MarriottStarwood merger finally closes what happens now to their loyalty programs

first_imgMarriott-Starwood merger finally closes, what happens now to their loyalty programs? Friday, September 23, 2016 Share By: Scott Mayerowitz Source: The Associated Press << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Loyalty Programs, Marriott, Starwood Hotels & Resorts NEW YORK — Several of the best-known names in travel are now united in one hotel company.Marriott International closed Friday morning on its US$13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, bringing together its Marriott, Courtyard and Ritz Carlton brands with Starwood’s Sheraton, Westin, W and St. Regis properties.In total, 30 hotel brands now fall under the Marriott umbrella to create the largest hotel chain in the world with more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms in more than 110 countries. That’s more than 1 out of every 15 hotel rooms around the globe.Marriott now eclipses Hilton Worldwide’s 773,000 rooms and the 766,000 that are part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group family, according to STR, a firm that tracks hotel data.“We’ve got an ability to offer just that much more choice. A choice in locations, a choice in the kind of hotel, a choice in the amount a customer needs to spend,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday.Starwood’s guest loyalty program – Starwood Preferred Guest – was also a “central, strategic rationale for the transaction,” Sorenson said. The program’s members are deeply loyal to it, have generally higher incomes and tend to spend many nights on the road.Starting Friday, members of Starwood and Marriott’s two loyalty programs will be able to link their accounts together. Gold elite members in one program will get gold status in the other. Platinum elite members will get platinum in the other. Marriott silver members will see Starwood’s lowest category, Preferred Plus.Each Starwood point will be worth three Marriott Rewards points.Starwood put itself up for sale in April 2015. The Stamford, Connecticut, company had struggled to grow as fast as its rivals, particularly in “limited service hotels,” which are smaller properties that don’t have restaurants or banquet halls. They are often located on the side of the highway, near airports or in suburban office parks.To get Starwood, Marriott had to outbid China’s Anbang Insurance Group. U.S. and European anti-trust regulators were quick to approve the sale but the Chinese government hesitated, delaying the sale by months.“We may have been a little too optimistic about how fast we could get this thing closed,” Sorenson said Thursday.Marriott and Starwood – like other hotel chains – own very few individual hotels. Instead they manage or franchise their brands to hundreds of individual owners, often real estate development companies. Those individual hotel owners are responsible for setting nightly room rates. It isn’t uncommon for a developer to own a Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Sheraton in the same city.The purchase gives Marriott more leverage with corporate travel departments who often look for one giant chain to house all of their employees. It also gives Marriott more power over Expedia and Priceline, the two giant online travel agencies that sell rooms on behalf of hotel companies in exchange for a commission. The hotel industry has spent the last year trying to get travellers to book directly with them instead of the travel agencies to avoid paying those fees.There are still many details to work out.Marriott has thrived as an “asset light” company, owning a handful of hotels. Starwood has been selling off properties, while signing long-term management agreements for those same hotels. As of June 30, it still owned 23 properties. Sorenson said he believes there is a strong market to continue selling off many of those iconic hotels.“There is always a market for the St. Regis in New York,” he said, adding that other assets in the portfolio have comparable stature. “In great global cities, real estate like that always has a value.”The new company will keep Marriott’s Bethesda, Maryland headquarters but hasn’t announced if it will keep any presence at Starwood’s Connecticut or New York offices.Then there are the 30 brands. Some have performed better than others but Sorenson said all of them will probably survive the merger.“I think so. Every one of them has hotels in them,” he noted.For now, Starwood and Marriott will keep separate loyalty programs. Starwood has a credit card deal with American Express as well as close partnerships with Delta Air Lines and Uber. Marriott has a much larger program with partnerships with Chase and United Airlines.“Nothing changes immediately. We have to see how those partnerships evolve,” Sorenson said.Gary Leff, who writes about points and miles at, called the three-to-one exchange rate of Starwood points to Marriott points “just right.”“It’s one of the many reasonable and positive steps that Marriott has taken along the way as it acquires Starwood,” Leff said. “But there’s a whole lot still to happen between now and the programs actually being combined.”last_img read more

PostHarvey cancellations near the 10000 mark Air Canada WestJet issue advisories

first_imgTags: Air Canada, Texas, Travel Alert, WestJet TORONTO — The number of flights cancelled in the wake of Harvey is about to top 10,000 and that’s just within the U.S. Both Air Canada and WestJet have also cancelled flights and both airlines have issued updates for passengers with tickets to affected airports.While Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport says it is closed until further notice, some reports suggest the airport could reopen for commercial traffic on Thursday at noon local time.WestJet says 25 flights between Calgary and Houston have been cancelled since Friday, impacting travel plans for 1,400 passengers.It says aircraft are positioned to resume service when the situation on the ground has improved.WestJet says it is tentatively planning to operate one flight that day and one on Friday. Extra flight segments will be added over the weekend to help transport passengers.Air Canada has cancelled several flights between Houston and airports in Montreal and Toronto. It wouldn’t provide details about the number of passengers affected.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesAir Canada has implemented a policy for customers who purchased an Air Canada ticket no later than Aug. 26, 2017 and whose itinerary includes a flight between Aug. 26 and Sept. 5, 2017 to, from or via any of the following airports: Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), San Antonio International Airport (SAT) and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).“If you are scheduled to travel on the above dates, you may contact Air Canada Reservations (1-888-247-2262) to change your flight, free of charge, to another date between now and September 20, 2017, subject to availability in the cabin you originally purchased. Otherwise, any fare difference will apply,” says the airline.Passengers may also choose to travel to an alternate destination. In that case, any change fees will be waived, provided they are travelling between now and Sept. 20, 2017. Any fare difference will apply.WestJet has also put out an advisory notifying passengers impacted by Harvey about flexible change and cancel rules. “To review your flight options, please call: WestJet (air-only): 1-888-937-8538 (1-888-WESTJET). WestJet Vacations: 1-877-737-7001. If you have made an air-only booking through a travel agent, please contact your travel agent directly.”More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upHurricane Harvey has dumped a record 49.32 inches of rain on Texas. Wednesday, August 30, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Posted by With files from The Canadian Press Share Post-Harvey cancellations near the 10,000 mark; Air Canada, WestJet issue advisorieslast_img read more

