first_img Travelweek Group TORONTO — Cover-More Group Limited, a travel insurance assistance provider, is on track to break out in a big way now that it’s been approached By Zurich Insurance Co. to acquire the assets of Cover-More Inc. This offer raises the ability for Cover-More to obtain underwriting opportunities for insurance product on a global basis. The acquisition is in progress with an anticipated closing sometime in spring 2017.UPDATE: Zurich becomes a “top 3” global travel insurance provider with Cover-More acquisitionNow poised to enter Canada, Cover-More, which was founded in Australia more than 30 years ago, is hopeful that its products will be available to Canadian travellers by end of 2017.“Cover-More is focused on partnering with carefully selected and targeted distributors/ technology licensing partners focused on delivering customer value and service. We are currently speaking to potential partners with a like-to-like strategy of bringing to light the true value of travel insurance and emergency assistance to the Canadian marketplace,” says Carole Tokody, CEO, US & Canada, Global Direct for Cover-More Inc.Tokody also noted that the company experienced a huge boom in recent years, during which it went through major management changes and was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). It made a big push in the China market, and officially entered the U.S. market in 2016 by providing travel insurance across nine Flight Centre brands in the country. In addition to China and the U.S., it now operates in the United Kingdom, India, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.The entry into Canada this year is just the latest venture that cements Cover-More’s position as a global brand. And Canada, adds Tokody, is viewed as one of the world’s top markets, sharing a similar health regime as Australia.In light of Cover-More’s expansion, Travelweek sat down with Tokody to talk about the importance of travel insurance for Canadians, and how the company intends to set itself apart from its competition.Once Cover-More is up and running in Canada, will Canadians have any challenges purchasing travel insurance with an Australian company?Cover-More’s approach when we enter new markets is to find like-minded distribution and underwriting partners so all the logistics are in place for us to provide our travel insurance products. Once we establish in Canada, Canadians can have complete confidence that there will be no challenges, surprises or logistical hurdles to overcome when they purchase and travel with our travel insurance.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoThere are many travel insurance providers out there. How much differentiates one from the other, and how does Cover-More set itself from the pack?Travel insurance is all Cover-More does, that is why we are good at it. The strength and value of our offer lies in our belief that it’s not enough to have a relationship with the customer just when they claim. Our customer value proposition – keep travelling – is about reaching out to our customers before, during and after their journey. And not just when they need help or need to claim. For example, we can offer pre-travel security, health or nutritional advice because we know where they are going, and for how long, and we also know their age and if they are travelling with children.However, if our customers do need help, for example, if they are injured or become ill, it is the strength of our medical assistance offer that I also believe sets us apart from other providers.According to Travelweek’s 2016 Ultimate Travel Survey, 69% of consumers do not purchase travel insurance when travelling outside their home province but within Canada. What are your thoughts?Domestic travel insurance is useful for luggage and ticket protection, that’s why Cover-More offers it. It’s much lower cost for the traveller because cover for things like medical expenses isn’t required. It’s really a personal decision for the consumer. Personally, I think it’s good for domestic travellers who want extra peace of mind when they leave home.Nearly 28% of respondents said the main reason they don’t purchase travel insurance is because it’s too expensive. What tips would you give travel agents on how to sell insurance to budget-conscious travellers?It’s an alarmingly high percentage. I think it’s because people sometimes look at travel insurance as a grudge purchase and they think that ‘nothing will happen to me anyway’. Though we’ve had cases where a customer travelling in the U.S. requires hospitalization or treatment and the medical bills escalate into tens of thousands of dollars so quickly.More news:  Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemCover-More’s product suite includes some medical cover-only products, which are for people on a tighter budget. It’s really the minimum peak of mind you need to travel with, in my opinion. It’s not just the cost of medical care when you are travelling – you also want to ensure you are receiving the high standard of medical care that you are used to, living in Canada. That’s what Cover-More offers our customers.What makes a really great travel insurance provider? Is it a diversity in products? A prompt response team? Affordability?A company who is focused on the customer, customer value and the customer experience. And that’s across everything, from pre-purchase, purchase, fulfillment, pre-travel, during travel, post-travel and the claims process, if required.Our customer value proposition, keep travelling, is based on the premise that ‘life is an experience’ and Cover-More is here to keep travellers travelling.A really great travel insurance provider tries to enhance and enrich the travel experience through easy access to things like Global SIMs or Global Wi-Fi, currency cards, and smartphone apps that offer one-touch connectivity to emergency help.It’s also important to treat your customers as individuals, not as policy numbers, and uphold strong customer service values along the entire value chain.What’s something about the company that would surprise travellers?Part of our assistance services is the use of counsellors through Davidson Trahaire Corpysch (DTC). You could be in a location like Paris or Nice during a traumatic event and not be physically impacted yet suffer from emotional trauma. We will send out a counsellor to ask if you’re okay and provide counselling on the spot over a period of time. We did this in Nepal during the 2015 earthquake and it helped a lot of our customers.For more information on Cover-More, go to covermore.com. Monday, March 13, 2017 Posted by Cover-More sets its sights on Canadian insurance market, operations scheduled to launch by year’s end Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

first_img CALGARY — WestJet’s much talked about ultra-low-cost airline (ULCC) finally has a name, one that “denotes exactly what we plan to do,” said Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Strategy.The new ULCC, which will begin selling flights in early 2018, will be named Swoop, “a powerful verb that demonstrates we plan to swoop in to the Canadian market with a new business model that will provide lower fares and greater opportunity for more Canadians to travel,” added Cummings.Cummings, who’s credited as the executive member responsible for the launch of the ULCC, also noted that when it came time to look for Swoop’s headquarters, Calgary quickly rose to the top of the list.“The city offers Swoop the opportunity to save costs through shared services with WestJet’s corporate head office, the availability of existing infrastructure, and talented, experienced WestJetters to draw from,” he said. “We are confident that these qualities will support our ultra-low-cost operations and our guests well in the future.”More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”An exact location in Calgary will be announced at a later date. Deron Bilous, Alberta Minister of Economic Development, hailed the province for being “the best place to invest and do business.” He added, “We created Invest Alberta to make it easier for companies like Swoop to set up and expand here. Together we are creating new jobs and diversifying our economy.”Travellers can sign up at FlySwoop.com to receive details on job opportunities, launch plans and to learn more about Canada’s newest airline. Posted by Share << Previous PostNext Post >> And the name of WestJet’s new ultra-low-cost airline is…center_img Tags: WestJet Wednesday, September 27, 2017 Travelweek Group last_img read more

