Overheard at Envision 2014

first_imgThousands of worldly travelersseeking transformation descended on the tiny Pacific coast town of Uvita, Costa Rica, last week to attend the fourth annual Envision Festival. They spent four days listening to live, pulsating music, dancing with abandon and making creative connections in a lush jungle setting on the shore. In keeping with tradition, we present you with some of the things we overheard at Envision:“I have blue hair. I thought I would stand out, but I guess not.”“I feel like we all come from the trees. You see, you have to be rooted into the ground, but also reach to the sky. The branches go to the sky and the rest comes from the ground and the energy meets in the middle and explodes in love. We are all love. When we are babies we are pure love. We have to breathe deep and pull our shoulders back and feel the love.”“A scorpion fell from the tree on to her shoulder. I need to learn Spanish cuss words.”“More glitter!”A man trying on a pair of shorts with fuzzy blue fur trim and tail: “I feel empowered in these.” During the opening ceremony: “Open your eyes, let the magic in.”A performer to a DJ: “Make the pretty people dance.”“I can hear words coming out of your mouth, but I don’t think you are making sentences.”“I can feel my chakras aligning.”An early arrival steps off the shuttle and points to a group of people in the middle of a field: “Awwwww, they are already having a sharing circle.”Overheard several times from people who had just run into a friend or found a place to sleep: “Yes, we manifested this.”Woman: “You still have glitter on you.” Man: “Maybe it’s my natural sparkle.”Pointing to a painting: “See that square right there? That represents Sally from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.’”“I lost my hat! My chi is escaping through my head.”“I just can’t get my mind off of snow leopards. I think about them all day. I dream about them.”“I can skip faster than I can run.”“What exactly is a Portishead?”“There is no time to sleep. We are carefully planning nap schedules.”“What would we do without bamboo?”Woman to a group in line for the shuttle: “I’m bummed because I lost my dress at the waterfall today. I hope I can find my boyfriend.” Someone in the crowd: “Wait, is your boyfriend missing, too?” Woman: “Yes, but I only want to find him because he might have the dress.”“You can follow your heart. Don’t worry, the universe will catch you.”Riding the cattle truck from the box office to the festival grounds: “Mooooooo.”The Polish Ambassador (musician): “So much delicious fruit will yield from this gathering. Ideas shared, experiences gained, movements started.”Two topless girls with neon feather skirts are on side of the highway in Uvita, drinking 40-ounce Imperials, hitching thumbs out: “Now THAT is how you get picked up.” ……Lindsay Fendt contributed to this report.  Facebook Comments Related posts:Maori tribesman, sprinting set designer and woman from everywhere and nowhere help prepare for Envision Festival 28 photos from Costa Rica’s Envision Festival Retransformed: A sophomore experience at the Envision Festival 6 things you need to know about Envision Festival 2015last_img read more

"Overheard at Envision 2014"

Free tickets for Luis Guillermo Solís presidential inauguration will be available on

first_imgThe inauguration of President-elect Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera on May 8 at the National Stadium will be open to the public, and the organizing committee will be handing out 23,000 tickets to anyone who wants to attend the ceremony.The free tickets only will be available this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at National Stadium box offices in La Sabana Park, west of San José. Each person is allowed up to three tickets. Every visitor to the box office must present a valid ID.Committee Director Eduardo Trejos said inauguration week events begin  May 7 with a presentation of credentials for diplomatic representatives. Then all special guests will attend an evening cocktail offered by outgoing President Laura Chinchilla.Inauguration invitations were sent to 170 international organizations and countries. As of Monday, some 70 respondents had confirmed their attendance, Trejos said.On May 8, activities begin at 8 a.m. with cultural activities at La Sabana Park. At the same time, doors will open at the National Stadium for the main inauguration event. The official ceremony will last some 90 minutes, Trejos confirmed, however further details of the event will be disclosed next week.Then foreign leaders will join Solís for a lunch at the Antigua Aduana in downtown San José. Solís last week traveled to personally deliver invitations to the Central American countries — except Nicaragua — and the Dominican Republic. Facebook Comments Related posts:Elections tribunal presents presidential credentials to Luis Guillermo Solís, who turns 56 today President-elect Luis Guillermo Solís adds more names to his Cabinet The light at the end of the election Non-career politician Luis Guillermo Solís wins Costa Rica presidential runoff in a landslidelast_img read more

"Free tickets for Luis Guillermo Solís presidential inauguration will be available on"

Travel Alert Landslide closes kilometer 33 of InterAmerican Highway South at Cerro

first_imgRelated posts:Travel Alert: Route 32 blocked by landslide near Zurquí Tunnel Travel Alert: Washed-out lane on Inter-American Highway South could be fixed in four weeks Inter-American Highway South could reopen on Thursday Travel Alert: Sections of Route 32 and the Inter-American Highway in the southern Pacific zone will be temporarily closed A 105-meter landslide at a depth of 20 meters in the early hours of Thursday has closed the Inter-American Highway South (Route 2) at kilometer 33, in an area known as Cerro de la Muerte.Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) officials have reported that the outside lane of the road has collapsed due to water saturation from constant rains in the area, the ministry’s director of emergency situations, David Meléndez, said.“Earlier this morning a motorcycle and a car drove into the landslide, but the motorists were unharmed,” MOPT reported in a press release Thursday morning.MOPT officials tweeted that it could take up to a month to reopen the route: Traffic Police recommend drivers take alternative roads via routes 222 and 228.“These routes allow passage through El Empalme, following the communities of Corralillo, Quebradilla, Santa Elena, Frailes and La Lucha. Motorists coming from the other direction should travel via Route 209 by Río Conejo and follow exits at Aserrí or Desamparados, south of San José. Heavy trucks must use the Costanera Highway through Palmar Norte,” the police report stated. (Via MOPT Facebook) Facebook Commentscenter_img ESTUDIOS Y OBRAS DE PRIMER IMPACTO EN HUNDIMIENTO EN CHIQUIZÁ OBLIGAN A CERRAR RUTA ENTRE DOS Y CUATRO SEMANAS… http://t.co/BW7qjrRziw— MOPT (@moptcr) January 29, 2015last_img read more

"Travel Alert Landslide closes kilometer 33 of InterAmerican Highway South at Cerro"

La Ley will reschedule concert after FIAsco

first_imgRelated posts:How Costa Rica’s 2015 International Arts Festival flopped Ousted culture minister blames subordinates for arts festival woes FIA conspiracy? Former culture minister blames ‘plot’ for festival failure President Luis Guillermo Solís confirms new culture minister The Chilean rock band La Ley said Wednesday that it will reschedule its concert originally set for this week in Costa Rica for June 20. The concert was cancelled — along with other major international acts — amid the chaos that tanked this year’s International Arts Festival.Band leader and vocalist Beto Cuevas told reporters that La Ley had a “debt” with the Costa Rican public, which in the past has received the band warmly.“We wanted to play now but I know that in June the concert will have a special energy,” Cuevas said at a news conference. He was accompanied by producer Gustavo Pacheco, who hired the band for the festival.The traditionally grand 2015 International Arts Festival (FIA), which started April 23, unraveled over the past two weeks as technicians and artists backed out citing poor festival organization, non-existent communication and last-minute contracts.Recommended: How Costa Rica’s 2015 International Arts Festival floppedLa Ley was supposed to play Thursday in Desamparados, south of San José, but the show was cancelled because organizers failed to find a way to provide lights and speakers after the company originally chosen to do so pulled out.Organizers were also forced to cancel Argentine musicians León Gieco and Miguel Mateos. Those musicians never got on a plane, but members of La Ley arrived in Costa Rica earlier this week.Pacheco, the producer, said the rescheduled show would take place at the Antigua Aduana.Culture Minister Elizabeth Fonseca told daily La Nación on Wednesday that the Costa Rican government would have to assume minor costs — including airline tickets and venue rental — beyond the ₡100 million ($188,000) it had already agreed to pay the group.But she said La Ley had agreed not to seek indemnification for the schedule change.Fonseca said 3,400 tickets to the show would be distributed free among the residents of Aserrí, Desamparados and Acosta — the three communities where FIA’s main events were supposed to take place. Another 1,800 will be put up for sale, La Nación reported.The Culture Minister said Miguel Mateos would be rescheduled for June 18 and León Gieco for June 19 and 20, both in the Antigua Aduana.The festival fiasco has led many artists, angry citizens and lawmakers to call for Fonseca’s resignation. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

