Swoon Justin Bieber statue unveiled at Madame Tussauds Orlando

Swoon Justin Bieber statue unveiled at Madame Tussauds Orlando

first_img Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Thursday, June 22, 2017 Posted bycenter_img ORLANDO — Biebs, is that really you? If you’re wondering why Canadian singing sensation Justin Bieber is looking more stoic than usual lately, it’s probably because you’ve mistaken him for his wax figure at Madame Tussauds Orlando.The statue, which was unveiled on June 21, took six months for artists and sculptors to complete. The painstaking process included sculpting the figure’s clay head and inserting thousands of individual hairs. Days were spent replicating the Bieb’s detailed tattoos by hand, including a brand new tattoo that he revealed just prior to the unveiling.“Justin’s figure was finished and ready for launch when he revealed on Instagram his new “Better at 70″ tattoo!” said studio manager Ashley Priselac. “I studied the tattoo and added it knowing his dedicated fans might check for it through the rip in his jeans.”So how does the wax figure compare to the real deal? Judging by the gaggle of ‘Beliebers’ who were invited to take selfies with the statue at the unveiling, it appears that wax-Justin has passed the test. And we’re guessing that nothing – not a hair or tattoo – gets past a Belieber.More news:  Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portal Tags: Orlando Swoon! Justin Bieber statue unveiled at Madame Tussauds Orlandolast_img read more

Weak pound makes for a record April for overseas visits spend to

Weak pound makes for a record April for overseas visits spend to

first_img Travelweek Group Wednesday, June 28, 2017 Share Posted by TORONTO — More than 3.7 million visits were made to the UK in April 2017, up 19% compared to the same month last year and the highest April since records began, according to VisitBritain.Overseas visitors spent a record £2 billion in April, 20% up on the same month last year.VisitBritain says the figures come on the back of a record first-quarter for inbound visits to the UK and spend.This year “is off to an exceptional start for North American inbound tourism to the UK, up 16% from January to April, compared to the same period last year,” said VisitBritain’s Interim Executive Vice President, Americas, Paul Gauger. “We’re thrilled to continue the momentum from 2016, moving into peak summer season, and showcase why there has never been a better time to visit Britain.”These latest figures bring the number of inbound visits to the UK for January to April this year to a record 11.8 million, 11% up on the same period in 2016 with visitors spending £6.2 billion, up 14% and also setting a new record. Growth this year has been led from long-haul regions including North America with more than one million visits from January to April, up 16% compared to the same period last year.More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJThere were a record 8.3 million visits from the EU from January to April this year, up 7% on 2016.Strong growth has also been seen in holiday visits with a record 4.4 million visits from January to April this year, up 26% on the same period in 2016.VisitBritain says the latest flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows that bookings for international arrivals to the UK during the summer are currently tracking 12% ahead of the same period last year.Visitors from Canada made 828,000 visits to the U.K. in 2016 – up 17% compared to the previous year. This represents the highest visitor numbers since 2006. In 2016 Canadians spent £634 million across Britain, a new annual spend record.center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: VisitBritain Weak pound makes for a record April for overseas visits, spend to the UKlast_img read more

These are the 10 most popular places to photograph

These are the 10 most popular places to photograph

first_imgThese are the 10 most popular places to photograph TORONTO — Here’s a question for the avid traveller: Were you ever really there if you didn’t Instagram it?Knowing that Instagram-worthy destinations are all the rage, TripAdvisor has announced the top 10 most popular places in the world to photograph, based on booking data from 2018.Did your favourite photogenic spot make the list? How many have you snapped?1. Paris2. New York City3. Finland4. Hawaii5. Barcelona6. Sydney7. Yellowknife8. Tokyo9. Venice10. Santorini Tuesday, March 26, 2019 Posted by Sharecenter_img Tags: Instagram, Photos Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img

Argentina strike halts flights trains buses

Argentina strike halts flights trains buses

first_img By: The Canadian Press << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Argentina, Strike Argentina strike halts flights, trains, buses Thursday, May 30, 2019 BUENOS AIRES — Much of Argentina came to a standstill Wednesday as a strike to protest government austerity measures grounded hundreds of flights, halted bus and train lines and forced the closing of banks, courts and many schools.The country’s main grains ports were also shut and hospitals offered only emergency services during the 24-hour strike organized by labour unions to protest the policies of President Mauricio Macri, who is seeking re-election in October. Those include the firing of workers and the slashing of government subsidies that have shot up the costs of transportation and utility rates. Argentines are also fed up with a stubborn recession, a devaluation of the currency and one of the world’s highest inflation rates.Authorities estimated that about 330 flights from the country’s flagship carrier, Aerolineas Argentinas, were cancelled and some 37,000 passengers were affected by the walkout, which also forced the ‘Recopa’ final between soccer clubs River Plate and Brazil’s Atletico Paranaense to be postponed to Thursday.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencyUnion leaders said it was the largest strike that they had organized since Macri took office in 2015 promising to end poverty and tame high consumer prices. They say government policies have led to the closing of some 14,000 small and mid-size companies while Argentines continue to lose purchasing power to an “alarming” inflation rate of about 50% a year.Unions and left-leaning organizations cut some roads leading into the capital city and distributed food to show what they say is increasing hunger.“We’re sick of the low salaries, the halt of activity in the industry,” said unionist Ruben Garcia.The government rejected the strike, saying it only affects Argentina’s economy and that the stoppage is a political measure by union leaders who aspire to public office. Sharelast_img read more