first_imgVirtual Honeymoon launches sister sites, partners with ExplorVR amid company growth Travelweek Group Wednesday, April 4, 2018 Posted by Sharecenter_img TORONTO — Here’s a common scenario: You ask your wedding clients where they would go on their dream honeymoon, and they respond with a bunch of destinations in quick succession. Bali. Italy. Tahiti. The list goes on and on.But there is a fun and easy way to whittle down the options so that your clients are left with a destination that best suits their needs and preferences. Virtual Honeymoon is an interactive destination matching tool used by agents with indecisive clients. Using intuitive software and an algorithm to search for and match destinations, the tool matches couples with their top two destinations, allowing them to ‘test drive’ these locales and help agents close the sale.Robin HawkeyStarted and owned by travel industry veteran Robin Hawkey, Virtual Honeymoon kicked off in January 2015 for year-long testing before launching its affiliate program in March 2016. Hawkey says the idea came to her after “years of frustration of working with couples that were all over the map”, which resulted in wasting weeks of valuable time, sometimes only to lose them to the Internet.“When couples have no idea where to go on their getaway, or say something like ‘We just want to go some place warm and tropical’, that usually leads to seeing every tropical island and comparing them all. We call [these couples] ‘tire-kickers’ or ‘time-wasters’ for using travel agents as a human resource tool,” she tells Travelweek.How it works is simple: Clients answer a series of fun, interactive questions, the tool then matches them to their top two destinations based on their answers. After clients fill out a contact form, all the questions and answers, including their matches, are emailed directly to the travel agent who will then follow up directly.More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJThe tool costs $24.95/month, or $239.52 per year with a savings of 20%. You can access the site at virtualhoneymoon.com.To enhance the experience, Hawkey has added a virtual reality component to the website’s destination pages. She’s teamed up with ExplorVR to allow clients to pre-experience their matched destination. Virtual Honeymoon’s affiliates have already used VR headsets and videos at wedding fairs where clients were able to test-drive their destinations on the spot.“I think [VR] is so beneficial as most millennials want to be involved in the planning process. VR is the next best thing to being there!” said Hawkey. “I also feel that the agents who don’t get on this VR trend will be left behind – literally!”Devin Kinasz, President & CEO of ExplorVR, adds: “Virtual Honeymoon is embracing VR technology and partnering with ExplorVR to give their agents access to exciting destination experiences. We are very excited top partner with Virtual Honeymoon because they align with our values of being a forward-thinking company that embraces technology.”Virtual reality acts as the perfect selling tool in the destination wedding and honeymoon market as it allows clients to “try before they fly”. As Hawkey puts it, all couples want their weddings and honeymoons to go off without a hitch, so the best way to ensure that the destination matches their vision is to virtually travel there ahead of time.“There is on average over two million weddings per year in the U.S. alone, with couples spending over $72 billion on weddings and $8 billion on honeymoons. The romance niche is such a great niche to get into to build your entire travel business,” said Hawkey. “If an agent does a great job on the wedding or honeymoon, and builds a good relationship with their client, they will do all their travel-related activities such as anniversaries, babymoons, graduations, family trips and more, not to mention the referrals to all their friends getting married. This creates a booming business that will continue to grow and prosper.”More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upWith business booming, Virtual Honeymoon launched its sister site – Virtual Destination Wedding – at the Love Mexico event in Cabo last December. Operating much like Virtual Honeymoon, the new site not only matches clients with their top two destinations but also helps plan the wedding. And like its sister site, it costs $24.95, or $239.52 with a 20% discount.Looking ahead, Hawkey is preparing to launch the company’s newest addition – Virtual Vacationing – on April 10 at the Travel Agent Forum in Las Vegas. While its main concept is the same as interactive destination matching, she says the new site does not focus on romance as the other two sites.“We realize that not all getaways are about romance, sometimes it’s about vacation travel with family and friends and they too can be confused about where to go on their getaway,” she adds. “We are so excited to be at the Forum with our VR partner, ExplorVR. They have really helped our vision of bringing virtual travel to life, allowing clients to virtually experience their destination match before booking and, thus, closing sales!”For agents in Las Vegas attending the Travel Agent Forum next month, learn more about Virtual Honeymoon, Virtual Vacationing and ExplorVR at their booth. Tags: Explor VR, Virtual Reality << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

first_img Share AMResorts promotes its newest Cancun resort with special pricing Tags: AMResorts TORONTO — AMResorts’ new-build Sunscape Star Cancun, getting ready for its grand opening Dec. 1, has released introductory rates available for a limited time.Reservations are now available at lead-in pricing at the all-inclusive, family-friendly, beachfront resort, for travel Dec. 1 – 22, 2018 and April 13 – Aug. 16, 2019. Bookings at the special rates, starting at US$134 per person, per night, must be made by May 31.AMResorts announced it had signed a resort management deal for Sunscape Star Cancun back in February 2018.The family-friendly resort offers a new category of brand excellence with the Sunscape Star concept, says the company.“As the most visited tourist destination in Mexico, Cancun and the Riviera Maya will continue to be an integral part of ALG’s growth strategy given our strong brand recognition in the market and powerful distribution channels there,” said Alex Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group. “The new, elevated Sunscape Resorts & Spas brand concept allows us to offer travelers more resort options that cater to their specific needs, while giving us more opportunities to grow ALG in Mexico and beyond.”More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterSunscape Star Cancun is west of the hotel zone in Cancun, between Puerto Cancun and Playa Mujeres, close to the ruins of the Mayan Riviera and next to the Puerto Cancun Golf Club, says Zozaya.The resort offers an array of amenities including a mini-bar in all rooms restocked daily, twice as much live entertainment and free WiFi. Reservation-free dining is available at four on-site à la carte specialty restaurants.The newly built Sunscape Star Cancun will also showcase the brand’s family-friendly features with water games, two surf pools and new food and beverage offerings.The property will also offer Sunscape brand’s Explorer’s Club for Kids, Core Zone Teens Club, an adults-only Sun Club rooftop pool and the Sunscape Spa by Pevonia. << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Wednesday, May 9, 2018 Posted by Travelweek Group last_img read more

