Huge complex of amusement parks in Dubai celebrates opening

first_img Posted by Monday, December 19, 2016 The Canadian Press DUBAI — A massive complex of amusement parks in the southern desert of Dubai has celebrated its opening.Organizers held the event Sunday for the Dubai Parks & Resorts project after it formally opened Friday.The park includes a Legoland, a Bollywood-themed park, a movie-themed Motiongate park, a hotel and a shopping district. The park hopes to have a Six Flags by late 2019.The project, estimated to be worth over $3 billion, sits along the dusty highway connecting Dubai to the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi.Dubai hopes to develop the previously empty expanse, which will host the 2020 World Expo, or world’s fair. Dubai already has plans to one day handle over 200 million passengers a year at the nearby Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central. Huge complex of amusement parks in Dubai celebrates openingcenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Tags: Dubailast_img read more

YVR welcomes Airbus A350900 for the first time in Canada

first_imgYVR welcomes Airbus A350-900 for the first time in Canada Travelweek Group Share Posted by Tags: Cathay Pacific, Vancouver International Airportcenter_img RICHMOND, B.C. — Earlier this week, Cathay Pacific made history when it debuted the industry’s newest aircraft – the Airbus A350-900 – in North America for the very first time.On March 28, the airline launched increased service between Vancouver and Hong Kong with the first scheduled Canadian arrival and departure of the A350-900. The state-of-the-art aircraft will service the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) route, offering more direct flights and seats than any other airline with 17 flights per week and an additional 87,360 seats annually from YVR.“Vancouver was the airline’s first destination in North America with our then state-of-the-art Boeing 747-200 aircraft being the first airline to fly nonstop between YVR and Hong Kong, so it is fitting that nearly 34 years later, we are the first airline to debut the industry’s newest aircraft, the exciting Airbus A350-900 in North America,” said Philippe Lacamp, Cathay Pacific Senior Vice President, Americas.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesThe new Airbus A350-900 is the quietest among the aircraft types in its class and is 25% more fuel-efficient. It features a refreshed Business Class cabin and new Premium Economy and Economy Class seats that offer more space and comfort, plus panoramic windows and LED mood lighting. In an eco-friendly move, cabin carpets and passengers’ blankets are made from recycled plastic and nylon, including plastic bottles and salvaged fishing nets that are otherwise a hazard for marine life.Craig Richmond, President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, said he’s thrilled to welcome the first Canadian arrival of the Airbus A350-900. “It is exciting to see the continued growth of this route and opportunities that stem from it as YVR works towards building a world class sustainable gateway between Asia and the Americas.”The three additional flights per week is expected to generate approximately 163 additional jobs in British Columbia, both at the airport and in the tourism industry, $5.6 million in wages, $1.6 million in taxes, and $8.6 million in Gross Domestic Product. << Previous PostNext Post >> Thursday, March 30, 2017 last_img read more

New WestJet fare bundle fee structure effective May 11

first_img Share New WestJet fare bundle, fee structure effective May 11 << Previous PostNext Post >> Wednesday, May 10, 2017 CALGARY — WestJet is introducing a fourth fare bundle, Plus Lowest, and updating its fee structure to offer lower fees to clients who make changes to their booking more than 60 days from their departure date. The changes take effect May 11.WestJet now offers two fare options under the Plus umbrella: Plus Lowest and Plus Flexible.“When you book Plus Lowest for their clients they will enjoy the same Plus onboard experience,” said the airline. What’s new? They will pay a lower fare, change fees will apply and the fare will be non-refundable.Plus Flexible clients will also get the same Plus onboard experience, with no change fees and the fare will have a refundable option.WestJet said there will be no change to commission as a result of this change. “Travel agents will continue to earn 8% commission for both Plus Lowest and Plus Flexible.”The Plus Lowest fare bundle will include H and W fare classes, and the Plus Flexible fare bundle will include K fare classes. Econo includes C, I, D, X, G, P, M, L and Q. Flex includes B, V and Y. Plus Lowest includes H and W and Plus Flexible includes K.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesBoth Plus Lowest and Plus Flexible passengers get the onboard amenities included in the current Plus fares, such as extra leg and elbow room (an empty middle seat on 737 aircraft and wider seats on 767 aircraft), two checked bags, advance boarding, priority security screening (at select airports), premium food and beverages (including beer, wine and spirits) and lounge access in London (Gatwick), LGW.WestJet is also offering lower fees for changes made to bookings that depart outside of 60 days. These new fees are effective for bookings made on or after May 11.Change fees will still be based on region. The regions include: domestic; transborder/international sun; and Europe. Fees will still be charged per person, per transaction for all regions.To compensate for the short notice WestJet said it is providing a 30-day grace period. “Until June 11, 2017, if the incorrect fee is charged for the 24 hour change/cancel rule, please contact our Travel Support Team (TST) at 1-877-664-3205 and one of our TST agents will be pleased to assist you with correcting the file without penalty.”center_img Posted by Tags: WestJet Travelweek Group last_img read more

Lost at Munich Airport Theres a robot wholl help you find your

first_imgLost at Munich Airport? There’s a robot who’ll help you find your way MUNICH — Robots have come a long way from the voiceless hunk of metal that was R2-D2. Just ask Josie Pepper, the new humanoid robot holding down a job at Munich Airport (MUC).Standing approximately 42 inches tall and capable of speaking perfect English, Josie is the brainchild of both Munich Airport and Lufthansa, and is currently in a testing phase at Terminal 2. In her initial deployment, she awaits passengers at the top of the ramp leading to the shuttle connecting the main terminal to the satellite building, and has been tasked with answering questions and offering directions.Robots at airports are not a new phenomenon; Schiphol Airport rolled out Spencer the robot back in 2016 to guide KLM passengers to their departure gates, while Pepper the robot worked as a waiter at Oakland Airport in California. There were also ‘dancing’ robots designed to entertain and assist passengers at Mineta San José International Airport in 2016, and more recently, robots popped up at airports in Glasgow, Indianapolis and Edmonton to provide passenger information.More news:  Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truckBut how does Josie Pepper differ? For one thing, she’s really, REALLY smart. Her ‘brain’ contains a high-performance processor with a WLAN internet access, which creates a connection to a cloud service where speech is processed, interpreted and linked to airport data. In other words, when she speaks, she talks just like a human, answering each question on an individual basis rather than spewing out pre-defined texts. Just like a ‘real’ brain, she becomes steadily better at combining questions with the relevant information to provide more precise replies.That’s right, you can have a full-blown conversation with a real-life talking robot! Just be sure you don’t miss your flight, robots have been known to ‘drone’ on and on. Share Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Tags: Airports, Germany, Lufthansa Travelweek Group last_img read more

