Will Captain Paul Watson be extradited

first_imgConservationist arrested in Germany on charges from Costa Rica From the print editionA German court on Friday granted bail to marine conservationist Paul Watson German while authorities decide whether he can be extradited. Watson was in a German jail cell awaiting extradition orders to face charges in Costa Rica of attempted shipwrecking and damage to property. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.The case has drawn international attention and outraged environmental groups in Costa Rica and abroad, who say the country is demonstrating a double standard on protecting marine resources – particularly the widespread practice of shark finning – at the same time it is selling the image of being a world leader in conservation.German police arrested Watson, the 61-year-old founder of marine conservation group Sea Shepherd, at the Frankfurt airport on Sunday, following a Costa Rican arrest warrant issued by the Prosecutor’s Office last October. A German court on Monday ordered Watson to remain in custody pending the outcome of the extradition process, which is handled by Costa Rican and German foreign ministries.A spokesman for Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to questions from The Tico Times by press time.“My client is shocked,” Watson’s attorney, Oliver Wallasch, said following the arrest.The case stems from an incident on April 22, 2002, when Capt. Watson and a crew aboard the Ocean Warrior (later renamed the Farley Mowat) were en route to Costa Rica to sign an agreement with the Costa Rican government to protect and patrol Cocos Island, a treasured protected marine area some 500 kilometers off the Pacific mainland, to counter widespread illegal fishing in the area.Some 230 kilometers off the coast of Guatemala, the Ocean Warrior came upon Costa Rican fishing vessel Varadero I, owned by Franklin Martínez of Puntarenas, on the central Pacific coast. What happened next has been heatedly debated by Watson and his crew, and Martínez and the eight fishermen aboard the vessel that day.According to Sea Shepherd’s version, the Ocean Warrior caught the Varadero I’s crew illegally shark-fishing by dropping an 80-kilometer longline within Guatemala’s 320-kilometer “no take” zone. Watson ordered the vessel to cut its line and release its catch. Sea Shepherd said at the time the vessel’s line had hooked and “strangled” at least 17 sharks during the encounter.Watson’s crew filmed the incident with three video cameras, and used some of the footage in “Sharkwater,” a documentary about shark finning released later that year.“On order of the Guatemalan authorities, Sea Shepherd instructed the crew of the Varadero I to cease their shark finning activities and head back to port to be prosecuted,” the group said in a statement this week.It claimed that while escorting the Varadero I back to port, the tables were turned and a Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew.“The crew of the Varadero accused the Sea Shepherds of trying to kill them, while the video evidence proves this to be a fallacy,” said the group, which was set up in 1977 to campaign against the slaughter of ocean wildlife.“To avoid the Guatemalan gunboat, Sea Shepherd then set sail for Costa Rica, where they uncovered even more illegal shark finning activities in the form of dried shark fins by the thousands on the roofs of industrial buildings,” the statement said.The Varadero I also set course for Costa Rica, pursued by Watson and his crew. When the two boats arrived in Costa Rican waters, local Coast Guard officials intercepted them, and Watson was detained on charges of attempted murder and attempted shipwrecking.The Varadero I crew said the boat had engine trouble and accidentally drifted into Guatemalan waters, where the Ocean Warrior attacked them. They denied allegations that they had been illegally fishing for sharks, and two fishermen said they were injured during the alleged attack.Shortly after Watson’s arrest, prosecutors in Puntarenas dropped charges of attempted murder and said they would not pursue other charges of attempted shipwrecking and damage to property after viewing Sea Shepherd’s video footage of the incident. A prosecutor told Watson and his attorney at the time that there was no evidence of wrongdoing (TT, May 10, 2003).But prosecutors later reversed that decision and formally charged Watson with attempted shipwrecking and damage to property in early May 2002. In the month following the incident, four different prosecutors and three different judges handled the case. Environmental groups at the time claimed the case was orchestrated by the Puntarenas Fisherman’s Chamber to scuttle the Cocos Island patrol agreement, a charge both the chamber and then-Prosecutor Rodrigo Vásquez denied.Watson, whom Sea Shepherd members affectionately call “the captain” and who looks the part with a thick shock of white hair and beard, fled Costa Rica, and officials issued a warrant for his arrest, which went unenforced for nearly a decade.Wallasch said after Monday’s court hearing that his client must remain in custody until the Costa Rican extradition request is considered, adding that he did not know how long the process would take.Watson was passing through Frankfurt on his way to France to attend conferences when he was arrested, said a member of Sea Shepherd’s German branch, Olav Jost, who was with Watson during the first hours of his detention.“He was extremely surprised at being stopped since he has visited Germany and elsewhere in Europe in the past without any problems,” Jost said.Watson was being assisted while in custody by European Parliament members Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Jose Bove.“Our hope is that these two honorable gentlemen can set Captain Watson free before this nonsense goes any further,” Sea Shepherd said.According to Sea Shepherd, Costa Rica’s arrest warrant last October coincided with a civil case against the group by Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research, Australian newspaper The Age reported.“It is no coincidence that the extradition request by Costa Rica was issued the same month as the Japanese lawsuit against Sea Shepherd was initiated,” Watson told The Age.The newspaper also reported that the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the authority to stop extradition procedures on political grounds. As of press time, German officials had not announced whether they would grant the extradition request.In Costa Rica, environmental groups also are pressuring the government to intervene to stop extradition from moving forward. But members of President Laura Chinchilla’s administration are distancing themselves from the case and treating it as a criminal matter to be handled by the courts.“We understand that Costa Rica’s image can be affected [by this case], as well as the work of environmental organizations, but this issue is out of Executive Branch’s control because of separation of powers, and we hope that nongovernmental organizations understand this,” Communications Minister Francisco Chacón told local online news agency crhoy.com.Environment Minister René Castro also told crhoy.com that “we cannot interfere with the work of other government branches.”That hasn’t stopped environmental groups from calling on Chinchilla and Castro to exercise special Executive powers.“We want Chinchilla to issue an official pardon,” said Randall Arauz, president of the Marine Turtle Restoration Program, a Costa Rica-based marine conservation group. “We should invite [Watson] to Costa Rica and have an official ‘we’re sorry’ event.”Poll Do you think Costa Rican authorities should drop the charges against Paul Watson? Yes. He was only trying to protect sharks because governments aren’t doing enough. No. He jeopardized fishermen’s lives so he must face the consequences.  No response. Related posts:Costa Rica denies claim by Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson that Interpol Red Notice ‘has been dropped’ Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson arrested in Germany Will Sea Shepherd’s Watson strike a deal to face Costa Rica charges? Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson a repeat guest on Costa Rica’s Rainforest Radio Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Preserve Planet releases video tribute to slain Costa Rican environmentalist Jairo Mora