PropelTO networking group launches in Toronto for all ages in the travel

PropelTO networking group launches in Toronto for all ages in the travel

first_img Share Tags: Events, PropelTO, Toronto Travelweek Group Posted by PropelTO networking group launches in Toronto for all ages in the travel industrycenter_img Thursday, July 25, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — From the ashes of Young Travel Professionals (YTP) rises a new networking group in Toronto called PropelTO, giving the travel industry a place to network, connect and share ideas.The sold-out launch event, sponsored by Tour Radar and Sherpa, was held last night at the Toronto Island Marina & Yacht Club and successfully brought together over 100 industry professionals of all ages.“When YTP disbanded all its global chapters in April, the Toronto board still saw an undeniable need to provide a venue for community and networking in a relaxed setting, for those of us who are passionate about driving the industry forward, “ says Iris Serbanescu, PropelTO board member and TourRadar’s director of partnerships.The main difference between YTP and PropelTO is that it intends to be more inclusive, welcoming all ages. Added Annie Ewing, PropelTO board member and TTI luxury travel advisor: “Rather than focusing on an age cohort, we are building a membership that is enthusiastic and forward-thinking about the future of the travel industry at any age.”The vision for PropelTO is to continue having causal networking events, like the launch event on the island, but also to incorporate roundtable discussions and leading edge speakers into the event series. PropelTO intends to be a voice of the travel industry and would like to be a collaborative association, getting ideas from its members and focusing on community engagement.More news:  Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughtsAt the event last night, travel professionals had the chance to network, enjoy food and beverages and take in the beautiful views of the Toronto skyline. Also, an open mic session allowed guests 30 seconds to promote their brand and job openings or share anything that might be relevant to the group. This will be a staple of events going forward, with the next event planned for September.“The event was awesome and I was able to meet a lot of different people within a short period of time. When the age limit was lifted, it seems like there were a lot more people in attendance and it was a great opportunity for me to connect with many different people across the industry,” says Kate Ivchenko, Wheels Up Network content manger and PropelTO member.Here’s how you can get involved in PropelTO:• Become a member and get notified of future events by signing up at propelto.org/#join-us• Volunteer to be an Ambassador and help recruit attendees for future events• Follow us on Facebook and use #PropelTO in social media postsMore news:  Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulyPropelTO is also seeking corporate event sponsors. Like-minded travel businesses can benefit from connecting with PropelTO’s membership base in person. Sponsors would commit to covering all or some of the cost of drinks and snacks in exchange for a chance to scout potential new hires, increase brand awareness and receive marketing privileges.“We all love working in the travel industry and know that there is a lot of passion, knowledge and ideas floating around the community. We intended to bring together all individuals that are committed to creating an even better industry for the future, as well as continuing to build our industry friendships” says Devin Kinasz, board member and Travelweek publisher.For more information contact PropelTO at propeltoorg@gmail.com.last_img read more

Was quake the Big One experts predicted

first_imgSeptember 5 quake How do you rate Costa Rica’s response to the quake?  Excellent. Years of training and practice paid off.  Poor. Response was disorganized and we’re lucky it wasn’t worse.  No response. From the print editionBy Vanessa I. Garnica and Hannah J. Ryan | Tico Times Staff“This is the quake we were waiting for,” said Leopold Linkimer, seismologist at Costa Rica’s National Seismological Network, following a powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake that rattled the country Wednesday morning. “Regardless, we have to be ready for any contingency because nature can surprise us.”The earthquake was registered 8 kilometers (5 miles) west of Sámara in the Nicoya Peninsula, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. After the quake, which damaged several buildings in the province, shaken residents wondered, was this the big one that experts had predicted would strike the peninsula?Scientists in Costa Rica have been contemplating the possibility of a big quake in the Nicoya region for more than two decades. Marino Protti of the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory (Ovsicori), who has been warning of a Nicoya quake for years, disagreed with Linkimer, saying that this week’s quake may or may not have been the “big one”.The last time an earthquake of a similar magnitude was registered in the area was 1950. On average about 18 small tremors are registered daily in Costa Rica, Linkimer said. At press time, more than 530 aftershocks were registered, the biggest occurring Thursday morning, with a magnitude of 5.1.Following the quake, emergency officials gathered at National Emergency Commission (CNE) headquarters in the western San José district of Pavas to discuss initial damage reports.“We are not declaring a state of emergency,” said Vanessa Rosales, CNE president. “We have begun to receive damage reports taking place around the country. Overall, we encouraged at this point, even though it was a significant quake.”Wednesday’s temblor is considered the second biggest in the country’s history, behind a 1991 earthquake measuring magnitude-7.7. That quake, centered in Limón province along the Caribbean coast, killed 75 people and injured more than 600.Linkimer said the official magnitude of the quake could be adjusted in coming days, pending further studies, and several additional aftershocks are expected.The cause of Wednesday’s quake was a process called subduction, where tectonic plates located in the Earth’s outer layer constantly move on top and under each other, causing the ground to move in the form of a temblor. The Nicoya fault zone is caused by subduction of the Cocos plate under the Caribbean plate along the peninsula’s western side. Geologists, geophysicists, oceanographers and other experts have analyzed the degree of pressure buildup over the past 50 years – the seismic recurrence interval in Nicoya Peninsula is about 50 years – allowing them to predict that a “big one” would occur with a magnitude in the range of 7.7-7.9. With Wednesday’s quake registering magnitude-7.6, experts had accurately predicted the event within magnitude-0.1 – if it was the one they were waiting for. Seismologists said that this week’s quake released about 80 percent of the pressure buildup, meaning that another event is possible. “Part of the problem in that part of the subduction zone is that the Caribbean plate (on which the Nicoya Peninsula lies) seems to be stuck to the subducting oceanic crust of the Cocos plate,” geologist Jonathan Harris said in an email.That hampers subduction, and the release of pressure in the form of energy occurs only sporadically, he added.Another result of the phenomenon is that the Caribbean plate is dragged down with the oceanic crust of the Cocos plate, causing land to sink along the Pacific coastline.“Indeed, sea levels have appeared to rise – not the result of global warming, but rather of the sinking crust,” Harris said.Seismologists consider Costa Rica a very seismically active country and apt for an earthquake at any given time. Linkimer said a big earthquake had been expected in the Nicoya Peninsula since the early 1990s.“There are certain [scientific] models that describe that some earthquakes will occur with regular occurrence,” he said.Because there are signs of cracking in the crust as far away as the Arenal Volcano in north-central Costa Rica, some have speculated that “the Big One” could also lead to more volcanic activity in that area. Linkimer said earthquakes can cause landslides in areas near the epicenter, but not necessarily volcanic activity. However, volcanic activity was reported at the Irazú and Rincón de la Vieja volcanoes in 1991.Tico Times Poll Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Homophobic crime increasing in Nicaragua