No easy fix for families in Costa Ricas maritime zones

first_imgNo related posts. The Costa Rican government is continuing to look for solutions to a nationwide zoning crisis that at its worst could result in some 300,000 residents losing their homes and businesses.Vice President Alfio Piva told reporters Wednesday in a press conference at Casa Presidencial that no less than 14 bills are before the Legislative Assembly seeking to address the issue of buildings constructed in the maritime zone, an area along the coast extending from the median high-tide line 200 meters inland. The Maritime Zone Law, passed in 1977, defines the first 50 meters from the median high-tide line as public property upon which no buildings can go up. The next 150 meters are considered a “restricted zone” in which local municipalities can issue land-use concessions for homes and businesses. A similar zone is mandated for areas near Costa Rica’s borders with its international neighbors.Recently, the Comptroller General ordered municipalities across the country to start strictly enforcing the Maritime Zone Law. That includes an order to the Talamanca Municipality on the southern Caribbean coast to destroy at least 13 homes and businesses in and around Puerto Viejo and Cahuita by no later than the end of November (TT, April 26).“This is a problem fundamentally derived from a lack of land-use zoning in the country,” Piva said.Last week, the Chinchilla administration presented a bill to the assembly proposing a one-year moratorium on evictions and demolitions of buildings in the maritime zone. The vice president said he is confident that one year will be enough time to reach a solution.“In all these zones we have nearly 300,000 affected people, many whose families have lived there for 100 or 200 years,” Piva said. “The majority of them are poor people who live from fishing, people who barely survive, and because of strict legal interpretations, they can’t build or repair a school in bad condition, or give a loan to a family member … to build or renovate a house because the area has no permissions from state institutions.”That lack of oversight in maritime zones and other protected areas is a long-standing issue, said Miriam Miranda, coordinator of a national program that is remapping and registering all of the protected and restricted areas in the country. Their goal is to mitigate these types of problems in the future.“This will have a huge social impact,” Miranda said. “There are communities and groups established [in regulated zones], and there are people who have built there with permits, others without permits, but however it was, the government tolerated them. The government did not make decisions when and how it should have made them, and that has led to chaos today.”Miranda said that when lawmakers decreed years ago that 26 percent of the country should be protected – one of Costa Rica’s proudest conservation achievements – there was no way for them to see that decree carried out in an organized manner. For that reason, she said, boundaries of protected areas have been vaguely defined for years, and as with the Maritime Zone Law, there has been little or haphazard enforcement until now (TT, Feb. 10).“There have been norms [and] regulations, but the state never enforced them. So, people settled in maritime zones and some government agencies, including municipalities and the Environment Ministry, gave them permits and never regulated it.”Examples are everywhere, she said, including a school in the community of Drake Bay in southern Costa Rica built entirely within the 50-meter zone. The National Police building in Puerto Viejo, on the opposite coast, sits right on the beach.But while the vice president is trying to find legal and administrative solutions to the problems presented by a strict enforcement of the Maritime Zoning Law, Miranda said she isn’t optimistic about the prospects for thousands of families whose livelihoods and homes are at stake.“From a legal point of view, if you are going to apply the law the way it is, the law is very clear,” Miranda said.Asked Wednesday about plans to relocate families if a legal resolution to the zoning issues cannot be reached, Piva said, “They’re 300,000 people, what plan would work?”“They’ve been there for years,” the vice president added. “What is being tried is to leave them there. The people are asking to stay where they have lived, to stay working in what they know how to do.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Three minor quakes in seven minutes shake Guanacaste

first_imgNo related posts. The Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) recorded three earthquakes in the Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste, between 10:58-11:05 a.m. on Tuesday.The quakes recorded magnitudes of 3.5, 3.7 and 3.4, respectively.The first quake had a depth of 14 kilometers, and was located 1 km southwest of Portal de Garza in Nicoya.Five minutes later, at 11:03 a.m., a second temblor was located 2 km southeast of Santa Elena de Nicoya, while a third was also located in Portal de Garza.Preliminary reports by local residents state that the temblors were felt “as a strong and quick shake,” but no damage or injuries were reported.On Sept. 5, 2012, a magnitude-7.6 quake off the coast of the Nicoya Península made the record books as the country’s second-largest of all time. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

12 dead in assault on Pakistans Karachi airport

first_imgRelated posts:In the wake of attack on Paris newspaper, extremists take to Twitter to celebrate Publication attacked in Paris has history of bold satire Costa Rica’s President Solís signs condolence book for Charlie Hebdo victims US issues global travel alert due to ‘increased terrorist threats’ KARACHI, Pakistan – Heavily armed militants attacked Pakistan’s busiest airport in the southern city of Karachi Sunday night, killing at least six people as flights were suspended and the army was called in, officials said.Some six militants were also killed in the assault as gunfire, which continued overnight, and two huge blasts rocked the Jinnah International Airport.The raid prompted fears of the kind of prolonged siege which followed similar attacks on key installations in recent years.Army spokesman Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a statement: “All passengers in planes have been evacuated and three terrorists killed.”A senior intelligence official at the scene, who requested anonymity, said the total number of militants killed was six and that some were found wearing a light blue uniform.“One of them blew up when he was shot,” the official said, indicating the assailant was wearing a suicide vest.The attackers appeared to have entered from at least two sides of the airport: the hajj terminal and the engineering section close to an old terminal no longer used for passengers.The precise number of attackers was unclear. Officials earlier put the figure at around half a dozen, though later the figure was believed to be higher.The attackers were armed with machine guns and grenades.The army, the airport security force, police and paramilitary forces have all been deployed at the scene, where gunfire was intermittent.A paramilitary ranger engaged in the operation said the militants who had entered through the engineering section of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) gunned down security personnel first.An AFP reporter at the airport said there had been two “huge” blasts indicating more suicide bombers had detonated their explosives.Broken glass and spent gun magazines littered the engineering section where the first exchange of gunfire took place as smoke from grenade attacks began to die down.‘I saw the terrorists firing’Eye-witness Sarmad Hussain, a PIA employee, told AFP: “I heard fierce firing and then saw the terrorists firing at security forces. I don’t know a lot more than that. Thank God I am alive, this is very scary.”A police official who did not wish to be identified said an unexploded rocket-propelled grenade had been recovered.The director of the city’s main Jinnah Hospital, doctor Seemi Jamali, told AFP six bodies had been brought in and the hospital had declared an emergency.The dead comprised security personnel and two civilians, along with fourteen others wounded.A spokesman for PIA, Mashud Tajwar, added that two domestic flights bound for Karachi had been diverted to nearby airports.There has so far been no claim of responsibility for Sunday night’s incident but similar raids in the past have been claimed by Taliban militants who rose up against the Pakistani state in 2007 in an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.Taliban gunmen attacked the Mehran naval base in 2011, which is three kilometers from the airport, destroying two U.S.-made Orion aircraft and killing 10 personnel in a 17-hour siege.Taliban and other militants in uniform carried out a similar raid at Pakistan’s military headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in 2009, leaving 23 dead including 11 troops and three hostages.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government began negotiations with the umbrella militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in February, with a ceasefire beginning March 1 but breaking down a month later.The TTP emerged in response to a raid on a radical mosque in Islamabad, but Islamist violence in the country began to surge in 2004 following the army’s deployment in the volatile tribal areas.Attack on Shiite pilgrimsIn a separate attack in southwest Baluchistan province at least 23 people including several Shiite pilgrims were killed in a gun and suicide assault on the restive Pakistan-Iran border late Sunday.The attack came when a bus carrying Pakistani pilgrims returning from a visit to holy Muslim sites in Iran stopped at a restaurant in the Pakistani town of Taftan, around 700 km (430 miles) southwest of the provincial capital Quetta.Provincial home secretary Akbar Durrani said four suicide bombers attacked two restaurants full of pilgrims.One suicide bomber was shot dead trying to enter one of the restaurants while the other three managed to enter a second restaurant and blow themselves up.As well as the Taliban threat, Pakistan is facing a rising tide of sectarian bloodshed mainly targeting minority Shiite Muslims. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Health officials in Costa Rica react to first confirmed case of Ebola