first_imgA passenger demanded a window seat so the flight attendant did this Tags: Funny, Japan Travelweek Group Posted by Sharecenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Monday, November 12, 2018 TORONTO — A word to the wise: never mess with a flight attendant.On a recent flight in Japan, a passenger who had requested a window seat threw a bit of a hissy fit after discovering he was seated in a row without a window.According to fellow passenger @koo_TmS_suke, who shared his story on Twitter, the unidentified male passenger demanded the crew give him a window seat as they came around for drinks service.A flight attendant then walked away before returning with a piece of paper. As it turns out, the crew member had drawn a window on the paper, complete with an ocean view and two clouds in the sky.But that’s not all. The flight attendant went so far as to tape the picture to the wall next to the passenger.Voila! Automatic window seat.Twitter reacted in full, with many praising the flight attendant’s quick thinking and creativity. One Twitter user wrote, “That’s really clever” while another said, “Great thinking by the attendant”.More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backThe airline has not been identified. No word as to whether the seat in question has been upgraded to Premium status due to its newly enhanced views.last_img read more

first_imgBy Michael Coleman | Special to The Tico Times WASHINGTON, D.C. – El Salvador managed to slash its homicide rate in half this year, but more needs to be done to ensure the drop is permanent, says the country’s minister of justice and public security.Douglas Moreno made his remarks at a recent World Bank symposium entitled “Security in the Northern Triangle: The Private Sector’s Role in Violence Reduction.” The Northern Triangle refers to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, but the event – co-sponsored by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas – focused primarily on El Salvador, where gang violence is most severe.It also coincided with AS-COA’s release of a study on violence reduction in El Salvador. The report found improvements in corporate productivity and local security when companies offered jobs and training to former gang members.For example, Grupo Calvo employs 90 rehabilitated ex-gangsters – about 5 percent of its staff – at a Salvadoran tuna cannery, and facilitates employment opportunities with suppliers for an additional 100 former gang members. At League Collegiate Wear, an apparel manufacturer, 15 percent of the workforce signed up through a similar program.“The private sector can clearly play an important role in improving security in the region, and this is best achieved through public-private collaboration,” said the organization’s president and CEO, Susan Segal. “This policy brief brings concrete and positive ways forward to one of the most pressing issues in the region.”The public-private partnership concept is relatively new in Central America, and while the policy brief analyzes its effectiveness in El Salvador, it also serves as a reference point for Honduras and Guatemala. The World Bank estimates that crime and violence costs El Salvador $2.5 billion annually, representing 10.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. It says that a 10 percent drop in the homicide rate translates into annual GDP growth.“We will end the year with 2,000 homicides fewer than in 2011,” Moreno said, noting that following the March 2012 truce signed between El Salvador’s two largest gangs, homicides fell from an average of 14 per day to five. In 2011, the country reported more than 4,300 killings, translating into a homicide rate of 66 per 100,000 inhabitants. That’s second only to Honduras, which reported 82 homicides per 100,000, the highest rate in the world.In El Salvador, the administration of President Mauricio Funes has enacted an integrated public security plan that relies equally on crime control and prevention. The plan calls on municipal councils to improve coordination between the state and society in the fight against violence and insecurity. The Funes administration also has beefed up its reliance on military units to bolster police efforts.Moreno said his government is committed to educational and employment opportunities for young people, adding that the violence will be a focal point in El Salvador’s presidential election in two years. “No matter who wins in 2014, it will have to lie on his shoulders throughout this process,” he said.Hasan Tuluy, the World Bank’s vice-president for Latin America and the Caribbean, said violence in Central America inflicts economic losses equivalent to almost 8 percent of the Northern Triangle’s total GDP.“When people ask why institutions like the World Bank are engaging in activities like this, it’s because it is very much a development challenge for these countries,” Tuluy explained. “That’s why we are increasingly incorporating crime and violence prevention in an entire range of products, such as financial solutions or knowledge sharing and convening, so we can learn from it.”He also said there are no one-size-fits-all remedies, pointing out that what works for El Salvador might not be effective for Honduras.“There are no off-the-shelf solutions,” Tuluy said. “We have to learn by crowding in as much experience as we can to provide the right solution for the right country. That’s why these partnerships are important. Everybody needs to join in on this because it will be a long and multi-faceted effort.”“The private sector can create jobs for at-risk youth, … one of the key underlying factors for crime and violence. The quality of public services is also important. The public sector can play an important transformational role,” said Tuluy, who also announced that the World Bank would begin granting appropriations for projects in public safety, with a first loan to Honduras.Jason Maczak, senior editor of Americas Quarterly and moderator of the Washington event, said companies in Central America are beginning to realize that investing in at-risk youth and other programs to help disaffected and disenfranchised people can boost their bottom lines. These range from software giant Microsoft to energy conglomerate AES.“This is about the effect the homicide rates have on business climate and investment in countries across the region,” Maczak said. “What is unique about each of these examples is that the programs have a corporate social responsibility component, but they also serve business interests. Serving business interests is possible if it is part of their core corporate model.”AES spokeswoman Adriana Roccaro Giamporcaro, whose company provides electricity in 27 countries on five continents, said something as simple as a commitment to lighting public spaces can help reduce violence.“Lives and security have improved with public lighting and access to electricity,” Giamporcaro said. “It’s important to see how we can have a direct impact. The electrification process is carried out with funds allocated by the government, whose willingness to provide electricity is so great that it set up a fund for this purpose.”Josue Alvarado Flores, president of Rio Grande Food Products Inc. in Laurel, Maryland, migrated to the United States in 1985. He said many gang members in his native El Salvador would jump at the chance to go straight, and that the private sector is equipped to help.“Many of those who are criminals are planning acts of violence and extortion. They want to stop doing that,” he said. “Some people say, ‘We want to leave the gang but how can we survive?’”Flores explained how his company tries to help. “We provide them a basket of food for two weeks to help them, and we told them they had to go to church over a six-month period and also have medical checkups and psychological assistance until these young people are ready for some businesses that open their doors to them,” he said.Flores said the corporate mission is business-oriented and conveys social responsibility. But for him, the effort is also personal.“My dad was a drug trafficker and a gang member,” he said. “I have a 1-year-old child and I don’t want this future for him.” Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