first_imgNo related posts. By David Hutt |  Special to The Tico TimesLEÓN, Nicaragua – The brutal murder of Lenin Moisés Bermúdez last month in the colonial capital of León has been a constant talking point for the Nicaraguan press. Investigators initially believed Bermúdez, openly gay, was a victim of a hate crime. Marcelo Martínez, coordinator of the Sexual Diversity Collective of León, an organization that fights for rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, announced that it was the second hate crime in the city this year. After some good police work, Wilman Wilfredo Sevilla, 19, was arrested for the crime and confessed to the murder. He allegedly stabbed Bermúdez almost 20 times with a piece of broken glass. According to the defendant, he arrived at the home of Bermúdez to exchange sex for money. But the victim asked for too much, an argument ensued, Bermúdez was stabbed and Sevilla fled after stealing a laptop and an iPhone. The leading prosecutor in the case, Freddy Trujillo, does not believe Sevilla’s version of the crime. Speaking at a preliminary hearing, Trujillo said the crime was premeditated and directed against a helpless victim. Whatever the outcome of the case, the murder was on the minds of delegates who met in late October in Managua during the Second Central American Conference for Sexual Diversity. Among the many speakers at the conference was Samira Montiel, ombudswoman for sexual diversity, a position connected to the State’s Attorney for the Defense of Human Rights, created three years ago to protect the rights of more than half a million LGBT Nicaraguans.According to Montiel, government statistics show that in the first nine months of this year, five people have been killed and six have been physically or sexually assaulted as a result of alleged homophobia. This means there has been a 50 percent increase in homophobic violence since 2011. Homophobic Culture or Institutions?But what are the causes of this increase?Away from the conference, LGBT rights organizations protested outside the offices of TV Channel 10 after the station broadcast an inappropriate “joke” on the show “Margarita te voy a Contar.” Demonstrators say the TV channel’s stunt encouraged violence against homosexuals. A statement on the website of the Homosexual Community of Nicaragua, an online organization for LGBT news, stated: “violence increases every day in our country… particularly against homosexual people. We believe that it is wrong to promote the culture of violence and aggression, and we hold Channel 10 responsible for consequences resulting from actions as irresponsible as those promoted on the TV show.” However, some say it would be wrong to place blame on Nicaraguan culture. Montiel sees the country’s society as being one of the region’s most liberal. “Nicaragua has always been considered one of the countries with high levels of tolerance, with high levels of respect for our community,” she said.She also expressed optimism that Nicara-gua will “not tolerate this wave of violence.” According to Montiel, the source of the problems lie in Nicaragua’s institutions, namely religious organizations and police. The dramatic increase in homophobic crimes is linked to the “radical discourse of many religious denominations” against homosexuals, the ombudswoman said during the conference. She also criticized police officers who respond to allegations of homophobic violence, saying, “Many officers continue taking these allegations as if they were a joke. Often if one goes to the police to file a complaint because someone threw rocks in the street, the police say it’s wrong to be gay.”Proving a crime was motivated by homophobia is difficult in Nicaragua, since  records of victims do not include sexual preference.The stance of the government is also not without criticism. In March, Nicaraguan lawmakers drafted a new Family Code with the strict definition of a family as a union of man and woman. However, the Sandinista government has made positive strides since returning to power in 2006. In 2008, the government decriminalized homosexual relations. Changes also were made within the Health Ministry to provide health care without discrimination in hospitals. Also, the Sandinistas in 2009 created Montiel’s position as an ombudswoman for sexual diversity. “In Latin America, the principal advances in the area of respect for sexual diversity have come from governments on the left, so we can’t expect anything less from this government,” Montiel said in an interview with the online English news site Nicaragua Dispatch. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Train to Cartago delayed until next year

first_imgNo related posts. The Municipality of Cartago announced Tuesday that a broken pipe under a rail line from the capital to the province of Cartago had been fixed, but train services scheduled to begin in December now will be delayed until 2013.Damage to the pipeline occurred weeks ago to a section of the rail at Ochomogo, west of Cartago. Some 300 meters of rail were removed during the project.“Repair work delayed us at least three weeks,” said Miguel Carabaguíaz, president of the Costa Rican Railroad Institute. The exact date of rail line’s inauguration is still unknown.Last week, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV rejected an appeal filed by citizen Luis Roberto Brenes, who claimed the project to build the rail line began without an environmental impact study by the National Technical Secretariat of the Environment Ministry.The Sala IV ruled that the repair and maintenance of public works such as bridges, roads, runways, railroads and buildings are excluded from the process of environmental sustainability studies.The 23-kilometer route connecting Cartago with the capital follows the same route as a previous road built 132 years ago. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

