that gold medalist Lisbeth Vindas, who won her 4th date this year on the Circuito in Nosara, will take home her 12th national Women’s championship. The win was slightly easier for Vindas this time, given that her two closest competitors in the rankings – Leilani McGonagle (Pavones) and Emily Gussoni (Jaco) – were off in Los Cabos, Mexico, doing fairly well on a QS date.Yet, Vindas did not have an easy final heat with Paula Duarte (Jacó), Zulay Martinez (Tamarindo) and Coral Wiggins (Avellanes). After challenging the champion, eventually they placed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively.“They were very close to me and the girls chose two good waves each in the difficult conditions we encountered this weekend,” Viindas said. “Now I want to prepare well for a good end to the championship.”Results for the COPA Nosara Beach Club, June 13-14, Playa Guiones, Nosara:OpenCarlos Muñoz (Esterillos)Jason Torres (Jaco)Anthony Fillingim (Santa Teresa)Juan Carlos Hernández (Jaco)Women’sLisbeth Vindas (Jaco)Paula Duarte (Jaco)Zulay Martínez (Tamarindo)Coral Wiggins (Avellanas)JuniorsLeonardo Calvo (Barranca)Aldo Chirinos (Playa Negra)Lorenzo Wickstrom (Montesuma)Alex Rocha (Jaco)Junior Women’sValentina Resano (Nicaragua)Paula Duarte (Jaco)Lady Meek (Dominical)Emily Anderson (Herradura)BoysAldo Chirinos (Playa Negra)Sean Forester (Sámara)Tiago Carrique (Playa Negra)Samuel Reidy (Dominical)GrommetTiago Carrique (Playa Negra)Samuel Reidy (Dominical)Jacob Kelly (Nosara)Cedrik McCraking (Puerto Viejo)MinigrommetSamuel Reidy (Dominical)Aaron Ramirez (Jaco)Axel Castro (Limón)Luke Guinaldo (Avellanas)Minigrommet GirlsValentina Resano (Nicaragua)Candelaria Resano (Nicaragua)Paulina Summers (Puerto Viejo)Lia Díaz (Tamarindo) Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Arts and culture in brief the week ahead in Costa Rica

first_imgMetallica is back: the legendary thrash metal band returns to Costa Rica for a second visit to rockthe National Stadium on Saturday. New music may be on the menu, as the band is just days away from releasing its new album, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” (Saturday, November 5).Sound therapist Daniel Lara, head of Mexico’s Sound Medicine Network, will offer a workshop on meditation and Tibetan singing bowls in Pavas, in western San José, with a closing concert on Sunday, November 6 at 6 p.m. at Mezanine Studio in Santa Ana. Register in advance for the workshop at the event page (Saturday, November 5 – Sunday, November 6).It’s an “Imperfect World” at the ArtFlow Gallery in Avenida Escazú, where photographers Karin Puschendorf and Estebán Fernández will exhibit their work beginning with an inauguration today. The exhibit explores patterns of behavior in Latin America (Friday, November 4). Facebook Comments Related posts:Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts, culture and Mother’s Day: the week ahead in Costa Rica 5 questions for a Costa Rican musician and photographerlast_img read more

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PHOTOS Theres a new normal in Puerto Rico