first_imgEd Bernhardt No related posts. Some interesting news has been brewing on the java scene regarding the use of green coffee. Dr. Oz presented green coffee extract on TV for weight reduction and since then, it’s gone ballistic.According to the studies done recently, green coffee contains a powerful antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, which can help to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  The antioxidant capacity of chlorogenic acid is said to be more potent than of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). It also signals the body to burn up stored fat.Roasted coffee beans loose the greater part of this compound, but green beans contain around 85 mg/gram of coffee. These chlorogenic acids could be a valuable, inexpensive source of antioxidants.Pricy green coffee bean extracts are now being marketed as a supplement, which prompted me  to ask, why don’t we just make a drink like green tea? So, I blended 1 tablespoon of green coffee with a cup of water, strained the mix and came up with my own version of a green coffee drink. The taste is fine, and it seems like it could be mixed with vegetable or fruit juices to make a truly healthy beverage. Next, we’ll give it a test as an aid for weight loss.Green coffee beans may be another reason to grow coffee plants around the home for your own cup of java, but the big reason may be this. The government has tried to boost Costa Rica’s faltering coffee production due to the leaf disease known as la roya and an insect called la broca, a weevil that bores into the coffee bean. The government’s plan includes loans to coffee growers to buy more pesticides! That means commercial coffee will now come with an extra dose of toxic residue.    Home-grown coffee is less likely to be bothered by pests and disease than coffee grown in large monoculture farms. With good applications of organic fertilizers, coffee plants thrive. As for the weevil, you can make a simple attractant trap from recycled plastic bottles. Coffee’s attractive, shiny, evergreen leaves, fragrant, star-like white flowers and bright red berries make coffee a useful ornamental shrub. Each year a mature coffee plant can produce about 1 pound of processed coffee. Most coffee cooperatives around the country offer young plants for sale or you can try starting them from seeds. You may also spray the plants with seaweed extract (alga marina) and grapefruit seed oil extract (KILOL) to keep them free of leaf diseases, like la roja.The first harvest for young coffee plants comes in the third year, and they may continue in production for more than 20 years. To process the coffee beans, which are actually seeds, you must remove the cherry-like fruit pulp from the seeds with a hand corn grinder (maquina de moler), which has been opened all the way to permit the seeds to pass through without damaging them. The pulp can then be separated from the seeds by washing them in a 5-gallon bucket or tub. The pulp will float and can be scooped off the surface of the water. Next, you’ll need to dry the beans in the sun on screens or trays until they are crisp. The coffee beans can be stored at this stage or passed once again through the corn grinder, but this time with a slightly tighter setting, so the outer husk of the seed will be removed.  This paper-like skin is called pergamino in Spanish or parchment.   Now you can toast the coffee beans, preferably in a large cast iron skillet. Here you can custom roast the coffee; light brown for a mild flavor or almost black for a strong blend.  The toasted beans are then ground in a small coffee grinder, a blender or the corn grinder with a tight setting.Although coffee can be considered a cardio-stimulant and a good laxative, excessive use of coffee can cause secondary effects, such as nervousness, irritability, insomnia, muscle tension, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, stomach distress, gastritis, ulcers and poor assimilation of nutrients in the intestines. So, for your own well-being, try cutting down on your coffee intake. And for a healthier planet, try growing some eco-friendly coffee right at home. For more details on tropical eco-gardens, medicinal herbs and natural living in the tropics, be sure to see our newsletter at: http://thenewdawncenter.info/blog.html  or contact us at: thenewdawncenter@yahoo.com. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

GUATEMALA CITY – When María Rodríguez first heard about the potential of using worms to eradicate poverty, she was convinced as to where her future lay.“It was love at first heard,” the young Guatemalan woman says. “I was fascinated by the idea that worms eat waste and add so many nutrients through the digestion process. But since they’re on the ground, we don’t see them, and we don’t appreciate them.”In 2007, having just graduated with a business degree in Guatemala City, Rodríguez founded ByoEarth, a company that uses vermicomposting to promote health and development in rural and urban Guatemala. Through vermicomposting – using worms to break down degradable food into a nutrient-rich fertilizer – ByoEarth has been able to produce and sell high-quality compost and educate rural communities, as well as residents of Central America’s largest garbage dump, about the benefits of worms.“It’s very important because with vermicomposting you transform degradable waste that otherwise goes to landfills and produces methane and attracts rodents. People who work in dumps are very affected by the contamination that degradable waste causes when it should be separated and transformed into compost or vermicompost, which is organic fertilizer,” Rodríguez says.While ByoEarth’s core purpose is to convert waste into a natural fertilizer, the company’s social mission focuses on enabling poor families to make a small income by creating and selling their own vermicompost.“We partnered with a nonprofit group and established a program to train women in vermicomposting, with the main objective of improving their livelihoods by first improving the waste management inside their houses. We’re also teaching them how as women living in impoverished areas with almost no education, those reasons are not excuses not to live in better circumstances. It’s very interesting how they can learn and appreciate that. They get empowered because they know that even in their condition they can be agents of change in their communities and make something good for the environment,” Rodríguez adds. ByoEarth hopes its “Seed Bombs” will allow more people to grow their own food and contribute to food security in rural Guatemala. Courtesy of María Rodríguez Facebook Comments A self-confessed “serial entrepreneur,” the 26-year-old has garnered international attention for her work with ByoEarth. She recently appeared in Forbes magazine in an article about women entrepreneurs and is regularly invited to speak at conferences around the world.“It’s not common for a girl to be working in a male-dominated agricultural industry in Guatemala, but that’s why it’s interesting,” she says.“I’m very cautious as to how I do business with the agricultural sector. Maybe the sales in the rural area haven’t grown a lot because I haven’t been able to talk directly to farmers and be respected the same, but I don’t think that as a woman you can’t do business here.”With a production plant that contains an estimated population of more than 90 million Californian red worms, ByoEarth plans to expand into Central America over the coming year and start exporting worms to Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador.Rodríguez describes them as “pretty” and “delicate,” in stark contrast to how the majority of people view the slimy creatures.“I think of them as pets and we talk about animal husbandry; the same way you take care of a dog you take care of the worms, as they’ve been domesticated. These worms won’t survive by themselves, they need you to take care of them, feed them, clean them and give them water. If you see a worm anywhere you’d rescue it and put it on soil because you know the work she’s doing.”Determined to bring the concept of “guerrilla gardening” to Guatemala, ByoEarth recently launched several products such as “Worm Tea” and “Seed Bombs,” aimed at improving the quality of people’s soil. Not to be mistaken for the human beverage, Worm Tea is a premium organic fertilizer that can be mixed with water and given to plants as a nutritious drink; Seed Bombs allow people to grab a capsule consisting of seeds, fertilizer and soil and grow their own food. ByoEarth hopes the latter will contribute to food security, enabling more people to cultivate despite a lack of resources.While Rodríguez acknowledges that it may be difficult for some of Guatemala’s farmers to accept an organic fertilizer, she’s confident about the business’ future and is eager to show Central America that a handful of worms can make a difference. Through vermicomposting, ByoEarth produces and sells high-quality compost to rural and urban communities in Guatemala. Courtesy of María Rodríguez No related posts. read more