first_imgDirectors of 10 public hospitals in Costa Rica’s Social Security System, or Caja, on Wednesday said they are implementing preventive measures to detect and, if necessary, handle possible cases of the Ebola virus here. The announcement followed confirmation Tuesday of thefirst case of Ebola in the United States.Preventive steps are being taken at the following hospitals: Tony Facio in Limón, Enrique Baltodano in Guanacaste, Monseñor Sanabria in Puntarenas, San Rafael in Alajuela, San Vicente de Paul in Heredia, Ciudad Neily in the Southern Zone, and San Juan de Dios, Calderón Guardia, Hospital México and the National Children’s Hospital in the capital.The hospitals were selected because they are located close to air, sea or land access to the country, Caja officials said.The agency is increasing staff in hospital laboratories, and will provide training on the protocols for managing suspected cases of Ebola.Caja Director of Epidemiology Xiomara Badilla said that preventive measures also include the purchase of equipment and protective suits for hospital personnel.Health Ministry Director of Health Surveillance María Ethel Trejos added that officials are addressing needed improvements at health clinics near the country’s land borders with Nicaragua and Panama.Local preventive actions began in August following a declaration by the World Health Organization of the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa as an international public emergency. Trejos at the time said one of the first steps involved tasking immigration staff at all airports with identifying and interviewing travelers arriving from countries with active cases of the virus.U.S. health officials on Tuesday diagnosed the first case of Ebola in that country, a man who was infected in Liberia, in West Africa, and traveled to the U.S. state of Texas.On Thursday, El Salvador’s health minister announced officials had quarantined two nuns who arrived in the country from the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a precautionary measure. Two Salvadoran soldiers also were quarantined, although no Ebola cases have been confirmed in that Central American country.  Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican health officials announce measures to prevent introduction of Ebola virus here Mexico turns away cruise ship carrying Texas health worker No need to declare emergency over Ebola threat, says health official Health officials testing first two cases of Ticos who could have the chikungunya viruslast_img read more

Guatemala to eliminate customs duties with Honduras

first_imgBy the end of 2015, foreign goods could flow freely between Guatemala and Honduras, without costly customs barriers between the Central American nations. Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina has set a deadline of mid-December for eliminating customs duties between the two countries.Economists and development experts have long said that eliminating customs between Central American countries would help free up commerce, reducing costs and helping to alleviate poverty.Plans to form a customs union among Central American countries have been in the works since the 1960s, and gained momentum with the passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2005.Last year, the leaders of the so-called Northern Triangle countries of Central America — El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras — produced a joint development plan that included eliminating customs among the countries as a major goal.“Along with Honduras, we’re proposing to eliminate the three land border crossings we share in six to eight months,” Guatemalan Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Raúl Morales told reporters earlier this month on a visit to Mexico.He said El Salvador might also join the initiative.Morales said Mexico’s border with Guatemala would no longer be a border between the two countries, but rather a border with the Northern Triangle region.He said the customs union initiative was part of implementing the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle plan, a poverty-reduction and development initiative presented last year by El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The plan has received backing from the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.All four countries are under pressure to reduce the poverty and violence that have sparked an exodus of Central American children and families to the U.S. in the last two years. In a Jan. 2015 op-ed in The New York Times, Vice-President Joe Biden promoted the regional Alliance for Prosperity plan and said President Barack Obama would request $1 billion from Congress to help with its execution.Besides improving infrastructure, strengthening institutions and improving public safety, the plan calls for “a framework guaranteeing the efficiency of border controls, including customs, immigration, sanitation and security aspects.”According to the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Northern Triangle has some of the most critical poverty levels in the region. Honduras tops the list, with nearly 70 percent of its population living in poverty, followed by Guatemala, with 55 percent, and El Salvador, with 40 percent, according to ECLAC.The Northern Triangle’s combined population is 29 million. Facebook Comments Related posts:Guatemala-Honduras customs union first step in regional development plan Biden urges Central America to tackle poverty, violence, impunity A cup of joe with Joe U.S., Mexican scholars launch ambitious dialogue on Central America migration issueslast_img read more

Costa Rica president off to a rough start survey says

first_imgRelated posts:President Solís remains popular, even if his government isn’t President-elect Luis Guillermo Solís names first half of his Cabinet President Solís’ popularity declines as economy worsens, Costa Rica researcher tells Washington panel Costa Rica’s Solís presents State of the Nation report to invigorated opposition President Luis Guillermo Solís faced a steep learning curve coming into Costa Rica’s highest office without any previous elected experience, and the people aren’t cutting him any slack.The president has seen a steep drop in his approval ratings since July 2014, according to a survey from the University of Costa Rica released Wednesday.After his first 100 days in office, Solís enjoyed a 68 percent approval rating among citizens who said they had a lot or some confidence in him. That support dropped to 42 percent in Wednesday’s survey.More than 76 percent surveyed said that they did not think Solís would be able to bring about the change he campaigned on. That pessimism bled into respondents’ opinions on the state of the country: Only 20 percent said that the government was well-run, down from 39.2 percent in July 2014; and 32.2 percent said that the country was in bad shape.A full 60 percent said that the economy was “bad” or “very bad.”The survey was based on calls to 793 people between April 8 and April 30 from all parts of the country and across a variety of educational backgrounds, ages and sex.Respondents also took notice of the shake-ups in Solís’ cabinet. A majority of respondents said that the president’s cabinet appointments were among his worst decisions and that the dismissal of former Presidency Minister Melvin Jiménez and others were among his best.The latest casualty of the cabinet clean-up was former Culture Minister Elizabeth Fonseca, who resigned Tuesday amidst the fallout from the International Arts Festival debacle. Solís has lost six ministers so far during his brief time in office.Despite the poor numbers, more respondents were hopeful about the near future than not. More than 33 percent said the government would improve. While that number has shrunk significantly since the 59.2 percent who felt optimistic about the future in July 2014, there are still more Costa Ricans who feel good about the future of the administration than those who believe it will stay the same (30.5 percent), or worsen (25.1 percent). Facebook Commentslast_img read more