first_imgOne of the messages of the campaign reads: “My man doesn’t need turtle eggs.” Never consume turtle eggs. Boycott bars and businesses that offer them.  Courtesy of Preserve Planet On a Facebook page, the group started a day-count called “El conteo de la vergüenza” (“The count of shame”) displaying the number of days gone by without an arrest in the case.Marín added that his “only hope is that this heinous crime does not go unpunished, as did the murders of other [Costa Rican] environmentalists under suspicious circumstances.”The statement also explains that Preserve Planet and the Marine Turtle Restoration Program (PRETOMA) soon will launch a media campaign to boycott the sale and consumption of turtle eggs throughout Costa Rica.The group also posted a Facebook message asking people to denounce and send pictures of bars and other businesses selling turtle eggs.“Thanks to the absurd tradition of consuming them [sea turtle eggs], a human being was killed,” Marín said. “If there is no consumption there will be no poachers looting turtle nests on our beaches,” he added.Last month, international conservation group Sea Shepherd announced they would add a new vessel to their fleet named the “S.S. Jairo Mora Sandoval,” to honor the 26-year-old Tico. The news was confirmed by Sea Shepherd founder Capt. Paul Watson in a phone interview aired by local RainforestRadio.com.Last week, RainforestRadio.com and LATalkRadio.com host Jani Schulz and Tico Times editor David Boddiger discussed the Mora case, as well as Schulz’ exclusive interview with Watson, and Costa Rica’s ongoing legal case against him. Listen to the broadcast here.Watch the video: Facebook Comments The environmental organization Preserve Planet on Wednesday released a visual tribute to Costa Rican turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval, a 26-year-old killed on a Caribbean beach while guarding turtle nests.The 90-second short features voice-over narration by Costa Rican poet and writer Jaime Mejía, and an official theme of the international campaign “The Power of One” by acclaimed Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer.Photographs of Mora appear after images of environmental heroes such as Native American nature advocate Chief Seattle and Brazilian environmentalist and union leader Chico Mendes, who was assassinated by a rancher in 1988.Two versions of the spot, in English and Spanish, can be seen online on Preserve Planet’s YouTube Channel and on its Facebook page.Preserve Planet coordinator Luis Diego Marín lamented that, “It’s already been more than 50 days since Jairo’s death, and so far, police don’t have a lead on his murderers. It shows the lack of ability of judicial investigators.” Related posts:Why Jairo died Conservation group delivers $14,000 check to family of slain turtle protector Jairo Mora Costa Rica environmental groups still raising questions in Jairo Mora case Jairo Mora honored at 50th anniversary of Costa Rica’s National Park Systemlast_img read more