"La Ley will reschedule concert after FIAsco"

Tragic boat accidents renew calls for navigation law

first_imgTall waves and high winds reportedly caused the barge carrying 180 tons of ammonium nitrate tocapsize in early May in Costa Rica’s Pacific Gulf of Nicoya. But government officials and environmental groups are now pointing blame at the Legislative Assembly for failing to pass a bill that they say could have prevented the accident.The Aquatic Navigation bill (Expediente 18512), has been in the hands of the Legislative Assembly since 2010. The law would bar ships from leaving port during rough conditions and allow the government to punish vessels that do not comply with safety regulations. Costa Rica currently has no weather-related restrictions for boat travel.The Coast Guard releases daily weather bulletins with suggestions for ship travel, but captains are under no obligation to follow the advice.The Coast Guard issued such a bulletin on May 2, warning that waves could reach two meters in height near the port city of Puntarenas. Despite the rough conditions, a crew transporting chemicals for the fertilizer company Fertilizantes de Centroamérica (FERTICA) left port and capsized 150 meters from the coast. The Coast Guard was able to save the crew, but some of the toxic cargo was released into the sea.An investigation has since revealed that the ship’s navigation permits had expired.Just months earlier, Costa Rican authorities had to deal with another disaster at sea when a pleasure catamaran with 99 passengers capsized in high winds and rough seas 30 minutes after leaving port in Playa Herradura, on the country’s central Pacific coast. Three foreign tourists drowned in the accident and others were injured.The crew did not hand out life jackets until the boat was already sinking.Without a navigation law, the Costa Rican government has almost no recourse against a ship’s owners. Maritime navigation is currently governed by a series of administrative decisions that carry little weight in a court of law.Recommended: Costa Rica’s lack of safety regulations comes into view after death of 6 tourists in January“Right now Costa Rica lacks a law that adequately sanctions irregularities that happen during marine navigation and transport,” ocean conservation group MarViva said in a statement last week. “Despite the importance of an Aquatic Navigation law for the country, the governments over the last 10 years have not regarded it as important.”In fact, the roots of the current bill go back further than 10 years, to another catamaran accident in 1997 that left two passengers dead. The catamaran had also run into rough seas, and the crew failed to hand out life vests at all, leaving them tied to the boat’s railings.The accident shook the country and spurred calls for a navigation bill. But even in the face of the tragedy, it took lawmakers 13 years to complete a draft bill. And that bill has yet to be brought to a vote in the Legislative Assembly.In response to the most recent catamaran accident in January, President Luis Guillermo Solís declared the bill a priority in the Assembly’s extraordinary session, which ran from Dec. 1 until April 30. But the bill was pushed aside in order to facilitate votes on infrastructure projects. Lawmakers from the ruling Citizen Action Party say the bill is again a priority following the recent accident.“We, along with our other colleagues, are obligated to give [the bill] priority, ensure its passage and assure technical support,” PAC Lawmaker Marcela Guerrero said. “Additionally, we need to clarify regulations to ensure the minimum security of people who want to use this type of transport.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Investigation finds ‘no negligence’ in deadly Costa Rica catamaran accident  Costa Rican lawmakers give themselves vacations on Easter Holy Week Costa Rica Coast Guard rescues injured US tourist in Las Catalinas Why May 1 is much more than Labor Day for Costa Rica’s governmentlast_img read more

"Tragic boat accidents renew calls for navigation law"