Asia Europe 2018 lineups new from Busabout

first_img Monday, November 13, 2017 Travelweek Group Share Posted by Asia, Europe 2018 lineups new from Busaboutcenter_img TORONTO — Busabout’s new Asia 2018 program includes the new ‘Unlimited Pass’, offering clients the chance to travel once on all Busabout Asia trips within a three-month period.With the Unlimited Pass clients choose where to start and finish, and everything in between and can travel all of Southeast Asia for $65 a day. In addition to the ‘Unlimited Pass’, four of Busabout’s most popular Asian trips have been improved: the five-day Southern Thailand Adventure; the six-day Southern Vietnam Adventure; the 10-day Thai Island Hopper; and the 24-day Vietnam & Cambodia Adventure.Clients who book and pay in full by Jan. 14, 2018 can save 10% off all 2018 departures as part of Busabout’s ‘Early Booking Deals’.Meanwhile Busabout, HAGGiS and Shamrocker Adventures have launched their new 2018-19 Europe brochure, as a follow up to their first-ever Europe Preview program.Next year will see the expansion of Busabout’s Hop-On Hop-Off travel network which includes new stops through Portugal and Spain and a trip to the foodie capital of Bologna for the first time.The new program will also offer an off-the-beaten-path exploration of Eastern Europe, as well as four new Europe Winter & Festive itineraries, nine new Adventures, and a new Winter Music Festival itinerary.More news:  GLP Worldwide introduces first-ever Wellness programsClients who book by Jan. 14, 2018 can save up to 15% off the new European experiences, including 15% off all Hop-On Hop-Off passes, as part of its Early Booking Deals.The new brochure has been re-designed with the agent in mind. Plus, 95% of the brochure has been designed using UGC (User Generated Content), created from Busabout travellers to reflect real experiences. The new design allows agents to not only offer their clients even more choice than before, but also showcase real-life experiences on any given trip, says the company, adding that agents can now also sell with 100% confidence with all Europe trips ‘Book and Go’ guaranteed.“We are excited to introduce our new Europe 2018-19 program – from our new additions to the Hop-On Hop-Off network to the re-designed brochure. We now visit 47 destinations in 15 countries across Europe on our Hop-On Hop-Off network,” said Damien Bennett, Vice-President of Sales in North America for Busabout. “This year we wanted to entice our travellers in a new way, allowing them to jump right into the pages of our new brochure and easily picture themselves on one of our trips, making selling fun for our loyal agents.”More news:  Can you guess the one and only hotel company to rank on Indeed’s Top Workplaces in Canada list?Highlights from the new Europe 2018-19 program include: the 2-day Croatian Adventure; the 15-day Ultimate Eastern Adventure (+ Eastern Highlights and Eastern Trail); Ski Festivals – Above & Below Ski Adventure and Rise Festival; and new Hop-On Hop-Off destinations include Bologna, Austrian Alps, Zakopane, Evora, Santiago de Compostela.Now featuring 47 destinations in 15 countries across Europe. The Unlimited Pass provides unlimited stops across the entire Hop-On Hop-Off network.For more information contact Canada sales manager Adam Bobawsky at, visit or call 1-877-668-4328 and quote promo code EB1 for the Europe early booking special, or EBASIA18 for the Asia EBB. Tags: Asia Pacific, Britain & Europe, Brochures, Busabout, coach tours << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Canadian icon Delta Hotels going global with properties in Europe Asia

first_img Travelweek Group Canadian icon Delta Hotels going global with properties in Europe, Asia Posted by TORONTO — Delta Hotels, part of Marriott International, has opened its first hotel in Europe.Delta Hotels by Marriott Frankfurt Offenbach marks the European debut of the hotel brand. The opening is a significant landmark in the global rollout of the Delta Hotels portfolio, one of the company’s fastest growing brands.Delta Hotels is a legend in the Canadian hospitality industry, founded by Bill Pattison in Richmond, B.C. in 1962.In 2015 Marriott International Inc. bought the Delta hotel brand from B.C. Investment Management Corp. for $168 million. At that time there were 38 Delta hotels and resorts in the U.S. and Canada. These days Delta Hotels’ portfolio encompasses more than 50 properties, with a pipeline of over 30 signed projects in North America, Europe and Asia.In addition to Frankfurt, the company recently added its first property in Shanghai – the new Delta Hotels by Marriott Shanghai Baoshan, which opened in January 2018 – and also plans to debut in Turkey this year.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaThe new Delta Hotels Frankfurt Offenbach, situated on the left bank of the Main River between Frankfurt city centre and Offenbach, has 223 guestrooms and suites and floor-to-ceiling.“We are delighted to welcome Delta Hotels Frankfurt Offenbach into our portfolio and offer a quality accommodation option that reflects travellers desire for a simple, yet full-service premium hospitality experience,” said John Licence, Vice President Premium and Select Brands, Europe at Marriott International. “We provide travellers with a hotel experience that is effortless yet still comforting. Simply put, we strip out the superfluous, and concentrate on the getting the essentials right.”Licence says the new property’s waterfront location and convenient transport links will appeal to the business and meetings market. The airport, Römerberg, Staedel Museum, and the boutiques of Goethestrasse are close by.Rates for Delta Hotels Frankfurt Offenbach start from 110 euros per night. Tags: Delta Hotels, Europecenter_img Friday, May 25, 2018 Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Another awardwinning chef signs partnership with Air Canada

first_img Thursday, August 1, 2019 Posted by Travelweek Group Another award-winning chef signs partnership with Air Canada << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img MONTREAL — There’s more to savour onboard Air Canada, thanks to a new partnership with award-winning Canadian Chef Antonio Park.Exclusively featured on select Air Canada flights to Asia and South America, Park’s meals will be destination-inspired, kicking off on the Montreal-Tokyo-Narita route that links two cities he has called home.“We’re thrilled to continue showcasing the very best of Canadian talent with Chef Park joining our team of celebrated chefs,” said Andrew Yiu, Vice President, Product at Air Canada. “Apart from elevating our customers’ dining experience with destination-inspired creations on Asian and South American flights, we chose to partner with Chef Park due to his passion for promoting the Canadian culinary scene and his appreciation for fresh ingredients and sustainability.Event Speech Footage // Séquence de discours d’événement from Air Canada on Vimeo.Park’s culinary career was first inspired by his Korean mother’s kitchen while growing up in Argentina. He then trained under revered Japanese cooking masters and developed a passion for farm-to-table cooking. He has worked in Japan, New York, Toronto and Montreal before opening his first restaurant, Park, in Montreal in 2012. Park has served as a judge on Food Network Canada’s Chopped and Top Chef Canada, and has been recognized multiple times in Canada as ‘Chef of the Year’.More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaOn his new role with the carrier, Park said: “It’s a blessing and an honour to partner with Air Canada. I’m extremely proud and humbled to be sharing my food with Air Canada’s customers flying at 30,000 feet. It is the perfect opportunity to use Canadian ingredients and Japanese techniques, marrying the two to enhance the onboard experience.”Park joins Air Canada’s panel of Canadian culinary and wine talent who have designed award-winning food and wine options. They include celebrated Canadian chef David Hawksworth, who creates signature dishes exclusively on Air Canada flights worldwide in Signature Class and the Air Canada Signature Suite; and Véronique Rivest, the carrier’s sommelier who handpicks wines to pair with Hawksworth’s menu. Contemporary chef Vikram Vij also creates Indian dishes for all cabins of service on Air Canada’s Canada-India flights from Toronto and Vancouver.Following Montreal-Tokyo-Narita, Park’s menu will be rolled out on flights from Toronto to Tokyo-Haneda, Vancouver to Tokyo-Narita, and from Montreal to Sao Paulo this fall. In 2020, his meals will also be available on flights to Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Sao Paulo (from Toronto), Santiago and Buenos Aires, as well as on seasonal flights from Calgary to Tokyo-Narita and Vancouver-Osaka.More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterHis meal options will be available in Signature, Premium Economy and Economy Class on all flights from Canada to Japan, and exclusively in Signature Class on all other flights departing Canada to Asia and South America, in addition to options by Hawksworth. Share Tags: Air Canada, Chef Antonio Park, Signature Classlast_img read more