Costa Rica approves legislation to regulate scientific research on humans

first_imgA majority of lawmakers on Tuesday evening approved a new piece of legislation that outlines the parameters for conducting scientific research on humans for health purposes, an action ordered three years ago by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV.At the time, the Sala IV suspended all such research until a law to regulate it was approved. The ruling halted 124 clinical experiments and 235 epidemiological studies.The bill, No. 17,777 and now known as the Biomedical Research Regulatory Law, establishes regulations that must be followed by both public and private researchers.It states that biomedical research in Costa Rica must be designed for developing or contributing to knowledge on human health, and that it must be guided by the principles of respect for human dignity.It also stipulates that participation in a biomedical investigation must be voluntary and, therefore, participants must not be paid for it. Participants only would be reimbursed for costs associated with participation.As a requirement, volunteers must consent to participation by signing every page of a written authorization.“The approval of this bill is a milestone for the country. The government greatly thanks lawmakers of all parties for reaching an agreement to pass this legislation that will enhance scientific and business growth in the country,” Presidency Minister Carlos Ricardo Benavides said in a press release on Tuesday.The bill was approved in a first round of debate by 37 lawmakers, while eight voted against it.Accessibility Without Exclusion Party lawmaker Víctor Emilio Granados voted against the bill arguing he believes that “this new legislation authorizes the participation of underage volunteers or those with some level of mental disability,” as the drafting states that these people can participate “as long as the research results may produce direct health benefits, or when comparable results in older individuals or in those incapable of consenting cannot be obtained.”Granados argued that the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ensures that persons with severe mental disabilities should not be subjected to biomedical research. Lawmakers agreed to send the approved draft to the Sala IV for consultation.On her Twitter account, President Laura Chinchilla criticized the delay that the consultation would generate, saying, “Despite the urgency to vote in a second debate the Biomedical Research Law, and after years of debate, lawmakers now will consult with Sala IV.”The law also would stipulate that the government must guarantee the rights and safety of research participants, and ensure compliance with ethical standards.The bill would create a new agency called the National Health Research Council (CONIS), which would form part of the Health Ministry and have the responsibility of “ensuring the quality of all research and its strict adherence to human rights.”Although the draft must receive the Sala IV’s approval, lawmakers expect to vote it into law during a second round of debate on Thursday. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

67 Costa Rican municipalities now have ordinances banning GMO crops

first_imgWith the passage of a new ordinances in the Caribbean slope town of Siquirres and the southern Pacific city of Golfito 82 percent of Costa Rican municipalities have now banned the growth of genetically modified crops.Although municipal governments across the country seem eager to jump on the GMO-free bandwagon, without a national ban the ordinances are not enforceable. GMO projects previously approved by the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry will continue, even in municipalities with bans.  Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Puerto Viejo Deep Dive Surfing the Caribbeans gnarly waves

first_imgRelated posts:Surfing in Costa Rica: Secrets from a local surfer Rough edges and rich culture: Our Puerto Viejo Deep Dive World Surfing League arrives in Jacó Surfing one of the world’s best waves in Pavones Sunshine, surfing and reggae make Puerto Viejo one of the preferred destinations of many Costa Ricans. There’s something about the Caribbean that makes you relax, and feel at home. The locals are very friendly, and their cuisine is delicious. You’ll also find several surf spots for different levels, and if you are lucky enough, you could surf all day longBeware though, you need some surfing experience to surf most of the spots in Puerto Viejo and some are only for advanced surfers. The Caribbean’s waves are fast and furious and not everyone has come out victorious.The Caribbean season starts around December and stretches out to March. That’s when storms churning off Cartagena, Colombia, and an ENE swell brings waves directly to Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. This does not mean potential swells will come in during other times of the year. But if you want to be assured action, make sure to be here during this season.When the waves do hit, Cocles and Hermosa beach are two of the best beach breaks in the zone. The wave will break at a depth of less than 1 meter from the sand and these waves are usually pretty fast. If the waves are big, breaking a board is easier than you think. Cocles Beach in Limón. Meg Yamamoto/The Tico TimesCocles and Hermosa sound tough, but that’s only where the locals go when there are no waves at the reef breaks.Salsa Brava is one of the gnarliest and heaviest spots in the zone. It’s also known as the Costa Rican pipeline, or The Spicy Sauce (a direct translation from Spanish). If you do not have an advanced surfing level, stay out of the water. Surfing above your level can lead to an accident or even death. Even local surfing legends have been victims of the reef. Just ask Gilbert Brown about his tooth.Just getting to the spot is a challenge and I highly recommend getting local help if you decide to go in. There are a series of canals in the reef that you have to navigate to get out to the spot. I wouldn’t explore them on my own.It’s common to see surfers come out of the water with wounds after they slam into the coral reef. If at any point you do get cut by coral, take care of it immediately. There are some species of coral that are toxic and in general, these cuts are very infectious.If you cut yourself make sure to follow this recommendation from Surfline:Remove all dead skin with a sharp, clean pair of scissors that have been boiled to kill bacteria. (Bacteria love to grow in, under, and around dead skin.) Anesthetizing around the wound is a good idea, if that’s what it takes to clean it well. Clean it with soap and fresh water and a soft, sterile brush, if required. Flush with a mixture of one-half water and one-half hydrogen peroxide to remove coral dust and then flush with fresh water. Don’t grab the bottle and pour it on the wound, dilute it. Full strength peroxide might delay the healing process. Then use clean water to flush it under pressure and very thoroughly for five minutes.Following this advice can prevent you from going home early and ruining the trip for your buddies.But the risk is worth the reward. The wave at Salsa Brava is a peak that can break in both directions. Depending on the swell’s direction, it may be more constant in one direction rather than the other. If the weather is not too warm and there’s been some rain, there’s a high chance the water will be glassy and ideal for surfing. If the conditions are aligned with the proper swell, you can surf all day long with the best barrels of your life.If you are coming to this beautiful town, make sure to bring your surfing gear. There are no surfing stores around and even getting a wax bar is more complicated than it should be. It’s also most likely overpriced.Puerto Viejo isn’t the best place to buy a board either. You will find some surf rentals and surf schools, but I wouldn’t consider it a commercial surf town like Santa Teresa.If you’re in town with some non-surfers, there are several beaches you can drive or bike up to that will get you feeling the laid-back Caribbean vibe. Playa Negra, Punta Uva and Manzanillo are a few spots to chill with the family and non-surfing friends. There aren’t big waves at these beaches so you can go for a swim without worrying too much about riptides and waves violently crashing on your head.This does not mean you should disrespect the ocean and its imminent dangers. Always keep an eye out for rip tides. Some of the local cuisine options in Puerto Viejo. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)Puerto Viejo is a town where people embrace their culture/ Calypso, patty (a spicy meat-stuffed empanada-looking pie) and rice-and-beans are some of the treasures you can find here. The best patty I’ve ever had is in a little yellow shack in downtown Puerto Viejo. It’s a personal must-go for me, and I usually go more than once.Also, a trip to Limon that doesn’t include rice-and-beans with your preferred protein and some fried plantains isn’t a complete trip. If you visit, don’t miss out on any of these.Remember to be safe out in the water, and avoid spots you have never been in by yourself. Take care of nature and be respectful to locals. Having this said, see you in the water!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 Commentslast_img read more

