Suspended Transat pilots released on bail

first_img LONDON — Two airline pilots charged with being drunk as they prepared to fly a passenger jet on a trans-Atlantic route to Toronto have been granted bail on condition they surrender their passports.Jean-Francois Perreault, who is 39, and 37-year-old Imran Zafar Syed were arrested at Glasgow Airport on July 18, shortly before they were due to fly an Air Transat jet to Toronto.They have been charged with being impaired through alcohol and with threatening and abusive behaviour.The two men had been held in custody since their arrested but were granted bail after a hearing Tuesday at Paisley Sheriff Court in western Scotland. The allegations against them have not been proven in court.The airline says the pilots have been suspended.Canadian aviation regulations prohibit aircraft crew members from working while intoxicated or within eight hours after having an alcoholic drink. Posted by The Canadian Press Tags: Transat Sharecenter_img Wednesday, July 27, 2016 Suspended Transat pilots released on bail << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

PEOPLE Aerolineas Argentinas appoints AirlinePros General Sales Marketing Agent in Canada

first_img[PEOPLE] Aerolineas Argentinas appoints AirlinePros General Sales, Marketing Agent in Canada Travelweek Group Wednesday, October 5, 2016 Posted by MONTREAL — Airline representation and distribution services specialist AirlinePros has been appointed General Sales & Marketing Agent by Aerolineas Argentinas (AR) in Canada.“Canada and Argentina have a robust history of industrial, touristic and cultural interaction,” said AirlinePros Canada Director, Karl Müller. “We look forward to developing commercial functions for Aerolineas Argentinas and serving as a conduit for Canadian travel agencies and organizations.”The flag carrier of Argentina and a SkyTeam member, Aerolineas Argentinas offers daily direct flights from New York JFK and Miami to Buenos Aires EZE. Aerolineas Argentinas operates a fleet of A340-300, A330-200, B737-700/800 aircraft serving destinations throughout Argentina, across the Americas and Spain.Aerolineas Argentinas is available in all major GDS and accepts Visa, MasterCard and UATP. Travel professionals are invited to contact the airline to discuss specialized programs, at aerolineasargentinas@airlinepros.ca or phone 1-877-944-4349. Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

PEOPLE Rockett promoted to Managing Director NA for Exodus Travels

first_img Posted by Tags: Exodus Travels, People Travelweek Group Wednesday, December 21, 2016 [PEOPLE] Rockett promoted to Managing Director, N.A. for Exodus Travelscenter_img Share TORONTO — Exodus Travels has appointed Katy Rockett to Managing Director – North America, effective immediately.In the past two years, Exodus has seen considerable growth in the U.S. and Canadian markets after Rockett helped spearhead the UK’s leading adventure tour operator’s expansion into the U.S. and Canadian markets, opening Exodus’ first dedicated North American office in Toronto in 2014.A key priority will continue to be developing strong relationships with travel advisors while making it easy and fun for them to share Exodus’ 600+ affordable and innovative hiking, cycling, cultural and responsible wildlife tours in more than 100 countries worldwide with their clients, said the company.“Katy has played a vital role in launching the brand in the North American market,” said Andrew Appleyard, Vice President – Global Sales, Exodus Travels. “Her wealth of expertise and genuine spirit are essential during this next period of exponential growth for Exodus.”Rockett entered the travel industry as a marketing intern for Intrepid Travel. She was quickly promoted to Marketing and PR Specialist before moving to the Intrepid Group as Marketing Manager and later joining Exodus Travels in 2014. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

US warns travellers of new terrorism alert for Europe

first_imgTags: America, Europe The Canadian Press Tuesday, May 2, 2017 U.S. warns travellers of new terrorism alert for Europe Sharecenter_img WASHINGTON — State Department is warning Americans living in and travelling to Europe of the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks on the continent through the summer.In a new travel alert issued on Monday, the department said the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and their affiliates retain the “ability and to plan and execute” attacks in Europe. It said the U.S. officials remain concerned about the potential for future attacks, following a series of strikes in France, Russia, Sweden and Britain.The alert said U.S. citizens should be especially vigilant at large, high profile events, particularly during the summer travel season.The department’s last terror alert for Europe was issued on November 21 last year and expired on February 20.Monday’s alert expires on September 1. << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted bylast_img read more

