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Phenomenal growth in home based agent sector is recent survey shows

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — A recent independent survey of Canadian home-based travel agents found that over 50% of them had made the decision to go home based in the last five years, explaining the astonishing growth in this sector all of a sudden. It is now thought that about 33% of all Canadian travel agents work from home.Over 60% of the home based agents surveyed were experienced agents working in a bricks and mortar agency before choosing to go home based. This dispels the false idea that home based agents are new to the industry and inexperienced. On the contrary, most home based agents have over 20 years’ experience in the industry.And almost half said they were earning more now than when they worked in a bricks and mortar agency.But the main reason these experienced agents are giving up their office positions seems to be about wanting to be their own boss. That and improving their work/life balance, as we have stated in an earlier article.Experienced agents also have usually gathered a good book of business as well, and have loyal clients who will follow them.The survey of almost 200 hosted travel agents across Canada included agents from all the leading host agencies. It was commissioned in December 2016 by The Travel Agent Next Door to gain further insight into the growing number of hosted agents and to determine how best to serve their needs in the future.The agents surveyed were currently affiliated with eight different host agencies from across Canada, with 12% not divulging who they were associated with.Flemming Friisdahl, Founder of The Travel Agent Next Door, says his company will continue to invest in third party research into the home based sector and he fully intends to share this information with the industry. “By understanding home based agents better, we can offer the best programs for their needs,” said Friisdahl. Tags: Sphere, The Travel Agent Next Door By: Jill Wykes, The Travel Agent Next Door Phenomenal growth in home based agent sector is recent, survey showscenter_img Wednesday, March 15, 2017 Share About Latest Posts Jill WykesJill Wykes is a travel industry veteran who has held a series of senior management portfolios in travel corporations. A former chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, she is now an independent communications consultant and writer since retiring in 2011. Latest posts by Jill Wykes (see all) Dispelling the myths against going home-based – May 22, 2019 Diversity pays off when agents go home-based: Survey – April 10, 2019 National Travel Agent survey suggests many agents considering going home-based – March 13, 2019last_img read more

More new bookings equal more bonuses with new Sandals Resorts incentive

first_img Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, January 23, 2018 Share More new bookings equal more bonuses with new Sandals Resorts incentivecenter_img TORONTO — Agents can earn up to US$85 for every new booking with a just-released booking incentive bonus from Sandals Resorts – and there’s no limit to how much agents can earn.The bonus is “in appreciation of the continued support from the travel agent community [and] just in time for the all-important winter season,” says Sandals Resorts.Effective immediately, agents who book their clients now through March 15, 2018 (and for travel anytime) will receive a bonus payment, based on length of stay and room category for each new booking:Butler SuiteUS$35 bonus for 6-night stayUS$85 for 7 nights or moreClub / Concierge SuiteUS$25 bonus for 6-night stayUS$55 for 7 nights or moreLuxury / Deluxe RoomUS$15 bonus for 6-night stayUS$30 for 7 nights or moreAll bookings must be registered on Sandals’ travel agent portal within 30 days of making the booking.The incentive booking bonus payments will be made within 10-14 business days after travel.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesFor more information, travel agents are asked to contact their local Business Development Manager, call Inside Sales at 1-800-545-8283 or visit Tags: Agent Incentives, Sandals Resorts Posted bylast_img read more

World Cup fever is not a disease says Costa Ricas Social Security

first_img Facebook Comments The passion most Ticos have for football has officials at the Social Security System worried. Last week the Caja issued an order to all doctors at public hospitals to restrict permission for sick days throughout the month. Apparently employees’ health tends to deteriorate during the World Cup.And after Costa Rica’s shocking 3-1 victory over Uruguay on Saturday, the number of workers suffering from World Cup fever might only increase. Costa Rica’s next two matches are on weekdays, starting with Italy on Friday.The executive branch did grant permission for public employees to watch the games against Italy on Friday and England on June 24. (Both matches start at 10 a.m.) The decree applies to all public employees as long as it does not affect essential services such as public health, education or security.For private employees, it all depends on how nice bosses are. Presidency Minister Melvin Jiménez last week said employers – if they so choose – can rearrange schedules to allow employees to watch the matches. But given Costa Rica’s stellar performance in the upset against Uruguay, forbidding Ticos from watching the next match could lead to workplace mutiny.In June 2010, during the previous World Cup in South Africa, the Caja registered 113,000 sick-day notes – about 7,000 more than the monthly average and the highest figure that year. And Costa Rica didn’t even qualify that time around.Those sick days during the 2010 World Cup cost the public health system ₡3.4 billion ($6.1 million), according to Caja officials.This year, the agency has strengthened controls and instructed all doctors to be meticulous when authorizing sick leave. The warning also was made to private practices that authorize public employees to take days off.The Caja’s 129 medical commissions at public hospitals can revoke any permit issued by a private doctor, and charges will be filed at the Prosecutors’ Office against any employee and doctor found to have committed fraud, officials said last week.The Caja also bans doctors from granting more than two consecutive doctor’s notes in cases of mild illness or unjustified emergency room visits.Jiménez said public workers should rearrange schedules to prevent disrupting public services, and the decree does not allow employees to skip work. Costa Rica’s labor legislation states that employers can fire without liability any employee who leaves work without permission or a valid excuse. Related posts:Fewer sick days granted during 2014 World Cup after stricter regulations enforced Public workers can take recess to watch Costa Rica’s World Cup games, Solís says With focus on next round, winning Group D less of a priority, says Wanchope In Costa Rica, pride for La Sele’s historic World Cup playlast_img read more

