Rome airport closing for two weeks Oct 14 – 29

first_imgTags: Rome, Travel Alert << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Share Wednesday, October 12, 2016 center_img Posted by ROME — One of Rome’s international airports is closing for 15 days for runway repairs, from late in the day Oct. 14 to Oct. 29 inclusive.Airlines are shifting schedules and in some cases, cancelling flights with news that Ciampino airport will shut for more than two weeks. Ryanair flies into Ciampino and offers a list of cancelled flights as well as a list of alternate flights operating to/from Rome Fiumicino on its website, at ryanair.com.Free shuttle bus service will operate between Rome Ciampino and Rome Fiumicino during the closure, every two hours from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Rome airport closing for two weeks Oct. 14 – 29last_img read more

Is this the worlds rudest air passenger

first_img Travelweek Group After 4 hours, a flight attendant finally said “Could you please put your feet down? People are walking through here.” 40 second stare down.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) December 28, 2016 Is this the world’s rudest air passenger? Share Descending. No jeans. Right before landing, he stands in the aisle, in defiance of decency & lighted seatbelt signs. He puts on his jeans. pic.twitter.com/s2pa4draEJ— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) December 28, 2016 Before boarding, he stood right at the gate 30 mins early. Wheelchairs went around him. “I can’t wait to get in there & get my pants off!”— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) December 28, 2016 TORONTO — Poor travel etiquette is not a new phenomenon, but one rather vulgar gentleman has reached new heights – or rather a new low – in terms of bad manners.During a recent flight (airline unknown), an unidentified male passenger thought it appropriate to remove his pants and lounge instead in his boxer shorts for the duration of the flight. And lucky for us who’d like nothing more than to see that disturbing visual, Pakistani-American comedian Kumail Nanjiani live-tweeted the whole episode.Tweet storm. I was on a plane a couple of days ago. A guy took off his jeans & lounged around in his boxers with his feet up on the wall. pic.twitter.com/CHcsWXnlNB— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) December 28, 2016 Tuesday, January 3, 2017 He walks off the plane. No police is waiting for him. No justice. He adjusts his belt, and the monster blends into a crowd.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) December 28, 2016 5 mins go by & he thrusts one foot back up like a fist raised against an unjust sky. pic.twitter.com/HsYGAK6TO8— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) December 28, 2016 This guy was rude to the staff the entire time. If he didn’t get the flight attendant’s attention, he would slam his fist on the armrest.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) December 28, 2016 Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

ACVs digital Sun brochure highlights top resorts for western gateways

first_img Posted by ACV’s digital Sun brochure highlights top resorts for western gateways MONTREAL — Sun and sand are just a click away with Air Canada Vacations’ recently released digital Sun brochure.Accessible from Western gateways, featured properties include Dos Playas Beach House by Faranda in Cancun, Mexico with routes operating directly from Vancouver, Winnipeg and Calgary and Royal Decameron Club Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica with routes operating directly from Winnipeg. Both resorts are exclusive to ACV.Other popular properties in Jamaica include: Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa; Hideaway at Royalton Negril; Holiday Inn Resort, Montego Bay; Luxury Bahia Principe Runaway Bay Don Pablo Collection; and Royalton Blue Waters. All can be accessed directly from Winnipeg.Popular properties in Mexico include: All Ritmo Cancun Resort & Waterpark; Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancun; Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an Don Pablo Collection; NYX Hotel Cancun; and Royalton Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa. All can be accessed from Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.ACV also offers seasonal, direct service to Ixtapa and Los Cabo, and year round direct flights to Puerto Vallarta from Vancouver. Two new exclusive properties have been added – Isla Natura Beach and La Isla Huatulco & Beach Club – to its Huatulco line. Both have a connection in Toronto.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from Ottawa“We are focused on providing our travel agent partners and clients in Western Canada with unique and accessible vacation options, and are thankful for the support we have received in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver,” said Nino Montagnese, Managing Director, Sun Markets, Air Canada Vacations. “We will continue to develop our Sun program out of these gateways by adding more exclusive properties, new routes, and increased frequency and capacity.”From Jan. 30 to Feb. 5, ACV is offering clients 60% off Easter package bookings to Mexico and the Caribbean, plus up to 8,000 bonus Aeroplan Miles.Agents can now book and quote their own group and receive 2% bonus commission and 3X ACV&ME points. Visit vacations.aircanada.com. Tags: Air Canada Vacations, Brochures, Sun Destinations Travelweek Group Monday, January 30, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Where do poinsettias come from

first_imgNo related posts. When we think poinsettia, we think Christmas plant. Fewer of us think about Central America or Mexico, but actually, that’s where poinsettias come from, despite the fact that they are now found around the world as a leading ornamental, particularly over the holidays.Poinsettias bloom during this time of the year, when the days are shortest, which is convenient, given their status in the world of gifts. They’re mainly grown as potted plants, however, in the tropics, gardeners can plant poinsettias outside, where they grow into shrubs. Most of us are familiar with poinsettia flowers, which if you look closely, are actually brightly red colored leaves that surround a group of small yellow flowers. Nurseries offer different varieties of poinsettia (known as pastora or buena noche in Spanish) as potted plants or gardeners can propagate new plants using stem cuttings about 10-15 centimeters long, taken from mature plants. These cuttings should be planted in sandy loam potting soil in containers, which are placed in a shady area and watered weekly to prevent them from drying out. When the cuttings begin to sprout new foliage, they can be moved into the sunlight.Later, when the plants are well established, they can be transplanted to larger pots, planter boxes or directly outside. These plants flower best in full sunlight and well-drained soil fortified with compost fertilizer. After a year of growth, trim the plants back after blooming to keep them compact.Small insects such as scales, mites and thrips may attack the foliage, but can be controlled with soapy solution sprays.For more information on tropical gardening, naturally, contact us at thenewdawncenter@yahoo.com or see our newsletter at http://thenewdawncenter.info/blog.html. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Central America benefits from generosity of Seattlebased Gates Foundation