UK operated US drones over Libya

first_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressLONDON (AP) – British Royal Air Force personnel operated U.S. drones over Libya last year in support of the NATO mission there, the Ministry of Defense said Thursday.While the American use of drones in Libya was previously known _ a U.S. Predator drone took part in the airstrike that hit a convoy carrying ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi _ British officials have insisted that no U.K. drones were involved there or have been used outside of Afghanistan. Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   The Ministry of Defense said Thursday that was still the case, but confirmed that Royal Air Force personnel embedded within a U.S. unit had operated “armed Remotely Piloted Air Systems missions” against Gadhafi’s forces in Libya in 2011.It did not provide further details on the number of armed drone missions RAF personnel flew or what U.S. unit they were embedded with, but stressed that the U.K. armed forces routinely embed within units of allied nations _ and vice versa _ through exchange programs.“There were no and are no” U.K. drones operating outside of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The vital role family plays in society Top Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

1 dead 4 injured in Bolivian miners protest

first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   The two sides have been staging rival protests for months over control of the Colquiri tin mine, which is 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the capital.Tuesday’s protest saw thousands of independent miners take to the streets, some setting off small dynamite blasts.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Check your body, save your life Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous ofcenter_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) – Rival worker groups vying for control of a lucrative state tin mine battled on a central avenue of Bolivia’s capital Tuesday, including setting off dynamite explosions that killed one miner dead and injured at least four.Doctors said one man died from chest and throat injuries, and another man lost an arm. Three others suffered lesser injuries.The bloodshed occurred when one faction of privately contracted miners threw a small dynamite charge into a crowd of state miners who were protesting on a main road in La Paz. Top holiday drink recipes Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daylast_img read more