Federer shines in New York rain Ferrer crashes

first_imgNEW YORK – Five-time champion Roger Federer sat out a two-hour break for torrential rain to race into the U.S. Open fourth round on Sunday on a stormy, humid New York day which saw David Ferrer crash to defeat.Second-seeded Federer, the champion between 2004-2008, came back from a set down to defeat Spain’s Marcel Granollers 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 by racing away with 20 of the last 24 games of the match which had been interrupted due to rain and the threat of lightning.Federer, bidding to become the oldest Grand Slam champion in more than 40 years, clinched his 70th win at the tournament on the back of 57 winners and 13 aces.But the 33-year-old had struggled in the first set where he slipped to 2-5 down against the world number 42 before he grasped welcome respite in the locker room to sit out the storm.“It was a good match and I managed to turn it around as Marcel was on fire at the start,” Federer said. “The break helped me and when I came back I played some great tennis. The conditions were windy and quick at the start but when we got back it was humid and that played in my favor.”Federer will face Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the quarter-finals.Gilles Simon sent Spanish fourth seed Ferrer crashing to his earliest U.S. Open defeat in five years with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 win.The 26th seeded Simon capitalized on the 52 unforced errors of the 32-year-old Ferrer, a semi-finalist in 2007 and 2012, who appeared to struggle physically towards the end of their third-round clash.Simon goes on to face Marin Cilic of Croatia, who beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, for a place in the quarter-finals in a clash of two men who both missed the 2013 U.S. Open. Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts after defeating Marcel Granollers of Spain during their men’s singles third round match on Day Seven of the 2014 U.S. Open. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/AFPMonfils wins all-French affairSimon was back in France for the birth of his second child while Cilic was serving out a doping ban.The wiry 29-year-old Frenchman admitted he was delighted to have got the better of Ferrer against whom he had lost five times in six meetings.“He destroyed me five times before,” said Simon, one of five Frenchmen to reach the third round.“So I just tried to stay loose and relaxed and enjoy myself on court. But I am tired. The weather forecast said it would be cooler today but it didn’t feel like it.”Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych, a semi-finalist in 2012, beat Georgian-born Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and next plays Dominic Thiem of Austria, the youngest player in the top 50 at just 20.Thiem, who turns 21 on Wednesday, reached his first Grand Slam last-16 with an impressive 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win over left-handed serve-and-volleyer Feliciano López of Spain who is 12 years his senior.“It’s my first U.S. Open. I love to play at night and everything went well tonight,” said Thiem.Gael Monfils, the 20th seed, celebrated his 28th birthday a day early by sweeping past French Davis Cup teammate Richard Gasquet, the 12th seed, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 despite his protests that the damp Louis Armstrong court was too treacherous to play on.It was Monfils’ third win this year over his compatriot.Monfils, who made the quarter-finals in 2010, will face either Bulgarian seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov, who had never won a match in New York in three appearances before this year, or Belgium’s David Goffin, the world 56.Goffin had also never won a match in New York before this year and he comes into the event buoyed by a recent maiden title in Kitzbuhel and a quarter-final run at Winston-Salem where he had to qualify. Facebook Comments Related posts:Wozniacki beats Sharapova to reach quarterfinals at US Open Marin Cilic, 2014 U.S. Open champion, played in Costa Rica’s junior tournament 10 years ago At the 2014 World Series, Royals and Giants are truly happy to be here TV exec made Mayweather-Pacquiao bout possiblelast_img read more

South of Memories imagines the lives of Nicaraguan refugees

first_imgCourtesy Alonso Muñez SolísIn war, people take drastic measures. Some adopt a cause and fight. Others cling to their peaceful lives and hope for the best. And some, seeing that the situation is only getting worse, flee their country in search of a better life.In the first chapter of “Al Sur de los Recuerdos” (“South of Memories”), we see what happens to young Pascual Aristaga when he tries to fight. In the novel, Pascual is a humble shopkeeper and decent family man, yet when Nicaragua is torn apart by war, he decides to raise arms against the invisible enemy in the woods. But Pascual doesn’t last long; he’s clearly not meant to be a soldier. In the wake of his death, his wife María and daughter Ana have nothing to gain by staying. They journey south, to Costa Rica.Demographically speaking, Costa Rican writer Alonso Muñoz Solís is an unlikely author of “Recuerdos.” Nicaraguan immigrants are not a popular bunch in Costa Rica, yet Muñoz writes movingly about their escape from war and the challenges of their new life. Meanwhile, in telling most of the story from the perspective of young Ana, Muñoz sets himself the challenge of accurately voicing a character of another age and gender, a notable feat for any writer. Finally, Muñoz was 33 years old when the book was published last May, which means he was about nine years old when the Nicaraguan Revolution ended.Muñoz took on a difficult topic that basically predates his generation, and this alone is commendable. He has done his research, too – he clearly describes his locations and how the characters see them, even on the front lines of battles. When Ana and María trudge their way toward Costa Rica, Muñoz had to imagine encountering his own country for the first time:For hours they walked among gigantic trees adorned with different shades of green. Magnificent trees, with very high roots and lined vines and mosses of different textures. Perfectly circular and imposingly long trunks. Leaves of different sizes that fell dancing in the air. Palm trees in the jungle. Muddy earth the color of adobe on a day without rain; a carpet of fallen leaves. Mushrooms of all forms and colors. Ranks of busy ants. Flocks of parakeets, birds and more birds, everywhere.Muñoz can be eloquent, but most of his prose is crisp and clean, like a Central American Steinbeck. For folks learning Spanish or unaccustomed to reading Spanish literature, “Recuerdos” is an excellent find: The vocabulary is uncomplicated and the story is smoothly told, without excessive, self-indulgent metaphor or subplots. At 135 pages, the slim novel could pass for young adult fiction, and the violence is no more shocking than a “Hunger Games” scene – except that Muñoz’s fiction is based on real tragedy.I can only hope that Muñoz finds the broad readership he deserves. Small-press books don’t generally print a second edition, and Costa Rica is a tough market for novelists, especially a freshman author. It is striking to discover that Muñoz graduated from the University of Costa Rica with a degree in Electrical Engineering, then worked for the University for Peace. “Recuerdos” is an admirable first book. Here’s hoping he writes a second one soon. Facebook Comments Related posts:New guidebook helps visitors appreciate Costa Rica’s capital ‘The Family’ tells story of cult in Costa Rica ‘Paradise Imperfect’ a competent expat memoir What do Ticos really think about foreigners in Costa Rica?last_img read more