For new generation of oncamera cooks YouTube is a FoodTube

first_imgAhlgren, whom many viewers may perceive to be Southern but who is actually a Connecticut native, keeps himself out of the show as much as possible because he wants the focus to be on the food rather than on an elaborate persona. That’s why he and his fellow barbecuers wear sunglasses and cowboy hats that cover most of their faces, Ahlgren says. Still, voice-over companies have sent him job offers.The man behind the shades used to run a small publishing company, but after he became a YouTube partner six months into making videos, the website became his “entire life.” The company sent him new cameras and marketing ideas, and Ahlgren’s subscriptions swelled to half a million. But the gist of the show hasn’t really changed. It’s still a group of big guys huddled around a grill, drinking and making things with beer.“I’ve been approached by six network producers about doing shows for them,” Ahlgren says. “But I ultimately reject because I want full editorial control. You know how it is: fake drama TV. I refuse to make us a ‘reality’ show.”Becoming mired in the corporate politics of mainstream entertainment is equally unappealing to the London-based “SortedFood,” which was similarly built from a tight-knit friend group with a passion for good eats. The channel’s four stars _ Jamie Spafford, Ben Ebbrell, Barry Taylor and Mike Huttlestone _ have known each other since they were 11 years old.“Their concept is just four friends cooking, and they make viewers feel like, ‘These are also my buddies,’ ” says Shachi Phene, 25, a “Sorted” subscriber who lives in New York City. She appreciates that the YouTubers respond to comments and incorporate suggestions from viewers into their recipes. “From the beginning,” Phene says, “they’ve been open about not always having it completely right.”That humility might be one thing lacking in TV chefs such as Bobby Flay, who has stylized himself as an unequivocal expert. Meanwhile, Spafford says “Sorted” is more concerned with starting conversations among viewers than being a monolithic brand.No wonder, then, that “there’s no anger or shouting at people.”In 2007, a recent film school graduate returned to Tokyo from Los Angeles. A young Japanese man trying to make it in the entertainment industry, he had worked on several movie sets, but he never got his big break.Today he is the producer of “Cooking With Dog,” one of YouTube’s most popular cooking channels, with more than 1 million subscribers. The channel stars Francis, a well-behaved gray toy poodle, and an enigmatic Japanese woman simply referred to as “Chef.” Some suspect that she is the producer’s mother, but he would neither confirm nor deny that theory, choosing to remain anonymous himself for fear of destroying the show’s mystery.So while the channel has an American fan base that’s even larger than its Japanese one, you won’t be seeing Chef or Francis on a late-night talk show anytime soon.“Cooking With Dog” is among several YouTube channels that have amassed audiences around specific cuisines. Personalities such as Emily Kim, a.k.a. Maangchi (recently heralded as a Korean Julia Child by the New York Times), Manjula Jain of “Manjula’s Kitchen” and Tasha Edwards of “The Sweetest Vegan” tailor their recipes to viewers interested in gaining a deep understanding of cooking styles that otherwise don’t have a mainstream outlet in the United States.Online video has the advantage of customizing its output for target audiences. “There’s nothing fundamentally new about the phenomenon,” says Dan Gillmor of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “We’ve been using online forums for a long time for the same purpose: to take a deep dive into arcane or niche subjects.”Take Rosanna Pansino, the star of a YouTube baking channel called “Nerdy Nummies,”which has more than 4 million subscribers. “We bake all things geeky,” says Pansino, whose recipes have included Captain America ice cream sandwiches and a Grumpy Cat cake.The 30-year-old Seattle native grew up baking with her Italian nonna and playing video games with her sister, so “Nerdy Nummies” combines two of Pansino’s childhood passions. She previously worked in entertainment, with stints as a hand double as well as a Cheerios cheerleader on “Glee,” but quickly became immersed in online media after uploading a successful how-to video for a Super Mario Star cake recorded on an $80 Flip camera.“Creating content on YouTube is like having 4.2 million friends that I never want to let down,” she says.These niche channels can be highly personal, as they generally showcase recipes that the YouTubers grew up on or developed after a significant life change. Before Kim started her channel in 2007, she worked as a counselor to Korean immigrants in Toronto, helping families cope with the shock of relocation and all its challenges. Now a resident of New York City, she sees her YouTube channel as performing a similar function: Through sharing recipes, she has been able to bridge cultural distances and help Korean Americans stay connected to their roots.Immigrant children, who watch “Maangchi” and “Manjula’s Kitchen” to learn how to make the food of their parents’ native countries, make up a substantial part of the channels’ audiences. They lovingly call the hosts “Mom,” a fitting term of endearment because the women grew up making food for their families in South Korea and India.As an elementary school student, Kim made simple dishes for her younger siblings, such as the kimchi stew and pan-fried fish that now serve as many YouTube subscribers’ introductions to Korean cooking. Francis the toy poodle of “Cooking with Dog” and his co-star, “Chef.” (YouTube)Or, in some cases, to cooking, period. Kenneth Moore, a 29-year-old Washington, D.C., resident, says his meals consisted of crockpot chili and scrambled eggs before he came across Maangchi. The always-chipper cook makes elaborate recipes look simple, encouraging her viewers with all the energy of a Zumba instructor.“Anything that I cook now _ even if it’s quinoa patties _ it’s because of Maangchi,” Moore says. “She showed me the basics, and my love of cooking I can attribute to her.”On the last Sunday of June, a crowd of 80 stood around the Alice in Wonderland statue in New York’s Central Park, carrying packages of food from venues all over the city. They were gathered to meet the members of “SortedFood,” who had organized a scavenger hunt for the New York stop of their Lost and Hungry tour.Kathleen Wong, 16, waited nervously by the bronze Mad Hatter. She had been an avid watcher of “Sorted” for two years, and now she would see them in person. When she came face to face with the team, Wong says, “it was exactly how they are in their videos. Just really silly and fun.” She even got a hug and a fist pump from Huttlestone, her favorite member.For years, YouTube cooking channels have been organizing meet-ups for their subscribers around the world. Outside of these planned interactions, they’re also being recognized on the street. Recently, a couple approached Kim at a Korean supermarket while buying ingredients for her fried chicken recipe.But although a lot has changed for these YouTubers since they started out with little more than a spotty Internet connection and a camcorder, they insist that the driving force behind their work hasn’t changed.“My intention is only sharing delicious food,” Kim says. The deals for cookbooks _ the latest, “Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking,” was released this May _ sponsorships and newfound celebrity? That’s all icing on the rice cake.© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Her cookbook was a bestseller last year. Episodes of her online food series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” regularly go viral. And with more than 2 million subscribers, her YouTube channel is more popular than those of Jamie Oliver, Martha Stewart and Mario Batali combined.But make no mistake: Hannah Hart doesn’t consider herself a chef.“I consider myself fortunate,” she says with a laugh. She uploaded her first video, a recording of herself drunkenly making a grilled cheese sandwich while downing countless glasses of red wine, as a joke for a friend.The sandwich didn’t even have cheese in it. It tasted like “hot sourdough.”“My Drunk Kitchen” — under the umbrella channel “MyHarto” — is among a slate of YouTube channels that have combined cooking and entertainment to popular effect. Whether it’s a lovable Japanese housewife whose recipes are narrated by a toy poodle (“Cooking With Dog”) or an energetic foursome that could easily be mistaken for a British boy band (“SortedFood”), these channels are finding an audience in a generation known for subsisting on instant noodles and microwaveable meat.Millennials fueled a 280 percent increase in subscriptions to YouTube food channels last year, according to Google research in 2014. Many of those viewers are looking for personalities like Hart who will entertain in addition to offering practical cooking advice. The most popular episode of “My Drunk Kitchen” has nearly 4 million views _ more than the number of people who tuned in to the latest season finale of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen.”Google has further found that the majority of people in their mid-20s to 30s cook with their smartphones or tablets on hand. Now, when a 25-year-old fires up his stove, he also presses “play.”When Bob Ahlgren uploaded his first video nine years ago, YouTube was far from a pervasive platform. “It was more like ‘Who?Tube,’ ” he says. “Still, it was an amazing thing at the time to put up a personal video for free.”A hazy recording shows Ahlgren cleaning his grill, heating sauce and chopping up a slab of pork ribs. His folksy voice-over calmly outlines the recipe steps while rock music plays a little too loudly in the background. Just like that, “BBQ Pit Boys” was born.A large part of these cooking channels’ allure resides in their lack of network TV polish. Most of the YouTube stars had no prior film or broadcast experience; they worked day jobs and never dreamed that YouTube could become a full-time gig. These humble beginnings add a feeling of intimacy to their videos, even if they’ve since upgraded to higher-end production equipment. Related posts:VIDEO: Barbecuing with Lucas Withington International Cinema Festival starts rolling this Friday 5 things you might not know about the science of coffee Francis Ford Coppola wants you to come on his family vacationlast_img read more