QA Why marches trigger Northern Ireland strife

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix WHO’S MARCHING?The Protestant “loyal orders,” chiefly two groups called the Orangemen and the Apprentice Boys. Members carry hand-painted banners depicting key historical events and values, both political and religious, while groups of fife and drum _ often called “kick the pope” bands _ play tunes ranging from the spiritual to the overtly anti-Irish.WHY DO THEY DO IT?For the Protestants, a successful march demonstrates their continued hold over endlessly disputed territory, town by town, street by street. They expect their right to freedom of assembly to be upheld by the law.But for most Catholics, the marches are offensive, considered mass intimidation by the Protestant majority.WHO ARE THE ORANGEMEN?The Orangemen honor King William of Orange, a Dutchman who ousted a Catholic from the British throne in 1688 and then defeated that rival, James II, in a series of battles in Ireland. The Orange Order’s biggest marches come each July 12, the anniversary of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, when William’s army forded a river south of Belfast to rout James’ forces _ and according to Orange lore, ensured Protestant civil and religious liberty from that day forward. WHO ARE THE APPRENTICE BOYS?The Apprentice Boys of Derry, based in Northern Ireland’s second-largest city, Londonderry, honor the other totemic moment from those 17th-century religious wars: the 1689 Siege of Derry. The recently deposed James, seeking to reclaim his London throne from his sanctuary in predominantly Catholic Ireland, sent forces to demand that the Protestant garrison of the walled town surrender. Teenage apprentices bolted the gates shut, starting a 105-day siege that the residents survived by eating rats.ISN’T THIS ANCIENT HISTORY?No. Both fraternal groups exist, in part, to keep these vivid ancestral memories alive in today’s Northern Ireland. The Protestant community here has what sociologists call a “siege mentality,” a view that they can never feel at ease because of a traitorous Irish minority forever committed to pushing Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and into the Irish Republic.AREN’T THESE PROTESTANTS IRISH?Ask them. The answer is a thunderous no, they’re British. But this basic issue of identity continues to be questioned to this day _ even, most hurtfully, by fellow Britons in neighboring Britain. Associated PressBELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) – Belfast is seeing one of its biggest Protestant parades in years Saturday, with thousands participating amid fears that it will degenerate into street clashes with the police and Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority. These one-sided marches have tested tempers each year since the 19th century, and show no sign of abating despite Northern Ireland’s successful peace process. The AP explores why. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project ARE CATHOLICS RIGHT TO BE CONCERNED?Absolutely. Orangemen provided the organizational muscle behind Northern Ireland’s creation in 1921 shortly before the rest of Ireland won independence from Britain, binding together Protestants under one anti-Catholic banner determined to stop “Rome rule” from Dublin.For its first half-century, Northern Ireland was an overtly Orange state with a Protestant-only government. They discriminated against Catholics in housing, jobs and voting power. The marches, given safe passage by a similarly Orange police force, underscored the Catholics’ second-class status.WHICH MEANS RIOTS, RIGHT?Yep. It’s no accident that Act I, Scene I of Northern Ireland’s conflict in 1969 began with Catholic hostility to a march: the Apprentice Boys’ main annual parade in Londonderry. Days of clashes between Catholic civilians and Protestant police forced Britain to deploy its army as peacekeepers _ a fateful decision that inspired the rise of the modern IRA and its aim to overthrow Northern Ireland.HASN’T THE PEACE PROCESS IMPROVED THINGS?Mostly yes. Also no.Nearly two decades of peacemaking have transformed Northern Ireland almost beyond recognition from its blood-stained past. Paramilitary cease-fires by the IRA and outlawed Protestant gangs are underpinned by disarmament, troops have been withdrawn to barracks, Britain has promoted Catholic recruitment to create a balanced police force and a unity Protestant-Catholic government shares power with surprising harmony. Top Stories Almost. But the clock turns backward each “marching season” _ and increased rioting has been the norm for most summers since 1995.___Editor’s note: Shawn Pogatchnik has covered Northern Ireland for The Associated Press since 1991.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Parents, stop beating yourself up Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

Splits among rebels an obstacle in Syria conflict

first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project His comments came as activists reported violence across the country, with the heaviest fighting in the northern city of Aleppo, where rebels recently launched a new offensive to capture the country’s commercial capital. Activists also reported that government warplanes bombed the northern town of Salqin, killing at least 21 people including five children.The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, put the death toll at 30. The town is 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the border with Turkey in Idlib province, which has seen intense clashes between government troops and rebels in recent months.Footage posted online by activists shows several mutilated bodies in a pickup truck as a man shouts that his son was killed. The video’s authenticity could not be independently verified.Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat who previously served as a U.N. envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq, waded into Syria’s complicated diplomatic landscape last month when he replaced Kofi Annan, the former U.N. chief whose peace plan for Syria failed to end the violence that activists say has so far killed more than 30,000 people.Lamani said Brahimi, who visited Damascus last month, will pay a second visit to Syria soon and will tour the country. Asked whether he still sees hope of a political solution in Syria despite all the bloodshed, Lamani said: “I think maybe the time will be too long, but I hope (so) … and this is what I am here for because I hope that in the end there would be some light.” (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist The uprising against Assad that erupted in March last year began with anti-government protests but has gradually morphed into a bloody civil war that has spread across the country. Since then, rebels have taken over patches of territory, mostly near the northern border with Turkey.Lamani noted that he had recently made visits to the central province of Homs and the southern province of Daraa, adding that he met representatives of armed groups in the town of Rastan, a rebel stronghold in Homs that was among the first areas to take up arms against Assad’s regime. He did not provide any details of his meetings.He said that some of the main obstacles to brokering a resolution to the conflict are divisions among rebels and opposition groups. Syria has large numbers of such groups inside and outside the country, and relations among them have been dogged by infighting and accusations of treachery. The rebels include army defectors and gunmen who work under the rag-tag Free Syrian Army.Despite months spent trying to cobble together a common front, attempts to unite the opposition have so far failed.“There are so many opposition parties inside and outside Syria in addition to the armed groups,” Lamani said in Damascus. “This is a little bit very dangerous and complicating our mission because of this kind of fragmentation.” Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories Parents, stop beating yourself upcenter_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Associated PressDAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – The large number of deeply divided rebel groups is one of the main obstacles the work of an international mission trying to broker an end Syria’s 18-month crisis, the Damascus representative of the U.N. envoy said Monday as activists reported that airstrikes on a northern town killed at least 21 people.Mokhtar Lamani, who represents special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in the Syrian capital, told The Associated Press in an interview that a solution to the country’s crisis remains very difficult because of the “high level of mistrust between all parties.” Most opposition groups say they will accept nothing less than President Bashar Assad’s departure from power, while the regime says its opponents are working as part of a foreign conspiracy. Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixlast_img read more