Many of Myrtle Beachs CanAm Days discounts available through spring

first_imgTags: Myrtle Beach Many of Myrtle Beach’s Can-Am Days discounts available through spring MYRTLE BEACH — Good news for Canadians! Discounts and savings during the 57th annual Canadian-American Festival, which takes place this year from March 10-18, have been extended throughout the spring season.Ranging from 25-55%, the discounts are designed to help Canadians ‘make up’ the difference in the Canadian exchange rate. Through May 2018, travellers with a valid Canadian passport can receive discounts at select hotels, attractions, golf courses, restaurants and live entertainment venues during their visit to the Myrtle Beach Area.Can-Am discounts are offered to offset at least a portion of the 80-cents-on-the-dollar Canadian to U.S. dollar ratio. It is the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s hope that with these discounts, the destination will continue to be popular among Canadians looking to escape the cold this spring.“We have seen a growing number of Canadian visitors to the Myrtle Beach area, especially in the past decade,” said Julie Ellis, public relations and communications manager for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB. “The late winter and early spring seasons offer mild weather, more affordable accommodations and more elbow room at area attractions. The special promotions for our Canadian neighbors provide even more incentive by bridging the gap in the exchange rate.”More news:  AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’nsSeveral hotels, resorts and attractions are offering deep discounts during Can-Am Days and throughout the spring for Canadians, including:Crown Reef Beach Resort and WaterparkLandmark Oceanfront ResortPrince Resort at the Cherry Grove PierSeaside ResortVacation Myrtle Beach ResortsCoral Beach Resort & SuitesOceanfront Litchfield InnGrande Shores Ocean ResortOcean Creek ResortSea Watch ResortSouth Wind on the OceanAvista Resorthotel BLUEBeach Colony ResortSea Crest Oceanfront ResortBeach Cove ResortCaravelle ResortSand N Sun ResortCaptain’s Quarters Oceanfront ResortOther attractions in the area that are also offering deals include the Myrtle Beach Speedway, Ripley’s Myrtle Beach Attractions, WonderWorks and The Carolina Opry. Special discounts are available for valid dates listed on the individual deal/coupon. To receive discounts, visitors must show a valid Canadian ID.This year, Myrtle Beach will welcome Canadians with a wide array of new developments and offerings, including a new Pearl Harbor Exhibit at Ripley’s Aquarium, a new park and building complex in the Market Common district featuring three miles of new paths and picnic tables (opening by summer), and a new restaurant district in the Barefoot Landing shopping and entertainment complex.More news:  CIE Tours launches first-ever River Cruise CollectionOther new attractions include The Asher Theatre, Myrtle Beach’s newest live performance, conference and event centre, a new Topgolf featuring point-scoring golf games, food, drinks and live music, and a 55,000 square-foot complex that will bring new restaurants, retail stores and a live music venue to the boardwalk (opening by April).As for accommodations, Strand Capital Group is collaborating with Hilton Grand Vacations to build a new hotel featuring 33 luxury oceanfront units, scheduled to open in summer 2019. Plans are also in the works to demolish two Breakers Resort buildings and replace them with a Marriott branded resort (construction to begin in fall 2018), while ground has already broken for a 17-storey Residence Inn Marriott (completion date TBD). In addition, a new oceanfront resort property developed by Buchanan Motels called South Bay Inn & Suites is currently under construction, opening in May 2018 with 242 guestrooms, a gym, game room, bar area and sit-down restaurant.Nonstop flights to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from Toronto are available on Porter Airlines and WestJet. For more information go to VisitMyrtleBeach.ca. << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group center_img Wednesday, February 14, 2018 Posted by Sharelast_img read more

Three temblors registered Sunday in Guanacaste

first_imgNo related posts. The Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) reported Sunday afternoon three temblors of moderate intensity in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.All were recorded near the Nicoya Peninsula, with the first occurring at 2:38 p.m. at a magnitude-4.6 and a depth of 9 kilometers.A 4.5-magnitude quake occurred at 3:05 p.m. at a depth of 18 km. Its epicenter was located near Soledad de Nandayure.Less than an hour later, at 4:01 p.m., the third temblor happened, with a magnitude of 4.5 and an epicenter 15 km southwest of Puerto Carrillo, Hojancha.No damage or injuries were reported.On Sept. 5, a powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake, the country’s second-strongest of all time, hit the same area and caused nearly $45 million in damage and minor injuries. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricans can apply for US visa lottery starting today

first_imgRelated posts:As budget battles loom, Biden asks US Congress to approve aid for Central America Reforms by Castro, Obama set stage for Cuban migration spike US Supreme Court to review Obama’s power on deportation policy Costa Rica calls for regional meeting to address flood of Cuban migrants During the month of October, Costa Rican professionals can apply to a visa “lottery” granting residency in the United States. Ticos interested can apply online atwww.dvlottery.state.gov. The last day to apply is November 3 at 10 a.m.Countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States — including Costa Rica — can apply for residency as a “diversity immigrant,” as stated in Section 203(c) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. Some 50,000 diversity visas are distributed among six geographic regions worldwide. No single country may receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year, according to the State Department.While the lottery offers a fast pass to residency in the U.S., it’s not open to everyone. Applicants must have completed a high school education and have qualifying work experience. Only applicants working in specific occupations designated by the U.S. Department of Labor are eligible for the visa. People who do not meet these requirements should not apply. (Click here to see if your profession is listed).The U.S. Embassy in San José issued a fraud warning stressing that there is no cost to apply and no intermediary required. Scammers are known to target people looking to visit or work in the U.S. by claiming that extraneous fees or forms are required.In 2013, 4,365 Costa Ricans applied for the lottery, including spouse and children, according to the U.S. State Department. (The number of Ticos granted the visa was not available in the State Department stat sheet). More than 12.5 million people applied for a visa internationally.Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras also are eligible for the lottery, despite the stories of tens of thousands of migrants rushing to the U.S. border this summer.In Latin America and the Caribbean, immigrants from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, and Peru are not eligible for the upcoming lottery.Applicants can check to see if they’ve been selected online between May 5, 2015 and June 30, 2016. The State Department will not notify applicants about their status, regardless if they are selected. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