first_imgRelated posts:Government charters flight to bring Costa Ricans home from Puerto Rico Costa Rican Foreign Ministry seeks Costa Ricans in Puerto Rico Costa Rica’s cement scandal isn’t over, but public trust is unquestionably damaged January’s here and the gloves are off: Costa Rica’s true campaign begins There’s a new normal in Puerto Rico.Not having electricity is the new normal.Reading with a light that straps on to your head coal-miner style is the new normal.The grinding sounds of generators competing with the iconic song of the coqui frog in the night is the new normal. Residents form a human chain to load supplies to a truck at the Rio Abajo community in Utuado on Oct. 17. AFP Photo / Ricardo ArduengoNegotiating intersections without stoplights is the new normal.Seeing people crowded around electricity and WiFi “hotspots” – banks, Starbucks, Plaza Las Americas and McDonald’s – is the new normal. This shopping cart and improvised pulley system is the only way for the community of Utuado to obtain supplies ever since the passage of Hurricane Maria caused the river to wash away the only bridge that gives access to the neighborhood. AFP Photo / Ricardo ArduengoSeeing military people and off-island federal agents of all stripes, Homeland Security, the Forestry Service, the Public Health Service, the National Park Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency. the Environmental Protection Agency (to name a few) by the score to help in the recovery effort is the new normal.Seeing military helicopters against the San Juan skyline flying supplies to outlying areas is the new normal. This US Navy photo released on Oct. 7 shows an MH-53E Sea Dragon from the “Vanguard” of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 14 embarking aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), as it prepares to transport concrete barriers to help repair the Guajataca Dam in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico. AFP Photo / US Navy / Levingston Lewis / HandoutIn these towns, the new normal is more frightening. This photo from Sept. 24 shows the extent of the initial damage in Toa Alta, west of San Juan. AFP Photo / Ricardo ArduengoSome have lost all to the hurricane that took their houses, their belongings, leaving them with the clothes on their backs.For 44 percent of the people, not having water is the new normal. People affected by Hurricane Maria collect water while others bathe using an improvised water system for water pipes from a mountain creek in Utuado, Puerto Rico on Oct. 17, 2017. AFP Photo / Ricardo ArduengoFor them, filling up water bottles and other containers at oases or worse yet, drinking and bathing from contaminated streams is the new normal.With no access to potable water and so many waste water treatment plants put out of service by the storm, infectious diseases like leptospirosis are knocking at the door. Javier walks on his house next to an image of La Virgen de Guadalupe and a placard that reads in Spanish, “Voy a ti (I’m coming to you) Puerto Rico,” in Yabucoa, in the eastern part of Puerto Rico, on Sept. 28, 2017. Puerto Rico braced for potentially calamitous flash flooding after being pummeled by Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island and knocked out the entire electricity grid. AFP Photo / Hector RetamalJohn McPhaul is a dual U.S.-Costa Rican citizen, born in San José. He wrote for The Tico Times for many years and now works at the San Juan Daily Star. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Gaza Christians protest forcible conversions

first_imgErrorOK ErrorOKGaza police say the two are staying with a Muslim religious official at their request, because they fear retribution from their families converting to Islam. Two mediators said the two _ a 25-year-old man and a woman with three children _ appeared to have embraced Islam of their free will. Forced conversions have been unheard of in Gaza before.Since the Islamic militant Hamas seized power five years ago, Christians have felt increasingly embattled, but have mostly kept silent.There are growing fears among Gaza Christians that their rapidly shrinking community could disappear through emigration and conversions.Their numbers appear to have shrunk from some 3,500 to about 1,500 in recent years, according to community estimates. They are a tiny minority among 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza, most conservative Muslims.“If things remain like this, there’ll be no Christians left in Gaza,” said Huda Al-Amash, mother of one of the converts, Ramez, 25. She sat sobbing in a church hallway alongside her daughters, Ranin and Rinad, and a dozen other women. “Today it’s Ramez. Then who, and who will be next?”Christians said the main reason for the shrinking numbers is emigration, since there are few jobs in Gaza. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Associated PressGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Dozens of Gaza Christians staged a rare public protest Monday, claiming two congregants were forcibly converted to Islam and were being held against their will.The small but noisy demonstration showed the increasingly desperate situation facing the tiny minority.Protesters banged on a church bell and chanted, “With our spirit, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus.” 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Top Stories Comments   Share   Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Changing faith is a deeply traumatic affair in the Arab world, where religion is strongly interwoven with people’s identities and tribal membership. To convert often means to be ostracized by the community.The two converts, Al-Amash, and Hiba Abu Dawoud, 31, could not be reached for comment. Abu Dawould took her three daughters with her, further enraging the community.On Monday, groups of men and women stood in groups in the square of the ancient Church of Saint Porphyrius, angrily chanting, “Bring back Ramez!” One man angrily hit the church bell.“People are locking up their sons and daughters, worried about the ideas people put in their head,” said Al-Amash’s mother, Huda.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Parents, stop beating yourself up The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

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UK Specific threat to Westerners in Somaliland