The best hotel in Playa Garza

first_imgNo related posts. Much of the food is prepared with ingredients imported from Italy.Lindsay Fendt Sometimes, that’s fish that Juri has caught himself. He often ventures out in the ocean in a kayak to fish for snapper, and other times, some of the local sport fishing captains share their dorado and wahoo. Many of the hotel guests also embark on sport fishing and kayaking trips, from which their catch may also become the night’s feast.With a large dining area and a big-screen on which concerts and movies can be projected, Hotel Playa Garza is one of the town’s primary gathering spots for expats, tourists and locals. It’s where many people watched the Superbowl this year, Juri says, and on certain evenings, he and Chiara make popcorn for an American-style movie night.Perhaps the best part of the best hotel in Garza, though, is the shower. In a country where drippy, suicide showerheads predominate, it’s a delightful surprise to find a hot, powerful one just about anywhere. So to find it in Garza, a tiny town with just one hotel and more cows than people, that’s pretty damn dolce. Facebook Comments Travel writers are sometimes hesitant to name a hotel the absolute best in any given area. But in the dusty little beach town of Playa Garza on the Nicoya Peninsula, the eponymous Playa Garza Hotel is the clear frontrunner. Sure, this is mostly because it’s the only real hotel in the area. Even if there were a competitor or two, though, this place would probably come out on top.center_img Situated just a coconut’s toss from the beach, this intimate bed and breakfast offers just four standard rooms, two apartments with full kitchens and two dorm-style accommodations with a shared bathroom.The spacious quarters are distributed on two levels around a refreshing swimming pool, flanked by a quaint restaurant and bar area, where guests and locals gather for the hotel’s main draw – its mouthwatering Italian cuisine.The property was taken over in December by Juri and Chiara Casalegno, an Italian couple who met in Maldives while working in the travel industry, reunited three years later in Greece, opened a bar in their native country then moved together to Costa Rica. They were attracted to Garza for the same reason that many of their guests return again and again – peacefulness.Unlike Playa Guiones just a few kilometers north, Garza isn’t a tourist destination or surfing hotspot. Instead, the tiny fishing village features a calm surf, laidback atmosphere and relatively low people to cows ratio.The town’s 200 residents actually include the country’s most famous bull, Malacrianza, who is known to gore his montadors while they are still on his back.To Garza’s rural idyll, Juri and Chiara have brought their Italian sensibility. The windows of the rooms are draped in fine Italian fabric featuring tropical-looking flora and fauna, and much of the food is prepared with ingredients imported from Italy. The flour, mozzarella cheese, salami, olives, pesto and mascarpone are all Pippo, an Italian brand shipped regularly to the provincial capital of Liberia.“We brought the food of Italy with us,” Juri says one afternoon as he prepares a fresh, thin-crust pizza with pineapple, olives and salami. “And we have almost always fresh fish.” Juri and Chiara Casalegno run the best and only hotel in Playa Garza.Ashley Harrelllast_img read more

Costa Ricas Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve turns 50

first_imgMonday marks the 50th anniversary of Costa Rica’s oldest nationally protected forest, Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve. The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) celebrated the milestone over the weekend with hikes, presentations and soccer games.“The Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve became the first to provide effective protection,” SINAC’s Executive Director Rafael Gutiérrez said in a press release. “It paved the way for us to confront the accelerated destruction of our forests.”Located on the Nicoya Peninsula’s southernmost tip, the Cabo Blanco rain forest is home to some 120 species of trees and numerous jungle mammals.After serious deforestation for farming throughout the early 20th century, two Swedish immigrants, Nicolas Wessberg and Karen Mogensen, purchased the land in 1959 to protect it. In 1963 the reserve became the country’s first protected area, spurring the formation of the national park service. Today, more than 24 percent of Costa Rica’s territory is protected, the highest percentage in the world.The official 50-year celebration took place in August with the signing of a decree allowing park rangers to carry firearms. Alberto Font Facebook Comments Environment Vice Minister Ana Lorena Guevara and Vice President Alfio Piva stand with a plaque commemerating Cabo Blanco founders Nicolas Wessberg and Karen Mogensen. No related posts.last_img read more

Socialists opposition both see victory in Venezuela vote

first_imgNo related posts. CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro declared victory in local elections as his ruling Socialists won a majority of votes nationwide, even though they lost to the opposition in five key cities.The Sunday polls did not turn out to be the referendum on Maduro – heir to leftist icon Hugo Chávez – that the center-left opposition had hoped for.Nevertheless, opposition candidates made major inroads by winning in Venezuela’s five most populous cities, including Caracas, the oil city of Maracaibo, and – in a highly symbolic victory – Barinas, Chávez’s birthplace.Maduro, 51, was narrowly elected to office in April, one month after his popular predecessor died of cancer. His tenure has been marked by high inflation, a soaring crime rate, and a shortage of household items like toilet paper and milk.Leftist “Chavistas” have been in power in oil-rich Venezuela since Chávez first took office in February 1999.Maduro’s Socialists won nearly 50 percent of the overall vote against 43 percent for the opposition, said National Electoral Council (CNE) President Tibisay Lucerna, with nearly all of the polling stations reporting.“The Venezuelan people have told the world that [Chávez’s] Bolivarian Revolution continues with even more force,” Maduro said at an outdoors post-vote rally in Caracas. He described the vote as a triumph “of love and loyalty” towards Chávez.Maduro then called on opposition leader Henrique Capriles to show “humility,” to “recognize that he has been defeated again” and resign.The Socialists won office in 196 municipalities and the opposition in 53, according to the CNE. Some results remain undeclared.The results send a “very clear message,” said Capriles at a press conference. “Venezuela is a divided country, it has no owner. We are building an alternative and will not rest until Venezuela is united.”Capriles alleged that the vote was marred by scores of problems at polling stations, including broken machines.The ‘avenging president’The approval ratings for Maduro – a former bus driver, leftist stalwart and Cabinet minister – were plunging when, in November, the National Assembly granted him power to rule by decree for one year to fight corruption and respond to what he has called an “economic war” unleashed by the opposition with U.S. support.He quickly rolled out a series of measures to force price cuts, notably on household appliances and cars, and threatened speculators with prison.Pre-election surveys showed that Venezuela’s middle class welcomed this populist show of force from the self-styled “avenging president.”At a time when Venezuela has been experiencing months of record 54 percent inflation and facing shortages of basic household goods, “a crazy paradox occurs: The one who is benefiting from the crisis is Maduro,” pollster Luis Vicente León told AFP.For political scientist John Magdaleno, Sunday’s vote shows “significant advances” by the opposition by winning the mayor’s office in three large cities that previously had pro-government mayors.Their vote numbers also increased compared with the 2008 local elections, Magdaleno said, but were less when compared with the controversial April presidential election, which Maduro won over Capriles by a wafer-thin margin of 1.5 percent.While Maduro has no room for mistakes, the opposition’s challenge is to remain united and have a strong showing in the 2015 mid-term elections, said Magdaleno, head of the Polity consulting firm.While the opposition shows “significant growth,” it has been unable to “punish” Maduro at the ballot box, added León, head of the Datanálisis consultancy.The government showing at the polls however was a letdown for supporters like Luis Lugo, who met with some 300 other loyalists in a Caracas plaza to follow on a giant TV screen the official results as they came in.The failure of the Socialists to win in four of the five biggest cities was nothing short of “treason,” Lugo sneered.Despite their overall victory, the rally was much smaller than in years past, and there were no fireworks or dancing to celebrate as there used to be under Chávez.Nearly half of Venezuela’s voters cast ballots, in line with previous turnouts, election officials said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