first_imgSEATTLE, Washington – The world’s largest private charity – established by the richest but arguably the most generous man in U.S. history – is pouring billions of dollars into improving health care in Central America and throughout the developing world.In late June, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a panel discussion and lunch for 29 ambassadors visiting Seattle as part of a three-day “Experience America” visit organized by the State Department. The panel’s theme: “Seattle as a Global Health Hub” and “How Ambassadors Can Be Partners Abroad.”The diplomats listened intently as topics ranged from the role of animals in food security to the development of vaccines to fight tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria.Projects funded by the Gates Foundation include a $2 million grant to Oxfam Central America and its local partner, Pro-Vida – an NGO based in El Salvador – to “reduce human suffering and material losses in the face of natural disasters” in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.The foundation also has given $875,000 to Managua-based Federación Red NicaSalud to improve child survival indicators in those four countries, as well as $200,000 to CARE and World Vision following the 2007 devastation of Hurricane Felix in Nicaragua, and another $500,000 to Oxfam after a magnitude-7.4 earthquake struck southern Guatemala in November 2012.In 2010, the Gates Foundation – along with Mexico’s Carlos Slim Health Institute and the government of Spain – announced they would each kick in $50 million to establish the Salud Mesoamérica 2015 Initiative to slash health inequities affecting the poorest 20 percent of the population of Central America and southern Mexico. The Inter-American Development Bank is the executing agency responsible for preparing, implementing and monitoring projects funded by the $150 million initiative.Expected results for the region include a significant drop in the mortality rate of children under 5 years old, a reduction in chronic malnutrition among children and pregnant women, and a boost in the coverage and quality of childhood vaccination, pre- and post-natal care, and access to family planning.“We’ve already seen the world cut extreme poverty in half, so progress is possible,” Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Gates Foundation, said during a welcome lunch for the ambassadors. “We’re inspired by that, but the past is no guarantee we’ll be effective in the future. We know that progress depends on thousands of NGOs doing work on the ground, and on the private sector investing in the poorest. And that depends on you – the representatives of governments around the world – making that happen.” Jenny Lizzeth holds her daughter, Bikky Shijan, at a clinic in Ojojona, Honduras, as she receives a vaccine from health worker Johana Sosa, left. (Courtesy of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)The Gates Foundation was established in 2000 by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. That same year, it announced an $800,000 grant to the University of Costa Rica’s Population Studies and Training Program.“For the first time, students and researchers studying population issues at the University of Costa Rica will have a place to share ideas and resources, and begin applying what they learn to help improve the lives of women and children throughout Central America,” said program director Luis Rosero when the grant was announced.In October 2011, UCR received another $100,000 from the foundation “to scale up sustainable seaweed farming ventures in Costa Rica, characterize nutritional values of various crops, and formulate them into a nutritious seaweed meal that can be marketed as a low-cost standalone food or as a supplement.”The Gates Foundation’s primary aim overseas is to enhance health care and reduce extreme poverty, and in the United States to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. With an endowment of $38.3 billion, the foundation now ranks as the largest of its kind worldwide. As of May 2013, Bill Gates (who tops this year’s Forbes list of the globe’s wealthiest people, with a net worth of $78.8 billion) had personally donated $28 billion to the Seattle-based foundation.“Through the Gates Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates decided to devote their energies to achieving global health equity,” said Lisa Cohen, executive director of the Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA), one of the many nonprofits that receive funding from the charity. “What they’ve done is shine a light and inspire people to tackle these long-term, often astonishingly complicated problems.”Cohen said WGHA received a $1 million, three-year startup grant from the Gates Foundation, and is currently in the third year of a $250,000 grant. Her organization – operating on an annual budget of $600,000 – partners with World Vision, PATH, Washington State University, the University of Washington and other entities to “leverage the collective expertise of our 60-plus members” on global health issues.“We’ve got 33 global health organizations within walking distance from where we are now. There are more than 200 global health organizations in this state, working in 156 countries on more than 2,500 projects,” explained Cohen, a former journalism professor. “There’s a culture of compassion in this state, and a can-do sort of attitude that we want to address problems and that we want to do it together. But it has to be done with the countries as partners. It can’t just be lip service.” Seattle headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose endowment of $38.3 billion makes it the world’s largest private charity. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesBesides Cohen, the panelists included Anita K.M. Zaidi, director of enteric and diarrheal diseases at the Gates Foundation, Steve Davis, president and CEO of Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Alan Aderem, president of the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, and Guy Palmer, director of Washington State University’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.“We’re an NGO, though we operate like a large and complex business,” Davis told the panel. “We do a lot of work on vaccines and drugs in order to get at addressing the health inequities that exist in so many parts of the world.”Palmer, who leads disease control programs in Latin America and East Africa, told diplomats that the health of animals and livestock is directly related to food and economic security throughout the developing world.“Women and children need a good protein supply, and for most people, the best sources of these are animal protein – whether it’s milk, eggs or meat. The ability of children to make an immune response is based on the ability to make protein,” he said.Guyana’s ambassador, Bayney Karran, asked the panel of experts what the Gates Foundation was doing to combat the spread of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) throughout the Caribbean and Central America.It’s a concern shared by Ambassador Neil Parsan of Trinidad and Tobago, who noted that 45 percent of his country’s 1.2 million people suffer from hypertension.“The foundation is investing in areas where we feel we can make the most difference,” Zaidi replied. “NCDs are preventable through tobacco control and diet. We’re taking baby steps toward tobacco control as a global issue, but it’s currently not our focus.”Davis, who worked on human rights, global health and refugee issues in the United States, Africa and Asia before becoming PATH’s president and CEO in 2012, said the issue is of tremendous importance.“Chris [Murray] and I are on a Council on Foreign Relations task force on what American policy should be toward NCDs,” he told the ambassadors. “A lot of organizations are funding NCD work, and we’re doing work on low-cost diabetes treatment in poor countries. But in general, funding is way behind.”Added Murray, a former top official at the World Health Organization: “In Central America, there’s a huge upswing in chronic kidney diseases. But that shift in non-communicable diseases in 20 or 30 years took more than a century to happen in high-income countries. Most governments aren’t really prepared to deal with it. You see this in Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and China.”Among other things, Murray is a founder of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) approach – described as a systematic effort to quantify the comparative magnitude of health loss due to diseases, injuries and risk factors by age, sex and geography over time.Several years ago, Murray launched a collaborative effort by 500 researchers from 50 countries that resulted in the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study 2010 (GBD 2010). This latest iteration of the effort – which is funded by the Gates Foundation – generated nearly one billion estimates of health outcomes for 187 countries and 21 regions, and was published in the December 2012 issue of The Lancet.“Next year we’ll be tracking where the money goes. The underlying belief there is that richer debate in each country about what’s important, and that will actually change the way we go about improving health,” Murray said. “You can’t capture the world’s data and synthesize it in a meaningful way without it being a very broad undertaking.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Number of chikungunya cases in El Salvador tops 16,000 Costa Rica’s President Solís to meet with leaders of Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Haiti and Ecuador The hidden environmental factors behind the spread of Zika and other devastating diseases World Bank: Zika will cost Latin America $3.5 billion in 2016last_img read more