US Cuba sailors compete in first regatta since diplomatic thaw

first_imgRelated posts:Latin American leaders hail renewed US-Cuban diplomatic relations Cuba won’t abandon communism, Raúl Castro says Cuba, US see good first day of historic talks What the ‘Pope Francis effect’ hasn’t delivered in Cuba HAVANA,Cuba — Cuban and American sailors competed Tuesday in the first regatta since their countries’ decision to seek normal ties after more than five decades of Cold War strains.Featuring five two-person catamarans from each side, the Havana Challenge was the first regatta authorized by the U.S. since 2004 — and the first since the December announcement of the process of normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States.“We are the first group of Americans with a permit from the U.S. government with permission to participate in sporting event in the water in Cuba,” sailor George Bellenger told AFP.He was aboard one of the catamarans — flying tiny U.S. and Cuban flags — speeding in the Caribbean just off Havana’s landmark Malecón seafront, within sight of the Hotel Nacional and the U.S. Interests Section.When the neighbors do restore full diplomatic relations, it will be the site of the new U.S. Embassy in Cuba’s capital.Read more Tico Times Cuba coverageThe regatta was organized by boating clubs in Cuba, and in Key West, the Florida island closest to Cuba.At Havana’s Hemingway marina before the event, the two sides got organized and chatted like old friends. They even carried some of each other’s belongings in ride-along powerboats.That included the Cuban side’s cooler full of cans of Tukola, the Cuban answer to Coca Cola.Signs of friendliness“It is really a great thing for people to see the friendliness that is starting to emerge between the Key West and Havana city clubs,” said Cuban coach Vicente de la Guardia.“We are not equally matched with the boats; ours are really old. But their athletes are really good.”Dozens of Cubans gathered on the Malecón to watch. Above, tourists were doing the same at the stately Hotel Nacional.“Today is a special day. You just don’t see this every day,” said Cuban skipper Alexander Rey, 17.Amid all the excitement, goodwill and stifling midday heat, no one paid any attention to who won the regatta.U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced in December that the two countries were ending a half-century of enmity and would seek full diplomatic relations. They currently have downgraded ties and Interests Sections only in each other’s capital.Castro and Obama also held a historic meeting in Panama in April on the sidelines of a regional summit.Obama has relaxed a few restrictions on travel to and from the Americas’ only Communist-ruled country, but the trade and financial embargo the U.S. has imposed since 1962 still is in effect.A fourth round of talks on restoring full ties is due to be held in Washington on Thursday between top-level U.S. and Cuban officials, a senior State Department official said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Innovation is the new black 3 pitfalls for businesses to avoid

first_imgRead other “Doing Business” columns here.Randall Trejos works as a business developer, helping startups and medium-sized companies grow. He’s the co-director of the Founder Institute in Costa Rica and a strategy consultant at Grupo Impulso. You can follow his blog La Catapulta or contact him through LinkedIn. Stay tuned for the next edition of “Doing Business,” published twice-monthly. Nowadays, innovation seems to be the word on everyone’s lips. A quick Internet search shows thatgovernment institutions, universities, banks and everything in between are betting on innovation as the launch pad for success. Let’s be honest: Who wouldn’t be excited about innovation? Google is innovative, Silicon Valley is innovative… all companies with rapid growth seem to be! What are we waiting for?This rationale has led us to jump on the innovation wagon, with hype fueled by managers, writers and government officials alike. Innovation has become an industry with consultants, books and gurus, and the term has become one of the most abused words in the business language (after “strategy,” of course).There are three problems with this excessive enthusiasm.1. “Innovation” has lost its meaning.When everybody starts to use a term in many different contexts with very little boundaries, it starts to become meaningless. What is innovation, anyway? I bet you can get as many answers as people you ask. Everybody knows is a good thing, and that it’s important that they get into it right away, but they might get a little lost into the specifics. When the Internet first began, everyone wanted to have a website. Why? We don’t know, but everybody else is getting one!2. We’re putting the cart before the horse.Many of us associate innovation with having good ideas. Make that brilliant ideas. Out-of-the-box ideas. Game-changing ideas (notice the jargon?). There’s nothing wrong with ideas, but without execution, ideas are not much more than a good story to tell at a dinner party. The cult of innovation has somehow become the cult of having ideas, without much regard to how or even if those ideas could be implemented, how much it would cost and what would it mean for other decisions in the organization. This is the second problem with the innovation hype: We have focused too much on ideas, without paying attention to the roadmap that could turn them into something tangible. We somehow became so excited about being innovative that we forgot there might be a process to be so.See also: Negotiating in the world’s happiest countryIt is easy to recognize a finished product like an iPhone or an electric car as innovative, but it’s not that simple to reverse-engineer the process that lead to it. We tend to look at the result instead of the process. In very unromantic terms, innovation is about solving problems, plain and simple: coming up with solutions that work better than the status quo. How an organization develops that capability has little to do with the posters on the wall or the “innovation competition” held annually. It has to do with how teams are built, what skills the members have, how the leadership empowers people to voice their opinions, and how the incentives are aligned to encourage experimentation.All of those are organizational competencies that need to be built over time and that require having a long-term approach. Take Google as an example again: All the innovation is a result of their systematic efforts to invest not only resources but also time in building the necessary organizational competencies. When we try to skip this step, that’s problem number three.3. We’re not willing to put in the time and money.For economic or cultural reasons, many companies seem to have the sight set on the next quarter, some of them in the next month. As cools as it sounds, innovation can’t be implanted overnight like hair plugs. It needs to be grown. That takes time and patience.This might sound obvious, but many companies want to get the goodies without paying their dues. That is, they want to come up with the disruptive products and services without truly investing in innovation or transforming their cultures to foster it. Taking the short-term approach, many of them are willing to hire a consultant for a two-day workshop, but are reluctant to embark on longer culture-improving processes. In the words of a director at a local media company: “I’m only interested in investing in initiatives that produce an increase in the income statement.”Unfortunately, innovation, the process behind the shiny outcome, doesn’t produce results right away. Research and development departments in truly innovative companies spend lots of money and time in coming up with something truly disruptive. Take the folks at Apple, for example, who spends 3 percent of their sales on research and development. Most of what comes from that investment will not be monetized until years after. Companies must have the stomach and the patience to let that process take place.Let’s all agree that innovation IS important. Let’s just not get too carried away and harness all the hype and enthusiasm so we can turn it into something meaningful. Let’s go beyond competitions and awards and headlines in our communication and let’s go back to basics: We need to get really good at solving problems and help our people do the same, even if it costs us a pretty penny. Facebook Commentscenter_img Related posts:Selling ice cream is good business in Costa Rica The irrational behaviors keeping you from making a good deal Beyond the carrot and the stick: persuasion hacks that get results Churchill: The rebirth of a Tico classiclast_img read more