Chinese scientist says prehistoric man ate pandas

first_img Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix But he says pandas were much smaller then.Wei says wild pandas lived in Chongqing’s high mountains 10,000 to 1 million years ago.Pandas don’t eat much apart from bamboo.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement BEIJING (AP) – A Chinese scientist says that humans used to eat pandas.In a newspaper interview, Wei Guangbiao says prehistoric man ate the bears in what is now part of the city of Chongqing in southwest China.Wei, the head of the Institute of Three Gorges Paleoanthropology at a Chongqing museum, says many excavated panda fossils “showed that pandas were once slashed to death by man.”The Chongqing Morning Post quoted him on Friday as saying: “In primitive times, people wouldn’t kill animals that were useless to them” and therefore the pandas must have been used as food. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daycenter_img Top Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Check your body, save your life Comments   Share   last_img read more

UN official says donor response slow to meet Nepals needs

first_imgSome cases of diarrhea have been reported, but that is normal for this time of year, said Poonam Singh, the World Health Organization’s deputy regional director for Southeast Asia.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Sponsored Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis A Nepalese soldier stands between two U.S. Ospreys which are used to assist the deployment of Nepalese soldiers in the quake affected mountainous areas in Manthali, Nepal, Thursday, May 7, 2015. The April 25 earthquake killed thousands and injured many more as it flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings and archaeological sites in Kathmandu.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) “This needs to be dramatically ramped up,” McGoldrick told reporters in the Nepalese capital.The April 25 earthquake killed more than 7,800 people and injured thousands more. The government figures show that tens of thousands of houses have been demolished and assistance is immediately needed for 400,000 families.The U.N. estimates that as many as 8 million people have been affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake.McGoldrick said his agency’s main focus now was to reach the many affected people in remote, hard-to-reach areas.“And we need to do so urgently, so that people have roofs over their heads and their other urgent needs are addressed before the monsoon season starts,” he said.The monsoon rains generally start in the second week of June and often trigger landslides in the mountains and flooding in the southern plains.But roads are already blocked the landslides triggered by last month’s earthquake and there are fears that rain hitting soil loosened by the earthquake could easily trigger more landslides.On Thursday, a U.N. health official said there have been no epidemics in areas hit by the earthquake or in camps where homeless people are sheltered. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The international response has been slow to an appeal for emergency funds to help the millions of people hit by last month’s earthquake in Nepal, a U.N. official said Friday.Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N.’s chief official in Nepal, said the agency had received $22 million so far against an appeal last week for $415 million to support relief efforts for the first three months in the Himalayan nation. Comments   Share   5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

FIFA World Cup airfare pricefixing investigated by watchdog

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/27fe2/” 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> South Africa’s consumer watchdog has launched an investigation into possible collusion by six airlines and pricing strategies to be adopted during the FIFA World Cup in South Africa this year.South Africa’s Competition Commission is now cracking down on several airlines for price-fixing after a tip-off by South African Airways, who blew the whistle in exchange for leniency in the investigation.South African Airways, BA franchise carrier Comair, 1Time, SA Airlink, Mango and SA Express are the six airlines accused of planning to lift their airfares during the 2010 World Cup.”The Soccer World Cup tournament provides South African business with a good opportunity to showcase our international competitiveness,” said Shan Ramburuth, Competition Commission Commissioner.”But it is also possible that some firms might want to exploit the situation by engaging in anti-competitive conduct. The Commission is obliged to investigate all legitimate complaints in such instances.”Already several of the airlines, including SA Airline and SA Express, have denied the allegations of price-fixing to local media, implying that they will be defending the charges.e-Travel Blackboard approached South African Airways but due to the on-going investigation the airline has declined to  comment at this stage.A British Airways representative has clarified that Comair, not British Airways plc is under investigation by the South African Competition Commission. last_img read more