Argentine Ricardo El Tigre Gareca likely will be Costa Ricas next national

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica great Paulo Wanchope insists Ticos will ‘keep surprising the world’ Costa Rica’s last hurrah in historic World Cup run Chile’s Copa América: Pollution worries hang in the air Sloth Kong nurses Panama back to health as La Sele takes lead in World Cup group play “Coaching Costa Rica’s squad is a big responsibility,” Gareca said. “Leading any country is always a big responsibility, and Costa Rica has had an incredible World Cup. I accepted the invitation [to visit], and we’ll see what happens.”Recommended: PHOTOS: Costa Ricans go wild celebrating World Cup upset over UruguayGareca did not comment specifically about Costa Rican football, saying in press reports that, “I’m not going into details about Costa Rica beyond their great performance at the World Cup. Their tough play and the work of the coaching staff drew the admiration of the entire world. We all enjoyed watching Costa Rica play in the World Cup.”Who is ‘El Tigre’?Gareca was born in Tapiales, in Buenos Aires province, and began playing for a neighborhood club at the age of 11.“My destiny was a football,” he said in a 2012 interview with Guillermo Salentino. “Every time I came home from school the first thing I did was play football. I lived in the street. We grew up in the street. As a kid, my dad and I were Vélez fans.“Later, my dad would come watch me play in a club at the local church. I started as a goalkeeper and then moved to midfield. … My dad was my life; he influenced my career in sports and was the person who had the most faith in me,” he said.Watch the full interview in Spanish: Gareca played with the Argentine clubs Vélez Sarsfield, River Plate and Boca Juniors, and Colombia’s América de Cali.He coached Talleres de Córdoba and Vélez, where he won the Argentine championship in 2009, 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he took his team to the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana.He also coached Universitario de Deportes in Peru, wining the national championship in 2008. His last job was at Palmeiras de Brasil, a team that fired him last August after only three months. His record at Palmeiras: four wins, one tie and eight losses.Related: Snapshots from the Web of Costa Rica’s historic World Cup winSee more of our 2014 World Cup coverage here Facebook Commentscenter_img Argentina’s Ricardo “El Tigre” Gareca, 56, a former coach of Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield, is the frontrunner to become Costa Rica’s new head coach for the national football team, known as “La Sele.”According to statements by both Gareca and Eduardo Li, president of the Costa Rican Football Federation, or Fedefútbol, the Argentine and La Sele are close to a contract deal that would start in 2015.Gareca arrived in Costa Rica on Sunday, and on Monday was given a tour of Project Goal and several local sporting facilities. He returns to Argentina on Wednesday.“We have everything ready. We have a verbal agreement, and all that remains are a few contract details,” Li told the Argentine radio station América. Li added that a contract likely would be signed this week.Gareca, meanwhile, told local media, “I was invited to get to know Costa Rica and the intentions of Fedefútbol directors in hiring me, of which I’m thankful. I am one of the options.”That seemed like a bit of an understatement, as Gareca is strongly favored to be La Sele’s next head coach following the departure of Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto, who led Costa Rica this year to its strongest World Cup performance to date. Pinto was temporarily replaced by Costa Rica’s Paulo Wanchope. According to Reuters, one of Costa Rica’s conditions is for Wanchope to remain part of La Sele’s coaching staff.If Gareca gets the job, one of his first challenges would be CONCACAF’s Copa Oro in June 2015.Another candidate in the running is Argentine Miguel Ángel Russo, but Gareca seems to be in fashion these days South America (in Spanish):last_img read more

US urges progress on case of missing students in Mexico

first_imgRelated posts:Mexico horrified by suspected massacre, incineration of 43 students Mexico’s Peña Nieto pledge to find students falls short for families Amid routine ‘disappearances,’ Mexico reels over 43 missing students Mexico police, protesters clash ahead of grim anniversary of 43 missing students MEXICO CITY – The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called on Mexico on Thursday to show progress in solving the disappearance of 43 students and other high-profile allegations of human rights abuses.Samantha Power spoke to journalists after a three-day visit to Mexico, where she held talks with the foreign minister and the attorney general, including discussions on security cooperation.The United States has blocked 15 percent, or $5 million, of the anti-drug security and training aid it provides to Mexico over human rights concerns.Power said the authorities can regain the trust of their people by solving prominent crimes such as last year’s disappearance of the students in the southern city of Iguala.“If progress could be made on the Iguala case, or if progress could be made on the [other] cases, … and resources are dedicated and if accountability could be achieved, that sends a very important signal,” she said.The diplomat welcomed Attorney General Arely Gómez’s decision to accept the recommendations of independent experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, who rejected the findings of the official investigation.Prosecutors say Iguala’s municipal police abducted the students and handed them over to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their bodies at a landfill in September last year.But the independent experts said there was no scientific proof that the 43 students were incinerated at the landfill and they urged prosecutors to seek new lines of investigation.Power said she was “hopeful” that Mexico’s openness to the independent panel’s recommendations and the deepening of judicial reform will lead to a restoration of full security aid.Mexican security forces have faced several allegations of abuses.This week, Human Rights Watch said witnesses saw federal police commit at least 11 extrajudicial killings in two separate incidents this year alone.“The issues with the law enforcement, with public security, with the rule of law are not going to get resolved overnight,” Power said.Read more stories on the missing students in Mexico here Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Feria Verde has a new spot at Ciudad Colóns Old Market