The exposure of Eugene Hasenfus

first_imgOn Sunday, Oct. 5, 1986, a young Sandinista soldier named José Fernando Canales Alemán sighted a Fairchild C-123K cargo plane in Nicaraguan airspace near the Costa Rican border. He fired a Russian-made shoulder mounted SAM-7 (9K32 Strela-2) surface-to-air missile and brought down the plane. Three crew members – William J. Cooper, Wallace “Buzz” Sawyer, and radio operator Freddy Vilches – were killed in the crash. The fourth – and most famous – survived. His name was Eugene Hasenfus, and his subsequent capture by Sandinista forces led to the unraveling of a complex web now called “The Iran-Contra Affair.” The Oct. 8, 1986 edition of Sandinista newspaper Barricada. (Courtesy Barricada)Eugene Hasenfus was a former Marine who had flown supply missions for Air America, the CIA’s air-transport company, during the heady days of the Vietnam War. His ports of call included Saigon and Vientiane, Laos, he told the Christian Science Monitor in a November 1986 interview from jail in Tipitapa, Nicaragua.It was a call from an old colleague at Air America that encouraged him to travel from his home in Marinette, Wisconsin. Marinette is a town of about 10,000 residents in the northern part of the state, along the Michigan state border. Coincidentally, it is about three miles from the home of Capt. Ernest Medina, who was tried and acquitted for the My Lai massacre. (There is no record that the two men ever met.)Hasenfus went to El Salvador to join the Contra resupply operation headed by Gen. Richard Secord for a promised salary of $3,000 per month – a good deal more than he was making as a part-time construction worker in Wisconsin. His job was to kick the loads of cargo out the doors of the plane as it flew low over Contra-controlled areas inside Nicaragua. Hasenfus would later tell his Nicaraguan captors that he had flown more than 10 such missions. On Oct. 5, 1986, the C-123 cargo plane – called a “Provider” by its manufacturer, – left Ilopango Airbase in El Salvador loaded with “70 Soviet-made AK-47 rifles and 100,000 rounds of ammunition, rocket grenades and other supplies,” according to aviation safety records. As the plane entered Nicaraguan airspace it dropped to an altitude of 2,500 feet near San Carlos, along the Río San Juan. At that moment, the young Sandinista fired his shoulder-mounted missile, whose Russian name “Strela” means “arrow,” and the plane began to spiral toward a crash. Unlike his colleagues, Eugene Hasenfus had a parachute that he had borrowed from a brother who was a skydiver. A Russian-made SAM-7 surface-to-air missile launcher. (Wikimedia Commons)The Oct. 8 edition of Sandinista newspaper Barricada would feature on its front cover a full-page photo of Hasenfus being led off by his captors, and on the back cover, a comparable photo of a young Vietnamese militia member who had similarly shot down and captured U.S. airman W. H. Robinson 20 years earlier in September 1965. The image would later appear on a billboard in Managua bearing the text from Augusto César Sandino’s July 1927 manifesto against the U.S. Marines: “More than a battalion of your men, blonde invader, will end up biting the dust of my warring hills.”The fact that Hasenfus – whose name in German roughly translates to “Rabbit’s Foot” – had a parachute was lucky for him, but not so lucky for his CIA employers. Retired U.S. Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, who was President Ronald Reagan’s administrative chief liaison to the secret Contra supply effort, in his 1991 autobiography “Hazardous Duty” bemoans, “Only a fool would dispatch such a plane on a clandestine airdrop during daylight. To make matters worse, Hasenfus and the three dead crewmen had been carrying their wallets with identity cards linking them to Southern Air Transport, a known CIA proprietary company. The final straw in this foul-up was the fact that the plane’s logbooks were on board, which also linked the operation back to the CIA.”It was those logbooks, together with a business card found in Hasenfus’ wallet when he was captured, that led to the exposure of U.S. government involvement in the Contra resupply operation. The business card came from Robert W. Owen, who, according to researcher Peter Dale Scott, had worked with Singlaub in Asia, and later on the staff of U.S. Senator Dan Quayle. In 1983, Rob Owen joined Lt. Col. Oliver North in his “Project Democracy” to aid the Contras. According to Singlaub, North and Secord had botched the operation and then later tried to blame it on him: “… Ollie North’s grandiose self-image as a master covert operator,” he wrote, “had come back to harm the Contra cause.” It was Secord whom Hasenfus would later attempt unsuccessfully to sue in U.S. federal court for negligence and breach of contract. A billboard in Managua included text from Augusto César Sandino’s July 1927 manifesto against the U.S. Marines. (Courtesy of Donna Vukelich)The revelations immediately led to an outcry in the media and U.S. Congress. Lawmakers had voted in the “Boland Amendment” to outlaw U.S. assistance to the Contras for the purpose of overthrowing the Nicaraguan government – including prohibiting all “funds available to the CIA and the DOD [Department of Defense] from being used in Nicaragua for military purposes.” Vincent Cannistraro, director of intelligence programs for the U.S. National Security Council, wrote in a now-declassified memo on Oct. 8 to then-National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane that, “Press Guidance was prepared which states no U.S.G. involvement or connection, but that we are generally aware of such support contracted by the Contras.” The memo continues: “Elliott [Abrams, assistant secretary of state] said he would continue to tell the press these were brave men and brave deeds. We recommended he not do this because it contributes to perception U.S.G. inspired and encouraged private lethal aid effort.”The Iran-Contra hearings began on May 5, 1987, and lasted through the summer until Aug. 6. During that time, the Hasenfus incident became a smaller and smaller cog in a great wheel that included selling missiles to Iran, trading arms for hostages, secret bank accounts, and off-the-books funding of Contra operations in Honduras and Costa Rica. Special Counsel Lawrence Walsh summarized the results: “Of the 14 persons charged criminally during the investigation, four were convicted of felony charges after trial by jury, seven pleaded guilty either to felonies or misdemeanors, and one had his case dismissed because the Administration refused to declassify information deemed necessary to the defendant by the trial judge. Two cases that were awaiting trial were aborted by pardons granted by President Bush.” Outgoing President George H.W. Bush ultimately pardoned six of the key figures in 1992.In 1987, Pacifica Radio began live coverage of the hearings. My station was the first in Wisconsin to air the coverage. I engineered the broadcast each day, as we preempted regular programming. If the hearings ended early, we would need to scramble for LP records (CDs were not in use much in those days) to fill out the afternoon. I would record the live satellite feed on 10-inch reels of tape as it broadcast over the air, and then scramble between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to edit the day down to a half-hour long summary for listeners unable to hear the whole thing. But it was nothing compared to the legendary work of Pacifica reporter Larry Bensky and his producer Bill Wax. They perched in a cramped location in the crowded room to broadcast the hearings and conduct interviews throughout the day. Wax would listen to the hearings and record choice bits onto short cassette tapes for use in Bensky’s summaries – which might happen at any moment in the day if the hearings suddenly went into recess. Lt. Col. Oliver North, former aide to ex-National Security Adviser John Poindexter, is sworn in on July 7, 1987 before the U.S. House and Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on arms sales to Iran and diversion of profits to Nicaraguan Contra rebels. The “Irangate” saga erupted on Nov. 30, 1986 into a new crisis for U.S. President Ronald Reagan, with the resignation of Adm. John Poindexter as the president’s national security adviser and the dismissal of North, a member of the National Security Council staff. AFPAlthough Hasenfus was lucky the day of the crash, luck did not seem to follow him in later life. After being tried, convicted and pardoned by the Nicaraguan government, he returned home to his wife and three children in Marinette just in time for Christmas. There were, of course many jokes at the time about Hasenfus as a “marionette” hanging from the strings of his parachute – or more darkly, controlled by strings from Washington. His father was quoted in the press at the time as saying, “It would have been better if Eugene had died. The dead don’t talk.” The cost of his legal defense was never paid by the government since officials were still trying to deny that he was their employee. The bank came close to foreclosing on his mortgage as he struggled to make ends meet. He unsuccessfully sued his employers, Southern Air Transport and Corporate Air Services, saying they had promised verbally to cover all of his legal fees, but the suit lost in district court, and again on appeal.After that, a downhill slide began. His wife divorced him in 1998, and then, according to Timothy Lange, writing in the Daily Kos:On July 10, 2000, he was accused of indecent exposure in Brookfield, Wisconsin. On June 1, 2002, he killed a bear without a license and was fined $260. He was accused of lascivious behavior a second time in January 2003, after exposing himself in the parking lot at Woodman’s grocery store in Howard, Wisconsin, and received probation. He was accused a third time on May 25, 2005, after exposing himself in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Marinette County, Wisconsin. This violated his probation, and he was forced to serve jail time in Green Bay, Wisconsin, until Dec. 17, 2005 – the 19th anniversary of his release from a Sandinista prison.An interesting side note to the story is the successful life of the twin to the Hasenfus plane shot down in 1986. The CIA had actually purchased two of the Fairchild C-123K Providers, and the other one is now the centerpiece of a unique pub in Costa Rica. According to the website of Hotel Costa Verde, “As a result of this successful Sandinista strike on our Fairchild’s sister plane, the cargo operation was suspended and one of the C-123s was abandoned at the International Airport in San José. In August 2000, we purchased the abandoned Fairchild and shipped the pieces of the Iran-Contra relic to Quepos [on the central Pacific coast]. The fuselage was shipped via ocean ferry because it was 10 inches too wide for the antiquated Chiquita Banana railroad bridges! After hauling seven sections up the Manuel Antonio hill, the C-123 finally found its current cliff-side resting-place. Now, our C-123 has been retired to less risqué endeavors as a restaurant, bar and an enduring Cold War relic.” El Avión Pub in Quepos, near Manuel Antonio National Park, on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast. (Courtesy of Jesse Chapman)•Norman Stockwell is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin. He also serves as operations coordinator for WORT-FM Community Radio. Stockwell has reported from numerous countries in Latin America, including Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast. In 1987 he helped broadcast the Iran-Contra Hearings on community radio before traveling to Nicaragua. Read his recent contribution to The Tico Times’ special “La Penca: 30 Years Later.”   Facebook Comments Related posts:Remembering La Penca, 30 years later Reviving the messenger: Gary Webb’s tale on film The undoing of Gary Webb and today’s news organizations 30 years since secret Contra airstrip discovered in Costa Ricalast_img read more