first_imgAssociated PressLONDON (AP) – British citizens should immediately leave the breakaway Somaliland region of Somalia because of a specific threat to Westerners, British diplomats said Sunday. It was the second such warning issued for an African region in just days and comes amid growing turbulence across the continent’s north.In a statement emailed to reporters, Britain’s Foreign Office did not go into any further detail about the nature of the threat but noted that “kidnapping for financial or political gain, motivated by criminality or terrorism” is an issue throughout Somalia. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Somalia has endured years of civil war, and Britain _ along with the United States and a host of other countries _ has long advised against all travel to the Horn of Africa nation. Sunday’s travel warning applies specifically to the northwest territory of Somaliland, which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 and has since been a haven of relative peace amid the chaos and bloodshed of the country’s south.Somaliland Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulahi Omar told a news conference that his government has full confidence in its security. “We don’t believe in that warning,” he said. “We are informing the public and foreigners in our country that there’s no security scares at all. But in general, terrorism is a worldwide menace.”The new warning was issued only days after Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada urged their citizens in the Libyan city of Benghazi to evacuate in response to what was then described as an imminent threat to Westerners. European officials told The Associated Press at the time that schools were thought to be among the potential targets.The exact reason for the warnings remains unclear, but they come at a time of heightened tension across north Africa. French and African land forces are battling al-Qaida-linked Islamists in northern Mali, while a renewed bout of unrest has gripped Egypt following the two-year anniversary of the revolution that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak.center_img Sponsored Stories In addition, a Jan. 16 attack on the Ain Amenas natural gas plant in the Sahara ignited a four-day siege by Algerian forces in which at least 37 hostages and 29 militants died. An al-Qaida-affiliated group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Libya also remains unstable following the overthrow of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.It was unclear if any of those factors played a role in Britain’s latest warning. The Foreign Office declined to comment beyond its brief statement.Somaliland, a former British colony, is a key ally for neighboring Ethiopia, which has an embassy in the enclave, and collaborates with the United States and its allies on anti-terrorism missions. Somaliland employs its own security forces, justice system, and currency but is not recognized as a separate country by the international community.Somaliland was most recently hit by terror attacks in 2008, when suicide car bombers struck inside the enclave and its neighboring Puntland territory, killing more than 29 people.___Abdi Guled in Mogadishu, Somalia, contributed to this report.___Online:British government travel advice on Somalia: http://bit.ly/cbSix4Raphael Satter can be reached at: http://raphae.li/twitter Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 ways to recognize low testosterone New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daylast_img read more

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Somalia govt Audit faults UN corruption claims

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “As President, it was my responsibility to take seriously the allegations and to direct a thorough assessment of them,” he said. “I am pleased that the investigative team concluded that these allegations were unfounded,” Mohamud said.In their report the auditors recommend among others that the section of the U.N. monitoring panel report carrying allegations of corruption should be removed. The firms also ask the Security Council to issue a public admonishment to the panel for its failure to adhere to and apply fact finding stands set in by the U.N.The firms also recommended that the U.N. reimburse the Somali government the costs it incurred for the investigations which were caused by the “unsupportable narrative produced by the monitoring group.”The investigators said that Somalia should upgrade its internal controls and financial reporting systems because the systems are not up to date due to the prolonged conflict and crisis in the country.Somalia had not had a functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and turned on each other, plunging the impoverished East African nation into chaos. But since African Union forces ousted the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab from all the major towns last year, a relative peace has returned, creating a new sense of hope and opportunity in the country. Last year, a new interim constitution was approved, a new parliament was seated, a new president was elected and a new government and Cabinet started work, replacing a weak and largely ineffective transitional government that had been accused of widespread corruption.The U.N. report, released in July, said the election of Mohamud “presented an opportunity for a new kind of leadership in the country,” but he inherited a system in which he controls neither the flow of money nor security institutions.While struggling to extend the government’s reach, the panel said the president has had to seek external funds and arrange security relations inside and outside of government.The U.N. report said that 80 percent of withdrawals from Somalia’s Central Bank are made for private purposes, indicating it is operating as a patronage system for members of government.President Mohamud said among the monitoring panel’s flawed findings were that criticism of Somali Central Bank Governor Abdusalam Omer’s stewardship of the Bank was entirely unwarranted. The investigation concluded that the Central Bank applied appropriate internal controls when dispersing government funds, he said. (Copyright 2013 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 Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – Somalia’s government said Friday investigators it hired have cleared it of the allegations of massive corruption in a report by United Nations experts monitoring sanctions on Somalia and Eritrea.President Hassan Sheik Mohamud said forensic accountants from FTI Consulting, Inc. and a legal team from the US firm Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, PA found that the methodology and conclusions in Annex 5.2 of the report were “deeply flawed and entirely unreliable.” A statement from the president’s office said that the allegations also predate Mohamud’s time in office.center_img How do cataracts affect your vision? New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Top Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

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3 suspected of terror attack on train in Czech Republic

first_imgPRAGUE (AP) — A prosecution official says Czech authorities have detained three suspects for allegedly planning a terrorist attack on a train.Stepanka Zenklova, a spokeswoman for Prague’s state prosecution, on Wednesday said the three, who have not been identified, face up to life in prison if tried and convicted of terrorism.Zenklova says three other people have also been investigated as suspects in the case, one for illegal weapons and two others for knowing about the attack plan and failing to intervene. 0 Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist She said an unspecified dangerous weapon was seized by police during raids last week when police detained the six suspects. Three of them remain in police custody.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 facilitycenter_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