HP to move 400 Costa Rica jobs to India

first_imgTechnological giant Hewlett Packard (HP) announced the restructuring of its Global Service Center in Costa Rica, which involves the transfer of most of that operation to HP facilities in Bangalore, India.The news, reported on Tuesday, will affect 400 employees, said María Luisa González, Human Resources manager, who added that 80 percent of the posts will be moved to India “due to a restructuring plan announced by new CEO Meg Whitman in May of last year.”The process must be completed by October 31, and most of the employees will have the opportunity to opt for one of the 300 new positions the firm will open in other 19 units HP runs from Costa Rica, she added.Currently, the company is in the process of hiring 150 workers, mainly technicians and engineers, for the new Global Engineering Services unit they opened four months ago.The Global Service Center, located in the province of Heredia, will continue providing Spanish and Portuguese technical service to external HP customers.According to González, this is the only change in local operations planned for this year.HP is the largest PC manufacturer in the world, and in Costa Rica remains the largest employer in the free zone sector with some 6,500 jobs. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Irreversible damage from climate change seen in leaked UN paper

first_img#TarSands oil mining damages communities, water, land, & wildlife – and drives #climatechange. TAKE ACTION:— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) August 27, 2014 Related posts:Hundreds of thousands rally worldwide over climate change Hot in … everywhere! 2014 breaks all records The Guardian names Costa Rican journalist among ‘young climate campaigners to watch’ ahead of Paris 2015 What Paris climate talks have accomplished The pace of temperature increases slowed to about 0.05 of a degree per decade from 1998 through 2012 from 0.12 degrees per decade for the longer period spanning from 1951 to 2012. The IPCC said 111 out of 114 climate models predicted a greater warming trend than was observed from 1998 to 2012. And for the period from 1984 to 1998, most models showed less warming than was finally recorded, they said.Over longer periods, the climate models seem to be more accurate. From 1951 to 2012, “simulated surface warming trends are consistent with the observed trend,” the IPCC researchers said.The U.N. panel since September has published three separate reports into the physical science of global warming, its impacts, and ways to fight it. The study leaked Tuesday, called the “Synthesis Report” intends to pick out the most important findings and present them in a way that lawmakers can easily understand.In all, more than 800 scientists from around the world have helped write the four reports, an exercise the U.N. last completed in 2007. It also uses inputs from earlier studies by the IPCC into renewable energy and extreme events and disasters.© 2014, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentscenter_img LONDON — Humans risk causing irreversible and widespread damage to the planet unless there’s faster action to limit the fossil fuel emissions that cause climate change, according to a leaked draft United Nations report.Global warming already is impacting “all continents and across the oceans,” and further pollution from heat-trapping gases will raise the likelihood of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” according to the document obtained by Bloomberg.“Without additional mitigation, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally,” the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in the draft.The study is the most important document produced by the U.N. about global warming, summarizing hundreds of papers. It’s designed to present the best scientific and economic analysis to government leaders and policymakers worldwide. It feeds into the U.N.-led effort drawing in more than 190 nations for an agreement on limiting emissions.The report “will provide policymakers with a scientific foundation to tackle the challenge of climate change,” IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said in a statement from the panel’s office in Geneva. “It would help governments and other stakeholders work together at various levels, including a new international agreement to limit climate change” that countries intend to broker by the end of next year.Leaked reportThe draft was obtained by Bloomberg from a person with official access to it who asked not to be further identified because it hasn’t been published yet. It’s subject to line-by-line revision by representatives of governments around the world, and a final report is scheduled to be published on Nov. 2 in Copenhagen.Jonathan Lynn, a spokesman for the IPCC, declined to comment on the contents of the report. The draft “is still a work in progress, which will certainly change — indeed that is the point of the review — and so it would be premature to discuss its contents at this stage,” Lynn said. losses for a warming level of 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels may reach 2 percent of global income, according to the panel, which acknowledged existing estimates are “incomplete,” and the calculation has “limitations.”Rising tempsTemperatures have already warmed by 0.85 of a degree since 1880, it said. That’s quicker than the shift in the climate that brought the end of the last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago.The panel also acknowledged there are costs associated with keeping the temperature rise since industrialization below the 2-degree target. That’s the level endorsed by the nations negotiating on a climate deal. Doing so may lead to losses in global consumption of 1.7 percent in 2030, 3.4 percent in 2050 and 4.8 percent in 2100, according to the paper.“Risks from mitigation can be substantial, but they do not involve the same possibility of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts as risks from climate change, increasing the benefits from near-term mitigation action,” the authors wrote.The 127-page document includes a 32-page summary and is filled with language highlighting the dangers from rising temperatures. Those include damage to crop production, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and more pervasive heatwaves. The report mentions the word “risk” more than 350 times; “vulnerable” or “vulnerability” are written 61 times; and “irreversible” comes up 48 times.Melting icePossible permanent changes include the melting of the ice sheet covering Greenland. That would boost sea levels by as much as 7 meters (23 feet) and threaten coastal cities from Miami to Bangkok along with island nations such as the Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu.The scientists said they have “medium confidence” that warming of less than 4 degrees Celsius would be enough to trigger such a melt, which would take at least a millennium.Other impacts the report flags include reduced food security such as crops such as production of wheat, rice and maize in the tropics are damaged, the melting of Arctic sea ice, and the acidification of the oceans.The report also shows the scale of the challenge in limiting global warming. To stand a two-thirds chance of meeting the temperature goal, cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide since 1870 must be limited to about 2,900 gigatons, according to the study. Two thirds of that carbon already has been released into the atmosphere, they said. (NASA/Wikimedia Commons)The surface air temperature is projected to rise under all scenarios examined by the IPCC. It expects a gain of 0.3 degrees to 4.8 degrees for this century, depending on what policies governments pursue. That range would lead to a sea-level rise of 26 centimeters (10 inches) to 82 centimeters in addition to the 19 centimeters already recorded.“Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases cease” the researchers said. “The risk of abrupt and irreversible change increases as the magnitude of the warming increases.”While the measures exist that may keep temperature gains below the 2-degree threshold, there are “substantial technological, economic, social, and institutional challenges,” according to the study.Cost of delayDelaying action will only increase the risks and costs, it said. Putting off work on the issue until 2030 may raise costs by 44 percent through 2050, it said.Ruling out certain technological solutions would also raise the costs of fighting climate change, according to the paper. Without equipment to capture emissions from factories and power plants and store them underground, known as carbon capture and storage, the cost of the most stringent CO2 reductions could more than double, according to the paper. Eliminating nuclear power would raise costs by 7 percent and limiting wind and solar farms would do so by 6 percent.In a nod to skeptics who argue temperatures haven’t significantly warmed since 1998, the researchers said that climate models aren’t so good at explaining short-term fluctuations in the temperature and that “natural variability” may be part of what’s being observed.last_img read more