El Salvador unites behind martyr Romero 35 years on

first_imgRelated posts:On 35th anniversary of Romero’s murder, Salvadorans remember him finally as a martyr Romero: The long journey to martyrdom, a timeline El Salvador’s ‘voice of the voiceless’ beatified From ‘America’s Mayor’ to international security guru: Rudy Giuliani sends experts to El Salvador SAN SALVADOR,El Salvador — Archbishop Óscar Romero was a symbol of the divisions that split El Salvador during its civil war, but 35 years after his assassination, his imminent beatification has united former foes.Romero, an outspoken critic of social injustice, was gunned down while celebrating mass on March 24, 1980, at the outset of the conflict, a day after exhorting soldiers to stop killing civilians.His murder propelled the country deeper into a brutal war that raged until 1992, when the right-wing government signed a peace deal with the leftist guerrillas of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).No one has ever been convicted of the crime, but a U.N.-sponsored truth commission concluded it was carried out by a right-wing death squad under the orders of Roberto D’Aubuisson, a former army officer who died the year the war ended.Even after peace was restored, Romero’s legacy continued to divide El Salvador, where the movement to make him a saint pulled at the country’s fault lines. A champion of the poor nicknamed the “Voice of the Voiceless,” Romero has been heralded on the left and condemned as a communist on the right.He has also been a divisive figure for the Catholic Church.His support for the oppressed has seen him held up by some as a proponent of “liberation theology,” a political movement rooted in Latin America that advocates working with the poor to bring about social change. While Romero did not actually subscribe to the theology, conservative Catholics feared his death could be exploited for political or ideological reasons.Under Pope John Paul II, the Vatican blocked the movement to canonize him. But Pope Francis, who has himself sought to defend the poor, cleared the way for him to be beatified, naming him a martyr for the Church last month.The Church announced this month that Romero will be beatified on May 23 at a ceremony in San Salvador, taking him to just one step from sainthood.That news has been widely celebrated in El Salvador, even in hard-right circles that once demonized him.“It’s a step forward and a cause for joy for the Catholics of El Salvador,” said former president Armando Calderón, a conservative hardliner who was close to D’Aubuisson. ‘Justice never done’ The tributes to Romero began last Saturday with a candlelight march from San Salvador’s central square, where he will be beatified in May, to the capital’s cathedral, where pilgrims held a vigil at his tomb until dawn. Commemorations were also held in Boston and Washington last weekend, where Mayor Muriel Bowser officially inaugurated an affordable housing project named for him.On Tuesday, Salvadorans will remember him at masses in his honor across the country, and with a ceremony in San Salvador cathedral led by Panamanian Cardinal José Luis Lacunza.“We are commemorating another anniversary of his death, but we are incredibly happy because Monsignor Romero will soon be beatified,” said Gregorio Rosa Chávez, the Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador.The anniversary has also stirred new calls for justice in Romero‘s killing.“The murder of Monsignor Romero is one of so many crimes committed before and during the civil war that remain unpunished. Justice has never been done,” said David Morales, special prosecutor for human rights cases.Romero was shot through the heart by a sniper while performing evening mass in the chapel of San Salvador’s Divine Providence hospital. The day before, he had delivered a homily aimed at ordinary soldiers, urging them to halt the growing wave of atrocities committed by the army as it sought to stamp out the burgeoning leftist rebellion gripping the country.“I beg you, I plead with you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression,” he said.Romero‘s life was depicted in the 1989 film “Romero” starring Raúl Julia.His murder had widespread impact across Latin America, a predominantly Catholic region where several far-right regimes were then fighting wars against Marxist guerrillas. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas Saprissa signs San Diego footballer

first_imgRelated posts:Swiss prosecutors probe 53 ‘suspicious’ FIFA cases FIFA: Sponsor pressure mounts ahead of World Cup draw VIDEO: Costa Rica head coach Paulo Wanchope brawls with security guard at Panama football stadium WATCH: Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell scores for Arsenal in first Premier League start San José football club Saprissa signed San Diego, California native Ramón Martín del Campo on Friday.The 22-year-old defender was born in Hermosillo, Mexico and moved to southern California at the age of two, according to his biography. Before he put on the purple kit, del Campo played for the University of California, Davis and the San Jose Earthquakes’ Under 23 team. In 2014, he played for the U.S. U-23 national team.Del Campo originally turned down an offer to play for Saprissa after he graduated from UC Davis in 2014, according to After a disappointing performance during the SuperDraft in January, the defender was passed up and sought a spot with the LA Galaxy.According to Saprissa, del Campo had an offer to play for the Los Angeles club but decided to come to Costa Rica as a morado.“I’m joining the best and biggest club in the area. It’s an honor to put on this jersey. The commitment and responsibility are amazing,” del Campo said during a press conference at Saprissa Stadium in Tibás, north of San José.Del Campo signed for two years. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica draws with Spain 11 at FIFA Womens World Cup opening