Chinas slowdown financial mayhem cast long shadow across world

first_imgRelated posts:Europe, US markets rally on China rate cut China’s journey from new normal to stock market crisis epicenter Here’s what Wall Street is saying about Fed interest rates remaining unchanged US Fed officials emphasize gradual tightening China’s economic slowdown and financial mayhem are fostering a cycle of decline and panic across much of the world, as countries on nearly every continent see escalating risks of prolonged slumps, political disruption and financial losses.South Africa’s currency, the rand, plunged on Monday after stocks once again sold off in China, which is the country’s largest trading partner. South Africa’s economy — like that of many countries on the African continent — had been fueled by China’s hunger for natural resources, but the slowing demand now threatens to compound its many other problems and worsen a food crisis.Throughout South America, China’s declining appetite for commodities has led to deep recessions and talk of a “lost decade.” Venezuela is facing inflation in the double or triple digits, Brazil is experiencing rising unemployment, and both countries are confronting political upheaval as leaders strain to preserve public benefits.And there are less direct effects. China’s slowdown is one of the big drivers of the massive fall in oil prices, which hit a 12-year-low on Monday of $31.56 for a barrel of Brent crude, and that is causing its own problems.Petro-states Saudi Arabia and Russia have both taken massive hits from the collapse in oil prices, and now are facing serious domestic financial challenges as a result. Russia and Saudi Arabia both export about 14 percent of their oil to China, according the Energy Information Administration.The United States economy, meanwhile, has proven fairly insulated so far, and some industries that operate in China like fast food and retail are expected to stay that way. Still, U.S. stock markets have struggled this year, and many economists warn job losses could begin occurring outside of those already seen in the mining and energy industries if China’s economy worsens.Already, Caterpillar, long a darling of China’s economic growth, selling both to China and to the countries that sold China commodities, has reported declining sales, and its stock price has fallen to its lowest level since 2010. On Monday, aluminum firm Sherwin Alumina Co. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.“A slowdown of half percentage point, or even a percentage point slowdown, is not going to have a very big impact on the U.S. economy. If you’re South Africa or Peru, Chile, Colombia, Malaysia, or Thailand, then it’s a different matter,” said Paul Sheard, chief global economist, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.On Monday, stocks in Shanghai fell 5.3 percent, and they’re down 16 percent in the past six days. Analysts are not particularly worried about the ups-and-downs of the stock market in China, because it only has tangential connections to the economy, but say the volatility underscores deeper fears about whether China’s economic growth is worse than official statistics indicate.After years of runaway growth, virtually all independent experts agree China’s economy was bound to slow. But the question now is how much the world’s second largest economy will decelerate, from double-digit growth to a stable 6 or 7 percent or a substantially worse 3 or 4 percent – or even lower. An investor looks at screens showing stock market movements at a securities company in Beijing. Wang Zhao/AFPWorldwide impactMost hit are those countries that thrived on China’s seemingly insatiable demand for natural resources. Virtually no continent is being spared, and developed and developing countries alike are facing harsh consequences.As China developed and built the world’s solar panels, laptops and iPhones, it sucked up oil, iron ore, copper and machinery and bid up the price for those raw materials. “So the end of China’s investment boom means the reverse,” says Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management.In Asia, Indonesia saw coal exports plunge after China’s economic challenges began to surface last year. Brazil, Peru and Venezuela also have ailed from commodity prices collapses.“All those economies benefited greatly from China’s rise, and the flip side of that is they have been hit as China’s growth has slowed and prices have fallen,” says Neil Shearing, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics.The pain has not been limited to the developing world. Australia’s exports of iron ore and other minerals to China, its largest trading partner, have declined, raising fears of a recession. Korea, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan could also be vulnerable.“[T]he global spillovers from China’s reduced rate of growth, through its diminished imports and lower demand for commodities, have been much larger than we would have anticipated,” Maury Obstfeld, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, said earlier this month.Obstfeld recently warned that China’s slowdown and wilder volatility in emerging markets are among the biggest threats to the global economy in 2016.South AfricaSouth Africa is a case study in over-reliance on China, and the painful consequences that are now playing out.On Monday, the South African rand fell by 10 percent compared to the U.S. dollar, reaching an all-time low before recovering some ground and ending the day at 16.57 rand per dollar. China is South Africa’s largest trading partner, exchanging around $20 billion in goods a year, and its thirst for South Africa’s natural resources had helped power the country’s economy. Iron ore, coal, gold, and other minerals are among South Africa’s largest exports.The decline in the value of the rand could make it more expensive for South Africans to buy goods and services and harder to pay debts.“There’s a pretty ugly mix really of political, economic and deep-seated structural problems exacerbated by the slowdown in China which made the rand pretty vulnerable,” Shearing said.The timing of the economic slowdown and the currency dive could have drastic consequences for food security in South Africa. The country has faced a major drought recently and will likely have to import more food than it usually does – but a less valuable rand will make those imports expensive in some cases, analysts say.Some have argued that South Africa and other countries on the continent are now paying the price for an excessive reliance on China. But the reality, some analysts said, is that commodity-exporting countries have had little choice as the Chinese import market expanded.“It’s not really avoidable by diversification because [China] really is the market,” said Dennis Dykes, chief economist at South Africa’s NedBank.The impact of Chinese volatility comes as South Africa is reeling from its own internal problems.Last month, President Jacob Zuma fired the finance minister, Nhanhla Nene, but then struggled to replace him, first choosing the relatively unknown David van Rooyen and then removing him just days later, after the rand crashed. Zuma then settled on former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, but investors were already unsettled by the confusion.Bond ratings agency Fitch downgraded the country’s rating to BBB-, as the turmoil sparked concern among investors that the ruling African National Congress party was not up to the task of managing the economy, including such challenges as limiting the country’s deficit, alleviating electricity shortages, and raising spending on transport and education.The rand has seen dramatic declines twice in the last two decades – in 2001 and 2008 – but both times it rebounded quickly thanks to an increase in Chinese demand and the growth of commodity prices. This time, analysts say, such a recovery is not as likely.Sieff reported from Nairobi.© 2016, The Washington Post Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Cubans bound for US inch closer arrive in Guatemala