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:An arugula-growing farmer feeds a culinary revolution in Cuba San José hosts international short film fest 10 can’t-miss events this Halloween in Costa Rica Mexico opens landmark debate on marijuana laws Francisco Chaves, owner of Santé Raw Superfoods. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesOur final stop at the Feria Verde was at the Café Verde Pura Vida stand owned by Silvio Bonomelli, of Italy.“We are part of the innovation of a product that creates change, one cup of coffee at a time,” Bonomelli told The Tico Times.The Feria Verde takes place every Tuesday from 3-8 pm, and on Saturdays at the Polideportivo in Barrio Aranjuez, in eastern San José, from 7 am-1 pm. For more information visit Feria Verde’s webpage.center_img The beautiful scenery of the Old Market in Ciudad Colón, west of San José, is home to new edition of the Feria Verde. Every Tuesday from 3 to 8 pm, the organic food community reunites in this lovely cultural space. The Tico Times visited the Feria Verde and encountered a wide variety of people who love the organic lifestyle.The Feria Verde is organized by the Asociación de Amantes de lo Orgánico (AAMOR) and first kicked off at the Polideportivo in Barrio Aranjuez, just east of the San José city center, in 2010. The organizers of this fair are Francisco Grau, Susana González, Manuel Oviedo and Faviana Scorza. This Ciudad Colón edition was inaugurated on July 29 of this year.“An interdisciplinary group of people who wanted a space in San José that enabled both the sale of products and foods for a healthy lifestyle and cultural environment, got together,” Manuel Oviedo explained to The Tico Times, referring to the initial impulse behind the Feria Verde. The new Feria Verde in Ciudad Colón. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesAAMOR seeks to establish various points of sale for organic products across the country.“On the West side of San José we searched for a place in which there was consumer. Happily, we came across this place,” said Oviedo.As we strolled down the aisles of the market, we came across the booth of Finca Orgánica Tierra de Sueños. This farm from Zarcero, northwest of the capital, is owned by Brayner Paniagua and sells all sorts of organic vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, and carrots.The enthusiastic Daniela Quesada, saleswoman for Ninfa Products produced by Virginia Delbino, happily discussed her dehydrated fruit snack mix.“The mix is made of banana and cocoa. The secret behind this snack is to eat it all together in order for the flavors to do their magic!” Quesada said joyfully. (A taste test proved that she was right.)The Keep it Green Farms stand was right in front and caught our attention quickly. Javier Pelegero Dada offered us his delicious palmito and pejibayes.“Our products are cooked, then preserved in salt and water. We have various products with different shapes, sizes, and flavors: palmito with chili, palmito without chili, and our pejibayes,” Pelegero explained. Carlos Peleguero from Keep it Green sells pejibayes and hearts of palm at the Feria Verde in Ciudad Colón. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesSusana Vargas, owner of La Carambola’s, shared with us her delightful vegan aioli, served alongside the Keep it Green Farms pejibayes. La Carambola offers an exotic vegan sauce line.“The ingredients all come from the [Feria Verde]. I purchase the ingredients from the farmers here and then I process all the products,” Vargas explained.Pan Jaguar was our next stop. Esteban Chavarría, alias Jaguar, is the owner and producer of this delicious bread. His line includes a varied range of flavored breads including rosemary basil, sunflower seeds with ground flaxseed, nuts with ground flaxseed, raisins, and onion and sweet pepper with basil. Jaguar recited his business slogan, “Pan Jaguar, en su hogar no debe faltar. Si a sus vecinos quiere impresionar, pan jaguar debe llevar” (“Your home can’t be without Jaguar Bread. If you want to impress your neighbors, take some with you.”) Esteban Chavarría, alias “Jaguar,” makes Pan Jaguar. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesNext to Pan Jaguar was Francisco Chaves, Santé Raw Superfoods owner. His star products are three delicious snack bars: a protein bar with cashews, maca, cocoa, and dates; a potassium bar with cocoa, chia seeds, walnut, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, dates and coconut oil; and a mineral bar with spirulina, oats, walnuts, dates, and coconut oil.“These are raw food products made with the dehydration technique and organic ingredients,” Chaves explained.Our next stop was Biobella, a natural cosmetic line owned by Bob Hara and Monika Bingen.“These are naturally therapeutic cosmetics. We have sunblock, a great variety of scrubs, lip balm, facial products, deodorant, and foot cream. In the natural makeup line we have 16 different eyeshadow shades and 5 different eyeliner shades,” Bingen explained. All of Biobella’s products are handcrafted.last_img read more

Wildfires destroy thousands of hectares of protected areas private lands

first_imgFirefighters are battling to extinguish at least six wildfires in the central and northern Pacific as well as in the country’s northern inland region.The largest active fire has already consumed more than 1,500 hectares of wetlands in Los Chiles, north of Alajuela. The fire has burned through both private lands and protected areas in the hard-to-access region along the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.Since Sunday, firefighters have been focused on extinguishing a wildfire inside Guanacaste National Park that has destroyed more than 900 hectares.The fire began last Tuesday and was almost controlled on Wednesday, but strong winds revived the blaze.Firefighter crews are taking turns to keep up the fight around the clock, as smaller fires are also affecting open areas in the Puntarenas cantons of Garabito, Paquera and Cóbano as well as Orotina in Alajuela.Firefighters sent a helicopter bucket, called a Bambi Bucket, however strong winds along most of the Pacific region have prevented it from flying in certain areas.There have been a total of 61 wildfires in Costa Rica since the beginning of the year, two less than during the same period last year, according to the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC).Luis Diego Román Madriz, coordinator of SINAC’s National Commission on Wildfires, said 30 of the fires have occurred inside protected areas. More than 1,100 hectares of protected areas have been burned and a large number of wild animals killed, according to a recent report.Farmers in Guanacaste are struggling to feed their cattle as fires have consumed several hectares of grassland.Officers from the Public Security Ministry’s Air Surveillance Service will conduct overflights in the most affected areas to monitor and evaluate damage. Flights mainly will be over the Guanacaste National Park and wetlands in the northern cantons of Upala and Los Chiles.The provinces with the most wildfires so far this year are Puntarenas with 20, San José with 13 and Alajuela with eight.Román asked the population to avoid lighting fires in open spaces, as the effects of an El Niño weather phenomenon are increasing temperatures and wind gusts in several areas of the country.Firefighters are hoping weather conditions allow them to send the Bambi Bucket unit again. They’re also taking measurements to determine total affected area.The National Meteorological Institute (IMN) reported Sunday that strong winds along most of the Pacific region will be present at least during the first three days of this week.The current wildfire season began on Jan. 15 and according to IMN forecasts, extreme weather conditions likely will continue in the coming months due to El Niño. Forest Firefighters found many dead animals at Caño Negro wildlife refuge, in Costa Rica’s northern zone. (Courtesy of SINAC) Facebook Comments Related posts:Environment Ministry officials report increased damage of wildfires inside protected areas Wildfire burns more than 1,200 hectares of mountainous areas west of San José Wildfire destroys 5 hectares of Costa Rica’s Palo Verde National Park Environment officials warn of wildfire risk due to strong windslast_img read more