New banking consumer watchdog agency to open in November

New banking consumer watchdog agency to open in November

first_imgRelated posts:Salary incentives and bonuses at public banks hurt credit options for small businesses, says comptroller general Executive branch asks public banks for a full report on salary incentives and bonuses Except for construction, bank loans in Costa Rica increased across the board in 2014 Coming Holy Week brings huge price spikes in seafood Not happy with your bank? Angry customers soon will be able to file complaints with a new Financial Services Ombudsman’s Office, which begins operating in November.The Costa Rican Banking Association (ABC), a group that joins all public and private banks, approved the creation of the office last week. They expect it to open on Nov. 17.ABC President Gilberto Serrano said associates agreed to respect all resolutions issued by the new agency.The office will resolve complaints related to most services offered by banks, except cases involving a third party, issues with investments, or complaints involving transactions totaling more than 100 base salaries (some ₡30 million or $55,000).The agency will consist of a Financial Services Ombudsman, a board of directors, a lawyer and a group of financial experts in charge of evaluating and resolving complaints according to Costa Rican laws and regulations.Serrano said the office will receive complaints from customers only if they are dissatisfied with solutions first offered by their banks.“If a customer decides to take a case to the Financial Services Ombudsman, the bank must provide all information and evidence related to the complaint within a period not exceeding five working days. The office then will issue a final ruling within 15 days and then will inform the parties,” Serrano said.Currently ABC members are working on logistics for the new office, including its location and schedules for the public. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Plaintiff in sexual assault case against Costa Rica exlawmaker Justo Orozco rejects

Plaintiff in sexual assault case against Costa Rica exlawmaker Justo Orozco rejects

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica ex-lawmaker and anti-gay evangelical Justo Orozco arrested on alleged sexual abuse charges Costa Rican ex-lawmaker Justo Orozco faces another criminal complaint for alleged sexual abuse Prosecutors raid Costa Rica lawmaker Justo Orozco’s office in ongoing probe The happiness of Justo Orozco An attorney for the alleged victim in asexual assault case against former Costa Rican legislator Justo Orozco on Wednesday evening said his client had rejected a proposed out-of-court settlement. Attorney Santiago Arguedas said he would move forward with preparations for a criminal trial.“A legal case for a serious crime such as a sexual offense must be followed through to its final consequences,” Arguedas said at a press conference in his office in San José.Arguedas denied reports by several media outlets on Tuesday regarding a possible settlement in the case.“This case is not about flirting as the ex-lawmaker recently stated. It’s about criminal behavior, and that is what we told the court,” Araya said. “Orozco’s public statements in recent days are consistent with my client’s testimony, and he is admitting that the events occurred as described.”Arguedas said the alleged victim is stable and receiving psychological treatment that is recommended in cases of abuse.National Police officers on June 30 arrested Orozco, an outspoken anti-gay and evangelical former Costa Rican Renovation Party lawmaker, following the woman’s claims that he allegedly sexually attacked her inside a motel in Pavas, west of San José. The victim claims the two had met for a possible job interview, but ended up at the motel against the plaintiff’s will.The victim said at the time that Orozco then attempted to close the motel room’s garage door to trap her inside, but she managed to escape. According to her attorney, the plaintiff then ran to a nearby police precinct, where she reported the incident. Statements by police following the arrest said the alleged victim had flagged down a passing patrol car, but Arguedas clarified that his client had actually gone to a nearby police station.Orozco was arrested minutes later while driving near the motel and later released under preventive measures. The self-described moral crusader and outspoken advocate of “traditional family values” faces up to six years in prison if convicted of aggravated sexual assault, and three additional years if convicted of holding the alleged victim against her will.Orozco has told reporters he is innocent, and the entire incident was a big misunderstanding. His attorney told the daily La Nación that the alleged victim had actually harassed Orozco, phoning him several times to solicit a meeting.But the story doesn’t end there – a second plaintiff, a corrections officer at a large prison outside of Costa Rica’s capital, also came forward on July 1 and filed separate criminal sexual assault charges against Orozco for an incident that took place the same day as the alleged motel attack. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Supreme Court deems wording of Animal Welfare Bill unconstitutional