Qantas announces winners of Qantas Foundation Art Award

first_imgSource = Qantas Qantas, through its charitable foundation the Qantas Foundation, announced the winners of the third annual Qantas Foundation Art Award.A winner from each state and territory will share in cash and airfares to the value of $112,000 – enabling Australian artists the opportunity to travel the world and develop ideas to bring home to Australia.Qantas Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce, said he was very proud to announce the winners of this year’s award.“Qantas has a long history of supporting Australian artists, particularly through the Spirit of Youth Awards which has, over the years, involved some of the big names of fashion, film and photography partnering with Qantas to support talented young artists,” he said.“The Qantas Foundation Art Award continues both our commitment to the arts, and our commitment to being a leader among corporate Australia in ensuring talented Australian artists receive support.Chair of the Qantas Foundation, John Field, thanked some of Australia’s leading arts figures for their involvement in the award.“The Foundation was very fortunate to have renowned arts identities as part of this year’s judging panel including Elizabeth Ann Macgregor from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Edmund Capon, Director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Kon Gouriotis representing the Australia Council for the Arts, Alan Dodge, former Director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia and art collector Pat Corrigan,” he said.“I thank all of our judges for volunteering their time and expertise to the Qantas Foundation to ensure the success of this award.”The Qantas Foundation Art Award was established in 2008 with a $3.4 million donation from Qantas. Now in its third year, the award has supported the careers of 24 Australian artists, who have exhibited around Australia and the world, including at the Venice Biennale.The state and territory winners are:NSW Newell HarryVIC Simon PericichQLD Jemima WymanSA Roy AnandaTAS Lucy BleachACT Anna MadeleineWA David ThomsonNT Anna Reynolds <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/17383/” 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

Agents encouraged to make some noise AFTA

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: D.M The head of The Australian Federation of Travel Agents, Jayson Westbury urged Travelscene American Express agents to build better relations with local Government representatives during a keynote presentation of afta’s future at the annual Owners-Managers conference in Argentina last week.Launching new initiatives funded by the Federal Government to encourage school leavers to pursue the travel and tourism industries as a career option is one step toward ensuring the industry moves forward, according to Mr Westbury, but will need further assistance from agents through their local constituencies to ensure the success of the programme.“We are going to start making some noise about travel,” Mr Westbury said.Designing new qualifications for school leavers, Mr Westbury said the joint programme with ATEC will bring travel and tourism industries together.The launch of a new Discover Tourism website will also include a Travel tab, and will present various career options and opportunities as well.“Travel agents will be front and centre, but to attract more people to the industry it will feature a broader range of jobs,” he said.This will really start to put travel back in the minds of school leavers.Referring to the Consumer Protection Review, Mr Westbury said newly elected David Bradbury, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer will be handling the case, but more effort is required by travel agents with assistance to be provided by afta.“You should get to know the one (Consumer Minister) in your State and start writing letters.  The plan is to get all of you more involved in letting these people know you have an opinion and we will assist you in the letter writing process,” Mr Westbury said.Mr Westbury added the process was complicated and will be completed over a longer than usual period of time.  last_img read more

Tourism body to boost Inland NSW visitors

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Inland NSW Tourism plans to increase visitor numbers over the next 12 months Inland NSW Tourism is set to utilise its AUD$3.3million tourism budget on strategic marketing plans to increase visitor numbers to ‘destination Inland NSW’ over a 12 month period.As a result of the merger of New England Northwest, Outback, Capital Country and five Central local government areas, Inland NSW tourism will carry out operator campaigns to concentrate on growing visitation from Sydney, Queensland, Victoria and international markets.Important components of the strategy include camping and outdoor experiences as well as food and wine, visiting friends and family VFR market, events, lifestyle and group and educational tourism.Inland NSW Tourism project manager Ian Bennett says members are set to benefit from the organisations research based marketing strategies.“A great deal of time has been invested in establishing Inland NSW Tourism, and getting the framework right to permit us to undertake highly effective and compelling campaigns to drive greater visitation throughout the region.”Mr Bennett said the company has developed marketing to support all levels of membership and cover editorial and ad templates, radio and digital marketing, as well as participation in major campaigns.“We urge all business owners and operators to partner with us as we know these campaigns have the potential to greatly benefit our local economies across the region.”last_img read more

Virgin Galactic space tourism planned for 2013

first_imgVirgin Galactic space tourism venture plans to begin its maiden voyage into space in 2013, with its test flights currently underway and rocket powered tests scheduled to start next year.Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism venture hopes to commence the service in a couple of years, however a date has not been set as the firms commercial director Stephen Attenborough said that “its customers safety is paramount”, the BBC reported.”This is a programme that can’t have a hard-end date as safety is the number one priority,” Mr Attenborough said.”Our foot is flat on the gas, we have proven technology, we have a spaceport that opened last week, and the test flight programme is well advanced, I don’t think you can ask for a lot more from a programme like this.” In response to a recent article describing the 2013 launch as “yet another delay” Mr Attenborough said “A delay is strange word, and there is no delay.”Mr Attenborough said despite all of the 500 or so future space travellers being eager to take off into space, no one was pressing for an early flight.”They are willing to put a large amount of money up front because they trust us, because they know we will only take them to space if it’s safe to do so,” he said.Mr Attenborough said that Keith Colmer, a former Air Force test pilot has been chosen out of over 500 applicants to join the venture’s chief pilot David Mackay.For around US200,000 passengers are offered five minutes of weightlessness for the 2.5 hour flights. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