Costa Rica to use drones to deliver medicine to indigenous communities

first_imgCosta Rica’s Social Security System, orCaja, plans to start using drones to deliver medicine to remote indigenous communities. The plan, which the Caja says it will launch next year, aims to deliver needed medical supplies faster and over a wider area of the mountainous region of the Caribbean province of Limón.The drone program will benefit patients from eight indigenous communities that currently receive health services and medicine at two community clinics, or EBAIS. Estimates are that each delivery using drones would take 30-45 minutes. Currently, it takes three hours to three days to deliver medicine to both EBAIS clinics, said Esteban Vega, Caja’s national coordinator of pharmaceutical services.Vega said the Comptroller General’s Office already approved a contract with San Francisco-based company Zipline to provide the drones and controlling systems. The agency initially will sign a one-year contract that includes the delivery of up to 13,200 packages per month at a monthly cost of $26,136. Each additional delivery would cost $1.98.Officials estimate that deliveries could start in six months.Drone delivery processA delivery order is triggered when an EBAIS doctor issues a prescription using Caja’s Digital Health Records system. A pharmacist at a local clinic in the Caribbean town of Bribri prepares the prescription and packages the medicine inside a special, protective container.The package would then be placed inside the drone that will be tracked in real time by a GPS system. The online system would notify EBAIS staff when the medicine arrives and then the drone would drop off the package using a remote-controlled release.Danilo Monge, Caja’s manager of infrastructure and technology, said officials carried out several studies that concluded that using drones for delivering medicine was fully viable for the region.Among others, studies evaluated flight times, package weights, package safety measures, legal aspects, costs analysis, and geographic and climatic conditions. They also submitted the plan for evaluation by the Civil Aviation Authority.Results of all those studies were part of the application submitted and approved by the Comptroller’s General Office, Caja reported.See a video of a drone-delivery service of blood and medicine by Zipline in Rwanda: Other delivery optionsThe drone delivery program is Caja’s latest effort to get medicine to difficult-to-access parts of the country.In the past — and present — agency staff has used boats, bicycles, motorcycles and even horses to deliver medicine.In 2014, the Caja even considered a plan to use donkeys to transport doctors and medicine to nearly 500 residents of Punta Burica, Costa Rica’s southernmost point, which is inhabited mainly by Ngöbe indigenous people. The plan, however, was dismissed after various evaluations. Facebook Comments Related posts:Number of obese Ticos has almost quadrupled in four decades Mandatory prices for medical procedures rankle public, politicians Doctors’ Association backs down from mandatory medical fees Dengue vaccine likely to be available at public hospitals next yearlast_img read more

A movie star makes India confront its taboos

first_imgAssociated PressNEW DELHI (AP) – A Bollywood megastar is making India confront its dark side.Shining light on inequities like the rampant abortion of female fetuses, caste discrimination and the slaying of brides in dowry disputes, actor Aamir Khan has reached an estimated one-third of the country with a new TV talk show that tackles persistent flaws of modern India that many of its citizens would prefer to ignore. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths “Satyamev Jayate” has tackled many horrors unique to India: the torture and murder of young brides for bringing insufficient dowries to their in-laws; the shunning and degradation of those at the bottom of Hinduism’s caste hierarchy.Others are more universal _ alcoholism and child sexual abuse _ but made worse by a conservative culture unwilling to deal with them.The program is broadcast on several networks estimated to reach about 400 million people in India. Since its debut, more than 13 million people have posted suggestions and messages of support on the show’s Web site. The alcohol abuse episode sent 60,000 phone calls flooding the Alcoholics Anonymous helpline, said the show’s co-director Svati Chakravarty.“It was unprecedented in the history of AA worldwide.”Rights workers say Khan has used his celebrity with remarkable effect.Stalin K, a rights activist and documentary filmmaker who appeared in the caste episode, said none of the issues raised were new, but that Khan’s show was giving them far more attention than the glancing treatment they usually get in India’s media.“It’s a different level of engagement,” he said. “The conversations are much deeper.” Men’s health affects baby’s health too “It’s both ironic and amusing that it took an actor from Bollywood to shine a light on the yawning gaps in Indian journalism,” political commentator Tavleen Singh wrote in a recent column.The show has done “what us hacks should have been doing over and over again,” she wrote.Khan, 47, began his career in Bollywood as a romantic hero in the late 1980s. But over the last decade he has broken new ground in Bollywood, fashioning a career path combining the social consciousness of George Clooney with the hero appeal of Tom Cruise.Now one of the industry’s very biggest stars, he has the cachet to push through any project he chooses. He produced, directed and acted in a film about the journey of a misunderstood dyslexic child. His film “3 Idiots” examined the sorry state of India’s education system. He’s thrown his weight behind social causes _ joining anti-dam protesters and embracing an anti-corruption activist. The talk show has cemented his status as Bollywood’s first true activist-star.Khan initially was asked to host a TV game show. He refused.“I want to do something dynamically different,” he told Open magazine. “I continued to think about it, and slowly this idea was conceived.” Comments   Share   Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img The show forced Paromita Dey to confront an act she had tried to bury.Four years ago, Dey and her husband Souporno _ already parents to a teenage daughter _ ended a pregnancy because she was carrying another girl. Like millions of Indian families, they wanted a son.In the opening episode of Khan’s program in May, Ameesha Yagnik haltingly recalled how her husband forced her to abort six female fetuses in eight years. How he threw her out of the house but refused to let her meet her infant daughter for months until she agreed to divorce him.Both Khan and his audience were in tears.So were the Deys when they watched the show.“Yes, I killed my baby because she was a girl,” a shaken Paromita Dey said, sitting in her home in a posh neighborhood in the northern city of Lucknow.That India’s highly skewed gender ratio is a cause for concern isn’t new. Census after census has revealed that fewer and fewer girls are being born, despite strict laws against sex-selective abortions and a slew of failed government incentives and programs.Yet Khan’s show created such an outpouring of outrage that the government of the western state of Rajasthan, with one of the worst gender ratios, promised action, and a village head there formed a committee to check against the practice. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Khan’s reputation as a thinking person’s superstar adds to the show’s credibility, but for the most part he keeps to the background _ only speaking when someone looks lost for words or to explain something to his audience.In a recent episode, Khan interviewed a university professor who had battled years of discrimination for being a dalit _ the lowest Hindu caste. Kaushal Panwar spoke about being taunted in her village school, about not being allowed to drink water from the same clay pot as upper caste children.Khan interjected only a few times, mostly to give Panwar time to hold back her tears, and once to admonish his audience and viewers that “if I believe an accident of birth makes me superior to you, that is a mental illness.”It remains to be seen whether the show’s momentum can translate into substantial reforms. But Stalin says Khan’s work is vitally important.“This amount of discussion in such a short amount of time is unprecedented,” he said.___Associated Press Writer Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow, India contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories “Satyamev Jayate”, or “Truth Alone Prevails,” is a clever blend of hard news and raw emotional appeal _ part 60 Minutes, part Oprah. Its influence has even prodded the notoriously lethargic government machinery into action, though it’s too soon to know what policy changes may be in the works.After an episode exposed rampant medical malpractice and championed giving cheap, generic medicine to millions of India’s poor, Khan was invited to address a Parliament hearing on health care.Indians haven’t seen anything quite like this. Hard-hitting talk shows are rare and certainly none has acquired even a fraction of the popularity and buzz Khan’s has generated since its debut 11 weeks ago. And Bollywood superstars have ventured into television only to host glitzy game or reality shows.For many middle class Indians _ comfortable in their belief that their country had moved beyond most of these problems _ Khan’s show has been a gut-wrenching and poignant dose of bitter reality.“Definitely it’s reminding people that there are problems within our society,” said Narendra Kumar, an environmental researcher in New Delhi. “It’s also creating discussions and sometimes helping people find solutions to the problems.” Top Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