Supreme Court deems wording of Animal Welfare Bill unconstitutional

first_imgRelated posts:President Solís signs new Animal Welfare Law New cases of animal abuse spark criticism of President Solís, lawmakers Supreme Court rules prison sentences in animal welfare bill unconstitutional Lawmakers pass Animal Welfare Bill on first round vote Costa Rica’s Animal Welfare Bill – which seeks to establish harsher punishments, including prison time, for abusing or killing animals – has suffered a new setback.On Wednesday, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, ruled that the wording of two articles of Bill #18,298, already approved in a first-round vote at the Legislative Assembly, is unconstitutional.A majority of Sala IV justices considered that two articles describing fines and prison sentences for those who kill or harm “non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and octopods,” violates the principles of reason and proportionality because of the broad range of animals included.Lawmakers introduced the detailed list following a previous Sala IV ruling in October. The original draft of the bill used the word “animals,” and justices at the time ruled that the term was too broad.Following the amendment to the bill’s wording, a group of 11 lawmakers who oppose the bill filed a new consultation before the Sala IV challenging the constitutionality of the new draft.Not bindingJustices noted that their ruling constitutes a clarification and is therefore not binding; lawmakers are not obliged to abide by it. The judges’ opinion could serve as the foundation of a new challenge of the bill before the Sala IV, however, causing the annulment of the questioned articles of the law.Justices dismissed all other claims filed by the lawmakers. They said in their ruling that all changes related to proposed prison sentences and monetary fines are no longer disproportional.The maximum prision time was lowered from three to two years, and fines – for example, for not picking up a pet’s droppings in a public space – went from ₡848,000 to ₡212,000 (from $1,500 to $376).Long road for approvalLawmakers passed the Animal Welfare Bill in a first round vote in July 2016. In September, the Sala IV deemed disproportional the prison sentences of up to three years for hurting or killing an animal, as well as sanctions and monetary fines of  of up to two base salaries (some $1,500) for individuals found guilty of animal cruelty.“Cruelty” as defined by those articles would include promoting animal fights, breeding or training animals to increase their aggressiveness, or any action that could cause loss of limb or disability.Justices also objected to an article proposing monetary fines for neglecting an animal, keeping animals permanently tied up, failing to provide them with medical treatment or medicine, and intentionally provoking pain.The bill now will go back to a legislative committee for further amendment. Then it will be put up for discussion and vote in a second and final round of debate before the Full Assembly. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

The ultimate travel hack to prevent beach theft – and more Costa

The ultimate travel hack to prevent beach theft – and more Costa

first_imgTips for meaningful travel in Costa Rica As part of our March Print Edition and in support ofour redoubled efforts to provide readers with useful information about safety in Costa Rica, we consulted a group of people with ample experience in Costa Rican tourism to offer their top tips for a safe visit to Costa Rica. Scroll down to learn more about our panelists and their projects.What did we miss? What advice do you give to first-time visitors? We’d love to hear at editorial@ticotimes.net.What are your top overall safety tips for travel in Costa Rica?Melania Cubero: If you arrive at a bus stop or airport late in the night, make sure you have already organized transport and accommodation with someone trustworthy. Keep your expensive camera equipment hidden when you’re out and about, and do not leave your things unattended. Don’t walk alone at night.Perry Gladstone: Do not bring anything irreplaceable. Most beaches have dangerous rip currents; learn how to escape when caught, and do not enter water past the waist without lifeguards present.What’s the biggest safety-related mistake you’ve made while in Costa Rica, or that you’ve seen someone else make?MC: People walking in dark and unsafe areas with expensive equipment – for example, near the Coca Cola bus terminal [in San José].Christopher Howard: Be careful of scamsters. Just because someone speaks English doesn’t mean that he or she is honest. Bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.Colin Brownlee: I was once distracted at a bus stop while a friend of the person who distracted me took my bag.What specific safety tips do you have surrounding driving in Costa Rica? CH: It’s like playing a video game.CB: Get a chip for your phone at the Kolbi counter at arrivals at the airport, use Waze and don’t rent GPS from rental car companies; it’s expensive, and much of the information is outdated.  Don’t leave bags in your car unattended. Be wary of anyone trying to get you to stop on roadside, and always ask about parking safety [when leaving your car].PG: Avoid night driving in rural areas, because people walk, dogs sleep and many kinds of animals cross the road. Observe speed limits. Roads are not well engineered: frequent lane endings, impatient drivers, cars parked on blind curves and more create dangerous conditions.Public transportation? CH: Excellent and cheap. Just watch your belongings, don’t eat anything given to you by a stranger and be careful of pickpockets.CB: Always be aware of your bags while on bus and at stations. Thieves are more interested in your carry-on then your under-the-bus stuff. They know the good stuff is in your carry-on. Related posts:How to deal with street harassment in Costa Rica Safe travels in Costa Rica: aiming for the sweet spot Moving your family to Costa Rica? Here’s the first question to ask Bocas on a budget: How to get to Bocas del Toro from Costa Rica Are there any products, apps or items on a packing list that you recommend that help make travel in Costa Rica safer? MC: Travel insurance! If you’re going to drive – Waze is really useful in Costa Rica!CB: I have a decoy wallet I use sometimes with expired credit cards and photocopied money; I use it when I am concerned. If someone steals that, they are gone. They don’t look for anything else. Old non-functioning cell phones work well as decoys, too. Sometimes when going for a dip, I keep my valuables that I took to the beach wrapped in a rolled up diaper. Trust me: No one will pick that up.What efforts would you like to see, or are you a part of, to make life or travel safer in your neighborhood or region?PG: [I helped develop] Ojos en la Calle [a community vigilance network and anonymous reporting app].MC: More safety information at all the rivers and seas where there is a high concentration of tourists. In national parks, they don’t offer information about where or how to call emergency services, like for example a snake bite, if you get lost or injured… I think that this is very important.CB: Community efforts work best.  Puerto Viejo has had a security channel on Telegram that disperses information immediately, resulting in quicker identification and apprehension… The most important thing [for tourism industry employers] is to get local people jobs, and if they don’t have skills, train them. Always ask yourself, “How can I be a part of the solution?About Our PanelPerry Gladstone is president of the Costa Ballena Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, Lifeguards Association and co-founder of the SOMOS Foundation, which supports and operates community security and development programs in the southern zone. Equally at home in the air or on the water, Perry is an avid surfer, paraglider, musician and former record holder in the sport of freediving. Melania Cubero is a wellness travel designer. She is also the founder of Unplug, a travel agency focused on wellness travel). Christopher Howard has lived in Costa Rica for 39 years and is a naturalized Costa Rican citizen. He has written 14 travel-related guidebooks and Spanish language books. He has also conducted monthly relocation and retirement tours for over 20 years. Colin Brownlee is a self-described “soon-to-be senior gay man” from Canada who settled in Puerto Viejo in 2005. He owns and runs a few successful businesses including a hotel, restaurant, travel agency and marketing agency, which employ about 50 people. Despite its challenges, he loves Costa Rica so much so that he became a citizen. He finds Costa Rica anything but dull, and even after almost 15 years here, he is in a constant state of feeling “the glass is half full.” This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $5 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Commentscenter_img Safe travels in Costa Rica: aiming for the sweet spot Beaches?CH: Watch out for riptides, overexposure to the sun and remember that lifeguard services are lacking. Also, do not swim near the mouth of rivers since crocodiles tend to gather there.MC: Always ask if it’s safe to swim before entering the water.CB: Make sure you choose areas to enjoy the beach that have people around. Only take what you need to the beach. Don’t take your passport, money or credit cards. Always ask your hotel about beach safety.Hiking?CH: Take a compass, cell phone, sunscreen, plenty of water, adequate clothing, and insect repellent.MC: It’s always best to hike accompanied. Before setting off on a path, tell someone where you plan to go and when you plan to return. Wear appropriate footwear, bring sufficient water and snacks, and pay a lot of attention to where you put your feet: never stray from the paths.Food and water safety?CB: If you have allergies, always assume that the server does not understand your questions about ingredients. It’s best to negotiate food allergies with your hotel ahead of time and get a sense of whether they can accommodate your needs.  Most water in Costa Rica is potable, but always ask [when in a new location] – and if you have sensitive stomach, stay away from street food.last_img read more