Venezuelan beer magnate accused of treason

first_img Facebook Comments CARACAS, Venezuela — Lawmakers from Venezuela’s ruling Socialist party filed treason charges Wednesday against a prominent billionaire businessman for allegedly seeking an IMF bailout for the recession-ravaged oil giant. Lorenzo Mendoza, head of Venezuelan food and beverage empire Empresas Polar, could face decades in prison if convicted of the charges, which include conspiracy and “usurpation of state functions.”The charges were filed with prosecutors by 101 lawmakers from the 167-seat National Assembly, said deputy Pedro Carreno of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), as he presented the document.The complaint is based on a leaked phone call between Mendoza and Venezuelan economist Ricardo Hausmann that was aired a week ago on a TV program hosted by the speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello. 151021Venzuela2The United States condemned the threat to try Mendoza, who ranks 690th on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s wealthiest people, with an estimated fortune of $2.7 billion.In the conversation, Hausmann tells the 50-year-old magnate he has held “conversations” with the International Monetary Fund because he believes Venezuela needs $40 million to $50 million in international assistance to escape its economic crisis — to which Mendoza agrees.The businessman tells Hausmann, who was Venezuela’s planning minister in the 1980s, that such a bailout will be “the ABCs of what we’ll need.”The furor comes as President Nicolás Maduro’s government, battered by falling oil prices, struggles to reverse soaring inflation, chronic shortages and what the IMF predicts will be an economic contraction of 10 percent this year.A treason conviction carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison in Venezuela, a criminal lawyer told AFP.Mendoza said the taped conversation was private and called the accusations “an attempt to manipulate public opinion” as Venezuela heads for key legislative elections that the PSUV risks losing for the first time since its late founder Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999.“We are deeply concerned by a climate of polarization and intimidation in Venezuela against those with opposing viewpoints,” said the U.S. State Department.“All Venezuelans deserve to be able to express their opinions freely and without fear of intimidation.”center_img Related posts:Venezuela looks set to lock away prominent opposition leader Leopoldo López Costa Rican lawmakers urge political asylum for Venezuela opposition Venezuelan opposition leader shot dead at campaign event: lawmaker US judge postpones hearing in drug case of Venezuela first lady’s nephewslast_img read more