A flow of Cubans – going home

first_imgHAVANA – Mauricio Estrada left Cuba in 2003 full of the same frustrations as so many others eager to move away. He married a Spanish woman, moved to Barcelona and got a job as a prep cook.A dozen years later and divorced, Estrada is back, this time as the proprietor of a stylish Iberian-themed restaurant, Toros y Tapas, decorated with old matador posters and the taxidermied heads of longhorn bulls.“Having my own restaurant is a dream,” said Estrada, 48. “I never could have done it if I’d stayed in Cuba.”Estrada is a repatriado, a repatriate, one of the growing number of Cubans who have opted to move back to the island in recent years as the Castro government eases its rigid immigration rules. The returnees are a smaller, quieter countercurrent to the surge of Cubans leaving, and their arrival suggests a more dynamic future when their countrymen may come and go with greater ease, helping to rebuild Cuba with earnings from abroad.Not since the early years of Fidel Castro’s rule, when his leftist ideals brought home a number of exiles initially sympathetic to the 1959 revolution, have so many Cubans voluntarily returned.The difference is that today’s repatriates are not coming back for socialism. They are coming back as capitalists. Which is to say, as trailblazing entrepreneurs. Prompted by President Raúl Castro’s limited opening to small business and his 2011 move allowing Cubans to buy and sell real estate, the repatriates are using money saved abroad to acquire property and open private restaurants, guest houses, spas and retail shops.Cuban authorities said they could not provide up-to-date statistics, but in 2012, immigration officials said they were processing roughly 1,000 repatriation applications each year. The numbers appear to have increased since then, at least judging from anecdotal evidence and the proliferation of new small businesses in Havana run by returnees.Communist authorities no longer stigmatize such Cubans or view them as ideologically suspicious, provided they’re not coming back as anti-government activists. Virtually all Cubans who emigrated are eligible for repatriation unless they are deemed to have committed “hostile acts against the state.”Returnees say the paperwork takes about six months to process. It allows them to return home with a shipping container’s worth of goods and to regain access to the socialist country’s benefits, including free health care and food rations.For Cubans nostalgic for home or determined to build small businesses on the island, repatriation offers travel privileges few others enjoy. Cubans returning from Spain, for example, do not have to renounce their Spanish citizenship and the all-important European Union passports that come with it, allowing them to travel far more freely than ordinary Cuban-passport holders, who need visas for practically any country they wish to visit.The repatriation trend is a classic case of “Cuban ingenuity,” said Pedro Freyre, a partner and an expert on Cuba trade laws at the Akerman law firm in Miami. “It’s an instinct for taking advantage of any opening, and the perception that with this mechanism an expat can have the best of two systems.”To be clear, the number of repatriates is dwarfed by the more than 70,000 Cubans who left the island in 2015, the highest figure in decades and nearly twice as many as departed in 2014. The emigration wave is being driven by a range of old and new factors, from the island’s perpetual economic troubles to new fears that better relations with the United States will bring an end to the unique U.S. immigration privileges extended to Cubans.For Enrique Soldevilla, 34, the December 2014 announcement that the United States and Cuba would begin normalizing relations was the decisive factor in his return home after a decade in the Dominican Republic. Optimistic that the U.S. thaw would bring better times to Cuba, he moved back to Havana in April, giving up a well-paid job in audio and video production.Life in the Dominican Republic was good “professionally and financially,” Soldevilla said, “but something was always missing.”He felt a “spiritual need” to be in his home country and culture, with his family close by.Someone like Soldevilla would have had few options just a few years ago, when restrictions were much tighter on private business and independent labor. But today, more than a quarter of Cuba’s workforce is not employed by the state.Soldevilla has been working as a freelance producer, using his international contacts and his skills to get contracts with foreign clients. He has done casting work for the U.S. reality TV show “House Hunters,” something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago, when Cubans were prohibited from having cellphones and going online was all but impossible.Poor Internet access is still a major headache, but Soldevilla can take his laptop to a tourist hotel with WiFi when he needs to conduct business. “I’m not earning as much as I did [in the Dominican Republic], but the cost of living is a lot lower. And I’m happier here,” he said.Many of the repatriates, like Soldevilla, are returning from Europe and Latin America. Cubans in the United States may be more reluctant to return to the island because of their relatively high incomes. But American economic sanctions also make it essentially illegal for any U.S. resident to go to Cuba and run a business. And the ability to buy property remains mostly restricted to Cubans who live on the island.For Kelly Sánchez, the 2011 overhaul of Cuban real estate laws was the biggest factor in her decision to give up a job as an advertising executive in Spain and return to the Old Havana neighborhood of her childhood.The change meant that a Cuban could acquire a residence that could also house a small business.Sánchez bought a 200-year-old house in the city’s historic quarter, and she now operates it as a small hostel called Casa Vieja. The ground floor has 15-foot ceilings and doubles as an art gallery; she has a bar and dining room on the roof deck. Sánchez’s rooms rent for about $40 a night, and demand is so high she said she’s almost entirely booked for 2016.“It’s insane,” she said, referring both to the demand and the myriad challenges of running such an operation in crowded, crumbling Old Havana.When Sánchez left for Spain in 1998 as a 24-year-old, she was an unemployed university graduate with an engineering degree and a frustration that drove her to depression. “I was desperate to get out of here,” she said.A professional career in Europe “is what I needed to grow up,” she said. “It made me the woman I am today – smarter, more confident, more open-minded.”Like Sánchez, restaurant owner Estrada describes life abroad as a kind of international business school, an education in capitalism. Estrada said he has struggled with the training and management of his Cuban employees, who he said continue to treat their jobs as if the work for a government-run business. Pilfering is a problem, he grumbled, along with tardiness and poor customer-service skills.Like other private restaurant owners here, Estrada said he prefers to hire workers with no experience that he can train to his standards, rather than hire employees who have picked up the bad habits of state-run businesses.“In Spain, workers take their jobs seriously,” Estrada said. “They know that if they don’t, they’ll be out on the street with nothing to eat.” Facebook Comments © 2015, The Washington Postcenter_img Related posts:US firm Sprint signs roaming telecom deal with Cuba How Cuba is and isn’t changing, one year after thaw with U.S. Pope leads global praise for ‘historic’ US-Cuba rapprochement Obama administration to further ease travel and business restrictions with Cubalast_img read more

"A flow of Cubans – going home"

Germany grants Costa Rica €15 million to mitigate climate change impact

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica votes to ratify Paris agreement on climate change Costa Ricans pledge to go car free on Sept. 22 Costa Rican researchers develop new climate change-resistant beans High temperatures expected to continue in Costa Rica for two more months The German government will support Costa Rica’s projects to mitigate the effects of climate change and, as a first step, has granted the country €15 million ($16.7 million) in aid.Barbara Hendricks, Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, confirmed the donation on Monday during a meeting with President Luis Guillermo Solís at Casa Presidencial.At a press conference following their meeting, they said that the cooperation agreement reaffirms both countries’ commitment to the Paris climate agreement against global warming.The initial donation is part of the first phase of a long-term cooperation agreement that will support various programs, including electric transportation and sustainable farming, Casa Presidencial said in a public statement. Costa Rica will allocate the funds primarily to initiatives focused on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, reducing carbon use, adaptating to the impact of climate change, and implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.President Solís said that Costa Rica and Germany are committed to efforts to preserve the environment, and that both countries are aware that it is necessary to act responsibly on these issues.“This visit of the distinguished Minister Hendricks will deepen that commitment through concrete actions,” he said.Environmental commitmentOfficials from both governments also discussed the importance of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda as benchmarks for global transformation towards sustainable economies. Minister Hendricks and Costa Rica’s Environment Minister Édgar Gutiérrez signed a joint Press Statement on Climate Action and Sustainable Development.The countries pledged to pursue joint efforts to achieve carbon neutrality and long-term climate resilience. The statement also emphasized the need to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.“Following the U.S. decision to leave the Paris Accord, all other countries took on an even stronger commitment to keep cooperating on all these issues,” Hendricks said.Recommended: Costa Rican government responds to Trump’s climate accords exit Facebook Commentslast_img read more

"Germany grants Costa Rica €15 million to mitigate climate change impact"