Reviving the messenger Gary Webbs tale on film

first_imgThe feature film “Kill the Messenger,” directed by Michael Cuesta and starring Jeremy Renner, opened in theaters across the United States in mid-October. The film tells the story of an enterprising reporter who stumbles on the biggest story of his career: the crack epidemic in Los Angeles having roots in the CIA’s funding of the Nicaraguan Contras a decade earlier. Webb goes after the story and ultimately pays with his career and his life. (He died at the age of 49, alone and unemployed, on Dec. 10, 2004. His death was ruled a suicide).Gary Webb was not the first to write this story. In December 1985, Associated Press reporters Robert Parry and Brian Barger first broke the story of a Contra-drug connection in their piece “Reports Link Nicaraguan Rebels to Cocaine Trafficking.” But their story was largely ignored by the rest of the media – after all, it would be another 10 months before Wisconsin native Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua, and a business card in his wallet led straight to the White House. The unraveling of a complex enterprise eventually called “The Iran-Contra Scandal” remains a dark chapter in U.S. political history.Recommended: The exposure of Eugene HasenfusBut Gary Webb’s three-part series, totaling about 20,000 words and published in August 1996 in the San Jose Mercury News – a small, regional paper in California – broke into the public’s consciousness for two reasons. First, as Robert Parry wrote in a 2011 article: “Webb’s series wasn’t just a story about drug traffickers in Central America and their protectors in Washington. It was about the on-the-ground consequences, inside the United States, of that drug trafficking, how the lives of Americans were blighted and destroyed as the collateral damage of a U.S. foreign policy initiative.”The second reason was the Internet. The San Jose Mercury News was one of the first newspapers in the country to understand that its website was not simply a place to post PDFs of their print edition. Gary Webb ca. 1998 with his documentation from the Dark Alliance series. (Via Dark Alliance Facebook)The series was released over three days, and each installment featured links to source material and even audio clips – which was unheard of at the time. The website for the series was well designed and compelling, even by today’s graphic standards. The paper itself wrote at the time: “‘DARK ALLIANCE’ represents the San Jose Mercury News’ most ambitious attempt to date in using the World Wide Web to deliver a news story.”The use of the Internet allowed the small paper to have a global reach, and it did. At the height of viewing, the site had over 1.3 million hits per day. (The New York Times, by comparison, in Fall 1996 was averaging less than 1 million hits per day and only topped 1.5 million in November following the crash of TWA Flight 800.)But in one sense, without being too trite, Webb’s reporting suffered because he did not have “the Web” to research his topic. Jeff Cohen, co-founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, notes that there was plenty of evidence to support Webb’s story in Senator Kerry’s drug hearings in 1986, or Lt. Col. Oliver North’s handwritten notebooks that came before the Iran-Contra investigators in 1987. The problem is that Webb would not have easily found copies of those to read in the San Jose Public Library in 1996. (By contrast, in researching a story on Eugene Hasenfus earlier this month, with four clicks of the mouse, I could read part of the transcript of a 1990 trial in federal court in which a former CIA agent discussed using Radio Shack “fuzz busters” for a radar detector in a Contra resupply plane.)Gary Webb was, by his own admission, in new territory. He had never done an investigative story of this kind. His specialty was investigating government and private sector corruption – first in Ohio, then in San Jose, a city of less than 850,000 at the time. He had never done an international story; he had never done a Washington, D.C. story, either. He had no contacts, but he had gumption. Gary Webb was the old-style 20th century news reporter: If he was doing a story on a court proceeding, he went to the court; if he was doing a story about drugs in Los Angeles, he got out of the car and walked in the neighborhood. Webb took to heart the slogan of John Ross, the great journalist of Mexico and San Francisco, who would say, “Ir a lugar de los hechos”: Go to the scene of the crime. And Gary Webb did go. His investigation took him into prisons in L.A. and Nicaragua, to secret airstrips in the jungle, and to dangerous neighborhoods in his own state. Dark Alliance rattled a lot of cages – it led to a Congressional investigation, and ultimately a CIA Inspector General’s report, which would corroborate some of Webb’s findings. But the San Jose Mercury News’ scoop also shook up a lot of the newspaper world. The New York Times, L.A. Times, and The Washington Post all went after Gary Webb to tear down his credibility and that of the story. Some of these attacks were no doubt spurred by personal jealousy, but recently declassified CIA documents, described in a report last month by Ryan Devereaux writing for The Intercept, tell a darker story. A six-page report titled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story” explains how the CIA used its “ground base of already productive relations with journalists” to quiet the impact of Webb’s reporting.Gary Webb resigned from the San Jose Mercury News in November 1997, but he continued to follow the trail, and he eventually released an expanded version of the reports as a book in 1998, with all of his sources listed. However, he would never work as a journalist for a daily newspaper again.Now, with a major film in theaters, people are again remembering the work of Gary Webb, and 10 years after his tragic death, realizing that a lot of what he had to say was absolutely right. But it is also occasioning a new attack on Webb’s work. The most recent piece, “Gary Webb was no journalism hero, despite what ‘Kill the Messenger’ says,” is by Jeff Leen, assistant managing editor for investigations at The Washington Post. Leen, who joined the Post the year after the Mercury News stories broke, like so many others who attacked Webb’s reporting 14 years ago, wrote last week: “Webb’s story made the extraordinary claim that the Central Intelligence Agency was responsible for the crack cocaine epidemic in America.”In fact, Webb’s reports never said that, they said: “The [Contra] army’s financiers – who met with CIA agents both before and during the time they were selling the drugs in L.A. – delivered cut-rate cocaine to the gangs through a young South-Central crack dealer named Ricky Donnell Ross.” He was talking about foreknowledge and perhaps “blind-eye” oversight by the members of the CIA – a fact somewhat acknowledged in the CIA Inspector General’s own report of December 1997.The official report, while seeking to downplay the claims in Dark Alliance, does admit some parts were true:We found that the allegations contained in the original Mercury News articles were exaggerations of the actual facts. … It is clear that certain of the individuals discussed in the articles, particularly Blandon and Meneses, were significant drug traffickers who also supported, to some extent, the Contras. … While the Department of Justice’s investigative efforts suffered from lack of coordination and insufficient resources, these efforts were not affected by anyone’s suspected ties to the Contras.Former U.S. Senator John Kerry, who now is Secretary of State, was less forgiving in his comments to The Washington Post on Oct. 4, 1996: “There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of and carrying the credentials of the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the Contras.”Joel Bleifuss, writing on Oct. 28, 1996 for In These Times, had a different perspective than Webb’s detractors: “One profoundly troubling aspect of this burgeoning scandal is how the mainstream news media have chosen to cover – or not cover – this story.”Leen writes, “The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, in a rare show of unanimity, all wrote major pieces knocking the story down for its overblown claims and undernourished reporting.” Too bad they did not devote that energy to following up on the leads opened in 1985 by Bob Parry, illuminated in the 1986 Kerry hearings (the United States Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations), and refueled by Gary Webb’s 1996 on-the-ground reporting.—Norman Stockwell is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin, and serves as operations coordinator for WORT-FM Community Radio. He first met Gary Webb in the summer of 1998. See his stories in recent Tico Times special editions marking the arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and the 30th anniversary of the La Penca bombing. Facebook Comments Related posts:The undoing of Gary Webb and today’s news organizations The exposure of Eugene Hasenfus Solís put on the defensive as joint US-Costa Rican patrols come up for renewal Talk of ‘Yankee imperialism’ rankles US Embassy in San Josélast_img read more