Renewal in Panama might be coming at a high cost

first_imgRelated posts:Panama’s US envoy offers upbeat economic outlook for 2015 Former Panama VP arrested in widening corruption probe Another former Panamanian minister arrested in graft probe Panama court orders detention of ex-President Ricardo Martinelli Last year was one most of Latin America would rather forget. The region trailed the world in economic growth, led on inflation, and posted the highest fiscal deficit after the Middle East and North Africa, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence.So two cheers for Panama. The fastest-growing economy in the Americas expanded by almost 6 percent in 2015, compared with a nearly 1 percent drop for Latin America as a whole, and it will likely repeat that performance this year, according to the World Bank.Cue the applause for the expanded Panama Canal, which — by the time the overhaul is finished, expected to be later this year — will double shipping capacity and allow for much larger container ships to traverse the waterway, consolidating the country’s historical role as an entrepot for the global economy. The anticipated knock-on effects already have studded this slender country of 4 million people with skyscrapers and grand public-works projects.The breakneck pace of the project, which began in 2007, has come at a price. Bribery, graft and dirty politics are all too common in Latin America, but a noxious combination of the three has dogged the Central American dynamo in what ought to be its finest hour. And unless Panama can shake the curse, its glory may prove fleeting.The problem starts at the top. Consider former President Ricardo Martinelli, who won plaudits during his tenure for striking down trade barriers and red tape, so fueling an investment boom — roads, urban renewal, Central America’s first metro and millions of jobs — that helped reduce poverty and generated double-digit growth earlier this decade. The supermarket tycoon and ex-Citigroup banker turned that windfall into enviable approval ratings for a time, but maybe a little something else on the side as well.Martinelli, who took office in 2009, didn’t invent corruption in Panama (recall Manuel Noriega, convicted of international drug trafficking), but he did “raise it to a new level,” said Ramón Ricardo Arias of Transparency International.Since leaving office in 2014, Martinelli has become the target of six criminal investigations on charges ranging from taking bribes to political espionage. On Dec. 22, Panama’s Supreme Court ordered the former leader’s arrest for allegedly for ordering illegal wiretaps on nearly 150 political opponents, journalists and judges. Panama’s former president and deputy of the Central American Parliament Ricardo Martinelli during a plenary session in Guatemala City, on Jan. 29, 2015. Johan Ordoñez/AFPHe also has won notoriety abroad. Last March, a panel of judges in Naples concluded that Martinelli helped extort money from an Italian company building a hospital in Panama. A U.S. federal judge recently named him as an alleged co-conspirator in the bribery case against a former SAP executive. And prosecutors in Brazil have asked Panamanian authorities for information on how a scandal-ridden Brazilian construction conglomerate landed more than $8.5 billion in contracts under Martinelli.Martinelli has denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the accusations as part of a vendetta by President Juan Carlos Varela, his former vice president turned archenemy, and vowed to clear his name. It might help if he was in the country: Martinelli left Panama in his private jet last year as prosecutors were closing in on him.To Panama’s credit, the country is fighting back, thanks largely to pressure from the streets, a maverick attorney general and federal auditors. Five of Martinelli’s former aides are now in jail, and a former Supreme Court appointee who later became chief justice pleaded guilty to illicit enrichment and falsifying documents.The initial crackdown earned Martinelli’s successor a brief popularity bump, but the avenger’s luster faded over Varela’s unfulfilled campaign promise to clean up politics by bolstering constitutional checks and balances to curb presidential fiat.For all his talk of renewal, Varela also has balked on a pledge to tighten the laws against contractors found to have paid bribes from winning public tenders — a crucial lapse in a country where business still sees payola and cronyism as a shortcut to prosperity.“Embracing the anti-corruption agenda has come slowly in Panama,” Transparency’s Arias told me. That’s one public-works project that building cranes can’t deliver.Mac Margolis is a Bloomberg View contributor based in Rio de Janeiro.© 2016, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Alleged gold miners camp outside Corcovado National Park demand compensation

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rican court orders effective protection for Corcovado National Park Alleged gold miners end protest at Corcovado National Park Costa Rica launches quest to replace most single-use plastic by 2021 UNESCO declares Costa Rica’s Savegre a Biosphere Reserve A group of more than 100 people who identified themselves as gold miners set up a camp just outsideCorcovado National Park on Sunday. They are demanding that the government compensate them for the expropriation of thier lands during the creation of the park, four decades ago.The group arrived at around 10 a.m. in several trucks and buses and set up in tents outside the world-renowned park, located in the Osa Peninsula, in Costa Rica’s southern Pacific region.Carlos Madriz, director of the Osa Conservation Area, told The Tico Times on Monday that the group includes men, women, children and senior citizens. They claim to have been struggling with severe economic problems since the creation of the national park in 1975, he said.They expect the government to include them in a plan, currently under discussion at the Legislative Assembly, to compensate a group of gold miners who never received financial support following their exclusion from the now protected area.The Public Security Ministry confirmed through its press office on Monday that they sent 50 National Police officers to help park rangers and staffers secure the area.“The group remains calm. As of Monday noon we have no reports of any incidents or attempts to enter the national park,” the ministry responded to a Tico Times query.Compensation planEnvironment Minister Édgar Gutiérrez said in a written response that demonstrators have been warned that gold mining inside the park is illegal and that anyone found trying to extract gold or poaching will be sent to court.Gutiérrez said ministry officials told the group that the compensation plan is already at the Legislative Assembly and that the bill will not be expanded to include any more people.“Every time we’ve opened a window of opportunity to compensate a group [of gold miners], others start showing up in our doors claiming they were gold miners too… but many of them were not even born when the national park was created,” the minister noted.Gutiérrez said that the Ministry will not allow any of the demonstrators to enter park lands, and that the Prosecutor’s Office has been instructed to take action against anyone who breaks the law.Court-ordered protectionThe arrival of this new group of gold miners occured just a few days after the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, ordered the government to outline a plan to protect Corcovado from ongoing illegal actions from gold miners, poachers and loggers.The ruling responded to a group claim filed by the Costa Rican Federation for Environmental Conservation (FECON), the Environment Ministry’s Workers’ Union, and the NGO Preserve Planet.FECON President Mauricio Álvarez said in a news release on Monday that in addition to this new group of gold miners, Corcovado is being threatened by poachers, loggers “and the permanent presence of 400 gold miners who are destroying the park with dynamite and heavy machinery.”Environmental groups for decades have denounced the government’s lack of action against gold miners who destroy vegetation and forests, and dump large amounts of sediments into the rivers and therefore to the sea.The claim filed before Sala IV cites numerous documented examples from scientific research and on-the-ground inspections that concluded that gold miners’ actions are severely reducing populations of several species of animals and plants.One of those reports said park rangers and experts found that gold miners in a section of the park used dynamite to remove some 10 square kilometers (3.8 square miles) of material, equivalent to some 2,000 waste trucks full.“This is equivalent to medium-scale open-pit mining,” the document states.President Luis Guillermo Solís and Minister Gutiérrez  officially inaugurated infrastructure works for $2.4 million in Corcovado National Park last Friday. Solís said the investment should help increase tourism in the park and in the Osa Peninsula.Corcovado is home to 50 percent of the country’s species and harbors 3 percent of the world’s biodiversity. National Geographic famously referred to Corcovado as “the most biologically intense place on Earth.”Other publications and rankings have also placed Corcovado among the best national parks in the world.Recommended: Costa Rican court orders effective protection for Corcovado National Park Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rican government seeks agreement with unions to end strike