Fed up Nicaraguas uprising

first_imgI drove around with reporters from La Prensa on the fifth day of protests. The day after one of the most violent protests. Dozens were dead, a journalist had been killed, and more protests had been called for that day. Ortega said he was going to address the nation. None of the big scheduled protests were going on. There was sporadic looting taking place throughout the city. It was hard to tell what state the streets were in or whom they belonged to. Every route to the main protest at the Polytechnic University was closed, unofficially. Some had barricades manned by rock- and machete-wielding groups of men. One threw rocks at us when they saw cameras.Other roads had lines of cops blocking our passage. The long way around, through a dirt road east of the airport, was also blocked. They let us through the first blockade, but further down, a fight was breaking out and reinforcements were running in.The calm streets had unmanned barricades with cars driving on the sidewalk to get around them, or a simmering pile of ash from the tire fire the night before. It became clear who owned the streets after Ortega came on national television to announce he was rescinding the social security reforms.We went to Masaya, where another protest was scheduled. Jader Flores, a photographer for La Prensa who’d been documenting some of the biggest clashes, said that’s where one of the first April protests happened. The Sandinista Youth came and beat up protesters a few blocks down.But the Sandinista Youth didn’t show up that Sunday. Dozens of protesters turned into hundreds by sunset. They weren’t protesting reforms anymore – they were celebrating democracy. The people had spoken and the government listened. It was the closest thing the country had had to an electoral victory in over a decade. They’d been heard, but they had a lot more to say. The chants compared Ortega to Somoza; protesters read the names of the fallen students over and over again; they demanded that imprisoned be set free. Most of all, they were calling for Ortega to resign.“Mi gobierno es asesino,” one kid, no more than 10, repeated to himself as he was walking to a car with his parents. My government’s a murderer. His mother cracked a smile but told him not to say that.As much as Ortega tried, the word is out. Children know, parents know, the country knows. The liberator oppressed. The regime will kill. “This isn’t a table for dialogue,” said Lester Alemán, the leader of the university coalition told Ortega during the first day of the peace dialogues. “This is a table to negotiate your exit.”A hero of the people is nothing alone. Ortega has lost the streets. Ortega’s lost the people. Ortega will lose Nicaragua. They’re caught in the middle of their metallic forest fire – now it’s up to Ortega and Murillo to see who they’ll take down with them. Alexander Villegas: Born in the United States, raised in Costa Rica, and educated in Canada, Alexander is a freelance journalist and photographer focusing on under-reported issues across Latin America. Alexander’s stories and photographs have appeared in the Guardian, CBC, the Tyee, Bluff, Hakai Magazine and Smithsonian Magazine, and others. His reporting in Nicaragua for this story took place from April 21-23, 2018. Facebook Comments We all heard it.University students and protesters across Nicaragua stood up against the country’s increasingly authoritarian president, Daniel Ortega, and the world stopped to listen. Since his reelection in 2006, Ortega squeezed rights, speech, and money away from a seemingly dormant population for over a decade, but in late April, people bit the hand that squeezed.What did it was one of the softer squeezes the people had suffered under Ortega. It was a 1.6 percent rise in social security contributions and a 5 percent cut to pension collectors. But it was a pension system Ortega and other government officials had been accused of taking multimillion-dollar loans from. It’s a government that consists solely of Ortega’s party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), since he’s ousted all opposing parties since taking power.It’s also a government where his wife is second in command. Ortega chose his wife, Rosario Murillo, as his running mate during his 2011 reelection campaign. It was an election where his name wouldn’t have been on the ballot at all if he hadn’t overridden the constitution to allow him to serve indefinitely. The elections were also riddled with claims of electoral fraud. Ortega helped overthrow Anastasio Somoza in 1979, ending a 50-year old dynasty built with brutal oppression and secret police. Ortega and the democratic socialist FSLN claimed they’d bring a new dawn for the working class of Nicaragua. Instead, he brought more of the same, and a civil war between Ortega’s government and the U.S.-backed Contras broke out soon after. After years of war, the Central American Peace Accord led to Ortega losing the 1990 presidential election to Violeta Chamorro, the former owner of La Prensa who took the paper over after her husband was assassinated in 1987. After losing those 1990 elections, the FSLN focused on taking back power by taking over the streets. Reporters from La Prensa told me how the FSLN organized all the protests during the presidential administrations of Violeta Chamorro, Arnoldo Alemán and Enrique Bolaños. To show strength, to negotiate, to flex their muscles, they’d hit the street. After they gained power, they’d used that strength to send their forces to beat up anyone who protested. Aside from repressing protests, Ortega and his family bought newspapers, websites and news stations throughout Nicaragua. Giant billboards line the country, emphasizing Ortega and Murillo as socialist and Christian heroes.Murillo led an initiative to install over 130 metal trees throughout Managua to celebrate an anniversary of the FSLN revolution and beautify the city. At $25,000 a piece, they cost the second-poorest country in Latin America $3.5 million dollars to install and are a constant drain on electricity, with over 15,000 light bulbs in every tree. Let them have trees.Official media – what state-owned media are called – downplay criticism, ignore inconvenient facts and always portray the government in a good light. They muddy the water enough so that lots of people aren’t sure what they’re seeing.They tried again when the protests broke out, arguing that violence and deaths were caused, not by the government, but by gangsters, far-right activists, and outside agitators. Delinquents.Students, people shot protesting the deaths of other students, journalists: all delinquents. The government shut down several TV stations in the first few days of protests. Other reporters were robbed, beaten and harassed. Several of the reporters I talked to said a lot of the aggression came when they were photographing the Juventud Sandinista, the FSLN’s youth group, or police attacking protesters. You can’t tell the world you don’t know who started the fire when there are photographs of you with matches in your hands. Ortega had been slowly silencing journalism in Nicaragua for years. “We’d say that in other parts of Central America they were physically killing journalists,” said Elizabeth Romero, a reporter for La Prensa. “Here they kill you civilly. They’ve built a barrier against independent journalism. We don’t have access to official information and you can’t go to any government activity, big or small.”Romero says their court reporter hasn’t been allowed in courtrooms for months. Then that civil silencing turned into a fist during these protests.The video below contains violent content.center_img Related posts:Gioconda Belli: Let’s get back to focusing on happiness Sandinista stronghold calls for Nicaraguan leader to end repression Once a symbol of Somoza-era torture, Nicaragua prison holds protesters Nicaraguan human rights group closes office after ‘alarming’ threatslast_img read more

"Fed up Nicaraguas uprising"

Mercury contaminating Crucitas water threatening ecosystems warns UNA study

first_imgRelated posts:What’s going on at Crucitas? Operation Lapa-1 in Crucitas Oscar Arias’s Crucitas case dismissed; prosecutor plans appeal Canadian mine case against Costa Rican ex-president reopened A recent study by the National University (UNA), through its Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances, warned of a “very probable” and “significant” affectation of aquatic ecosystems at Crucitas, which has been contaminated by mercury used by illegal mining groups to extract gold from the area.The institution took samples of fish, plants, water and sediments, inside and outside the areas that are being used for illegal mining (from the Caño Crucitas micro basin and the lower Infiernito river basin to its mouths in the river San Juan), igniting alarms about a probable and “important affectation of the aquatic ecosystem, both local and downstream.”According to the preliminary study, dated Sept. 19, “the highest levels (of mercury) were present in the samples taken directly in the impact areas.” However, “the high removal of soil material, the expansion of the water bed by the amount of sediment in suspension, the release of organic matter, all in combination with heavy rains in the area, would generate a displacement of mercury” in the zone.The study was carried out at the request of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, and the objective was “to identify the presence of mercury in the affected area.”The report says it will seek to “a second phase of long-term monitoring of the environmental behavior of biota, water and soil, as well as of residents in direct or indirect contact with the metal” to “identify the areas of greatest risk and to support with scientific data the actions of the state entities.”Concerns about health impacts in the area have existed since the beginning of 2017, when the presence of non-sanctioned mining groups in the area increased.Crucitas was the planned mine location for Canadian company Infinito Gold during the administration of President Óscar Arias. However, that initiative was suspended in 2010 after pressure from activist groups, academics and environmentalists, who questioned the imminent environmental impact a gold mine would have in the country.However, the territories are now overrun by amateur gold-seekers, who use mercury to amalgamate the gold they extract from the stone fragments in the area.The UNA report says mercury is “a highly toxic metal, both due to its easy migration between different environmental behaviors, as well as its persistence and ability to bioaccumulate, biomagnify and to form organic compounds.”This, warns the document, is a “potential risk” for birds, otters, sloths and other species that feed on affected fish and plants, whose exposure to mercury — once ingested — can cause behavioral disorders and health problems.In addition to all these damages, the specialists of the UNA determined that the gold miners generate other environmental damages in the surrounding wetlands, where they wash rocky material in the gorges, undermine roots of the trees, widen channels 10 times or more their original width, remove substrates and leave plastic trash.The report was released on in mid-December by the faction of the National Liberation Party (PLN) in the Legislative Assembly, where its head, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, denounced “the attention of the current authorities” who feel the results of “the previous government, which allowed hundreds of illegal gold minders to enter that area and have been amassed large businesses through illegal extraction.” Semanario Universidad LogoThis story was originally published by Semanario Universidad. It was translated with permission by The Tico Times. Read the original report here. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

"Mercury contaminating Crucitas water threatening ecosystems warns UNA study"