In Cuban missile showdown 2 brothers own crisis

first_imgAssociated PressMIAMI (AP) – Julio Castro sat at his uncle’s Miami home as President John F. Kennedy came on the television the night of Oct. 22, 1962, to tell the nation the Soviet Union was building launch sites for nuclear missiles in Cuba capable of reaching almost every city in the Western Hemisphere.Castro had fled the Caribbean island earlier that year, and his parents and siblings were still there. He’d joined the U.S. Army in August, thinking that with the help of a superpower, he and the growing contingent of exiles in Miami could defeat the communists who had taken control nearly four years before. Now the world was on the verge of a nuclear war. Castro stood ready for his orders, ready to do anything to secure the United States and free his family. Even kill.Ninety miles away, his brother was prepared to do the same.Unbeknownst to one another, Julio and Jose Castro had both enlisted in the military, the older brother with the United States, the younger with Cuba. As the U.S. and the Soviets inched closer to catastrophe half a century ago this month, one brother stood in the trenches watching Soviet troops set up outside Havana, while the other awaited orders in Miami.Each well knows what may have happened had Kennedy heeded some advisors’ call to invade Cuba.And each knew his role.“War is war,” says Julio Castro, now 71.If it comes down to it, his 69-year-old brother says in Spanish, “you fire at the enemy.”___Growing up before the revolution, the brothers shared a close bond.As a teenager, Julio Castro remembers enjoying the delights of Havana: He would go around the city in his red Austin Healey coupe and hit the clubs with friends. His brother imagined doing the same when he was old enough.Not everyone in Cuba lived such a life. Under Fulgencio Batista’s rule, the gap between rich and poor grew wider and corruption was rampant. Suspected dissidents were killed. The boys’ own grandfather, a congressman who belonged to an opposition political party, was followed and harassed. Inside their own household, there was joy and discontent when Fidel Castro, who is not related to them, and the revolutionaries marched triumphantly into Havana and took control of the government in 1959. Their father, who had studied philosophy, liked the ideas of socialism. Their mother, on the other hand, was startled by the firing squad executions of former Batista officials and many others shown on television.So was her oldest son.“Cuban killing Cuban, this is not right,” Julio Castro remembers thinking.Jose Castro was also starting to develop a political consciousness of his own. He’d been asked to leave his Catholic school after joining a student revolutionary group, and because he was still too young for most jobs, his options were limited. His father found him work at a clothing factory, and it was there, speaking and meeting the workers, that he began to see another side of life in Cuba: The plight and exploitation of the underclasses.“It was a world I didn’t know,” he recalls.At night, when they met at home, the two young men refrained from discussing their political differences. But they increasingly led separate lives.Jose Castro joined a union and pledged to enlist in the new government’s revolutionary army, which was no small commitment. Though Cuba’s communist leaders remain at odds with the U.S. 50 years later, both governments have eased their policies, allowing more interaction between Cubans on either side of the Florida Straits.For Julio Castro, the Cold War still remains, the mission he wanted to accomplish only half complete. The family is reunited, though in a different country than they had hoped to be.“My brother and me, we made peace,” he says. “We made peace with each other because we are family. There is no tension because there is love.”___Julio and Jose de Castro are featured in the upcoming documentary by Javier Aparisi, “La Crisis de los Misiles en Miami,” “The Cuban Missile Crisis in Miami.” More information can be found online at: http://www.misilesdeoctubre.com Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories “My goal was to secure this nation,” Julio Castro says. “That was the number one goal. Secure the nation and then try to liberate my brother.”As the crisis escalated, the U.S. prepared for war. B-52s and intercontinental ballistic missiles were prepared to launch at a moment’s notice. Soviet and U.S. diplomats went back and forth, seeking a peaceful solution. Finally, on Oct. 27, Kennedy agreed to remove missiles in Italy and Turkey in exchange for the Soviets dismantling and removing the nuclear weapons in Cuba.Jose Castro was sent back to the factory, where he had continued working, not yet a full member of the military. Julio Castro was shipped the next month to Fort Knox, where, even after the crisis was averted, he worked on Operation Mongoose and hoped to overthrow the communists.Neither knew how close he had to come to fighting against his brother.___Jose Castro spent 30 years in the Cuban military. His mother and two sisters left the island and joined his older brother in the United States during that time.He wasn’t allowed to communicate with them, under a rule he could not have contact with the “enemy.”Everyone in the United States was considered an enemy. Julio Castro went cold.“I’m going to the United States,” he replied.“And your father knows that?” the man asked.“Yes,” he lied.The guard paused, weighing the likelihood of Julio’s response.“Have a good trip,” he said.___Ten months after his arrival, on Oct. 14, 1962, a U.S. Air Force U-2 spy plane flew over Cuba and took photographs of Soviet missile bases under construction on the island. Several U.S. officials argued for an immediate invasion of Cuba, but Kennedy doubted that was the best approach.Ninety miles away, Jose Castro received orders to help guard a Soviet base in a wooded area; while he was told there were missiles inside, Castro never saw them himself. He was assigned to stand in the trenches outside, and could see the Soviets enter and leave the base.“I thought they were rockets to defend the country, not attack,” he says.On Oct. 22, Kennedy went on television and informed Americans of the impending nuclear threat. Any attack from Cuba in the Western Hemisphere would require “full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union,” he said.Julio Castro, in Miami, watched in anticipation. He had already agreed to participate in Operation Mongoose, another CIA plot to remove Fidel Castro and the communist regime from power. As the missile crisis unfolded, he was awaiting his orders to be sent for bacterial, chemical and nuclear training at Fort Knox in Kentucky. Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of In order to join up, Jose had to complete a 38-mile walk to prove his stamina. He bought a pair of comfortable shoes and prepared for the trek.Before he left, his mother came into his room.“I know you’re going to walk,” she said. “But I wish you wouldn’t.”He looked at his mother, wishing he could say something to console her, but knowing that his mind was firm.“I’m going,” he said. “I’ve already promised to do it.”His older brother, meanwhile, had begun making arrangements to leave Cuba in the months after the battle at the Bay of Pigs, in which the Cuban military routed an invading brigade of American-trained Cuban exiles.Julio Castro applied for a student visa with the help of an uncle in Miami, not telling his brother or his father. If either knew, he feared it could put his exit in jeopardy or endanger the entire family. So on a January day in 1962, he left for the airport alone in a taxicab, without saying goodbye to anyone.As he worked his way through an inspection at the airport, a member of the revolutionary guard, a young man from their neighborhood, recognized him.“Julito, where are you going?” he asked. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 treatments for adult scoliosis “My family is not the enemy,” he thought.Still, he knew vague details of their lives. His mother kept in contact with his wife, and sent him One A Day vitamins that he took for decades, even when he was sent to Angola. (Cuban troops were used to bolster the African country’s then-communist government against rebels for more than a decade beginning in the mid-1970s.)When his military service was over, Jose Castro entered the civilian workforce. It was there that he began to see another side of the revolution. He didn’t have the benefits given to members of the military anymore – food and vacations for his family and rides to work. He and his family lived in a modest apartment with furniture his mother had bought in the 1950s.In 2004, more than 10 years after retiring from the military, Jose Castro was granted permission to leave the country.His older brother picked him up at the airport in Miami.They hugged each other and cried.“Welcome to the land of liberty,” Julio Castro said.In some ways, Jose Castro grew up to be more like his big brother than he might have known. Both served in the military and both became civil engineers. These days they even work on projects together. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Turkey to soon request Patriots from NATO