55 quake hits Peruvian capital

first_img(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   5 ways to recognize low testosterone Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img LIMA, Peru (AP) – A moderately strong earthquake has shaken Lima but no damage or injuries have been reported.The U.S. Geological Survey says the 5.5-magnitude quake was centered about 72 miles southeast of Lima and was 46 miles deep. Peru’s National Geophysics Institute measured the quake at 5.8 magnitude and said it hit at about 3:07 local time (20:07 GMT).The quake struck in two jolts, the first of longer duration, and some office workers in Lima filed out of buildings into the street. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milklast_img read more

Report At least 4 Americans held by Yemens rebels

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   Top Stories The Post report said those most recently detained are among dozens of Americans who were unable to leave Yemen or who chose to remain in the country after the U.S. closed its embassy.___Online: http://wapo.st/1FfJ61y New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Quick workouts for men WASHINGTON (AP) — At least four Americans are being held in Yemen by rebels who toppled the U.S. backed government, according to a newspaper report, and the State Department said Saturday it is “doing everything we can to get these individuals released.”Citing unnamed sources, The Washington Post said attempts to free the Americans have failed. The Americans are believed to be imprisoned in the capital Sanaa, which Saudi Arabia has repeatedly bombed in a campaign to oust the rebels, known as Houthis, from power, the report said.center_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. “We have seen reports that several U.S. citizens have recently been detained in Yemen,” the State Department said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to get these individuals released.“Due to privacy considerations, we do not have any further personal details or information to share,” the agency said. “The protection of U.S. citizens abroad is a top priority.” The State Department did not provide an exact number of U.S. prisoners detained.The Houthis had cleared one of the prisoners for release, but the Post report said members of the Houthi rebellion reversed that decision.Three of the prisoners held private sector jobs, and the fourth holds dual U.S.-Yemeni citizenship. None is a U.S. government employee, the report said.The Post report said the newspaper is withholding details about the four, at the request of relatives and U.S. officials, who cited safety concerns.One more American is being held in Yemen. Sharif Mobley is also in Houthi custody. He’s been held for more than five years on terrorism-related charges brought by the previous government; his capture has been reported previously.Few details were available. The U.S. has limited contact with the Houthis. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Australia sidesteps charge that officials paid migrant boat