first_imgRelated posts:Desperate Cubans mass at Nicaragua’s closed border After Central America slog, Cubans can expect US welcome First group of weary Cubans reaches US after long trek, long pause in Costa Rica Cuban migrants storm Costa Rica-Panama border demanding to pass GUATEMALA CITY — A group of 180 Cuban migrants took a step closer to their dream of a new life in the United States Wednesday after flying out of Costa Rica in a trial run designed to blaze a path for thousands of stranded compatriots to follow.The 109 men and 71 women are ultimately bound for the United States, which has a longstanding policy of accepting Cuban migrants.If their arduous plane-and-bus trip is successful, other flights will follow as early as next week, transporting more of the 7,600 other Cubans stranded in Costa Rica.The air bridge, organized by Latin American governments and the International Organization for Migration, became necessary when Costa Rica’s northern neighbor Nicaragua — a Cuban ally — closed its border to Cuban migrants in mid-November.The 180-strong group boarded a chartered aircraft in Liberia in northern Costa Rica, near Nicaragua’s border.They arrived just over an hour later at El Salvador’s international airport southeast of the capital San Salvador, disembarking with smiles and small bags.Accompanied by a police escort, they arrived in Guatemala later aboard four buses before dawn and kept going toward Mexico.After crossing Guatemala, the Cubans are to be dropped off at the border with Mexico with 20-day visas to make their own way to the U.S. border and to what they hope will be new lives in America.Joy and fearElation and trepidation gripped the Cubans ahead of their flight out of Costa Rica, where many have languished for weeks or even months.“I still can’t believe it. We could be arriving and I still won’t believe it,” said Liana Cabezas González, a 28-year-old interpreter who left Havana seven months ago, aiming to join her parents already in Miami.She and the others paid $555 for the trip from Costa Rica to Mexico’s border. The governments involved insisted the migrants bear the entire cost of their trip.But their joy was tempered by fears about running the gauntlet of Mexico’s fearsome narco-gangs.“We’ve heard a lot that in Mexico there are gangs like the Zetas that make attacks on roads and that there are dangerous zones,” said Yordani Casanova, a 33-year-old who left his herbal drinks business in Cuba to make the journey to the United States with his wife.Cabezas said she planned to minimize that risk by taking a domestic flight inside Mexico to a town close to the U.S. border.U.S. welcomeAt American border posts the Cubans can expect a relatively easy entry, despite not having American visas.Under a Cold War-era law, America welcomes Cubans under a scheme that gives fast-track access to permanent residency.Costa Rican officials were visibly relieved that there is finally movement to clear out some of the thousands of Cubans who have been piling up in shelters on its territory.Foreign Minister Manuel González said after the plane’s departure that the trip was organized for “humanitarian” reasons and he was confident of its success.But the chief of its migration service, Katia Rodríguez, told some of the migrants that those left behind and unable to pay for flights would have to wait for a solution.On Dec. 19 Costa Rica stopped giving visas to any more arriving Cubans and threatened deportation for any found entering clandestinely.As a result, some 2,000 other Cubans are now stranded farther south, in Panama. They have no access to the air bridge being organized and their fate has not been resolved.In shelters set up in churches and school grounds in northern Costa Rican towns, other migrants waiting for their own exit played with balls or washed clothes or relaxed on mattresses on the floor —  activities that have marked their long weeks in limbo.Read more about the Cuban migrant crisis in Costa Rica here. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Lower traffic fines to take effect starting next month

first_imgFines for traffic violations will drop by an average of 0.88 percent starting in January, thanks to a decrease in the inter-annual inflation recorded this year, the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) said in a public statement.The slight change means the current highest fine of ₡309.574 will drop ₡2,724 (some $5).The lowest fines, currently at ₡22,187 ($40) will be ₡195.25 ($0.35) cheaper. These smaller sanctions are applied, for example, to those who violate the vehicle restriction that prohibits drivers from entering the capital’s downtown area once a week, on a day assigned according to the final digit of the license plate.Carlos Rivas, the legal director of the Roadway Safety Council (COSEVI), said the new fines will take effect during the first week of January. Traffic Police Director Mario Calderón said in the statement that he does not believe the reduction will prompt an increase in traffic violations, as it is not a significant change.Approved finesCosta Rica’s Traffic Law divides traffic fines into five categories, ranging from A to E, according to the severity of the violation.Category A fines are the most severe and will drop from ₡309.574 to ₡306.850 ($555-550). They include sanctions for, among others, exceeding the speed limit at 120 kilometers per hour, driving under the influence, driving with an expired license, passing in a no-passing zone or making an illegal U-turn.Fines in the B category will go from ₡209.200 to ₡207.359 ($375-372) and will penalize drivers for ignoring stop signs or traffic lights, altering license plates, or transporting children under 12 without a car seat. Motorcyclists carrying children under five also fall under this category.Fines in the C category will go from ₡104.600 to ₡103.679 ($187-185). Fines in this category apply to motorcyclists not wearing reflective clothing and helmets, drivers carrying excess loads, the incorrect use of roundabouts, or bus and taxi drivers transporting more passengers than allowed.Category D fines will drop from ₡51.771 to ₡51.316 ($93-92). These infractions sanction those who disrespect yield and other traffic signs or driving without a seat belt.Fines in the E category will go from ₡22.187 to ₡21.992 ($40-39). These fines apply, for example, to motorists who fail to present all the required vehicle documentation, those driving without license plates or violating the vehicle restriction.COSEVI invests funds collected from traffic fines in equipment and resources for the Traffic Police, in road safety devices, traffic signals, pedestrian crossings and road safety campaigns. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican transit officials say higher fines in 2015 will help reduce roadway accidents Taxi protest against Uber snarls traffic across Costa Rica Legislative Assembly approves new traffic fines Pedestrian fatalities in Costa Rica currently outnumber drunk driving deathslast_img read more