first_imgRelated posts:Unions and government start talks to end strike General strike enters second week; Legislative Assembly starts discussing tax-reform Protesters hold vigil at Plaza de la Democracia Sparks of violence on third day of tax-reform protests President Carlos Alvarado urged the Catholic Church and university presidents on Friday to serve as mediators in talks with the unions that have been protesting a tax-reform bill since Monday.Alvarado said he seeks to open an “introductory space for dialogue” with the unions that have predominantly paralyzed schools and hospitals and blocked highways across the country.“The Minister of Labor, Steven Núñez, and the Minister of the Presidency, Rodolfo Piza, sent a letter to the Episcopal Conference and the university presidents, who expressed their willingness to serve as mediators in the talks,” Alvarado told reporters.“In this letter we maintain that we are willing to establish a preliminary dialogue to determine what conditions would need to be met to reach an agreement.”The two parties have remained distant. The government attempted to sway the unions to end the strike, while the unions demanded that the government scrap the tax-reform bill.The Catholic bishops and the presidents of the five public universities pushed for a dialogue in hopes of ending the strike and offered to mediate between the two parties in the dispute.Several roadblocks were reported on Friday, including some along major roadways, according to the director of the Transit Police, Germán Marín. A roadblock in Puntarenas during the general strike on Sept. 13, 2018. Alexander Villegas / The Tico TimesIn a tense moment, the Minister of Finance, Rocío Aguilar, was surrounded by demonstrators after she arrived at a scheduled government meeting. Aguilar received support from the police and some public workers, who were participating in the protest, and entered without further incident.Alvarado defended the tax reform, which lawmakers will discuss on Monday, and refuted criticisms that it excessively increases taxes on the underprivileged.“It is not a pleasant subject, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but it is necessary for the timely advancement of Costa Rica,” he said.“Many people have claimed that it burdens the poor, but for every 100 colones that this proposal would collect, 80 would come from the 20 percent of Costa Ricans with the highest income,” Alvarado said.The tax reform seeks to balance public finances, which project a deficit of 7.2 percent in this year’s GDP.The strike affected an Independence Day tradition, where students carry a torch of independence from Guatemala to Costa Rica.The students who carried the torch in the northwestern city of Liberia were surrounded by protesters, preventing them from passing for several hours. In light of concerns, the torch was transported via helicopter to Cartago, the former colonial capital of Costa Rica. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Puerto Rico aims to become fully bilingual by 2022

first_img Men’s health affects baby’s health too English actually dominated Puerto Rican public education during the first half of the 20th century. From 1900 to 1948, all high school subjects were taught in English, until the island’s first democratically elected governor, Luis Munoz Marin, ended the practice.“The learning of English was associated with a very real thrust by the U.S. government to Americanize Puerto Rico,” said Carlos Chardon, an anthropologist and former education secretary. “A great majority of persons associated English with statehood.”In 1991, Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon went further by declaring Spanish the island’s sole official language. The law was repealed a couple of years later by Gov. Pedro Rosello, whose first official act was to make both English and Spanish the official languages, a law that stands to this day, even if only a few places have street signs in English.Puerto Ricans, however, remain reluctant to learn English, said Jaime Morales, a public school teacher in the northern town of Toa Baja who is fluent in English.“They are not interested,” he said. “Because honestly, it’s hard to learn the language.”Morales said he supports the idea of a bilingual curriculum but doubts it will become a reality unless teachers are properly trained, parents get involved and the education system improves. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths “Their accent as well as their command of the language is not the best,” she said. “They know the grammar, but the spoken language is not their strong point. So we have a lot of English teachers who end up speaking Spanish in class because the children don’t understand them.”One solution is to prepare teachers through immersion or exchange programs in the U.S., something that has been done intermittently, she said.Baquero said she and other educators support Fortuno’s plan but warn it will be hard to implement: “Many people resent the imposition of language and associate any attempt to improve their English with political motives.”Fortuno’s proposal comes just months before voters face a two-part referendum in November to help decide the island’s political status.The first part of the referendum will ask if voters want a change in status or prefer to remain a U.S. commonwealth. The second part will ask voters to choose from three options: statehood, independence or something in between called sovereign free association.GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has suggested that English be the official language for all U.S. states but has said there should be no language precondition on Puerto Rican statehood. Top Stories “The main problem here is that you have a community that does not have good command of Spanish,” he said. “If they are deficient in Spanish, how do you pretend they are going to become fluent in a second language?”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Under the governor’s plan, schools would continue to offer Spanish grammar and literature classes.Aida Diaz, president of the Puerto Rico Teachers Association, said that while she supports bilingual education, the notion of teaching all courses in English is extreme.“This is wrong,” she said. “This leads us to substitute our own language for a secondary one. It should not be that way.”All public schools are currently required to teach English from kindergarten through high school, and 9,000 teachers are devoted to that. But about 96 percent of the island’s 3.9 million people speak Spanish at home, and some 2.8 million Puerto Ricans do not consider themselves fluent in English, according to the U.S. Census.That puts Puerto Rican children _ and fellow U.S. citizens on the American mainland, as well _ behind many Europeans in second-language skills.According to a 2006 European Community study, 56 percent of Europeans say they can hold a conversation in more than one language. About 90 percent in the Netherlands and Germany say they can do so. Only about a quarter of mainland Americans can do it, some studies indicate.Former Education Secretary Gloria Baquero said the biggest problem in Puerto Rico is the lack of good English teachers. Sponsored Stories center_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Comments   Share   Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of The U.S. territory has had a long and contentious relationship with the English language, and many Puerto Ricans are skeptical about embracing it, fearing they will lose a key part of their identity and find themselves a step closer to statehood, a status that only about half of islanders have backed in recent polls.The governor wants Puerto Rico to become the 51st U.S. state. But he says his plan is about economic necessity, not politics.“Bilingualism opens doors and provides opportunity to our children so they can shine and become successful in a labor market that is increasingly competitive and globalized,” he said.Only 12 of the island’s 1,472 schools offer an all-English curriculum of the sort envisioned by Fortuno, while 35 other schools offer some courses in English, such as math and physical education, said Education Secretary Edwin Moreno.“The main idea is to have a Puerto Rican who can communicate in Spanish as well as English,” said Moreno, who acknowledged that he himself has an imperfect command of English.Moreno is overseeing an initial $15 million project to install a bilingual curriculum in 31 schools starting in August and to reinforce the English-Spanish curriculum already in place in the 35 other schools. Plans for adding the rest are still hazy, but the governor says he wants all public school students to be bilingual within 10 years. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Associated PressSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – The governor of Puerto Rico is trying to do what more than a century of American citizenship has failed to accomplish: make Puerto Ricans fluent in English.Gov. Luis Fortuno, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican vice-presidential candidate, has proposed an ambitious, and what critics call far-fetched, plan to require all public schools to teach all courses in English instead of Spanish.last_img read more