first_imgRelated posts:El Gallito stores close after 106 years in business; more than 200 employees dismissed Incesa Standard closes manufacturing plant in Costa Rica, lays off 150 employees Costa Rica’s restaurant franchise sector plans new openings, more jobs A whopper of a decision: Burger King closes its operations in Costa Rica The restaurant at mall Paseo Metrópolis in Cartago is one of the locations that will close in coming days. (Via Burger King Costa Rica Facebook)BK Centroamérica, the franchise owners of Burger King restaurants in Costa Rica, announced plans to close four of its 33 locations in the country, adding to a wave of franchise closures in recent months. BK Centroamérica also said it would lay off 39 of its 462 employees.In a news release on Sunday, the company confirmed that in coming weeks it will close three restaurants in Heredia province plus a restaurant at mall Paseo Metrópolis in Cartago. The franchise firm said those locales “are not financially viable, are located in non-strategic areas and are showing poor sales results.”General Manager in Costa Rica Mario Jiménez said that despite the closures the company is looking for better locations to open new restaurants. He also stressed that the company would meet all of its labor responsibilities to employees under Costa Rican law.So far this year two restaurant franchises have closed operations in Costa Rica. U.S. burger chain Wendy’s closed its 10 restaurants on Jan. 8 and local coffee shop chain Bagelmen’s shut its seven locations and fired 110 employees on Jan. 24.At the time the president of the Costa Rican Restaurants Chamber Jorge Figueroa told The Tico Times that more closures in the local food and beverage industry were expected. He said the fast food market in Costa Rica was seeing signs of saturation, particularly in the western and eastern sectors of the San José metropolitan area.Figueroa also blamed the government’s “lack of clear economic policies and strategies,” which he said were causing uncertainty for entrepreneurs. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:Carbon neutrality won’t solve everything, environmentalists say With current rate of climate change, 23 percent of species in South America could face extinction, study finds The Guardian names Costa Rican journalist among ‘young climate campaigners to watch’ ahead of Paris 2015 Brazil builds climate tower in pristine Amazon jungle Some seven millennia ago or more, a group of people called the Chinchorro lived along the coasts of northern Chile and southern Perú. Their lives revolved around fishing from the rich Pacific waters, even as a uniquely arid desert — the Atacama — lay inland behind them.The Chinchorro were unique in many ways, but perhaps most of all in their burial practices. Several thousands of years before the Egyptians, they were mummifying their dead — creating the oldest known mummies on Earth — and doing so in a truly equal fashion.“Whereas the Egyptians considered only kings and other exalted citizens worthy of mummification, the Chinchorro accorded everyone in the community, regardless of age or status, this sacred rite,” wrote Bernardo Arriaza, an expert on the mummies, which were first discovered in the Atacama desert in 1917.Since then hundreds of mummies have been unearthed, with more still in the ground being uncovered regularly.But lately, there’s been a problem. The specimens — more than 100 are held at a museum of the Universidad de Tarapacá in Arica, Chile — have started to degrade.“The tissue change is reflected in the appearance of dark and bright spots,” explained Marcela Sepulveda, an archaeologist at the Universidad de Tarapacá, by e-mail.Indoors, the change has been slow, but outdoors, mummies are being discovered already damaged, said Sepulveda. “When you excavate mummies you can see that degradation is already there,” she said. And the suspected reason? A changing climate.Arica is often referred to as the driest place on Earth — but locals say that’s changing. According to Sepulveda, the city has seen increases in precipitation and humidity of late. “Everybody say[s] that here,” she averred. Indeed, weather historian Christopher Burt wrote about Arica in 2013, noting that despite its famous reputation for dryness, weather records from 1971 to 2000 suggest it has been somewhat wetter than usual of late.Read all of The Tico Times climate change coverage The Camarones Valley in northern Chile where the Chinchorro people lived 7,000 years ago; several thousands of years before the Egyptians, the Chinchorro were mummifying their dead and according that sacred rite to everyone in the community. (Courtesy of Marcela Sepulveda)This may not be a change that can be definitively pinned on global climate change caused by humans, cautioned Ralph Mitchell, a Harvard microbiologist who teamed up with the Chilean researchers to figure out what was ailing the mummies. But it’s a change nonetheless.“Our colleagues in northern Chile say it’s terribly obvious that the place is foggy a lot more than it ever was,” Mitchell said.Mitchell noted that many of the mummies, found in the 1980s, had no problems until 10 years ago, “when they started to deteriorate.” The sequence itself suggests a climatic factor may be behind what’s happening.So Mitchell and two Harvard colleagues collaborated with Sepulveda and one of her colleagues to try to figure out what was going on — whether indeed, climatic changes were the reason for mummy decay — and what that would mean for better preserving these unique, ancient objects. Their hypothesis was that, in effect, more airborne moisture had enabled bacteria to start to chow down on the ancient relics.So they studied samples of mummy skin and dried pig skin, in various conditions, examining which microbes were living on and in the skin.The result, said Mitchell, was the finding that what he calls bacterial “opportunists” were taking advantage of a more humid environment to “use the skin as a nutrient and start to break it down.” These were common skin bacteria, among others, which had been enabled by a particular set of environmental conditions.The research has not been published yet, but the findings were publicized by Harvard on Monday. Mitchell, who is also a visiting professor in the environmental health department in the George Washington University School of Public Health, has worked on preserving many historical materials, ranging from ancient book manuscripts to the Apollo spacesuits.The saga of the Chinchorro mummies illustrates just how vulnerable many irreplaceable cultural artifacts and world heritage sites may be to a changing climate (human caused or otherwise).It’s something that the UNESCO World Heritage Centre has been attentive to for some time; a 2007 report from the U.N. agency noted that “the impacts of climate change are affecting many World Heritage properties and are likely to affect many more, both natural and cultural, in the years ahead.”The U.S. Agency for International Development is also concerned about how climate change can affect world heritage sites — and it highlights an example that on a physical level sounds similar to what appears to be happening in Arica.“Buildings in the rare medieval city of Leh in Ladakh, India, were constructed in a high altitude desert environment and are ill suited to current increases in precipitation,” it notes.Several years back, Archaeology magazine listed yet another related example, noting that the frozen burial mounds of Scythian warlords (called “kurgans”), preserved in permafrost near Siberia, can be destabilized by Arctic thawing. In this case, it was ice, rather than desert, that had preserved remains intact for a magnificently long time — but a change in climate can once again mean an irreplaceable loss of artifacts and ruins.Harvard’s Mitchell, meanwhile, said he suspects another possible climate heritage victim: outdoor marble statuary.