Jacó to get funky with Jungle Jam V

first_imgSunday3 p.m.: Ojo De Buey4:20 p.m.: Talawa6:10 p.m.: Jesse Royal8 p.m.: Mykal Rose10 p.m.: Morgan Heritage12 a.m.: The Super Jam Facebook Comments Friday6 p.m.: Un Rojo7:45 p.m.: Twiddle9:30 p.m.: Papadosio11:30 p.m.: Thievery Corporation Thursday4:20 – 6 p.m.: VIP Party with Santos Y Zurdu6 p.m.: The Werks7:45 p.m.: Dopapod9:30 p.m.: Zach Deputy11:30 p.m.: Steel Pulse Such a range of musicians also brings a range of different fans, from ever-roving hippies to beer-bonging bros. But for the health-and-wellness types, Jungle Jam will also host several yoga sessions, as well as a hula hoop lesson and presentations. Get the full schedule here.A word to the wise: Jacó is filled with hotels, but in past years the festival has been popular enough to pack them all. Try to book a room in advance for as many night as you plan to stay. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a bit of a jam – and not the fun kind. Tent camping is available for the moment, but the festival has the potential to sell out.Tickets cost $60-420 and can be purchased on Jungle Jam’s official website. Here’s the lineup: Saturday5 p.m.: Thicker Than Thieves6:15 p.m.: Perro Bravo7:45: The Werks9:30 p.m.: The Beautiful Girls11:30 p.m.: Slightly Stoopidcenter_img jam session: (noun)a gathering or performance in which musicians play together informally without any preparation : an often impromptu performance by a group especially of jazz musicians that is characterized by improvisation. – Mirriam-Webster DictionaryFor musicians, there is nothing quite as liberating as a jam session. The feeling defies description. No matter what instruments the musicians play, they take a rhythm and key and weave music out of the ether. They compose as they go. They feel their way through chords, inventing, with each passing beat, a stretch of music that has never quite existed before, and may never again.The fifth annual Jungle Jam plays this week at Hotel DoceLunes in Jacó, and it’s more than just a music festival: It’s a chance for Costa Ricans and world travelers to get together and appreciate the improvisational art form. The nation has its share of concerts and music festivals, but Jungle Jam has become one of the biggest and most exciting. This year’s edition will feature 25 bands, as well as DJs from such far-flung locations as the United States, Jamaica, and Australia.With each successive year, Jungle Jam has drawn a more diverse body of musicians. One of the headliners, California-based Slightly Stoopid, is returning to Jacó, where they will perform their easygoing funk-reggae oeuvre. New on the scene is Washington, D.C.-based Thievery Corporation, an 18-piece ensemble that incorporates DJ mixes, traditional instruments, and live vocals. The collective is famous for its psychedelic, experimental sound, and they have shared stages with the likes of Paul McCartney, David Byrne (of Talking Heads) and Wayne Coyne (of The Flaming Lips). Related posts:New Sonámbulo album expands style, stays funky Festival of Light, Egyptian dancers, and other happenings around Costa Rica VIDEO: Fans weather rain to celebrate Festival de la Luz ‘Festival Under the Stars’ to screen third edition in Puntarenaslast_img read more