first_imgANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkey’s foreign minister says his country will soon make a formal request to NATO for Patriot missiles to bolster anti-aircraft defenses along its border with Syria.Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters Tuesday that talks with Turkey’s allies on this possible deployment have reached the “final stage.”He said: “The formal negotiations will be concluded at the shortest time possible. They won’t last much longer.” Sponsored Stories Top Stories 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday in Brussels that NATO would consider Turkey’s request as a matter of urgency. He said NATO has drawn up plans to defend Turkey.NATO installed anti-aircraft batteries in Turkey during the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars. They were never used and later removed.Within the alliance, only the United States, Germany and the Netherlands have Patriots in their arsenals.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixcenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Comments   Share   How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

NATO OKs small defense advisory mission for Libya

first_img Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Quick workouts for men Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img BRUSSELS (AP) – NATO says it is setting up a small team of experts to advise Libya in building the country’s defense institutions.Carmen Romero, a spokeswoman for the defense alliance, said ambassadors from NATO’s 28 member countries on Monday granted the request first made by Libyan authorities in May.She says the team won’t have a permanent base in Libya but will operate from Brussels and comprise “no more than 10 people.” 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Libya has been in turmoil since the end of a civil war that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, with the new security forces still struggling to assert their control over the vast, mostly barren North African country.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

Parliamentary elections high stakes for Turkey and Erdogan

first_imgCopyright © 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 Top Stories In this Saturday, May 30, 2015, photo, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to the crowds in Istanbul, Turkey, during a rally to commemorate the anniversary of city’s conquest by the Ottoman Turks. Turkey will hold a general election on June 7. The drama of the election has been whether Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), will win a strong enough majority to change the constitution and put Erdogan at the unquestioned pinnacle of Turkish politics in a new presidential system. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey holds parliamentary elections Sunday in which there’s little doubt about the overall outcome: victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party. Still, the elections may turn out to be the most important since Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party swept to power in 2002. The reason is that make-up of the new Parliament promises to determine whether Erdogan can achieve his dream of giving himself sweeping new powers — or whether his official presidential role will remain circumscribed. Here is a look at the key factors. ERDOGAN EVERYWHERE:Turkey’s constitution requires the president to be above politics. And Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the oath for neutrality when he was elected to the position last year. But that has not prevented him from campaigning intensely for an AKP victory. Erdogan has dominated airwaves and used state openings and functions as a pretext to address crowds, overshadowing Ahmet Davutoglu, his hand-picked prime minister. As in previous elections, Erdogan’s campaign has been divisive. In election speeches, he tried to portray Demirtas, the Kurdish party leader, as un-Muslim, even claiming he eats pork. Most recently he said the party was supported by “agitators” — including the foreign media, a purported “Armenian lobby” and gays.RISING OPPOSITION:For the first time in more than a decade, Turkey’s main opposition parties are creating buzz, campaigning on positive economic agendas instead merely criticizing Erdogan and the AKP. The secular, main opposition Republican People’s Party has unveiled proposals for a $200 billion mega-project that would turn impoverished central Anatolia into a technology hub. The nationalist MHP party is also set to make gains — potentially siphoning votes from Erdogan’s camp, with which it shares a common nationalist and conservative support base. Many MHP supporters had switched to the AKP over its economic successes. The MHP could now win back the votes of nationalists who oppose the two-year old peace process that the AKP initiated with Kurdish rebels in a bid to end three decades of violent conflict. Fearing a loss of nationalist votes, Erdogan has recently slammed the brakes on the peace talks. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories TURKEY’S DEMOCRACY:Erdogan is not on the ballot, but the election is all about him. The longtime leader took a big risk last year by running for president, a mostly ceremonial post under the current Turkish constitution. Erdogan was elected after Parliament, stripped of the right to appoint the president, put the decision to a national vote. Erdogan gambled on two things: that a democratic mandate would give him a stronger mandate to take an active role in Turkish politics, and that his party could win a big enough majority in Sunday’s election to allow it to change the constitution and give the president vast new powers. That calculation has been cast into doubt.THE KURDISH VOTE:All eyes are on whether Turkey’s main Kurdish party will cross the 10 percent vote threshold required to enter Parliament. If the HDP party succeeds it will all but extinguish any chance for Erdogan’s AKP to achieve the supermajority it needs to push through constitutional change. The HDP says it is opposed to new powers for Erdogan. For the Kurdish party, the attempt to make it into Parliament as a party — instead of fielding nominally independent candidates as in the past — is also a gamble. If a party misses the 10 percent target, its votes are distributed to the other parties that surpassed it. In that case, the AKP as the anticipated top vote-getter would benefit greatly. But led by the charismatic Selahattin Demirtas, the Kurdish party sees the critical 10 percent within reach. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day How men can have a healthy 2019 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Obama hosts annual Ramadan dinner at White House