“Historic marbles in the outdoor environment are at risk from climate change,” he said.So while we may not know exactly what’s happening in Arica, Chile — or whether it should be attributed to human-caused global warming — the fact is that damage to historical artifacts and world heritage sites is an expected consequence of climate change in general. And how could it be otherwise? Many of these sites have been remarkably preserved precisely because of the fact that they have been climatically unperturbed.Alter that, and, along with many other consequences, the world could lose some of its history.© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rican police detain undocumented Eritrean, Somali migrants Honduras arrests 5 Syrians headed to US with stolen passports Honduras to charge Syrians using false documents to get to US Refugee program for Central Americans ‘still on the drawing board’: US official The vehicle was being driven by two Costa Ricans who were not paramedics and who had no license to drive an ambulance, the public security ministry said in a statement. They, too, were arrested.Police stopped and searched the ambulance just after dawn in the town of Peñas Blancas de la Cruz, on the border. The Africans were found to have entered Costa Rica illegally.Central America is a major waypoint for undocumented migrants trying to enter the United States. Not only migrants from Latin America pass through the isthmus but also ones from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.In early November, Costa Rica dismantled a people-smuggling ring that transported undocumented migrants through the region.Currently there are nearly 8,000 U.S.-bound Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica since Nicaragua mid-November closed its border to them.Under a deal between some Central American nations and Mexico last week, 180 of those Cubans are to be flown next week to El Salvador to continue their journey, with others expected to follow.Recommended: Cuban migrant airlift from Costa Rica starts Jan. 12 SAN JOSÉ — Costa Rican police on Friday arrested five Somali migrants hidden in the back of a private ambulance stopped on the border with Nicaragua, authorities said.center_img Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:Train service in Costa Rica resumes Wednesday following strike Taxi drivers to stage another demonstration against Uber Taxi drivers to stage nationwide protest against Uber on Tuesday Costa Ricans pledge to go car free on Sept. 22 LegislatorRafael Ortiz Fábrega submitted a draft bill aimed at sanctioning motorists who damage trains with the suspension of their drivers’ licenses for a full year.The Christian Social Unity Party lawmaker proposed an amendment to the Traffic Law that would be applied to drivers who disregard traffic signs and crash into train or damage railway infrastructure.Under the proposed legislation, such drivers would lose all 12 points from their driving permits, a sanction that results in an immediate 12-month suspension. The draft bill also proposes setting two new fines. The first would total ₡189,000 (about $330) fine, along with a 4-point sanction, for motorists who destroy or damage signals or any part of a railroad.A second fine of ₡94,000 ($165) would penalize motorists who obstruct a rail line.According to current legislation, when a driver refuses to take responsibility for crashing intn a train, the Costa Rican Railroad Institute (INCOFER) must take the case before a Traffic Court and file a claim for damage. Solís said his proposal seeks to encourage drivers to be more cautious and take responsibility for their actions.“Crashing into a train represents problems for thousands of Costa Ricans who end up stranded for hours at traffic jams. We must address that,” Ortiz said in a news release.He also noted that its necessary to curb the country’s heavy traffic situation, which “is damaging the quality of life of many Costa Ricans.”Ongoing problemINCOFER data state that between 2013 and 2016 there were 286 crashes into trains; 120 of them ocurred last year. The number so far this year is of 25.Accidents involving trains last year resulted in five deaths, and 24 pedestrians were hit by trains.Solís said that in addition to changes to the Traffic Law, he expects public agencies to add more signals and improve visibility at all rail intersections.INCOFER spokeswoman María Arias said in a written response that the railway institute supports any initiative to curb the ongoing problem of cars hitting trains.“We support any proposal that aims to improve drivers’ respect for rail intersections,” she said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_img Facebook Comments What to do during the high season: a few of our favorite summer events For the second consecutive year, the Ocaso Music Festival will be held in Tamarindo from Jan. 4-7 with an extensive lineup that includes Claptone, Doc Martin, Rodriguez Jr, Carlo Lio, HECTOR, Kenny Glasgow and many more.The underground house and electronica music festival takes place in one of the most popular beach towns in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. For more information, visit the festival’s webpage: www.ocasofestival.com. Looking for more high season events? Check out our calendar.Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or a photo of your upcoming special event? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to kstanley@ticotimes.net. We’d love to see the sights with you.center_img Related posts:Enjoying the vibes from Ocaso Tamarindo to host underground electronica Ocaso Music Festival Relaxing among Costa Rican cacti High culture, low canvas in Costa Ricalast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:The Tico Times Circulation Department and a lost newspaper way of life At 60, The Tico Times celebrates tradition — and reinvention Dear Jonathan Harris: How The Tico Times shaped my life The Tico Times at 62: Finding new ways to serve and celebrate Costa Rica When The Tico Times celebrated our 60th Anniversary in 2016, our former Editor and Publisher Dery Dyer, daughter of Tico Times Founder Elisabeth Dyer and Publisher Richard Dyer, shared a reflection on one department that ‘vanished overnight’ when we moved to digital. (We now print quarterly; read our most recent special print edition here.)A classmate from my U.S. prep school recently sent me the following comment after I’d thanked her for sending me photos of our 50th class reunion:“What would have been unimaginable 50 years ago is that you saw my photos in a computer (what is that?) and that you sent me a missive from Costa Rica via a cloud of electrons that reached me within 5 minutes on a crosstown bus in New York, and that I read the missive on a telephone.”Just as unimaginable 60 years ago — or even 10! — was that someday The Tico Times would be reaching its readers via that same cloud of electrons. So, on the TT’s 60th birthday, I’d like to offer a toast: not only to the newspaper, but also to the memory of its Circulation Department.After making sure you received your paper week after week for so many years, this once-essential department vanished overnight — deleted as swiftly and as totally as if a key had been pressed — when The Tico Times went online-only in 2012.It was hard to believe. Circulation had always been the department that made all the others’ work worthwhile. It got the news into the readers’ hands and spread the word about Costa Rica around the world.It also bonded us with our readers. Every subscriber — whether in Alajuela or Afghanistan (yep, we had readers in Afghanistan!) — was a real person who had become part of our worldwide community. Our readers turned into friends: they’d write chatty little notes on their renewal notices, send us comments, photos and articles, and drop by the office to say hello.In the beginning, there was no Circulation Department. Everybody at The Tico Times did everything. When wearing our Circulation hats, we worked with little file boxes containing each subscriber’s