Costa Rica launches Gross National Happiness index

first_imgRelated posts:Laura Chinchilla’s environmental report card Mexicans and other Latin Americans carry happiness in their DNA, study finds Awaiting a court decision, anti-GMO activists gain symbolic ground Costa Rican court hands GMO opponents a victory by declaring permitting process unconstitutional No surprise here: a strong majority of Costa Ricans arepura vida, according to the first Gross National Happiness index released Thursday.The index, carried out by the National Teachers Cooperative, COOPENAE, found that 85.5 percent of Costa Ricans were satisfied with their lives as measured by nine categories: ecological diversity, health, living standards, education, use of time, psychological wellbeing, government, community life, and cultural identity.Eco Market Research investigator Elías Izaguirre said that the Costa Rican GNH was based on the index popularized by the Himalayan country of Bhutan.The 1,285 Costa Ricans between 15 and 75 years old who were surveyed said that they were most pleased with ecological diversity (92 percent), health (89 percent) and education (80 percent). Women scored slightly higher than men in the report but the difference was not significant, Izaguirre said. The index has a margin of error of] +/- 2.77 percent.The index found that Costa Ricans were concerned about the environment but generally attributed the causes of ecological problems to others and did not connect them with their everyday behaviors.In terms of health, those surveyed generally said that their daily lives were not impeded by chronic health issues. Eighty percent of those surveyed self-reported “good” or “very good” health.Seventy percent reported sufficient income to meet basic needs.The areas that scored poorly in Costa Rica were community life (55 percent) and cultural identity (49 percent). The index found that while Costa Ricans have strong family relationships they did not tend to establish many meaningful contacts with their neighbors or participate in community organizations, volunteer work or cultural activities.Heredia was the canton with the “happiest” people surveyed, said COOPENAE general manager José Eduardo Alvarado.Alvarado said that COOPENAE was considering future GNH index studies on an annual or biannual basis.Costa Rica tends to score well in happiness studies. In June, the country ranked second in the world in the Gallup 2014 State of Global Well-Being Rankings.In April, Costa Rica maintained its spot as the 12th “happiest” country in the world, according to the 2015 World Happiness Report produced by the U.N.-affiliated Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Venezuelas Maduro closes more of countrys border with Colombia

first_imgRelated posts:Cúcuta: Colombia’s city of contraband and a broken Bolivarian dream Maduro picks new scapegoat for Venezuela’s problems Colombian president to visit tense border city Former Colombian, Bolivian leaders warn of looming humanitarian crisis in Venezuela CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro late Monday said he had ordered more of his country’s vast border with Colombia closed amid a diplomatic crisis over deportations and smuggling.“I have decided to close the border crossing at Paraguachón, Zulia state,” Maduro said in a televised address. He said he would send an additional 3,000 troops to the area.In addition, Maduro said he would accept mediation by Brazil and Argentina, with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.Paraguachón is one of the region’s largest trade hubs. The Venezuelan president said the closure would affect the Zulia towns of Mara and Almirante Padilla.The countries have been locked in a row since Maduro on Aug. 19 closed part of the border after unidentified assailants attacked a Venezuelan anti-smuggling patrol, wounding three soldiers and a civilian. Maduro blamed the attack on right-wing paramilitaries from Colombia.He has accused the neighboring country of waging an attack on Venezuela’s economy — a reference to the rampant smuggling of heavily subsidized food and other goods out of Venezuela, where more than five million Colombians live.Maduro had already dispatched 5,000 troops to the area since mid-August. Venezuelan Marines deplane from a Venezuelan Air Force (Chinese-made) Y-8F-100 transport aircraft in La Fria, Tachira state, Venezuela, close to the Venezuela-Colombia border on Aug. 31, 2015. George Castellano/AFPRow deepensThe bilateral diplomatic row grew angrier and both countries recalled their ambassadors, swapping charges that the human rights of deportees had not been respected.Colombia maintains that since the border crisis started, 14,000 Colombians living in Venezuela had been displaced including at least 1,443 Venezuela deported. The rest fled in fear, often with just a backpack or the clothes on their backs.See: PHOTOS: Colombians flee Venezuela after mass deportationsVenezuela has long used its oil wealth to subsidize basic goods like rice and toilet paper, which are sold at about a tenth of the price they command in Colombia.But Maduro has said that Colombians, more than five million of whom live in Venezuela, are smuggling those heavily subsidized goods over the border.He blames the rampant smuggling for shortages in Venezuela, which are being exacerbated by tumbling oil prices.The two countries recalled their respective ambassadors as tensions rose.The porous, 2,200-kilometer (1,400-mile) border has long been rife with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN), as well as drug gangs and smugglers.Colombian gangs include the remnants of right-wing paramilitary groups that once fought the guerrillas but were disbanded a decade ago.Yet there were some signs of hope as both Santos and Maduro on Monday said they were open to mediation by nations from the region.“I reaffirm my willingness to meet with President Maduro so that with a serious and respectful dialogue, we are able to solve the problems along the border, which affect Colombians as well as Venezuelans,” Santos said at a meeting of Cabinet ministers.Santos said he had spoken with Uruguay’s President Tabare Vasquez, who offered to mediate“I accepted his offer, and let him know I would take him up on it even if the meeting were held in Montevideo if he thought that best,” Santos added.Maduro said he had accepted mediation by Brazil and Argentina, mentioning possible venues as Manaus and Buenos Aires.Venezuela imports the vast majority of the basic goods it consumes with oil money, which accounts for 96 percent of its foreign currency.But that cash has dried up as crude prices have slid by more than 50 percent since mid-2014.With Venezuela’s economy in recession, oil revenues plunging, crime soaring and consumers facing chronic shortages of basic goods, Maduro’s approval rating has sunk in recent months.Related: Maduro picks new scapegoat for Venezuela’s problems Facebook Commentslast_img read more

US arrests relatives of Venezuela first lady over drugtrafficking allegations

first_imgRelated posts:US slams Aruba’s release of Venezuela’s former intel chief Global drug policy isn’t working. These 100-plus organizations want that to change. Nephews of Venezuelan first lady deny US drug charges Solís put on the defensive as joint US-Costa Rican patrols come up for renewal NEW YORK – U.S. agents have arrested two relatives of Venezuela’s first lady for allegedly conspiring to smuggle 800 kilos (1,800 pounds) of cocaine into the United States,The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas were arrested in Haiti on Tuesday by local police, handed over to U.S. agents and flown the same day to New York, the newspaper said, citing two unnamed people familiar with the matter.The two men are due to appear before a U.S. federal judge in New York on Thursday, the Journal added. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan was not immediately reachable for comment.Campo Flores, 29, identified himself on the plane as a stepson of President Nicolás Maduro who had been brought up by his aunt, First Lady Cilia Flores, the newspaper said.The Journal said the other man identified himself as a nephew of Cilia Flores, a former president of Venezuela’s National Assembly and defense lawyer for Venezuela’s late leader, Hugo Chávez.The Journal reported in May that U.S. prosecutors are investigating several senior Venezuelan officials for alleged involvement in large-scale cocaine trafficking.Recommended: Colombia is again the world’s top coca producer. Why that’s a blow to the US Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Venezuela prohibits sales of guns ammunition