first_imgFollowing the goal, La Sele had their best moments of the game, with more opportunities to score, but Spain slowly regained control of the match.Spain’s offense, however, was innefective as countless shots went wide or were repelled by Díaz, who saved her teammates on several occasions.The second half was dominated almost entirely by Spain, and Costa Rica had almost no offensive plays.Just 30 seconds into the second half Spain nearly took the lead when Sonia Bermúdez sent a crossed pass from the left that slipped through La Sele’s defensive line. Luckily, Natalia Pablos was unable to send the ball in.Four minutes later, a header by Jennifer Hermoso went wide, and a strong shot by Spain’s star and team captain Verónica Boquete went long the next minute.Boquete had at least three more opportunities to score, but her bad aim, good saves by Díaz and even the pole kept the score tied until the end of the match.Following four unsuccessful participations at U17 and U20 World Cups, Costa Rica’s debut in Canada finally garnered the country its first point ever in a FIFA Women’s World Cup.Las Ticas on Saturday will face South Korea at 5 p.m. Costa Rica time, while Spain will play against the South American champion Brazil. Costa Rica’s Raquel Rodríguez, left, celebrates after scoring against Spain, with Carolina Venegas during a Group E match at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, on June 9, 2015. Nicholas Kamm/AFPSpain 1-1 Costa RicaGoals:Spain: Vicky Losada (12’)Costa Rica: Raquel Rodríguez Cedeño (13’)Lineups:Spain: Ainhoa ​​Tirapú, Celia Jiménez (Ruth García, 62), Marta Torrejón, Irene Paredes, Leire Landa, Natalia Pablos, Vicky Losada, Alexia Putellas, Sonia Bermúdez (Marta Corredera, 72), Verónica Boquete, Jennifer Hermoso (Borja, 84’). Coach: Ignacio Quereda.Costa Rica: Dinnia Díaz, Diana Sáenz, Carol Sánchez, Wendy Acosta, Lixy Rodríguez, Melissa Herrera (Guillén, 87), Shirley Cruz, Katherine Alvarado, Raquel Rodríguez, María Barrantes (Karla Villalobos, 74), Carolina Venegas (Granados, 80). Coach: Amelia Valverde.Yellow cards:  Celia Jiménez, Spain (44’)Referees: Salomé Di Iorio (ARG), María Rocco (ARG), Mariana De Almeida (ARG) and Marilin Miranda (PAR).Stadium: Olympic Stadium in Montreal Facebook Comments Related posts:Las Ticas beat Mexico 1-0, advance toward Canada 2015 World Cup Costa Rica’s Ticas one match away from FIFA World Cup Canada 2015 6 top Costa Rica sports stories of 2014 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Brazil’s only goal is enough to eliminate Costa Rica The Costa Rican women’s national football team, known as La Sele, split the points with Spain in a 1-1 draw during both teams’ first match ever at a World Cup. For La Sele, it also was their first point in aFIFA World Cup competition.The match, played late Tuesday afternoon at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in Canada, was mostly dominated by the Europeans as Costa Rica, looking a little nervous at the start, showed little offensive game.That control allowed Spain to score an early lead just 13 minutes into the match. Vicky Lozada received the ball from a corner kick, turned to get rid of a Tica defender and sent a diagonal shot impossible for goalie Dinnia Díaz to stop.A key factor for Costa Rica was their ability to overcome that challenge and score an equalizer just one minute later, while some of the Spanish fans were still celebrating.Lixy Rodríguez received a long pass from Wendy Acosta, drove the ball along the sideline, entered the area and sent a centering pass from the end line in a crosser that slipped through five Spanish defenders on its way to Raquel Rodríguez, who was wide open and scored with a soft touch.last_img read more