address and subscription status typed on index cards.Every week we spent hours typing labels on sheets of paper, cutting them out with scissors and sticking them on the newspapers with white glue. Before long we were photocopying the sheets of paper so we didn’t have to type all the addresses each week, but we were still cutting and pasting.Then we acquired a nifty little machine which printed address labels from metal plates that had to be laboriously engraved on another little machine, and the Circulation Department was born. It had its own staff and was required to keep track of subscriptions, sales, and press runs in order to generate the all-important Circulation Reports.Little by little, computers arrived, making everything a lot easier. But as the paper grew, so did the circulation challenges.Every day there were subscriptions to be processed, renewal notices to be sent out, sales points to be checked and restocked… all of it leading up to Thursday nights, the Circulation Department’s adrenaline-fueled equivalent of the newsroom’s deadline, when the team worked feverishly all night manhandling piles of freshly printed newspapers so that the world could read us.Staffers loaded bundles of papers onto waiting trucks bound for sales points in the provinces. Then they bundled papers for the home-delivery guys waiting with their motorcycles and route lists; counted stacks of papers to give drivers for distribution to sales points around the Central Valley; and labeled, stamped and sorted piles of papers into color-coded batches for the mail subscribers. These were rushed to the Post Office to be sent all over the country and to the many different areas of the world — the Americas, Europe, Asia, Oceania — where our subscribers lived.Over time, the number of subscribers in the United States and Canada grew so large that we started air-freighting packages of papers to Miami and mailing them in bulk from there, which meant tearing to the airport as soon as they came off the press to get them on the earliest possible flight.Later it made more sense to print the North America-bound papers in the U.S. This required making an extra set of page negatives and another frantic airport dash on Thursday evenings to get them ASAP to our U.S. printer.Once again, computer technology eventually speeded things up, enabling us to ship the pages electronically; however, the Thursday-night marathon in Costa Rica continued for all the papers going elsewhere.The entire circulation routine was so tightly coordinated that the slightest glitch along the way — if we were late getting on or off the press, if a plane couldn’t land, if a holiday meant the Post Office was closed, if a delivery guy was out sick — provoked a whole chain of chaos and an avalanche of complaints the following week, each of which had to be answered with a personal letter, phone call or e-mail, as well as with replacement copies rushed out by messenger or first-class mail.The Circulation Dept. ended up being the most dramatic casualty of The Tico Times’ switch to digital delivery because an entire busy, hard-working world went extinct without leaving a single trace of its existence. There’s simply no equivalent in the newspaper’s online incarnation to remember it by. (The dinosaurs, at least, left fossils.)So here’s to its memory! We could never have imagined a newspaper without paper, or without a Circulation Department to circulate it. But then, can any of us imagine how people will be getting their news 60 years from now?This piece was originally published in 2016. Become a part of The Tico Times family today by donating to support our independent journalism, podcast, weekly news video series, freelance community of young journalists, and more. Donate here. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgSome of the allegations date back to when Boudou was a mid-level government official. Fernandez later promoted him to be her economy minister, and then again to be vice president in her second term.“The question is whether Cristina knew about all this,” Berensztein said. “If not, it was an intelligence failure involving people around her. And if she knew about that, then the president herself is complicit.”___Associated Press writer Luis Andres Henao in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Associated PressBUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Influence peddling and money laundering allegations haven’t been enough to topple Argentina’s vice president, Amado Boudou. On Monday, illegal enrichment accusations were added to the mix when a federal prosecutor asked an investigative judge to open yet another probe against him.Prosecutor Jorge Di Lello also asked Judge Ariel Lijo to investigate 10 businesses, including The Old Fund, a holding company reportedly linked to Boudou that took over a bankrupt printing company and secured a government contract to print Argentina’s currency after Boudou and other top officials intervened on its behalf. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Check your body, save your life Also named in the probe request are Boudou’s girlfriend, Agustina Kampfer; a longtime friend and business partner, Jose Maria Nunez Carmona; and another businessman, Alejandro Vandenbroele, who allegedly served as Boudou’s proxy in a series of business deals.The judge must now decide whether to formally open an illegal enrichment investigation and eventually whether to bring charges that carry a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a lifetime ban from public office, Di Lello’s secretary, Juliana Marquez, told The Associated Press.“The prosecutor has found sufficient elements to justify investigating the vice president,” Marquez said. “The judge now needs to initiate the investigation … examining the declared wealth of the functionary and the others named, along with the sworn declarations of the companies, in search of any incongruencies.”In Argentina, taxpayers must formally declare not only their income, but also their total wealth. The government can then compare the totals along with declarations from the money’s sources, and can bring tax evasion charges when the totals don’t match.Boudou already faces potential charges of influence trafficking and other acts incompatible with public office, in a case Lijo inherited from Judge Daniel Rafecas. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Rafecas agreed to open that investigation, and Argentina’s attorney general, Esteban Righi, approved that judge’s request for a raid on Boudou’s apartment that turned up telephone records and other evidence linking Boudou and Vandenbroele. Both men denied knowing each other, but Vandenbroele’s ex-wife provided testimony and went public with her claims that he had acted as Boudou’s front-man for years.Boudou spoke out in his own defense last month in a lengthy and passionate televised speech from his podium in the Senate, where he presides as president of the chamber.He accused an opposition media “mafia” led by the newspaper Clarin of inventing a novel rivaling “The Godfather.” He accused the president of Argentina’s stock exchange of trying to bring him down in a conspiracy with political and business rivals who failed to get the currency-printing contract.Boudou then filed a formal complaint with the courts alleging that all three judiciary officials managing the influence-trafficking probe _ Rafecas, Righi and federal prosecutor Carlos Rivolo _ had been conspiring against him and improperly leaking information to Argentina’s opposition media. Rafecas was separated from the case, Righi resigned under pressure, and now Lijo must decide whether to separate Rivolo as well.Opposition lawmakers on Monday repeated their calls for Boudou to resign, warning that his case could be a threat to President Cristina Fernandez.“He needs to free the president from having to carry the risk of falling herself into the crime of an illegal coverup,” Margarita Stolbizer, an opposition deputy in congress, said in a statement.It would be easier for the president to apologize for the error of choosing him than to become complicit in the scandal by trying to prop him up and block the justice system from taking action, she added. “What they’re imposing is a culture of such impunity that they can’t demand legal conduct from the rest of the citizens.”The allegations against Boudou had slipped off Argentina’s front pages after Fernandez decided to take back control of the nation’s leading energy company, YPF, from Spanish shareholders.“But now it’s come back with force,” raising questions about what the president knew and when, said Sergio Berensztein, director of the independent Poliarquia consulting firm in Buenos Aires. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