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Critics noted that only a small percentage of guns have recently been sold legally to permit holders and said most gun sales have long been illegal and unregulated.Luis Izquiel, a lawyer who heads a security committee for Venezuela’s opposition coalition, said that while there are about 25,000 gun permits legally registered with the authorities, there are many more weapons on the streets. In 2010, Amnesty International estimated there were a total of 10 million firearms in the country.“Here criminals don’t use legal firearms,” Izquiel said.Polls have repeatedly said that Venezuelans view violent crime as the country’s top problem.President Hugo Chavez’s government has announced several new anti-crime measures ahead of the country’s October presidential election.Last week, the government imposed another measure prohibiting people from possessing guns in public places such as city squares, parks and restaurants.In February, the government announced temporary measures outlawing gun possession in public areas as well as halting gun sales. The latest measures have made those changes permanent.“Now no one is going to be able to get new guns or have new permits,” El Aissami said Friday, according to the state-run Venezuelan News Agency. He said his ministry will have authority over the supply of weapons to police forces.Venezuela has in recent years had one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America. El Aissami has said that in 2010 the country had 48 murders per 100,000 people.The Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a watchdog group which tracks crime, says that the murder rate has continued to rise and that last year there were more than 19,000 homicides, a record for the country.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Quick workouts for men Associated PressCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Venezuela’s government banned sales of guns and ammunition Friday with a measure that officials said is aimed at fighting rampant violent crime.Private gun shops are now prohibited from selling guns under the measure, which had been announced previously.Only the police and the military will be exempt from the ban on gun sales, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said.last_img read more

Nigeria summons US official over tweets on pardon

first_imgLAGOS, Nigeria (AP) – Nigeria’s foreign ministry has summoned a top U.S. diplomat to explain why its embassy posted critical comments on Twitter over a presidential pardon given to a former governor convicted on corruption charges.A statement issued Friday night said Nigerian officials filed an urgent request to speak to the U.S. deputy chief of mission over what it described as “meddlesomeness.” Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Top Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 ways to recognize low testosterone In messages Friday on Twitter, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria said it was “deeply disappointed” over the pardon issued this week to former Bayelsa state Gov. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was impeached and later convicted in Nigeria. Investigators said he likely stole millions of dollars while in office.Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan once served as Alamieyeseigha’s deputy and pardoned him. His impeachment marked the start of Jonathan’s rise in Nigerian politics.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories last_img read more

British bankers Hong Kong murder case gets closer to trial

first_img Comments   Share   HONG KONG (AP) — The case of a British banker accused of the grisly murders of two Indonesian women has moved closer to trial in Hong Kong after it was sent to the High Court on Friday.Rurik Jutting did not enter a plea and declined a preliminary inquiry in a pre-trial hearing Friday before a lower court magistrate.Jutting was charged after police found the bodies of the two women, both in their 20s, in his apartment near the heart of Hong Kong’s Wan Chai red-light district last year. One of bodies was stuffed in a suitcase left on the balcony. When asked if he wanted to indicate how he would plead, Jutting said, “No plea at this time.”In response, the magistrate said, “I take it as not guilty.”Jutting, who wore the same black “New York” T-shirt he has worn in previous court appearances, faces life in prison if convicted. The case’s next hearing would likely be in four to six weeks in the High Court, his lawyer said.The case shocked the former British colony, which has a reputation for being safe, and highlighted the expatriate community’s extremes of inequality.Jutting, a Cambridge graduate, had worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. One of the dead women, Sumarti Ningsih, had come been working as a maid but stayed on in Hong Kong after her visa lapsed. The other victim, Seneng Mujiasih, was on a tourist visa.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Top Stories Sponsored Stories center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairylast_img read more

Paris celebrates WWII resistance heroes in Pantheon ceremony

first_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies PARIS (AP) — Paris authorities are escorting coffins representing four World War II resistance figures through the French capital toward the Pantheon, the resting place of French heroes.The event Tuesday is part of two days of national ceremonies honoring the two women and two men, meant to symbolize French efforts against extremist violence in the past and today, four months after terrorist attacks left 20 dead in Paris. Comments   Share   Hearses bearing the coffins of Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Germaine Tillion, Pierre Brossolette and Jean Zay are weaving through the Left Bank, escorted by guards on horses. French President Hollande will induct them formally into the Pantheon on Wednesday.The coffins of the two women do not contain their remains but soil from their gravesites, because their families didn’t want the bodies themselves moved.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

Welfare tourism in focus ahead of Denmark election

first_img Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Election billboards across Copenhagen warn immigrants against thinking they can exploit Danish welfare benefits. “If you come to Denmark, you have to work,” the posters say.The message is not intended for immigrants, but for Danes who are concerned about foreigners abusing their welfare system. And the messenger is not some far-right politician; it’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democratic Party. While the overrepresentation of immigrants isn’t huge, many Danes worry that the country’s generous welfare benefits have become a magnet for people living in less wealthy countries in and outside the European Union.“We want an EU where people can go wherever workers are needed, but we don’t want an EU where people go wherever the social benefits are good,” opposition leader Lars Loekke Rasmussen said last week.That discussion has suited the Danish People’s Party, one of the trailblazers in a Europe-wide surge of populist parties that are opposed to immigration and skeptical of the EU.It lost its influence when Thorning-Schmidt took power in 2011, but is hoping for a comeback as a sidekick of Loekke Rasmussen’s center-right bloc.The party has ratcheted down on anti-Islam outbursts, but is calling for a return of the border controls that it pressed the previous government to introduce, angering other EU countries who saw it as an attack on the idea of a borderless Europe. Thorning-Schmidt’s government scrapped them as soon as it took office.Peter Skaarup, a senior member of the Danish People’s Party, told The Associated Press the border checks are needed to make sure criminals don’t slip into Denmark. He compared it to checking people’s tickets as they enter a movie theater “and not afterward in the dark.” Comments   Share   4 must play golf courses in Arizona The Social Democrats, headed by Prime Minieter Helle Thorning-Schmidt, center, Minister of Finance Bjarke Corydon, left, and Minister of Justice Mette Frederiksen, held it’s closing press conference of their election campaign in the Danish Parliament Christiansborg Castle, Wednesday June 17. 2015, in Copenhagen. Denmark will hold a mandatory general election Thursday June 18 after almost four years of coalition Government between the Social Democrats and the Social-Liberal Party. (Jens Dresling/Polfoto via AP) DENMARK OUT Sponsored Stories Check your body, save your lifecenter_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Loekke Rasmussen, who was in power until 2011, has suffered from reports that he used government and party funds for personal expenses, such as upgrading his wardrobe.Both Thorning-Schmidt’s Social Democrats and Loekke Rasmussen’s Liberals depend on other parties to build a majority. A new party, the environmentalist Alternative party, has entered the mix this year, and is expected to support the government bloc.___Associated Press video journalist David Keyton contributed to this report.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 Before Denmark’s parliamentary election Thursday, both Thorning-Schmidt’s left-leaning alliance and the center-right opposition have promised to further tighten Denmark’s controls on immigration.Both sides want to crack down on “welfare tourism,” refuse permanent residence permits to unemployed immigrants and make it harder for the families of refugees to join them in this Nordic nation of 5.6 million.The nationalist Danish People’s Party wants to go even further and reinstate border controls toward neighboring Germany and Sweden — the countries that accept the highest number of refugees in Europe.“Through generations we have built up this welfare society and now you have outsiders who exploit it. It’s not fair,” said Lasse P. Bang, a 47-year-old janitor. He said he was on paid sick leave after breaking his ankle at work.Denmark sharply restricted its immigration policies in 2002 but the issue continues to resonate among many voters. With polls showing the government bloc and the center-right opposition neck-and-neck, their campaigns have increasingly focused on the impact of immigration on the welfare system.Official statistics show first- and second-generation immigrants represent 12 percent of the population and 16 percent of the 1 million people receiving some kind of government benefits, including student grants and parental leave. Many immigrants find the discussion tiresome.“It sort of irritates me that we again have to talk about immigration,” said Imran Feduz, a Palestinian immigrant working in a newspaper shop. “I know some immigrants who live off social welfare, but Danes do the same.”Like many other European countries, Denmark has seen an increase in asylum-seekers in recent years, especially from Syria. Last year, 15,000 people sought shelter in Denmark, twice as many as the previous year. Meanwhile, Sweden received more than 80,000 asylum-seekers.Thorning-Schmidt — who garnered international headlines in 2013 for taking a selfie with President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron at a Nelson Mandela memorial — called the election last month as the end of her four-year term was nearing. Her polling numbers have been poor since she took office, but the opposition’s lead has dwindled in recent weeks.Thorning-Schmidt has pledged to raise welfare spending by 39 billion kroner ($5.7 billion), while the opposition says that improvements can be achieved without expanding the public sector.Personally, polls show Thorning-Schmidt is more popular than her main rival, particularly after her firm response to the February shooting attacks against a free-speech seminar and a synagogue in Copenhagen. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