VIDEO Four things to avoid in your first surfing lesson

first_imgWhen you’re waiting for that perfect wave and people are near, keep your grip on your surfboard extra tight. First off, if a big wave comes you’ll get dragged along by the surfboard, which is your goal. Secondly, someone near you can get injured by being smacked in the face with the board.Finally, it wasn’t all that bad. We did get a successful ride. Related posts:Crocodile warning signs in Costa Rica have decreased bad encounters with tourists, Environment Ministry reports How the Tamarindo Labyrinth was created The growth of the Tamarindo Diria Hotel PHOTOS: A glimpse of the Tamarindo Art Wave Festival If you can avoid this common mistake, you’ll be safer when standing on the surfboard. You should stand up fast, place your strong foot on the back part of the surfboard, then place your other foot in front. Balance your body to be stable, and smoothly ride the wave. If you’re going to fall, you should always bend your knees and then drop to the water on your left side.Don’t let go of your surfboard OK, that one might sound obvious. But if you let go of the surfboard, grab it the wrong way, or place the board on your right, chances are that a spontaneous gust of wind will blow the board towards your face or body. Avoid this at all costs because you can get hurt or smacked in your face.Don’t get distracted by what your classmate is doing Facebook Comments If you follow all of the previous instructions, have fun and do what your instructor tells you to do, you’ll be fine in the water and ride down smoothly.Seafari Costa Rica donated a beginner’s surf lesson to The Tico Times at Tamarindo Beach. Seafari Costa Rica offers lessons on different aquatic sports and has certified instructors. For more information visit their Facebook page or call Alejandro Aguilar at (506) 8355 – 4246. It’s hard to spend any amount of time at Tamarindo Beach, on Costa Rica’s northwestern Pacific coast, without taking part in its main attraction: its renowned surf scene.During our stay, in early January, we decided to take a surfing lesson with Seafari Costa Rica, a local surf academy. Seafari’s owner and primary instructor, Alejandro Aguilera, took us out for our first-ever beginners’ surf lesson.After a long session in Tamarindo’s balmy waters, we gathered a couple of recommendations on what not to do during your first surfing lesson. Here’s what happened. Alejandro Aguilar is the owner and main instructor at Seafari Costa Rica. Elizabeth Lang / The Tico TimesDon’t step on the front of the board first https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fI1rC3lJAdQ Another obvious observation. Since you’re a beginner, distractions must be avoided because you’ll lose your concentration and fall down; that’s what happened to us.Seriously, don’t let go of your surfboard – especially in a crowdlast_img read more