Poles honor Reagan John Paul II with new statue

first_img Comments   Share   Associated PressGDANSK, Poland (AP) – Polish officials unveiled a statue of former President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II on Saturday, honoring two men widely credited in this Eastern European country with helping to topple communism 23 years ago.The statue was unveiled in Gdansk, the birthplace of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, in the presence of about 120 former Solidarity activists, many of whom were imprisoned in the 1980s for their roles in organizing or taking part in strikes against the communist regime. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The bronze statue, erected in the lush seaside President Ronald Reagan Park, is a slightly larger-than-life rendering of the two late leaders. It was inspired by an Associated Press photograph taken in 1987 on John Paul’s second pontifical visit to the U.S.The photographer who took the picture, Scott Stewart, expressed satisfaction that one of his pictures has helped immortalize “a wonderful moment in time between the two men.”“In the news business we’re used to having a moment and then that moment being gone a day later. This is one image that should last for a good long time,” Stewart, who now teaches graphic design and photography at Greenville Technical College in South Carolina, said in a phone interview a day before the ceremony. “I’m happy that it’s been chosen as the seminal moment to represent the relationship of these two people to Poland.”Reagan and John Paul shared a conviction that communism was a moral evil, not just a bad economic system. And Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that led the anti-communist struggle in Poland, has often paid homage to both men and told the AP in a recent interview that he deeply respected Reagan. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “Reagan should have a monument in every city,” Walesa said.Poles widely credit the Polish-born pontiff’s first visit to his homeland after becoming pope as the inspiration for Solidarity’s birth. During a Mass in Warsaw in 1979, he used subtle language to suggest that Poles should try to change their system, a message not lost on the receptive nation. Poles also remember that when the communist regime imposed the martial law crackdown in 1981, rounding up dissidents and imprisoning them, Reagan lit candles at the White House to show his solidarity with the Polish people.“When Reagan lit the candles, we knew we had a friend in the United States,” said Czeslaw Nowak, a former Solidarity activist who was imprisoned for his activism in the 1980s. He leads an organization of former imprisoned dissidents that worked for about four years to raise 200,000 zlotys ($59,000) for the statue. The money was collected from former Solidarity members, many of whom are today living on small pensions and could only afford the smallest of donations.Another member of the organization, Andrzej Michalowski, credited Reagan’s arms race with Moscow with leading to the unraveling of the Soviet Union and its inability to keep controlling Eastern Europe. He said the monument was designed on a small scale so visitors to the park would feel John Paul and Reagan are still with them. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementscenter_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Men’s health affects baby’s health too Top Stories Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

"Poles honor Reagan John Paul II with new statue"

Syrians in Jordan fear hunt from Assad agents

first_imgAssociated PressIRBID, Jordan (AP) – Sultan, a 42-year-old Syrian anti-regime activist, knew he was being hunted, even in this northern Jordanian city where he had taken refuge. The attack came on a crowded street: Two men grabbed him and dragged him into a waiting car, shouting, “It’s him!”In the chaos, Sultan says, he recognized the car’s driver: a Syrian intelligence officer from the Damascus prison where for three months this year Sultan was jailed and tortured for participating in protests against President Bashar Assad. Sponsored Stories Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Three residents and two members of the Free Syrian Army said that on March 17, a pair of Syrians were caught dumping bags of rat poison into the water tanks on the building’s roof. Then in June, they said, Syrians gave a resident money to dump pills into the tanks. The resident instead turned the money and the pills over to FSA members in the building, who said the pills were found to be cyanide-based. The FSA members said they believed Syrian intelligence was behind the attempts, but there was no independent confirmation of the incidents.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Jordanian political analyst Labib Kamhawi said the kingdom is deeply concerned over Syrian “sleeper cells.”“There could be killings, or explosions, or assassinations of Syrians and Jordanian personalities,” he said. “There could also be serious border confrontations or incursions.”There has already been one attempted bombing of a Jordanian.Security officials say they arrested a man in June trying to plant a bomb under the car of Jordanian businessman Nidal Bashabsheh, who has been active in helping Syrian refugees. Bashabsheh was visiting an apartment complex in northern Jordan where he is housing refugees when the man was seen putting the bomb under his car, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the press.There is precedent for more. In 1982, when Syria’s regime waged a bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria massed troops on Jordan’s border, accusing the kingdom of supporting the Islamists. No attack took place, but there was a wave of assassinations of Syrian Brotherhood activists who took refuge in Jordan. In 1970, the Syrian military carried out a short invasion of northern Jordan to protect Palestinians during a Jordanian crackdown on Palestinian factions. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The vital role family plays in society Comments   Share   A former Syrian army captain from Daraa who defected and fled to Jordan said he was attacked in the capital, Amman. He arrived in Jordan on May 8 and quickly heard from fellow Syrians that a group of Syrians was asking about him.Three days later, three Syrian men and a woman approached him on an Amman street and said they had a letter for a Syrian in the neighborhood. They seemed unsure if he was the man they were looking for, since he had grown out his beard and dyed his hair since defecting, said the 34-year-old former captain. When he replied in a Syrian accent, they realized he was their man, he said.They put two guns to his head, dragged him into a car and drove to an empty lot where they beat him with clubs, he said.“They said the next time, they’d come back to kill me if I don’t head back to Syria within a week,” he said. “They sped off and left me bleeding from the nose, mouth and head all night.”The captain, his head still creased with the scars, is now in hiding in a city in Jordan’s eastern desert. He spoke on condition his name and exact location not be revealed for fear of being tracked down.In a more mysterious incident, refugees living at the apartment complex run by the Jordanian businessman Bashabsheh reported two attempts to poison the complex’s water supply. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean “Assad is seething with anger at Jordan. It’s now like a jigsaw puzzle with all scenarios possible,” said Adnan Hamdan, 50, a cleric who worked in Syria’s Religious Affairs Ministry until he defected to Jordan last Februrary.Hamdan, now in Irbid, said he has received dozens of emails, text messages, and telephone calls from people with Syrian accents, warning “me that I will be killed because I have been outspoken in the media, exposing Assad’s atrocities against the people.”Traditionally, Jordan’s relations with Syria have been strained because of the kingdom’s strong alliance with the United States and cordial ties with Syria’s arch Israeli enemy under a 1994 peace treaty.Syria’s crisis has only worsened ties. Last year, Jordan’s King Abdullah II suggested Assad must step down over the bloody crackdown. Last week, Jordan inaugurated its first refugee camp for the Syrians, an embarrassment for Damascus.Recent shootings by Syrian troops on refugees at the border have raised Jordanian worries of an incursion, prompting Amman to deploy more troops near the frontier and put air defenses on alert. King Abdullah inspected the frontier and visited with his troops late Wednesday. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes “We can finish him in seconds,” one of the men shouted, Sultan told The Associated Press, speaking on condition that his full name not be used to avoid further reprisals.In the car, they stabbed him with a knife, slashing his neck and head. But the car got stuck in traffic. When Sultan screamed and pounded on the windows, passers-by and police intervened and rescued him, arresting the four Syrian men in the car.The attack, in early July, was the latest in a string of similar incidents in recent months that have raised fears among Syrian refugees that Assad’s regime is extending its crackdown across the border into neighboring Jordan. Refugees and Jordanian officials believe Syrian regime agents are operating in the kingdom on a campaign to hunt down opponent and intimidate those who have fled.That has Jordanian officials worried over a potentially more extensive campaign of assassinations or bombings _ targeting Jordanians as well as Syrians _ as Damascus lashes out against its neighbor in moves that could drag this U.S.-allied kingdom into Syria’s civil war. Jordan already faces its more powerful neighbor’s growing anger because it is hosting more than 140,000 refugees who fled the 17-month-old conflict, as well as members of the rebel Free Syrian Army fighting Assad’s military. In the past few months, Syria has been pressing for the extradition of Syrian army and police defectors, but Jordan declined, according to a security official, who declined to be identified, saying he was not allowed to comment on sensitive state security matters.Recently, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh admitted that Jordan has toughened its entry regulations and screening for Syrians to prevent pro-Assad loyalists from operating among refugees.But the attack on Sultan and others like it suggest regime agents are present.Sultan, who arrived in Jordan in mid-July and works with the FSA, said that before the attack, neighbors in Irbid told him men were asking for him, claiming to have a message from his hometown of Daraa. Terrified, Sultan refused to leave his house for days.“All I thought of is to find another place to hide,” he told The Associated Press. Finally, “I went out for a breath of fresh air and to see the sun,” he said. “I thought I’d try my luck, maybe they gave up looking for me.”That was when the attack came. A Jordanian security official confirmed the July 4 attack on Sultan and said the four men arrested from the car were Syrians. The official would not say more about the case and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.last_img read more