Costa Ricas top 5 political fiascos of 2015

first_imgIt’s been a bruiser of a first year in office for Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís. Several FIA concerts were moved from original venues to the Culture Ministry in downtown San José. (Via Culture Ministry)1. ‘FIAsco’The complete meltdown of Costa Rica’s treasured  International Arts Festival, or FIA, was arguably the worst self-inflected wound the Solís administration suffered this year. The arts festival is one of the largest and most respected public events organized by the government, but it ended up as a black eye for the freshman administration. After days of delays and $1.4 million in spending, the entire festival was scrapped for the first time in its history. International acts never performed, concerts were canceled and exhibitions went unseen. Former Culture Minister Elizabeth Fonseca lost her job in the fallout, along with FIA Director Inti Picado. A finned hammerhead shark in Costa Rica. For illustrative purposes. (Courtesy of PRETOMA)2. Solís declared ‘shark enemy’Former President Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014) won the honor of “Shark Guardian” for her efforts to bolster fishing controls, but Solís was slapped with a nomination for “Shark Enemy” of the year by Sharkproject International. The Solís administration found itself the target of criticism by conservationists after green-lighting the export of hammerhead shark fins to Hong Kong in March, and then announcing it would no longer “propose or support” international protections for shark species considered of commercial interest. The government says the new measures will guarantee that local fishermen can make a living, but conservationists say the policies will drive endangered hammerhead shark populations and sea turtles further to extinction. Costa Rica might be doing well with “green energy” this year but not so much when it comes to shark conservation. Former Minister of Science, Technology and Telecommunications Gisela Kopper speaks at Casa Presidencial, April 7, 2015. Courtesy Casa Presidencial3. Media ‘gag law’ leaves minister tongue-tiedCosta Rica has long been celebrated as a beacon of press freedom in Latin America, but one proposed bill this year threatened that reputation. A controversial media reform bill would have given the government the power to punish and even shutter Costa Rican media outlets if they broadcasted “lies” or offended “moral standards.” The bill set off a media fire storm with critics demanding to know how the government could objectively determine the “truth” when it came to scrutiny of public officials. Embarrassed by the draft legislation, Solís was forced to clean house at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications (MICITT). MICITT Minister Giselle Kopper and Vice Minister of Telecommunications Allan Ruiz both lost their jobs in the fallout. Solís pulled the bill and signed the Inter American Press Association’s Declaration of Chapultepec to reset relations with national media. A photo of a Mitsubishi Lancer that was damaged by vandals on the evening of Aug. 21, 2015 in Costa Rica, reportedly because the driver was working with the ride-hailing service Uber. (Courtesy El Infierno en Costa Rica Facebook)4. Fingers point to government after attack on Uber driverWhen Uber Costa Rica went live in August without warning the government, taxi drivers and owners were flummoxed over how to respond. On the first night, Aug. 24, Traffic Police impounded two of the ride-hailing service’s vehicles, but then a group of taxi drivers — who were never identified or arrested — attacked an Uber driver’s vehicle. Accusations followed that the Public Works and Transit Ministry (MOPT) incited vigilante behavior when it allegedly asked taxis drivers to report Uber vehicles to the police. MOPT Vice Minister Sebastián Urbina denied the allegation, but Traffic Police Union President Homer Alfaro accused authorities of pressuring officers to go after Uber drivers at the expense of their other duties, in an interview with TV Channel 7 News. The Solís administration and the Government Attorney’s Office maintain that Uber’s service is illegal but has given up trying to enforce the law. Ruling Citizen Action Party (PAC) lawmaker Franklin Corella Vargas has called for a reform bill that would regulate Uber and other ride-hailing services in Costa Rica. An interview with Federico Picado Gómez, Costa Rican ambassador to Venezuela, published in La Nación on March 22, 2015. Picado was ordered removed from his post on March 25. Jill Replogle/The Tico Times5. Costa Rica’s ambassador to Venezuela recalled over cozy comments with Maduro regimeCosta Rica pulled its ambassador to Venezuela, Federico Picado Gómez, after the diplomat came out in defense of a request by the administration of Nicolás Maduro for power to sidestep the National Assembly there. Picado found himself out of a job after voicing support for the Chavista government in an interview published in the daily La Nación, in which he claimed Venezuela had a free press and blamed the country’s high inflation and shortage of basic goods on plunging petroleum prices and political maneuvers by “big business” looking to destabilize the Venezuelan government. The diplomat also said he thought Venezuelan President Maduro was right to ask for, and receive, extraordinary powers to bypass the country’s legislature in order to respond to U.S. President Barack Obama’s declaration of a “national emergency” to deal with the “threat” of Venezuela. Costa Rica Foreign Minister Manuel González said that Picado violated protocol when he did not clear the interview with the ministry first but did not mention his statements as the reason for the dismissal. Facebook Comments Related posts:Uber gets $200 million for international expansion President Solís gets good grade from most Costa Ricans as first 100 days pass Costa Rican veterans reflect 66 years after abolition of army Uber starts accepting drivers in Costa Rica but government threatens fineslast_img read more

This week in the Peace Corps Teaching about language leadership and life

first_imgRelated posts:This week in the Peace Corps: Cacao in Talamanca This week in the Peace Corps: Celebrating English learning This week in the Peace Corps: Brick to Bread ovens This week in the Peace Corps: Bricks to Bread – A success story Many Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) here in Costa Rica spend a large chunk of their time in schools. PCVs lead all kinds of activities depending on the sector the they work in: youth development, community economic development, or English. From leadership workshops, to computer classes and English classes, Peace Corps Volunteers never have a dull moment working with kids.The Peace Corps photo series in The Tico Times Costa Rica Changemakers section is sponsored by the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA), a proud financial supporter of Peace Corps Volunteer projects nationwide. Learn more here. To donate to support the Peace Corps Costa Rica, visit the official donation page. Volunteers’ last names and community names are withheld from these publications, per Peace Corps policy.Connect with the Peace Corps Costa Rica on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Brought to you by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). Courtesy of CRUSA Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Group Rwandan military aiding Congo fugitive

first_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Comments   Share   Ntaganda’s whereabouts are unknown, though Human Rights Watch said witnesses report spotting him meeting with a Rwandan military officer inside Rwanda. Ntaganda is on a U.N. Security Council sanctions list, which should bar him from travel outside Congo.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Check your body, save your life 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Eastern Congo has been engulfed in fighting since the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which at least 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu militias before a Tutsi-led rebel army took power in Rwanda.More than 1 million Rwandan Hutus fled across the border into Congo, and Rwanda has invaded Congo to take action against Hutu militias there.Ntaganda, who is a Tutsi, was once a feared warlord until he joined the Congolese army in 2009 as a general following a peace deal that paved the way for him and his men to be integrated into the military.He was allowed to live freely in the provincial capital of Goma, where he played tennis and dined at top restaurants despite an International Criminal Court indictment for war crimes allegedly committed by troops under his command, including the forced recruitment of children.In April, however, the agreement between the former warlord and the Congolese government disintegrated, and he and his troops defected.The Congolese government has said that it believes Ntaganda to be the force behind a new rebel group known as M23. However, the group has said that theirs is a separate rebellion and Ntaganda is not with them, a claim that is countered by some who defected and later spoke to Human Rights Watch investigators. Top Stories center_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Human Rights Watch said Monday it also had evidence that Ntaganda and his supporters were evading capture with the help of the Rwandan military. The renegade general is believed to have been born in Rwanda and has close ties there.The New York-based group said Rwandan military officials had given Ntaganda’s fighters machine guns and grenades, breaking a U.N. embargo. The group also said Rwandan army officials had provided up to 300 fighters, some of whom had been forcibly recruited.“Arming Ntaganda enables further grave abuses by a man already wanted for war crimes,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Rwandan government should investigate the serious allegations of support for Ntaganda by its military officials and help the Congolese government arrest and transfer him to the ICC.”The Rwandan government has denied any involvement in the rebellion that has further destabilized a region long in turmoil.Last week, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo dismissed claims that Rwandans recruited and trained for the Rwandan army have been transferred to eastern Congo to fight for the rebels, as “categorically false and dangerous.” Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressDAKAR, Senegal (AP) – Rwanda’s military is providing weapons and refuge to an ex-warlord indicted for war crimes and whose fighters have launched a new rebellion in neighboring eastern Congo, an international human rights group said Monday.The International Criminal Court has sought the arrest of Bosco Ntaganda for years, though Congo’s government had allowed him to operate freely as a general in its army, only recently vowing to capture him. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Sponsored Stories last_img read more