Thailand Myanmar to link coastal industrial zones

first_img Top holiday drink recipes The vital role family plays in society Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories BANGKOK (AP) – Myanmar’s president has agreed to boost economic cooperation with Thailand and connect a planned industrial zone to his neighbor on his first visit to Thailand since assuming power.President Thein Sein said Monday in Bangkok that the two countries have agreed to improve transportation routes between them. They intend to build a cross-border corridor linking Thailand’s established Eastern Seaboard industrial zone on the Gulf of Thailand with a planned Thai-built seaport and industrial project in the Myanmar town of Dawei on the Andaman Sea. Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementscenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said her country was ready to support Myanmar as it trains workers, promotes economic reform and upgrades basic infrastructure.Thein Sein has initiated a series of economic and political reforms since assuming the presidency in 2011.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Republic of Congo presidents party wins majority

first_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The first round of elections on July 15 were marred by violence. A second round was held on Aug. 5 where no candidate got a majority.Andre Ongagna, the ruling party’s administrative secretary, says the gains allow the president to continue his mandate.President Denis Sassou-Nguesso first ruled the country of some 4 million people from 1979 until a 1992 election defeat, and seized power again in 1997. He was elected in 2002 and then 2009 for a second and final seven-year term.(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 Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   Top Stories center_img Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) – Official results published overnight from a second round of legislative elections in the Republic of Congo give the president’s party an absolute majority in parliament with 89 deputies.The results were announced late Tuesday by Interior Minister Zephirin Raymond Mboulou. He said the Congolese Labour Party and its allies won a total of 117 seats in the National Assembly. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementslast_img read more

Lebanon airline employee disciplined over remark

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement In recent years, the foreign maids’ work conditions _ long hours, little pay and alleged physical abuse _ have come under increasing scrutiny in Lebanon. Some private beaches in the country have barred foreign workers, and not all have complied with a Tourism Ministry directive earlier this year to halt such practices, Houry said.He lauded the social media campaign protesting Saturday’s airport incident, calling it a sign of change.“The latest incident shows that more and more people in Lebanon are angry and tired of this racism that exists,” Houry said, while urging the government to do more to protect foreign workers.“What we have been missing are concrete new policies, a new enforcement mechanism to put an end to it,” he said. “It is no longer the time for nice words.”Abed Shaheen, a Lebanese businessman based in Dubai, witnessed Saturday’s incident while waiting to board a flight at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport. The flight was delayed and passengers, including about two dozen domestic workers from Asia, were talking among themselves, he said.At one point, a woman staffing the counter at the gate took a loudspeaker and announced, “Filipino people, stop talking,” Shaheen said. He said the woman’s male colleague corrected her, telling her the travelers were from Nepal, not the Philippines. The woman proceeded to admonish the group twice more, giggling as she did so. Shaheen said he was outraged and walked up to the counter to complain. He said he was brushed off by the two members of the ground staff and was told they would do as they please.He later launched a protest campaign on Facebook and Twitter and sent an email to MEAG, an MEA subsidiary that handles ground services. Shaheen said he received a call from a senior official in MEAG and was promised the company would investigate.On Tuesday, MEA said on its Facebook page that it investigated Saturday’s incident, which it portrayed it as an isolated case of “misbehavior” by an MEAG passenger service agent.The airline said severe disciplinary action has been taken against an employee, but did not elaborate.An MEA official said the woman was fired, and that disciplinary action was being considered against her male colleague. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case with the media.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Associated PressBEIRUT (AP) – An official said Tuesday that an employee of Lebanon’s national airline MEA was fired after a passenger complained in a social media campaign that the worker humiliated travelers from the Philippines at the Beirut airport and told them over the loudspeaker, “Filipino people, stop talking.”The incident is part of what human rights groups say is widespread discrimination and abuse of foreign workers in Lebanon. More than 200,000 women from Asia and Africa work as maids in the country of 4 million people, said Nadim Houry, a researcher in Lebanon for the New York-based group Human Rights Watch. Top Stories Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Gold now top conflict mineral in Congo Report

first_img Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home “If you drive from Walikale (a major minerals center) to Goma, you have to pass three different checkpoints. You have to pay the (Rwandan Hutu Democratic Forces), you have to pay the (former National Congress for the Defense of the People), and you have to pay the army. You have to pay all, or they will kill you,” says Willy, a minerals transporter quoted by Enough.On top of supplying the funds for armed groups to buy weapons and ammunition, the illegal gold trade is a source of violence in itself, as armed groups fight each other for control of mines.The M23, a rebel group that formed in April and May following the defection of high ranking officers from the Congolese army, is trying to gain control of the Rubaya gold mine in Masisi, according to Enough.One of the M23 leaders, General Bosco Ntaganda used to run an illegal mineral trade network when he was in the Congolese army, making millions of dollars each year from mines including Rubaya, according to the report.Working conditions in the mines are dreadful as a result of the violence surrounding the trade and the complete absence of regulation.The miners, 40 percent of whom are children according to the advocacy group, work in extreme conditions, with crude equipment such as pick-axes and shovels. Associated PressGOMA, Congo (AP) – Gold is now the primary source of income for armed groups in eastern Congo, and is ending up in jewelry stores across the world, according to a report published Thursday by the Enough Project.“The essential revenue for armed groups comes from gold today. Of course there are other sources like logging, but gold has become the primary source for groups like the FDLR,” said Fidel Bafilemba, Enough’s researcher in eastern Congo. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Top Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milkcenter_img Because of the United States’ Dodd-Frank law requiring companies to track the origin of the minerals they use, armed groups have been unable to profit from the exploitation of tin, tungsten and tantalum, and have turned instead to gold, which is easier to smuggle across borders.“Gold is very portable, you can put it in your pocket and it is easily smuggled across the border. You don’t need a large quantity to make a lot of money,” said an anti-fraud agent of the border custom in Goma, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.Roughly $30,000 worth of gold can fit in a pocket and around $700,000 in a briefcase, estimates The Enough Project, the rights group that specializes in conflict minerals in Congo and Sudan.While only 23 kilograms of gold were officially exported from eastern Congo in the first half of 2012, 2 tons to 4 tons of gold went out through illegal routes, according to the report.As a result, the illegal gold trade represents lost revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars for the Congolese state every year, preventing the local population from benefiting from the country’s natural resources.Instead armed groups are profiting from the illegal trade, through taxation and coercion. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share   In Nyabibwe, a cassiterirte mine where conditions are similar to those in gold mines, miners go down tunnels without any safety net.“With time, we actually forget about the dangers, even though they are real,” says Bisima, a 33-year-old miner working at the Nyabibwe pit. “Mine collapse remains the greatest danger.”In August, 60 people died in a gold mine which collapsed in Pangoyi, Ituri Province.The gold from eastern Congo is smuggled across the border to Uganda, Burundi or Tanzania where it is absorbed in the local trade and then sent to major world markets, states the report.Uganda produced only $167 million worth of gold in the past three years, but exported an estimated $212 million, according to statistics cited by Enough.“They (the government) like the chaos. It’s what allows the officers to get a cut from the trade,” said a former Ugandan mining official quoted by Enough.Uganda was accused in a recent United Nations report of supporting the M23 rebellion in eastern DRC. The Ugandan government strongly denies the allegations.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daylast_img read more