first_img Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Australia’s opposition lawmakers jumped on the controversy, accusing the government of creating an incentive for people smugglers.“(People smugglers) should be facing prosecution with the full force of the law, not be put in a situation that when they turn up aside an Australian Navy vessel, they are in effect next to a floating ATM,” said Richard Marles, immigration spokesman for the opposition Labor Party.The allegation comes as Southeast Asia, meanwhile, is embroiled in a broader migrant crisis as Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and Bangladeshis looking for a better life abroad have landed in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.Police said the boat was carrying 65 migrants, mainly from Sri Lanka and a fewer number from Bangladesh, and was attempting to reach New Zealand.According to the account given to police by the detained crew, their vessel was boarded off Christmas Island in Australian waters by a navy officer who spoke Indonesian and negotiated their return to Indonesian territory. Australian authorities provided two different boats along with enough fuel and food to return to Indonesian waters, the crew said, according to police. Comments   Share   3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Police in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province said the boat’s captain and five crew members detained on remote Rote island said they were each paid $5,000 after being intercepted by an Australian navy ship on May 20.Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said the Indonesian government was concerned that if such payments were happening, they could encourage human trafficking.Australia has a policy of turning back and refusing to resettle any migrant who arrives on its shores by boat. Migrants escaping poverty or oppression use Indonesia as a transit point for the perilous journey in often barely seaworthy vessels to Australia.Abbott did not deny the allegation when questioned on Radio 3AW on Friday. He said Australia’s border protection officials have been “incredibly creative” in coming up with strategies to stop people smuggling.“By hook or by crook we are gonna stop the trade,” Abbott said. “We have stopped the trade and we will do what we have to do to ensure that it stays stopped.”Abbott again dodged questions about the allegations during a subsequent press conference. Asked directly whether the government had paid people smugglers to turn back boats, he replied, “What the government has done is stop the boats…. And we’ve used a whole range of measures to stop the boats because that’s what the Australian people elected us to do.” Christmas Island is 1,090 kilometers (675 miles) southwest of Rote island in central Indonesia.Hidayat, a local police chief on Rote, said the migrants came ashore on May 31 after locals reported the boats stranded in nearby waters. They were taken to an immigration detention center in the provincial capital Kupang on Tuesday.“I saw the money and even counted it together with the crew during interrogation,” said Hidayat, who uses one name. “But I don’t want to speculate before the investigation is complete.”Arrmanatha, the Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman, said children including three of a very young age and a pregnant woman were among the migrants.__Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s prime minister on Friday sidestepped charges that officials from his country paid the crew of a boat carrying 65 migrants to return to Indonesian waters, but said Australia had to be creative to stop the flow of boats carrying asylum seekers to its shores.Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments come one day after Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry said it was “very concerned” by the allegations that Australia had paid off the crew of the boat, which had several children and a pregnant woman on board, to return to Indonesia.center_img 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 Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

Some progress in quelling wildfires raging in Canada

Some progress in quelling wildfires raging in Canada

first_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall In this July 5, 2015 photo, flames rise from a wildfire near La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Canadian soldiers arrived Tuesday, July 7 to help battle raging wildfires, where about 13,000 people have been evacuated in recent days. (Corey Hardcastle/Ministry of the Environment/Government of Saskatchewan via AP) Top Stories Comments   Share   Mesa family survives lightning strike to home But even as progress was being made in Saskatchewan, wildfires burned in parts of British Columbia and northern Alberta and authorities were forced to seek help from around the country and other countries, including Mexico and Australia.“As we started down the road with these fires, Alberta and British Columbia fire hazards escalated, the numbers of fires increased and they had community evacuations as well,” Roberts said. “That has stretched the availability of resources across the country.”Karen Hill, a spokeswoman for Saskatchewan’s provincial emergency services, said an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people in the province have been forced to leave their homes in recent days. The evacuations are mostly from more than 50 communities in the northern part of the province.The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates firefighting services for the provinces and territories, said Canada may have to seek more help from the U.S. and abroad.The latest report on the agency website said the wildfire hazard is extreme and major wildfires “have the potential to exhaust agency fire resources nationally.”Alberta said Wednesday that it was bringing in 62 firefighters from Mexico to help battle 92 wildfires burning in the province, including 33 listed as out of control. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility British Columbia, with more than 180 fires, was bringing in crews from Australia.Environment Canada continued to issue special air quality advisories for parts of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwest Ontario due to wildfire smoke.Smoke from the wildfires has also led to air quality advisories in the U.S., including Washington state, North and South Dakota and Colorado.Wildfire expert Mike Flannigan said tinderbox conditions in the Western provinces set the stage for the wildfires. “Our weather this year has been very hot, dry and windy,” said the University of Alberta professor.“This is consistent with what we expect with climate change. I’m not saying every year is going to be a bad fire year, but we are going to see a lot more fire on the landscape.”Kerry Anderson, a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, said the weather pattern known as El Nino, which is caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America, is responsible.He expects weather conditions will settle down in Saskatchewan in the coming weeks, but warmer than normal temperatures will likely persist for a while in B.C. and Alberta. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Quick workouts for men Anderson said even if crews bring the Saskatchewan fires under control, they may not actually be put out until the fall.“The large fires that are burning there will continue to burn until they are contained or until a fire-ending event may occur, and that may just end up being the first snowfall.”___Associated Press writer Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories LA RONGE, Saskatchewan (AP) — Firefighters made some progress Wednesday in quelling hundreds of wildfires raging across western Canada that are threatening thousands of people and triggering air quality warnings across the country and in the U.S. West and Midwest, authorities said.Steve Roberts, a Saskatchewan wildfire management official, said better visibility has allowed aircraft to dump water on the flames there. Several hundred Canadian soldiers were involved in firefighting efforts and the military said another 500 troops from Manitoba were on standby. Fire-fighting crews from across Canada and from South Dakota have been helping out.last_img read more

Norwegian tunnel may collapse after fuel truck explosions

first_imgTruck driver Tore Myrestrand told the Firda newspaper he had problems with the brakes in the deepest part of the tunnel, which is 91 meters (299 feet) below sea level. After the crash, he said he escaped from the truck and grabbed an emergency phone in the tunnel.Authorities immediately closed the tunnel to everyone except firefighters. Thick black smoke billowed out of the tunnel after the explosions and a subsequent fire caused by the tanker, which had detached from the truck.The firefighters later were evacuated as the sea water began to leak in, police said on Twitter, adding there were fears the tunnel would collapse. Thousands of liters (gallons) of sea water slowly flooded in, reducing the smoke.Police said six people were treated for minor smoke inhalation at a nearby hospital.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Parents, stop beating yourself up New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to homecenter_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Sponsored Stories COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sea water leaked dangerously into an undersea tunnel in western Norway on Wednesday after a fuel truck crashed into the tunnel’s side, triggering a series of explosions. The leaks prompted fears the tunnel could collapse, police said.The accident and subsequent explosions took place around 11 a.m. in the nearly 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) Skatestraum tunnel, which links two islands in the Sogn og Fjordane region north of the city of Bergen. 0 Comments   Share   last_img read more