SAfrica Mandelas daughter promotes road safety

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Sponsored Stories ___David Mac Dougall can be reached at 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Comments   Share   Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The vital role family plays in society Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety is launching a distinctive yellow warning triangle lapel badge and branded wristbands to promote their campaign. It aims to get businesses involved at a community level, extending their social programs to include funding for road safety education and equipment, as well as HIV/AIDS awareness initiatives.The Mandela family has suffered two road traffic deaths. One of Nelson Mandela’s sons from his first marriage was killed in a car crash in the 1960s, but it is the more recent death of Zenani _ and her close relationship with her famous great-grandfather _ that spurred them to become involved in the UN campaign.“I often share the story of how my father asked her when she was nine years old what she wants for her birthday, and she said `I want you to come and read to the children in my class.’ So he came here,” said Zindzi as she looked at photographs of Zenani: in school uniform sporting a huge grin and braces; at a family party with flowers in her hair; kissing Nelson Mandela after a school play.“It’s been hard on all of us because she was like the life of every party, every family gathering, and to this day we still feel her absence. We feel it profoundly.” Associated PressJOHANNESBURG (AP) – When Nelson Mandela’s great-granddaughter was killed in a June 2010 car crash, her tragic death cast a shadow over the start of the FIFA World Cup, and kept the former president and Nobel Prize winner away from the opening events.More than two years later, 13-year-old Zenani Mandela’s family is still fighting for justice in a prolonged court case over the fatal accident. But her grandmother Zindzi _ Nelson Mandela’s daughter _ is fronting a new United Nations campaign to highlight the problems of road safety. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project “We lose 1,000 children a day in road deaths, and the highest killer of children above the age of 10, worldwide, is road accidents,” said Zindzi, sitting in a shaded courtyard at the exclusive private school her granddaughter attended. A plaque on the wall outside what was the young girl’s classroom commemorates the teen, who had celebrated her 13th birthday just days before her death.“What the campaign’s all about to say these are deaths that are preventable” she says, adding that road deaths in developing countries, and Africa in particular, should be afforded a greater priority by regional governments.The UN campaign _ with Zindzi Mandela’s advocacy _ urges education for road users and pedestrians alike. Zindzi also calls for investment to improve roads, pavements, signs and lighting across Africa where urban growth and road use has outstripped many nations’ abilities to build appropriate infrastructure.“If you go to rural areas, to townships, sometimes even around town, you see there’s not enough infrastructural support where pedestrians can wait before the cross they road, where taxis can actually pull over before they drop off passengers,” said Zindzi. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img

New Malaysia Air CEO vows turnaround for battered airline

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The CEO’s memo was shown to reporters on Friday by the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia, which protested the termination exercise by mail as “obnoxious and arrogant.”It said its 3,500 members were now stressed and worried. The union has written to Prime Minister Najib Razak, asking him to intervene and urging the airline to offer short and medium-term layoffs as well as salary cuts before a final termination exercise is carried out.Mueller comes to the Malaysian job from a stint reviving Ireland’s Aer Lingus. He’ll be the first foreigner to head the Malaysian state-owned company. Analysts say he’s an industry veteran “battle-hardened” from his work carrying out corporate restructurings at other state-owned airlines, including failed Belgian carrier Sabena.He was dubbed “The Terminator” in Ireland because his German accent made for easy comparisons to Arnold Schwarzenegger in assassin robot mode as he outlined his plans to remorselessly fix Aer Lingus.Mueller said in the memo that the airline’s new business plan will focus on cutting overall costs, which are up to 20 percent higher than its competitors, and withdrawing from markets where it cannot be competitive. Top Stories “Sometimes you have to retreat and regroup before growing again. And that is the ultimate target. We want to grow again in the last phase of restructuring,” he said.Mueller said he envisioned a new airline that is “safe, on-time and friendly” that will be the new pride of Malaysia. He said endurance and faith are needed for the turnaround program that will take three to five years.“It is my duty to tell you today that the medicine is bitter and that the fitness program which is required to bring us back into shape will cause a lot of sweat and sometimes tears. But it will be rewarding in the end.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The new CEO of Malaysia Airlines said its financial situation is more challenging than anticipated and it will shrink in size as it tries to overcome a tarnished image with the travel industry and the public.Malaysia Airlines was battered last year by double jet disasters. Its government owner has brought in a new CEO, former Aer Lingus chief Christoph Mueller, to oversee a 6 billion ringgit ($1.7 billion) turnaround.center_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies In a memo dated Tuesday, Mueller thanked Malaysia Airlines staff for a warm welcome since he started work at the airline on May 1 but also noted parts of the organization seemed “depressed” and customers say service is deteriorating.Malaysia Airlines, Mueller said, is “suffering badly from a heavily damaged brand reputation” in key markets with many people avoiding the carrier because “they are frightened.”The carrier is moving ahead with a previously announced overhaul that will involve cutting its staff by 6,000 or about 30 percent.“Since the new airline will be smaller in size, we simply have not enough work for all of you,” Mueller said.The airline had a good safety and service record before last year’s disasters but the tragedies, and the airline’s handling of the first one in particular, hurt its brand. A Malaysia Airlines jet with 239 people on board went missing March 8 last year while en route to Beijing and no trace of it has been found. In July, a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.Mueller said the airline will soon mail out termination letters and new job offer letters to those who will remain in the airline. That approach is being taken because staff requested privacy in the handling of employment matters, he said. Sponsored Stories How men can have a healthy 2019 Comments   Share   last_img read more

700 cannabis plants found next to Berlin subway station

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies BERLIN (AP) — It wasn’t the world’s best-hidden marijuana plantation.Berlin police say they were were called to a subway station Monday morning by a street cleaner who reported finding “numerous small plants that seemed suspicious to him.”Officers found 700 small cannabis plants growing among weeds on a traffic island outside the Kottbusser Tor station in the capital’s Kreuzberg district. They pulled up the plants. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories How men can have a healthy 2019 Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img It wasn’t immediately clear who planted the cannabis but police are investigating.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Parents, stop beating yourself up How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Sponsored Stories last_img read more

United inducted as amabassador of Victor Chang Cardiac research instit

first_img[2] United Airlines website – SYD-LAX-SYD 01 May 2012 – 30 May 2012, as of 06 December 2011 – $1,283.40 each for 92 flights. [3] Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death 2008, (3303.0). March 2010. UNITED AIRLINES RECOGNISED FOR ONGOING SUPPORT United Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of United Continental Holdings, Inc. has been bestowed the great honour of ‘Ambassador of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute’ at its annual Christmas Cocktail party yesterday.  The award recognises United’s continued support of the Institute through its MileagePlus Charity Miles Program. Since the inception of the charity program in 1996, United Airlines’ MileagePlus members have donated 7,412,170 Mileage Points for use by Victor Chang Research Institute staff who regularly travel to the U.S. for research-related purposes.  The donation equates to over 92[1] return trips between Sydney and Los Angeles.  This has saved the Institute over $118,000[2] which can instead be diverted to critical research into heart disease and cardiovascular biology; cardiovascular research training; and facilitating the rapid application of research discoveries to patient care.Chris Petty, Sales Manager, United Airlines, Australia and New Zealand, accepted the award on behalf of the company: “I am extremely honored and humbled to accept this award on behalf of United Airlines and our very loyal MileagePlus members.  Since the introduction of the program, it has been our focus to help improve the quality of life for our customers, employees and the communities in which we operate.  Cardiovascular disease claims a life every 11 minutes in Australia[3].  The incredible work of Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute is a vital step in ensuring this staggering statistic becomes history.  United Airlines remains truly committed to supporting their efforts both in Australia and the United States.” Chris Petty (second from left), Sales Manager, United Airlines, accepting the honour on behalf of United Airlines from ProfessorRobert M Graham, Executive Director, Victor Chang, The Hon. Jillian Skinner MP, NSW Health Minister, and Stephen Lowy, Chairman of the Board, Victor Changcenter_img [1] United Airlines website, MileagePlus booking – SYD-LAX-SYD 01 May 2012 – 30 May 2012, as of 06 December 2011 – 80,000 points per return trip. Source = United Airlineslast_img read more