first_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   President Barack Obama greets guests after delivering remarks during the annual Iftar dinner, celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in the East Room of the White House, on Monday, June 22, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 treatments for adult scoliosis He recognized several young dinner guests, including Samantha Elauf, who went to the Supreme Court to defend her right to wear a headscarf, or hijab. She was 17 in 2008 when she was rejected for a sales job at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after wearing a hijab to the interview.“She was determined to defend the right to wear a hijab — to have the same opportunities as everybody else,” Obama said. “She went all the way to the Supreme Court — which I didn’t do at her age — and she won.”Obama spoke of three young Muslims who were killed Feb. 10 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the nine black church members killed last week in Charleston, South Carolina.“As Americans, we insist that nobody should be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, who they love, how they worship,” he said. “We stand united against these hateful acts.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Top holiday drink recipes WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday that Americans stand united in rejecting the targeting of any religious or ethnic group as he marked Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.Obama opened the White House to Muslim Americans for a traditional iftar dinner, which follows daily fasting from dawn to sunset. Ramadan ends with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr.“We affirm that whatever our faith, we’re all one family,” Obama said at the East Room dinner attended by about 40 members of the diplomatic community and a few members of Congress.last_img read more

Bahraini king pardons prominent activist on health grounds

first_img MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain’s king on Monday pardoned an outspoken Bahraini human rights activist after three months in prison, citing health reasons, reported the official Bahrain News Agency.Nabeel Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, had been under arrest since April 2 on charges related to comments he made online criticizing the treatment of political prisoners at a prison in the Arab Gulf country. FILE – In this Friday, March 21, 2014 file photo, a Bahraini pro-democracy protester wears a mask with an image of jailed Bahraini human rights activist Nabil Rajab as others wave national flags during a march in Abu Saiba, west of the capital, Manama, Bahrain. The country’s official news agency reported Monday, July 13, 2015, that King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has pardoned Rajab, an outspoken human rights activist on health grounds after three months in prison. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File) Top Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home He also faced a six-month sentence for insulting defense and interior ministries on Twitter when he alleged that Bahrain’s security institutions were incubators for extremist ideology after several former of the country’s security officials apparently joined the extremist Islamic State group.BNA reported the pardon by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and said Rajab was released on Monday. Rajab, who is a member of Bahrain’s Shiite majority, could not immediately be reached for comment.Bahrain is an important Western ally in the Gulf, and hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.The tiny island nation has faced four years of unrest led by its majority Shiites calling for greater political rights from the Sunni leadership. With help from security forces from neighboring Gulf states, Bahrain put down widespread protests in 2011. But occasional demonstrations still occur, and anti-government activists frequently clash with riot police.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Check your body, save your life Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Employee or contractor Labor seeks to clarify rules

first_img Check your body, save your life New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The issue has also emerged in the presidential campaign, after Hillary Clinton promised earlier this week to “crack down” on companies that wrongly classify workers as contractors. She praised the “gig economy” for “creating exciting opportunities” but also said it is “raising hard questions about workplace protections.”The move comes as the department steps up its enforcement of classification rules. Last year, it forced companies to pay $79 million in back wages to 109,000 workers in the janitorial, temporary help, food services, day care and hotel industries.The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think-tank, estimates that 10 percent to 20 percent of employers misclassify at least one worker.The department’s directive emphasizes that a worker who is “economically dependent” on the employer should be treated as an employee. By contrast, a worker must be in business for himself or herself to be an independent contractor.That is a broader standard than guidelines followed by many states and the IRS, according to Michael Droke, an employment law partner at Dorsey and Whitney. They generally focus on how much control a company has over how a worker does the job. ___Follow Chris Rugaber at http://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaberCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Labor unions and activists have for years argued that companies in many industries — construction, hotels, and janitorial services, among others — have sought to hold down labor costs by calling workers independent contractors. Contractors aren’t eligible for overtime pay, unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation. They typically pay all their Social Security taxes, compared with employees, who split that cost with employers.The guidance was issued by the Labor Department’s wage and hour division, headed by David Weil. It doesn’t represent new regulation or have the force of law, but is intended to clarify how companies and courts should interpret the rules.“We very much believe that misclassification is a problem that has been growing,” Weil said. “It undermines all the legitimate employers who are doing the right thing … but they are put at a competitive disadvantage.”Yet attorneys that represent employers say the directive reflects a very broad interpretation of what constitutes an employee, and will likely encourage more lawsuits.“It is an unapologetic effort to restrict the use of independent contractors,” said Richard Alfred, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw, a law firm that typically represents employers. The guidance “ignores many of the realities of the modern workplace, and different relationships that workers and businesses want to have.” WASHINGTON (AP) — When are workers employees? When are they contractors?The Labor Department issued new guidance Wednesday that could limit the ability of many companies to designate their workers as contractors. That could spell trouble for sharing-economy firms such as Uber and TaskRabbit, which rely on independent workers, often for short-term projects.It comes amid a wave of lawsuits against companies such as FedEx, ride-hailing service Lyft and online cleaning service provider Handy, brought by workers who say they should have been treated as employees rather than contractors. The directive also says that an agreement between an employer and worker that designates the worker as an independent contractor “is not relevant” to the classification question.That is an “extremely surprising” view, Alfred said. Such agreements should at least be considered, he added.Prior to taking the post at Labor in May 2014, Weil was a professor at Boston University and wrote a book titled “The Fissured Workplace,” which examined ways that companies have sought to outsource or subcontract many functions. That has increased the misclassification of workers, Weil said.Uber lost a high-profile case in California last month when the state’s labor commission ruled that a driver for the company was an employee, not an independent contractor. The case was limited in scope, applying to one driver who sought unpaid wages and expenses and was awarded $4,152. Uber is appealing the decision.The company has said that its drivers like its business model, which enables them to choose when and how much to work.“The No. 1 reason drivers choose to use Uber is because they have complete flexibility and control,” the company said last month. Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Top Stories Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Rugby officials reconsider Christchurch for cup

first_imgRugby World Cup officials could be looking at moving the five matches scheduled to play in Christchurch later this year, after the earthquake caused structural around the city on Monday.While the AMI Stadium suffered no damage during the latest quake, the damages to accommodation building is causing concern for the events officials, The Guardian reported.Officials posted on the site that for the moment they are focusing on the rehabilitation of the city and its people.“Our thoughts are very much with the people of the region,” the statement read.“It is too early to talk about any implications for the Tournament and any assessment must wait while the rescue and recovery efforts take priority.”According to the source up to 85,000 international rugby fans are expected to travel to New Zealand for the World Cup. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more