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Obama Cyberattack attempts against US will accelerate

first_img Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility But Obama says the problem isn’t going away. He says both governments and individuals are “throwing everything they’ve got” at U.S. systems. Obama says that’s why the U.S. must be much more attentive to cybersecurity.Obama commented Monday in Germany at the close of a summit of the world’s leading democracies.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonacenter_img Top Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona The difference between men and women when it comes to pain ELMAU, Germany (AP) — President Barack Obama says the problem of cybersecurity hacks targeting the U.S. government is going to accelerate.Obama is addressing cybersecurity following a massive hack of U.S. government employees’ personnel files, described as the most significant cyberattack in U.S. history.Obama says part of the problem is the U.S. has very old systems for detecting intrusions. He says the U.S. is upgrading old systems agency by agency to ensure that technology is up to date. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving soberlast_img read more

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Treasure hunter roils the waters as he makes new finds

first_img“He’s not really worried about long-term preservation, really not worried about veracity in that sense, because that’s not going to help his aspirations,” Smith said.Clifford contests the impartiality of the UNESCO investigations into his work and fumes at the criticism.“They call me a treasure hunter, but I don’t sell any of the things I find, and in fact I’ve put them in exhibits to tour around the country,” he said. “So what sort of a treasure hunter is that?”He also refutes the allegations that he doesn’t work in line with relevant archaeological standards.His work on the Whydah was supervised by the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources. The organization’s chief archaeologist, Victor Mastone, said he could not speak for other sites but that “people who criticize him haven’t come to see his work here.”But even some of Clifford’s supporters say he at times has made unjustified claims.“He’s a very passionate guy about what he’s doing and sometimes he gets ahead of himself,” said Robert Cembrola, a marine archaeologist who has worked with Clifford on and off since the 1980s. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Top Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help In a recent telephone interview from his home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Clifford described the fascination that drives him in travels that have taken him from Uruguay to Venezuela, Scotland and elsewhere.“You’ve got these incredible, intoxicating mysteries that are screaming at you,” he said. “And I just think — give me a break, how can anyone not want to go looking for that?”Clifford’s most well-known find is close to his home and the area where he grew up.In the 1980s, Clifford started bringing up artefacts from the Whydah, a pirate ship that sank off Cape Cod in 1717, including gold and silver coins, jewelry, swords and pistols. They form a travelling show that has been displayed in museums across America.Criticism has swelled since his latest discovery in Madagascar and his announcement last year that he had found the wreck of the Santa Maria — the flagship from Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Western Hemisphere — off the coast of Haiti.The United Nations cultural body UNESCO sent experts to verify the Columbus claim. After investigating the site, the team said there was no way the wreck could be the Santa Maria.center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mainstream marine archaeologists say Clifford is among the ranks of private individuals who investigate wrecks, “treasure hunters” whom the scientists dislike.These archaeologists accuse Clifford of not taking enough care when investigating sites, not properly documenting his finds and not properly conserving objects brought up from the sea. They also say he makes wild statements about his finds he can’t prove. Clifford said he is always careful when making statements about his finds, but that his comments are often misrepresented in the press.Ulrike Guerin, a specialist in underwater heritage for UNESCO, said the archaeologist who supervised Clifford’s recent investigations in Madagascar was not properly qualified and there were no detailed plans submitted ahead of diving.“Work like this should be as unobtrusive as possible and we have strong doubts about that on this site,” Guerin said.UNESCO has sent a new team to investigate how Clifford operated in Madagascar and try to verify if the silver bar he found really came from one of Captain Kidd’s ships.Marine archaeologist Sheli Smith, who worked with Clifford for one season on the Whydah in the 1980s, said Clifford is looking for big finds he can make money from, unlike what motivates academics. FILE – In this file photo taken Thursday, May, 7, 2015 underwater explorer Barry Clifford, right, presents a silver bar he believes is part of the treasure of the pirate Captain Kidd, to the president of Madagascar, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, left, on Sainte Marie Island, Madagascar. (AP Photo/Martin Vogl-File) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. SAINTE MARIE ISLAND, Madagascar (AP) — Barry Clifford brought up the heavy silver ingot from the bottom of a bay as the president of Madagascar waited to receive it.The dramatic moment was just one in a lifetime of adventures that the American has experienced as he has scoured ocean beds for sunken treasure — but also another example of what critics say is his excessive hunger for the limelight.Recorded by the gathered press, the moment off the coast of Madagascar last month was important for Clifford, who calls himself “an underwater Sherlock Holmes,” for he believes the bar once belonged to 17th century pirate Captain Kidd. Clifford, a fit 70 year old who dives regularly, has also roiled the waters among the marine archaeology community. Comments   Share   last_img read more

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