ICCA night of nights

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.A 2011 NZ ICCA Award winners Lisa Wilkinson with Phil Hoffmann and Silversea Cruises GM Karen Christensen 2011 ICCA Awards winners – Australia Lisa Wilkinson with Roland Kautzky – Cruiseabout Port Melbourne and Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry 2011 ICCA Award winners The Australian and New Zealand cruise industry gathered at the Hilton in Sydney on Saturday night to celebrate their top achievers at the International Cruise Council Australasia’s annual awards dinner. Hosted by Nine Network television presenter Lisa Wilkinson, the event was attended by 420 guests making it the largest cruise industry awards night in Australian history. ICCA chairman Gavin Smith shared his thoughts on the Costa Concordia tragedy earlier this year and the impact it has had on the cruise industry worldwide.“The short term impact on our industry has been felt around the world, with the human cost still to be determined. The longer term impact of course is yet to be understood,” Mr Smith said. “Australia and New Zealand more than any other market has gotten back to business recording record bookings in subsequent weeks. This has not been the experience in other markets around the world.”Mr Smith went on to acknowledge the work of travel agents in the substantial growth of cruise in the Australasian region.“The local cruise industry is expanding rapidly and the travel agent community has played a key role in this growth.”CLIA President & CEO Christine Duffy (originally scheduled to attend the event) presented via video link up from Washington DC and highlighted the importance of safety within the industry.“Safety is the cruise industry’s number one priority. Quite simply it is absolutely essential to our business nothing is more important.”“I am proud that cruising has always been one of the very safest recreational industries globally.”The partnership between the ICCA and their sister organisation in the U.S. was also a focal point, with Mr Smith re-iterating his comments from late last year about the current position of the organisation in Australia and New Zealand. “We were stranded in our current role as an industry trainer and educator, a motivator of travel consultants.” Mr Smith said in reference to the position the ICCA had during the Costa Concordia disaster.“It’s not yet our role to take a lead in such matters as commentators or spokespeople, despite the energy that came from our AGM.”Winners on the night included industry icon, Phil Hoffman, who accepted the Neil Frazer Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to a rousing standing ovation.“It’s been a great journey and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Mr Hoffman said. “We’re so lucky as an industry to have so many great companies bringing out great products yearly. Every week I fall in love with a new cruise and want to go on one. I still love it as much as the day I started and hope to love it for another 20 years.”Australian Cruise Agency of the Year went to Bicton Travel from Western Australia who accepted their award for the second year running with Cruiseabout Turramurra (NSW) and Phil Hoffman Travel Glenelg (SA) accepting the Silver and Bronze awards respectively. The complete list of winners is detailed below:Cruise Agency of the Year – AustraliaGOLD: Bicton Travel: Bicton WASILVER: Cruiseabout: Turramurra NSWBRONZE: Phil Hoffmann Travel: Glenelg SACruise Consultant of the Year – AustraliaRoland Kautzky: Cruiseabout, Port Melbourne VICRising Star – AustraliaJamii-Lee Alpen: Ozcruising, Phillip ACTAgency Promotion of the Year – AustraliaJust Cruises, Brisbane QLD “Cruise Sale Week”Network Promotion of the Year – Australasia               Mondo Travel (New Zealand) “Cruise Day Out”Neil Frazer AwardPhil HoffmannCruise Agency of the Year – New ZealandGOLD: iCruise: AucklandSILVER: Lets Cruise: AucklandBRONZE: Cruise Republic: AucklandCruise Consultant of the Year – New Zealand  Sue Grigg: Cruiseabout Ponsonby Rising Star – New ZealandHelen Mahoney: Lets Cruise AucklandAgency Promotion of the Year – New Zealand                        Manly United Travel “APT River Cruise Group Promotion”Media AwardRobert Upe, The Age Newspaper: “To sea on an iron maiden” – Queen ElizabethClick here for more photos from the event last_img read more

Device threatens safety of millions of hotel rooms

first_imgA fraction of a second: that’s all it takes for hackers to open a locked hotel room door using a new device, which has been demonstrated on the internet.Although creator, security expert Mathew Jakubowski, has withheld exact details on how the ‘pen’ works, pictures and diagrams provided on his blog clearly indicate the composition of the tool, News Limited reported.“If you follow the diagram below you should be able to build and create your own hotel door opener pen,” Mr Jakubowski writes in his blog. Making matters worse for security conscience hotel operators (and guests) the post has been forwarded to tech forums across the globe.Disguised as a dry erase marker, the device exploits a weakness in Onity locks, which are used in 22,000 hotels in 115 countries.Targeting a port on the bottom of the lock designed for hotels to set master keys, the tool has the ability to open swipe card doors in under a second. Proving the worthiness of the device, Mr Jakubowski posted a video on YouTube.”I guess we wanted to show that this sort of attack can happen with a very small concealable device,” he told Forbes.“Someone using this could be searched and even then it wouldn’t be obvious that this isn’t just a pen.”Mr Jakubowski has dubbed the device ‘James Bond’s Dry Erase Marker’. The device dismembered (Image: Forbes) Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

Former Qantas boss dies

first_imgQantas has advised its former chief execuive and non-executive director, James Strong passed away over the weekend, after suffering lung complications following surgery.According to Mr Strong’s family, he passed away peacefully in Sydney, The Brisbane Times reported.Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford said Mr Strong was an “exceptional business leader” and would be “greatly missed”.“James was well liked and respected by Qantas employees and his Board colleagues,” Mr Clifford said.“On behalf of thousands of friends at Qantas, I extend our deepest condolences to James’ family, colleagues and friends.  Mr Strong held the chief executive role at Qantas from 1993 to 2000 and was made non-executive director in 2006.  The former Qantas CEO also sat as chairman of Insurance Australia Group between 2001 and 2010.e-Travel Blackboard sends its condolences to Mr Strong’s family and friends.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J. The passing of James Strong. Image: read more