"Syrians in Jordan fear hunt from Assad agents"

Bahamas holds byelection to fill former PMs seat

first_img New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) – Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie is seeking to add to his party’s big parliamentary majority by winning even in his former rival’s district.Monday’s by-election on Abaco island will fill the seat of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.Ingraham stepped down earlier this year after Christie’s Progressive Liberal Party swept his Free National Movement from power. Ingraham held the North Abaco seat for 35 years. Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Christie says a win in Abaco would be the “icing on the cake” after his party’s lopsided victory in May elections. Christie’s party controls 29 of 38 parliamentary seats.The two parties dominate political life in the archipelago off Florida’s east coast.Analysts expect a tight race between ruling party candidate Renardo Curry and the opposition’s Greg Gomez.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

"Bahamas holds byelection to fill former PMs seat"

Reporters press for open session on defense bill

first_img Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories The journalists said the American people would be well-served if the panel allowed the public to see lawmakers at work.The Senate panel is expected to begin work on the bill next week.A spokesman for the committee said an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the panel voted last week to hold a closed markup.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington,Tuesday, May 5, 2015, as he walks to a Senate GOP policy luncheon. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober WASHINGTON (AP) — A group advocating for the Capitol Hill press corps is pressing the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to open the panel’s crafting of the annual defense policy bill.The Standing Committee of Correspondents wrote to Sen. John McCain on Wednesday and asked him to reconsider the panel’s April 23 decision to meet behind closed doors when it drafts the legislation. The panel typically closes its markup of the bill to the public. Comments   Share   Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

"Reporters press for open session on defense bill"

Showdown Zimbabwe threatens to drive out sidewalk vendors

first_img How do cataracts affect your vision? Tupo Dzetse, who said he settled for vending after fleeing anti-immigrant attacks in South Africa, said that for him this is a matter of life and death.“I was in the frying pan and now I am being thrown into the fire,” he said while hawking children’s toys in downtown Harare. “At least in South Africa I had a job. But this is my country of birth so they will have to kill me first.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe has said it will use security forces to drive out thousands of vendors selling their wares on the sidewalks and pavements of major towns, with an army general warning that soldiers will intervene if hawkers ignore a Sunday deadline to leave.But with next to zero chances of scoring formal employment in a rapidly de-industrializing economy, many of the vendors are vowing to stay put. Comments   Share   Once regarded as one of Africa’s cleanest cities, Harare is now a sea of vendors who clog pavements with wares of all sorts — clothing, fruits and vegetables, food, cosmetics — even car parts and medicines. The African Development Bank says at least two thirds of Zimbabweans are engaged in informal trade due to a debilitating economic meltdown.“We will deal with you,” Brig. Gen. Anselem Sanyatwe told representatives of vendors this week.Tendai Mahachi, Harare City Council town clerk, said the council has space for 6,000 vendors but that 20,000 are operating within the central business district, adding that police would be used if they don’t voluntarily leave.“They have to leave by Sunday otherwise we will act,” he said as a showdown on Monday loomed.The National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe, which claims to have 100,000 members, described the ultimatum as a declaration of war.“Where will our members go? Survival has to come before anything else and right now we can only survive through street vending,” said the organization’s director, Samuel Wadzai.The vendors are receiving support from opposition parties and non-governmental organizations. Some human rights lawyers have written to local government minister Ignatius Chombo threatening legal action if the ultimatum is not withdrawn. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

"Showdown Zimbabwe threatens to drive out sidewalk vendors"

Kurds capture key Islamic Stateheld border town in Syria

first_img Men’s health affects baby’s health too “Daesh has been broken at the hands of the YPG. … It is a victory for all Syrians,” he said by telephone from northern Syria, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.The Kurdish advance has displaced some 23,000 people who fled to Turkey to escape the fighting, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in Turkey. Around 70 percent are women and children.An Associated Press team on the Turkish side of the Akcakale border crossing said a large black and white Islamic State group flag was taken down from a pole in Tal Abyad and replaced with a yellow, triangular YPG flag Tuesday.The border was calm, in sharp contrast to previous days when thousands of Syrians poured into the border crossing, some punching a hole in the fence to break into Turkey. On Tuesday, a few civilians were seen walking around, along with some people on the Turkish side apparently waiting to go back into Syria.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also confirmed Tuesday that the YPG seized the town with the Free Syrian Army.The takeover of Tal Abyad marks the biggest setback yet to the Islamic State group, which lost a key supply line for its nearby self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa. It deprives the group of a direct route for bringing in foreign militants and supplies, and links the Kurds’ two fronts, putting even more pressure on Raqqa. Both al-Jabouri and Hikmat said work was still underway to compensate those who have had their properties damaged.State television aired footage of security forces guarding buses packed with people, some waving Iraqi flags. Some residents could be seen embracing security forces when they reached Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, while others fired rifles into the air in celebration.The Islamic State group captured Tikrit last summer during its sweep across the country. Iraqi forces managed to retake it following weeks of intense fighting and U.S.-led airstrikes, marking their biggest gain yet against the extremist group in Iraq.According to Iraq’s Migration and Displaced Ministry, around 400,000 people fled the province of Salahuddin, where Tikrit is the capital, since its capture in June 2014. Some families have trickled back to liberated areas outside Tikrit, but this the first time they are returning to the provincial capital.After retaking Tikrit in April, officials said it would take time for people to return because bombs needed to be cleared, police stations opened and services restored.___Salaheddin reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writers Lefteris Pitarakis and Berza Simsek in Akcakale, Turkey, and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report. Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   The U.S. provided crucial air cover for the Kurds in their advance, launching concentrated airstrikes that targeted the militants inside and along supply routes.The Islamic State defeat in Tal Abyad is a stunning reversal of fortunes for the group, which only last month captured the provincial capital of Ramadi in Iraq’s Anbar province and the historic town of Palmyra in central Syria.The Islamic State group still holds about a third of Iraq and Syria, including Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. Extremist fighters continue to battle Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen for territory north and east of the capital, Baghdad.On Tuesday, Iraqi officials said that families began returning to Tikrit two and a half months after security forces backed by Shiite militias drove the Islamic State group out of the Sunni city.Gov. Raed al-Jabouri of Salahuddin province told the AP in a phone interview that around 200 families, who spent the past months either in makeshift tent camps or half-built and abandoned buildings outside the city, had returned the day before.Al-Jabouri said more than 1,000 families are expected to return Thursday.Deputy governor Ammar Hikmat said public services inside the city are still struggling due to military operations and that authorities are working to restore them. Hikmat added that the main challenge was electricity as the national grid offers less than 10 hours a day of power, while many of the generator plants outside the city are not working. He said drinking water was available for about 80 percent for the city. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The vital role family plays in society Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories BEIRUT (AP) — Kurdish fighters took full control of the border town of Tal Abyad on Tuesday, dealing a major blow to the Islamic State group’s ability to wage war in Syria by cutting off a vital supply line to its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa.A senior Kurdish commander, Haqi Kobane, told The Associated Press that Kurdish units known as the YPG that he leads, along with their allies from the Free Syrian Army, were starting to clear booby traps and mines in the town along the border with Turkey. The extremists had been in control of it for more than a year. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Quick workouts for men Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywalllast_img read more