Throwback Thursday Pocho the crocodile funeral

first_imgThis article was originally published on Oct. 17, 2011The final time Chito and Pocho took center stage seemed no less stirring, hard-to-believe and ridiculous than the act’s original premise – a crocodile and a human as best friends.After two decades of performing together, Pocho the “domesticated” crocodile died last Tuesday of natural causes in his manmade swamp at Finca Las Tilapias, in the Caribbean-slope town of Siquirres. The croc’s owner, Gilberto Shedden, better known as “Chito,” said his partner was nearing 60 years old.On Sunday – the day Pocho and Chito normally frolicked in the water for visitors – the village held a grand funeral for the huge reptile.Chito placed the 5-meter, 450-kilo dead crocodile in a wagon and hitched it to a car that drove the duo around the town. Dozens of vehicles joined the motorcade. At least 50 mourners kept pace with the procession, while onlookers sprinted up to the cart to snap photos. By the time the tour ended, back at Finca Las Tilapias, some 300 people had shown up at the ranch.“Our act was something very special,” Chito, 54, said. “Always people who didn’t know Pocho took something extraordinary from it.”Chito found Pocho wounded and near death on the shore of the Parismina River, in Limón province, in 1989. The crocodile had been shot in the left eye, and Chito nursed it back to health. A decade later, an employee at the finca saw Chito swimming with Pocho, and told local media. The unusual pair became stars after their first show in the summer of 2000. The ranch kept a veterinarian and a biologist to check on the crocodile’s health. Pocho fed on 30 kilograms of fish and chicken a week. Siquirres native Gilberto Sheedon, or Chito, became famous for his close friendship with an American crocodile named Pocho. The Tico TimesLarge crowds gathered weekly around the artificial lake to watch Pocho and Chito, with the crocodile performing tricks such as winking, rolling over and allowing Chito to put his head inside the giant’s fang-lined mouth.The memorial at Finca Las Tilapias recognized the croc’s importance to the community. Onlookers watched Chito give a passionate goodbye to Pocho, the reptilian half of an act that became the biggest tourist attraction in the small, muggy pueblo and picked up coverage from around the world.The funeral certainly seemed like the biggest event Siquirres had seen in some time. Chito’s friends quoted Bible passages to the audience about loving animals. They dedicated songs to Pocho, and played videos of past performances and interviews with Chito.“It was beautiful,” Siquirres native Xinia Mejía, 40, said. “At least here, we’ve never seen anything like this.”Visitors from across the country came to observe the ceremony. Miguel Arias, 57, from San Carlos in northern Costa Rica, had never seen Chito and Pocho perform, but became interested after seeing a report on the news. Arias said he was stunned by the outpouring of support for the crocodile and the “beautiful” ceremony.Funeral garb, however, was not required. Chito, dark-skinned, bald-headed and fit, dressed in the leopard-print loincloth and bandana he wore during his shows with Pocho. Many congregants wore T-shirts dedicated to Pocho’s memory. The shirts sold for $4 at Finca Las Tilapias, alongside mugs dedicated to Chito and Pocho and a selection of small wooden crocodiles.Pocho’s carcass will be embalmed and placed on display at a museum at Finca Las Tilapias.Skeptics may say the funeral was just a money-making charade, but Chito’s copious tears did not appear to be of the crocodile variety. He seemed to need the attention and support of the crowd to stay composed. While other guests took the microphone to speak about Pocho, Chito could be seen bawling in the arms of his wife, Olga, or leaning over the crocodile with tears on his cheeks.When Chito moved front and center again, he seemed determined to keep the last show with his “brother” Pocho as momentous as past ones. The most peculiar highlight – one that seemed to condense Chito’s affection for Pocho and also his love for the limelight – came when he sang The Platters’ classic “The Great Pretender.” Chito wailed each lyric of the 1950s hit about denial to the fallen crocodile: “Oh yes I’m the great pretender / Pretending I’m doing well / My need is such I pretend too much / I’m lonely but no one can tell.”As Chito and Pocho’s fame grew, there were those who suspected the croc would one day make “Chito finito” out of Shedden. Lolinda Mighty Hall, who grew up with Chito in Siquirres, remembered how fearful everyone was that the crocodile would turn on his trainer. Hall, 58, said over time they saw a genuine connection develop.Other crocodiles later joined Pocho in Chito’s swamp. The question circulated throughout the afternoon of whether Chito would soon begin training the next Pocho.The speculation reached Chito midway through the ceremony. Replace Pocho? Chito sucked in a deep breath.“Pocho is Pocho, the only one,” Chito said, his voice cracking. “Much of the public and all the people of Siquirres responded to him. There is no more Pocho. He will be the only Pocho there ever was.”This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica.We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Tico Times #TBT: The one millionth Tico Throwback Thursday: Roosevelt’s fishing trip to Isla del Coco Throwback Thursday: Bulls from 1981 Throwback Thursday: Making cocktails with Caciquelast_img read more

New Zealand skydiver survives plunge to ground

first_imgPolice say the reserve chute eventually deployed automatically when the man was about 230 meters (750 feet) from the ground but did not function properly, although it did help slow his fall.Nelson Hospital reports the skydiver remains there in a stable condition.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – A New Zealand skydiver has survived a harrowing plunge to the ground after his main parachute failed and a reserve chute only partially worked.Police say the 35-year-old man suffered serious injuries after he hit the ground at high speed and with enough force to make him bounce.According to a police statement, the man was parachuting Thursday afternoon at the Motueka Airport on the South Island when his main chute failed and he was unable to open his reserve chute. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixcenter_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Top Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Video shows Turkish reporter held in Syria

first_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean On the video, Unal has bruises under his eyes. He says he crossed into Syria with foreign militants, and one image shows him holding a weapon. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says Unal was coerced into making a statement and that Syria is responsible for his wellbeing.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Top Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkish television has broadcast a video of a Turkish journalist who is reportedly being held in Syrian government captivity.NTV television on Monday showed the video of Cuneyt Unal, a cameraman who was working for the U.S.-funded al-Hurra network when he and a colleague, Bashar Fahmi, were believed to have been captured while covering fighting in the northern city of Aleppo a week ago.Turkey’s Anadolu news agency says the video was first broadcast on a pro-regime television station in Syria. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectlast_img read more

Costa Rica putting up streets signs for first time

first_imgAssociated PressSAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) – How do you find the National Theater in San Jose? “Left-hand turn 100 (meters) south of the People’s Bank.”The train station? “Right-hand turn, 400 (meters) west of the Costa Rica Middle School and 100 south.”Those are addresses in the Costa Rican capital, a city of 1.5 million residents that hasn’t had street signs and where people asking directions often are told to take a right at a landmark that hasn’t existed for decades. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share   It works for people who know how the city looked 20 or 30 years ago, but it’s a big headache for visitors, not to mention anyone trying to deliver the mail, a quarter of which never arrives.“If you’re not from here, it’s really difficult to get around,” said Venezuelan student Claudia Galindo, who never leaves home without her GPS.But this week, city workers started putting up 22,000 streets signs, some on posts and some on the walls of buildings. The plan is to get Costa Ricans to start using the real street names that have existed for at least 20 years, but that no one knows.The $1 million project, expected to be completed in seven months, is a way to modernize the city and make it more attractive to tourists, who more commonly visit the country’s beaches and national parks, Mayor Johnny Araya said.Google Maps show street names in the San Jose metropolitan area. But if you ask someone how to get to San Martin Avenue, no one will have ever heard of it. The few street names people use, they invented _ among them “Light Street,” because it was the first spot in Costa Rica to have electricity.The descriptive address system, “a la Tica,” as Costa Ricans are known, is actually relatively new, historian Gustavo Naranjo said. He said streets had names and numbers up to the early 20th century. “But cities used the vast migration from farms in the 1950s and `60s, the population boom and the lack of formal education as an excuse to stop worrying about maintaining street signs,” he said.The streets of most major Central American cities are well-marked, with the exception of Managua, Nicaragua. There you can be told to take a right or a left “where the tree used to be,” or at “La Pepsi,” a soft drink plant that hasn’t existed for at least 15 years. There are no efforts there to hang street signs.In San Jose, locals say no amount of signage will change their custom of giving descriptive directions.“In a city so disorganized, where there are a lot of tricks to getting around, it’s a system that functions well,” said Jefry Arguedas, who travels San Jose by motorcycle.Resident Martha Gross also dismisses the news signs. “It’s money spent in vain. No matter what, I will always live 50 (meters) north of the Supermarket Colores.”___Associated Press writer Luis Galeano in Managua, Nicaragua, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img