first_img Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories Sponsored Stories How do cataracts affect your vision? 5 ways to recognize low testosteronecenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Patients with chronic pain give advice SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) – The U.S. Geological Survey says a moderate earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 struck near the Bulgarian capital of Sofia early Tuesday. There are no immediate reports of injuries or significant damage.The U.S.G.S. said the quake struck shortly after 3 a.m. local time Tuesday near the town of Pernik about 14 miles (23 kilometers) west of Sofia. The U.S. agency measured its depth at a relatively shallow 5.8 miles (9.4 kilometers). The agency says an aftershock with a magnitude 4.9 struck the same area about 90 minutes later.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

first_imgUganda has a history of hosting refugees escaping violence in neighboring countries such as Rwanda, where the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi tribe sent thousands seeking refuge in a sprawling refugee camp in western Uganda.Along with the refugees from Congo, Ugandan authorities are planning for an expected influx of up to 10,000 South Sudanese fleeing tribal clashes as well as border tension between the two Sudans.There are about 1,700 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, according to Mallinga.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates “The refugees started coming in November and up to now they are still coming,” Mallinga told The Associated Press.Thousands of Congolese refugees are also fleeing into Rwanda.Last November Congo voted in a contentious presidential election that stoked fears of violence in the eastern part of the country, where the Congolese army has limited authority. The east, with its vast jungle, is also roamed by countless militias, most notably one commanded by a renegade general whose forces are accused of committing atrocities against civilians.Bosco Ntaganda is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. The last several weeks have seen renewed fighting between the Congolese government troops and forces loyal to Ntaganda, who continues to elude arrest.Mallinga’s statement said that the Congolese are being resettled in four remote refugee camps in Uganda. Some Congolese come and go, he said, depending on the seriousness of any fresh signs of violence.He said the World Food Program had supplied food provisions that may last only a month.“The Government of Uganda calls upon the international community to appreciate the situation in the southwest and West Nile regions (of Uganda) in regard to refugees and put in place requisite resources to humanitarian agencies mandated to offer assistance and protection to refugees,” the statement said. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Quick workouts for men Associated PressKAMPALA, Uganda (AP) – More than 12,000 Congolese fleeing violence at home have crossed into Uganda since the end of last year, and Uganda is planning for an influx of up to 30,000 refugees from Congo, an official said Wednesday.Scores of refugees enter Uganda every day and 200 police have been deployed to help manage border security, said Stephen Mallinga, Uganda’s minister for disaster preparedness and relief.last_img read more

first_imgThe Syrian uprising, which began in March 2011 with mostly peaceful protests calling for change, has turned into an increasingly militarized conflict. Activists put the death toll at over 13,000. One year after the revolt started, the U.N. put the toll at 9,000, but many more have died since.Al-Qaida-style suicide bombings have become increasingly common, and Western officials say there is little doubt that Islamist extremists, some associated with the terror network, have made inroads in Syria as instability has spread.The security official said the two Jordanians belong to a small extremist militant organization called the Salafi Movement. Authorities say the group numbers 800 activists, including many who fought alongside the al-Qaida in Iraq group.“Salafi” is also a broader term used by a large movement of ultraconservative Muslims, militant and otherwise.The official said the two were arrested Sunday near the Syrian border, but declined to provide other details. He insisted on anonymity, citing the ongoing investigation.A Salafi Movement member confirmed the arrest in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.He identified them as Omar Bazayaah and Khaled Khateeb, saying both were middle-aged men who hailed from prominent tribal Jordanian families. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family He said the two confessed to police that they were on their way to Syria to “take part in the Jihad (holy war) against the Syrian regime and its sinful gang.”He insisted on anonymity, fearing police retribution.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Associated PressAMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Jordanian police have arrested two alleged militants on their way to Syria to fight against President Bashar Assad, security and Islamist officials said Tuesday.It is the first time that Jordan has publicly stated that its own militants are joining other Arab fighters to support the Syrian opposition.Last month, Syria said it arrested 26 alleged al-Qaida “foreign terrorists,” including one Jordanian. But Jordan never commented on the allegation. Top Stories Sponsored Stories Quick workouts for men Parents, stop beating yourself up New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

first_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breachescenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates MEXICO CITY (AP) – The Mexican government has announced a new program to protect witnesses in drug trafficking and other cases, even giving them new identities if necessary.The program can also be used by victims, expert witnesses, police and judges who are in danger because of their role in a legal proceeding.The president’s office says in a decree published Friday that the plan will go into effect within six months. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 0 Comments   Share   Mexico currently has a much more limited program which provides limited protection to cooperating witnesses in federal cases.But the new plan could give such witnesses new identities in different cities, to avoid reprisals.The program may help in prosecuting violent drug cartels whose turf battles have cost Mexico more than 47,500 lives over the last 5 1/2 years.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

first_imgFlight Centre Ltd has acquired full ownership of US-based Garber Travel Services for AU$10.54 million.Flight Centre already owned 26 percent of the business and had been running the company as a minor owner for the past year, according to public relations manager Haydn Long.“This acquisition is a good fit for Flight Centre as a strong corporate presence in the US is important,” he told e-Travel Blackboard.Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner was pleased with the investment.“Given the Australian dollar’s current strength… this acquisition takes place at an opportune time and means we are well placed to capitalise in the future,” he said.According to Mr Long, Flight Centre is now in the top ten in terms of corporate business in the United States.“A stronger overall corporate business share is positive for our Australian clients as we can continue to offer support and access to dedicated international consultants,” he said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more