"Kurds capture key Islamic Stateheld border town in Syria"

Visitors to Havana can find USCuban connections everywhere

first_img Top Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Here’s a look:___HEMINGWAYAmerican writer Ernest Hemingway lived in Cuba on and off for years and worked on some of his most famous books here, including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea.” One of Havana’s biggest tourist attractions is his estate at Finca Vigia, visited by literary pilgrims from around the world and Cubans alike. You can’t enter the home, but large open windows provide a good look inside. Liquor bottles and magazines artfully placed amid sofas and tables suggest Hemingway will be back at any moment. Also onsite is Hemingway’s boat, the Pilar.Photos of Hemingway posing with trophy fish and with revolutionary leader Fidel Castro decorate many bars and hotels, including the Ambos Mundos hotel in Old Havana, where you can tour a room Hemingway lived in. And two Havana bars attract a steady stream of tourists in part thanks to Hemingway’s famed drinking declaration: “My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita.” The handwritten quote, allegedly scribbled by Hemingway himself, is framed over the bar at La Bodeguita del Medio. The Floridita features a Hemingway statue.Other sites include a yacht club named the Hemingway Marina and a Hemingway monument in the nearby fishing village of Cojimar. Sponsored Stories ___MOBSTERS, MOVIE STARS AND BASEBALL PLAYERSMany hotels display pictures and stories from Havana’s pre-revolutionary heyday as a glamorous playground for mobsters, movie stars and baseball players, from a plaque about Babe Ruth in the Hotel Plaza lobby to a photo exhibit at the Hotel Nacional that includes Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire. The Nacional’s official history notes that in 1946, it was the site of a meeting of Mafia bosses. The gathering later inspired part of “The Godfather: Part II.”Black-and-white photos also decorate Sloppy Joe’s, an Old Havana bar once frequented by Hemingway and other celebs. Sloppy Joe’s also figured in a piece of British culture, the book and film “Our Man in Havana,” Graham Greene’s story of a bumbling spy.___JOHN LENNON, HONORARY NEW YORKERJohn Lennon was British but New Yorkers consider him one of their own: He lived and died in Manhattan. One of Havana’s prettiest parks, John Lennon Park, has a bench where fans can pose with a sculpture of the singer. When tourists approach, an attendant places spectacles on the statue’s face. An inscription in Spanish quotes from Lennon’s song “Imagine”: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   FILE – In this Feb. 2, 2010 file photo, visitors look at a wax figure of U.S. writer Ernest Hemingway at an exhibition in the wax museum at Bayamo, Cuba. Hemingway lived in Cuba on and off for years and worked on some of his most famous books there, including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea.” (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Prensa Latina, File) ___USS MAINEThe battleship USS Maine was destroyed in an explosion in Havana harbor in 1898 that killed 266 men. “Remember the Maine!” became a rallying cry for the Spanish-American War. America’s victory over Spain liberated Cuba, which had been a Spanish colony, but also led to U.S. intervention in Cuban affairs.A monument to the Maine, with two soaring white columns, sits on Havana’s seaside boulevard, the Malecon. A bronze eagle that crowned the monument was ripped down during an anti-U.S. protest in 1961, and the bird’s head is now kept inside the diplomatic mission that just became the U.S. Embassy. The rest of the eagle is with the office of Havana’s city historian. Some say U.S.-Cuba relations will be fully normalized when the eagle is put back together and once again crowns the monument.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies ___U.S. PRESIDENTSSeveral sites around Havana reference U.S. presidents, but not all are complimentary.Inside the Museum of the Revolution, caricatures of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are displayed in “Cretins Corner.” Outside the museum sits wreckage from a U.S. spy plane shot down over Cuba in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a defining moment in John F. Kennedy’s presidency.Abraham Lincoln is honored with two statues: a miniature sculpture outside an English-language school, Escuela de Idiomas, on Avenida de los Presidentes between 17th and 19th streets in the Vedado neighborhood, and a bust in the Parque de la Fraternidad on the Paseo del Prado.Even Havana’s domed Capitolio building will look familiar to Americans. It was modeled on the U.S. Capitol in Washington.___THE ROSENBERGSJulius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by the U.S. government on charges of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Their deaths were protested around the world; they left behind two young children and newly released 1950 grand jury testimony suggests Ethel may have been innocent. In Havana, a brick memorial at Zapata and Paseo streets is decorated with their images, a flock of doves and the words, “For peace, bread and roses, we will face the executioner. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, murdered June 19, 1953.” Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall HAVANA (AP) — This week’s reopening of embassies and resumption of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba opens a new chapter in the countries’ complicated relationship.But any visitor to the Cuban capital can see that connections between the two nations run long and deep just by taking stock of all the attractions showcasing American culture and history. Despite decades of hostility, some of these sites even seem to celebrate Americans, while others reflect an anti-U.S. point of view. Quick workouts for men 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

"Visitors to Havana can find USCuban connections everywhere"

ExUN climate panel head accused of stalking loses India job

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories Pachauri had headed the four-decade-old think-tank for the last 34 years, when it emerged as a global center for research in efficient utilization of energy and sustainable use of natural resources. It has affiliate institutes in London and Washington, D.C.The accusations against Pachauri caused widespread outrage in India, where women face a stigma against discussing issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace. However, several recent high-profile cases suggest that women are beginning to feel more comfortable going public with reports of sexual assaults.Pachauri has chaired the climate panel — considered the world’s authority on climate science — since 2002, and had accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on its behalf.The panel had shared the award with Al Gore, a former U.S. vice president and environmental campaigner.___This story corrects to show that the institute is private.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall NEW DELHI (AP) — The former chairman of the U.N. climate panel has been removed from his job as head of a top energy institute in India following allegations of sexual harassment.The governing council of The Energy and Resources Institute announced late Thursday that Rajendra Pachauri would be replaced as director-general of the renowned environment think-tank by Arun Mathur, an energy efficiency expert.Although no reasons were given for Pachauri’s replacement, the council said the decision was taken keeping in view the interests of the private institute and its 1,200 employees working in different parts of the world. Pachauri, 75, resigned from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in February, after a 29-year-old woman accused him of stalking and sexually harassing her while they worked together at the institute. He denies the allegations.The woman filed a complaint with the police in early February alleging assault and criminal intimidation. She handed over as evidence dozens of text messages and emails that she alleged had been sent by Pachauri.Separately, the institute’s internal complaints committee examined the evidence presented by the researcher, and questioned nearly 50 other employees at the institute, and concluded that the allegations of sexual harassment leveled by the researcher were valid.No formal charges have been filed yet against Pachauri, but a court in February had prohibited him from entering or contacting anyone at the institute.In March, police told a Delhi court that Pachauri was allegedly “influencing witnesses” and hampering their investigations.Pachauri’s removal Thursday follows protests after a Delhi court last week allowed him to return to work at the institute. In the past couple of years, India has seen a wave of public anger and protest over a socially conservative nation’s chronic problem with sexual harassment and violence against women. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories 0 Comments   Share   5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