Currency factors weigh on retailer HMs Q2 profit

first_imgSTOCKHOLM (AP) – Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB on Wednesday said profits fell by 11 percent in the second quarter due to the strong Swedish krona and increased markdowns as it tried to shift its products.The company said its net profit for the March-May period dropped to 4.66 billion kronor ($720 million) from 5.22 billion a year earlier. Sales for the quarter slipped marginally to 31.64 billion kronor from 31.66 billion. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson said the krona’s strength weighed on the result, while sales in local currencies increased by 5 percent.He said sales remained strong in Asia but that the overall revenue suffered due to the “continued challenging situation for the fashion retail industry” and bad weather in many of the company’s big markets.Persson added that H&M opened nearly 100 new stores in the second quarter, including its first in South America in Santiago de Chile, and continues to make long-term investments in its online sales.“Although most of these long-term investments have not yet generated revenues, we see them as wise and necessary – all in order to build an even stronger H&M,” Persson said. “There is great potential in the growing online market. We are looking forward to launching our online sales in the US in August.”H&M’s share price was up some 1.2 percent at 227.5 kronor in early trading on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.Founded in 1947, H&M has more than 2,900 stores in some 48 countries. In addition to H&M, the group includes the brands COS, Monki, Weekday and Cheap Monday, & Other Stories as well as H&M Home. It employs more than 100,000 people worldwide. Sponsored Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis (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 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Srebrenica Muslims accuse Serb authorities of harassment

first_img Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 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 likecenter_img Comments   Share   SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The mayor of Srebrenica has accused Serb authorities of using the pretext of investigating Islamic extremists to harass Muslims who returned to the town following the country’s 1992-95 war.Camil Durakovic, himself a Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim), said Thursday that Serb police stormed returnees’ homes and arrested people without explanation. He called it a “form of repression.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “Terrorism is a serious global problem and we must all fight against it, but you cannot use it as an excuse to send masked, armed men to search houses of Bosniaks and arrest people without any evidence,” Durakovic said.Bosnian Serb police on Wednesday raided a few dozen locations and detained 30 people, including two in Srebrenica, on suspicion of links with Islamic extremists.The operation comes after a Muslim gunman killed one policeman and wounded two others as he stormed into a police station in northeast Bosnia yelling “Allahu akbar” last week. Investigators believe the 24-year-old gunman was linked to Islamic extremists.Serbs killed more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995.After the war, Bosnia was split into two semiautonomous parts, the Serb-run Republika Srpska and a federation shared by Bosniaks and Croats. Each has its own president, government and police, but are linked by weak state-level institutions. Srebrenica remains in the Serb-run half.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

German prosecutors close Merkel cellphone spying probe

first_imgGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the EU-CELAC summit in Brussels on Thursday, June 11, 2015. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will continue his diplomatic offensive on Thursday to try to convince European creditors to pay out the bailout loans the country needs to avoid default. (AP Photo/Francois Walschaerts) The issue has weighed on relations between Germany and the U.S.However, chief federal prosecutor Harald Range signaled in December already that the probe wasn’t going well, saying that he had found no actionable evidence.Range’s office said Friday it has been unable to get hold of an original document proving the alleged spying, and that a published transcript of an NSA document allows for various interpretations.“The documents published in the media so far that come from Edward Snowden also contain no evidence of surveillance of the cellphone used by the chancellor solid enough for a court,” it said in a statement.Prosecutors said they see no prospect of success in continuing to investigate. They noted that journalists involved in publishing Snowden’s documents are entitled to refuse testimony, and argued that public statements by Snowden give no indication that he has personal knowledge of the surveillance of Merkel’s phone.“The vague comments by U.S. officials about possible surveillance of the chancellor’s mobile telecommunication by a U.S. intelligence service — ‘not any more’ — are not enough to describe what happened,” they added. BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors on Friday closed their investigation into the alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone by the U.S. National Security Agency, saying they have been unable to find evidence that would stand up in court.Prosecutors last June opened an investigation into the alleged monitoring of a cellphone Merkel used for party business. German magazine Der Spiegel had broken the story in late 2013, citing documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Sponsored Stories Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   “The comments, which were viewed in public as a general admission of guilt, do not discharge us from (fulfilling) the burden of proof according to the requirements of criminal procedure.”Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, declined to comment on the prosecutors’ decision, but said the chancellor had always stressed that her concern wasn’t restricted to the tapping of her own cellphone and extended to surveillance of Germans in general.Seibert said the government would continue to raise the issue of balancing security and privacy with partners, including the United States.___Frank Jordans contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more