TWU drops appeal against QF strikes

first_imgQantas has reassured passengers that they can book flights with “confidence and certainty” after the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) confirmed it will not appeal against Fair Work Australia’s (FWA) decision to terminate industrial action. According to a statement released by Qantas, since the TWU stepped down its appeal, passengers can rest assured that its three unions, the TWU, Australian Licenced Engineers Association (ALAEA) and the International and Australia Pilots’ Association cannot organise industrial action against the carrier for the next four years.“The FWA ruling means that these three unions are unable to take industrial action for the upcoming period of arbitration and for the period of the EBA determination by Fair Work Australia – which could be up to four years,” Qantas Group executive government and corporate affairs Olivia Wirth said. Coinciding with FWA’s decision to ban strikes, the Group awarded the Australian flag carrier and its unions 21 days to reach a decision or a third party arbitration will decide for the Groups.Earlier this week Qantas announced that after the 21 day period it was unable to reach a new agreement with the unions and FWA would hold direct hearings separately between Qantas and the three unions. Yesterday the carrier commenced hearings with the TWU and ALAEA and is awaiting dates for meetings with the Pilot’s Association. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Jet Airways JetPrivilege Programme wins triple honours at the p

first_imgSource = Jet Airways Jet Airways’ JetPrivilege programme, India’s largest frequent flyer programme, has bagged a prestigious treble at the annual Freddie Awards 2012, held in New York.JetPrivilege won in three of the five nominated categories, namely ‘Program of the Year’, ‘Best Promotion for Earning –The JetPrivilege -Trip Advisor Promotion’ and ‘Best Customer Service’ in the Middle East/Oceania/Asia region.Mr. Siva Ramachandran, Regional Vice President Americas, Jet Airways, received the awards on behalf of the airline.Jet Airways had previously been honoured at the Freddie Awards for five consecutive years, from 2004 to 2008, in the Japan, Pacific, Asia and Australia region. The Freddie Awards were introduced in 1988 by Inside Flyer magazine’s Randy Petersen and have since grown to become the most prestigious member-generated awards in the travel loyalty industry. In Australia, Jet Airways is represented by World Aviation Systems.last_img read more

Borghettis pay remains okay

first_imgThe Virgin Australia boss’ base salary rose AU$350,000 to AU$1.65 million in 2012/13, in recognition of Mr Borghetti’s determination to reconstruct the airline’s business model. Despite Virgin Australia registering a AU$98 million loss for the 2012/13 financial year, the airline’s chief executive John Borghetti’s take home pay fell by less than two percent. Mr Borghetti’s remuneration during the last financial year was just AU$46,000 less than what he was paid when the company profited AU$22 million in 2011/12, according to Virgin Australia’s Annual Report 2013. The chief executive’s short term bonuses in 2012/13 were reduced by AU$362,000 to AU$794,000 due to weak business performance, however, this was offset by an increase in base salary. The financial year losses were attributed to a challenging economic and competitive environment, one-off restructuring costs and the carbon tax. Mr Borghetti’s annual pay was approximately half that of Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.  Source = ETB News: P.T.last_img read more

MICE flat in 2014

first_imgNorth America will be the only region to witness a slight increase (+1.5 percent) in the number of meetings they expect in 2014, according to the American Express Meetings & Events 2014 Global Meetings Forecast. Most of the continent will experience slight declines in meetings activity next year, while tighter budgets will spur more local and regional events and increased social media interaction, according to a new global forecast. “The future will be truly exciting for the industry as we redefine the meetings investment and experience management through the incorporation of digital meetings solutions.” The Asia Pacific (APAC) region will see a slight decline (-1.2 percent) in the number of meetings held next year, while this region will experience the largest decline amongst all regions in overall meetings spend(-3.6 percent). Central and South America will remain fat, while spend is expected to fall by 1.4 percent. Given restricted budgets, stricter approvals and demands for greater meeting efficiency, more meeting planners are expected to turn to local and regional meetings. “Meeting organisers are also looking to utilize social media tools to create higher quality and more engaging programs that better meet the needs of attendees. “In an environment where budgets are expected to be challenging and the approval process for meetings will likely continue to be stringent, companies across all regions are re-examining their meetings strategies in order to achieve meeting objectives, increase efficiency and control costs,” American Express Meetings & Events vice president and general manager Issa Jouaneh said. The number of meetings in Europe is due to remain relatively flat throughout 2014, while overall meetings spend and attendee numbers are each expected to drop by approximately 1.8 percent. Despite this trend, the United Kingdom and Germany are expected to see increases across all aspects, given the strength of their economies. Source = ETB News: P.T.last_img read more