"ExUN climate panel head accused of stalking loses India job"

Conservative move against Boehner a sign of discontent

first_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories The resolution said Boehner, R-Ohio, “has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.”Meadows told reporters that he hoped his action prompted a “discussion” with Boehner and other House leaders “about representing the American people. It’s about fairness.”Meadows said he wants Boehner and other GOP leaders to make sure that “every voice and every vote is respected, and votes of conscience are respected and not punished.”Democrats seized on the unrest.“As the American people look to Congress for solutions to the challenges they face, they increasingly see a Republican Congress dominated by obstruction, distraction and dysfunction,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, said on Wednesday. He added, “The American people deserve better.”The acrimony within the Republican Party has been on stark display in Congress. Last Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of lying about votes. And more Republican infighting broke out Monday night as an email from an aide to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, suggested that conservative groups should take Lee’s fellow Republicans to task if they opposed him on a legislative maneuver to advance a repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Some GOP lawmakers backing leadership voiced concern that by keeping his effort to depose Boehner alive during the August recess, it would blunt the Republican effort to focus voters on why President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is bad.“There’s been no one that’s been stronger on the Iran message. And to suggest we can only have one message when we go back home to talk to the American people would be to imply that our town halls can only have one question,” Meadows said.Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who has experienced the wrath of the leadership and is a Boehner foe, complained that the leaders are “not listening to the American people.” He faulted leaders for not allowing quick votes against same-sex marriage and federal money for Planned Parenthood.“He just has the courage to do something about it,” Jones said of Meadows.___Follow Matthew Daly: http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDCAssociated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this story.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Lee’s move angered Republicans, and Lee sought to contain the damage, telling colleagues in a closed-door meeting that he hadn’t authorized the email.The resolution Meadows filed accused the speaker of causing “the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People.” And it said Boehner “uses the power of the office to punish members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the speaker.”Last month, the leadership briefly stripped Meadows of his subcommittee chairmanship over his votes in a move supported by Boehner, but later relented after conservatives objected.Boehner’s office had no comment. He is in his third term as speaker.Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., dismissed the resolution and Meadows’ move.“You don’t raise any money, you need a way to raise money, you do gimmicks like this,” said Nunes, who is close to Boehner.Meadows disputed that claim.“This is really more about an issue of fairness. It is not about raising money” for re-election, said Meadows, a two-term lawmaker who was elected in the tea party-backed 2010 class and represents the western tip of North Carolina. WASHINGTON (AP) — An effort by a conservative Republican to strip House Speaker John Boehner of his position as the top House leader is largely symbolic, but is a sign of discontent among the more conservative wing of the House GOP.On Tuesday, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who was disciplined earlier this year by House leadership, filed a resolution to vacate the chair, an initial procedural step.The proposal was referred to a committee stocked with leadership loyalists, and it is unlikely to emerge. The move, however, reflected the discontent in the GOP where members have been frustrated with leaders’ willingness to compromise on some legislation. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation FILE – In this Sept. 26, 2014, file photo, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington. Meadows, a conservative Republican who was disciplined earlier in 2015 by House Speaker John Boehner is pushing a largely symbolic effort to strip the Ohio Republican of his position as the top House leader. Meadows on July 28, 2015, filed a resolution to vacate the chair, an initial procedural step. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

"Conservative move against Boehner a sign of discontent"

Government must act now to mitigate tourism fallout from JAL

first_imgThe Australian government must act now to mitigate any tourism fallout from the financial troubles plaguing Japan Airlines. Shadow Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo said the bankruptcy rumours plaguing JAL were worrying for the tourism industry, particularly for Queensland, the epicentre of Japanese tourism in Australia. Mr Ciobo urged the Rudd Labor Government to swing into action to stem any further damage to the tourism industry.“JAL provides regular tourism access into Australia via Sydney and Brisbane. It is vital it maintains these links – whole swathes of the industry are banking on them,” Mr Ciobo said.He said Japanese tourism was at a crossroads and that Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese had to prioritise the sector. “Mr Ferguson and Mr Albanese must make it their number one priority to meet the relevant tourism industry heads to work out a plan of action which could include additional marketing in the Japanese market, or the show of support which the Coalition Government offered in 2007.”“After a decline in Japanese tourism in recent years, the industry was beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel thanks to increased capacity on the route,” Mr Ciobo said.Mr Ciobo said there are two simple reasons why JAL must maintain its existing routes into Australia.  “JAL has an extensive and long-established distribution network in Japan making it a trusted player in the market. “Secondly, if JAL pulls the pin here, it will reduce competition on the route which would lead to higher prices and, therefore, fewer visitors.”Despite the decline in Japanese tourism in recent years, Japan has maintained its position as the fourth-largest source of international visitors to Australia.According to latest figures, almost 348,000 Japanese visitors came to Australia and spent almost $1 billion in the year to September. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/2a1ec/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

"Government must act now to mitigate tourism fallout from JAL"

Get your chopsticks ready for Contiki Asias Same Same b

first_imgThe Two Tims with Tammy Marshall Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F Contiki has released Same Same, but Different, a fly-on-the-wall style documentary starring travel’s most dynamic duo, the Two Tims. The 15-minute movie offers a tantalizing taste of the Contiki Asia experience, with the perfect mix of authentic activities, quality accommodation and amazing sights. Contiki’s 2010-11 Asia program features four fantastic itineraries covering the unique destination highlights in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. The documentary follows the Two Tims on Contiki Asia’s 14-day Asian Adventure as they taste deep-fried insects from vendors in Bangkok, participate in prayer with Buddhist monks, take part in a cooking class in Chang Mai and try out their mahout skills in Laos. Tammy Marshall, managing director, Contiki Holidays said, “The release of Same Same, but Different, marks yet another creative initiative Contiki has adopted to help consultants communicate with the youth market. “The footage can be used as a sales tool at a sell level, and at film nights, conferences and trade shows to help generate new sales and interest within the youth market travelling to Asia. “Contiki really broke the mould with our new Asia program.  It was the first of its kind in terms of product and quality available in the region and Same Same, but Different really demonstrates how the brand has evolved to suit this exotic destination. “Accommodation is almost entirely made up of quality three star hotels, with a couple of cool local digs thrown to enhance the experience such as locally owned and operated guesthouse in Pakbeng and the Mekong Delta, plus an awesome overnight junk boat cruise on Halong Bay. “Plus, each Asian itinerary features unique transport modes including tuk-tuks through Laos, overnight train in Thailand, wooden boats on the Mekong, dragon boat in Hue, pedal power in Cambodia, flights and much more.” Tammy said that Contiki Asia had been very successful since its launch late last year and she also hinted that a number of new destinations would be added to the program by year’s end.  last_img read more

"Get your chopsticks ready for Contiki Asias Same Same b"