Thai military court to release 14 students ahead of trial

first_img How men can have a healthy 2019 Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology They face charges of sedition and violating the junta’s ban on political gatherings of more than five people, which carry penalties of up to seven and a half years in prison. No date has been set for their trial.Since overthrowing an elected government in May 2014, the nation’s military rulers have jailed opponents who dared to speak out against them. They have censored the media, forbidden open political debate and ordered that security-related offenses be handled by military courts.Commenting on the court’s decision, a government spokesman warned the students to behave.“Even though they will be released, it doesn’t mean the case is concluded,” said deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd. He urged the students not to “create chaos in society” or to “hold activities like in the past.”The military has spoken of holding national elections but has not said exactly when they could take place, and its latest constitutional draft would curb the powers of elected political leaders.Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the students’ arrests “demonstrate the military junta’s unwillingness to ease its oppressive rule.” Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility BANGKOK (AP) — A military court in Thailand said Tuesday it will release 14 student activists from detention but they will still face sedition charges — and the prospect of years in prison — for defying the junta’s ban on political gatherings.The university students, 13 men and one woman, have been detained since their arrest on June 26 in Bangkok after leading a series of peaceful anti-coup rallies in the capital and elsewhere. Comments   Share   center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The U.N. human rights office has called for the students’ release and urged the government to review its use of laws that limit freedom of expression and assembly.The European Union has called the arrests “a disturbing development” and said civilians should not be tried in military courts.The students’ case is the latest dilemma for the government, which has come under fire for the country’s long-ignored human trafficking violations and illegal activity in the lucrative fishing industry that could lead to an EU ban on imports from Thailand.___Associated Press writer Jocelyn Gecker contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories The case sparked international calls for their release and criticism of the military junta’s use of military courts to try civilians and its strict controls on freedom of speech and assembly. University professors and students joined dozens of protesters to show support for the students outside the court, across from the Grand Palace in Bangkok’s historic quarter.Amid mounting pressure, the court denied a request from police to extend the students’ pre-trial detention for 12 more days, said defense lawyer Krisadang Nutcharut. They were expected to be released Wednesday morning.Under Thai law, people can be held a maximum of 48 days without formal charges.“The court agreed with our request to release them on grounds that they have no intention to run away,” Kritsadang told reporters outside the courthouse. Journalists were not allowed to attend the hearing. “They can now go back to their studies.”In a June 25 rally, the students wrapped Bangkok’s Democracy Monument in black cloth and called for the junta to “get out.” In May, they conducted peaceful rallies in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen to mark the coup’s first anniversary. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

ACCC says airport service quality is becoming concerning

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> In its annual Airport Monitoring Report, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has cautioned the nation’s airports saying that they have to beware dropping quality standards.Reporting on the 12 months in the financial year of 2008 and 2009, the ACCC says that one of the key concerns is skyrocketing prices for parking at the capital city airports around the country.“This year’s report has found the performance of Sydney Airport to be of greatest concern. The indications are that Sydney Airport has increased profits by permitting service quality to fall below that which the airlines reasonably expect,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel, said.“While airlines lowered their airfares to attract business in the current global economic slowdown, the airports appear to have enjoyed the security of guaranteed prices as well as benefiting from the airlines’ efforts to encourage travel.”But the Sydney Airport has hit back, saying the ACCC’s report is “outdated” and that since the period on report the site had undergone some $500 million in upgrades.“Extensive construction works were underway throughout the period covered by the report and may have, understandably, impacted on the customer experience,” said the airport in a statement.However, the Sydney Airport statement did not address the watchdog’s concerns surrounding parking costs.“The indications are that car parking prices likely reflect an element of monopoly rent. At least some car parking charges increased at all of the monitored airports during the 2008–09 financial year, or since then,” said the ACCC on parking costs. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.Xlast_img read more

Jetstar teams up with Air Canada

first_imgJetstar and Air Canada will now offer joint fares to Canada following the signing of an interline agreement, the budget carrier announced today.The agreement will allow travellers to connect their Jetstar domestic or international service with travel to or from destinations such as Vancouver, Toronto and Quebec City via Honolulu, Hawaii. Jetstar Executive Manager Commercial David Koczkar said the ability for customers to book the fares as a single booking would be financially beneficial to Jetstar and would provide new access opportunities for inbound visitation to Australia, New Zealand and beyond from Canada.Air Canada is now offering a special fare of $2,410 including taxes and charges for travel between Vancouver and Sydney with a stop-over in Honolulu on at least one-way.The fares are only available through travel agents and are on sale until 30 April for travel until 31 December 2010 and must include one stop in either direction.  <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.Llast_img read more