Transat forges ahead with hotel plans while prioritizing expansion for its TDC

first_imgTransat forges ahead with hotel plans while prioritizing expansion for its TDC network Share This story originally ran in the August 2, 2018 issue of Travelweek magazine. To get Travelweek delivered to your agency for free, subscribe here.TORONTO — Back when wholesalers began investing heavily in B2C marketing and distribution, there was tremendous pressure on tour operators to ‘go direct’.And tour operators did, even if marketing straight to the consumer – not even with a website in some cases, not back then, but just with a 1-800 number – raised the ire of loyal travel agent partners and, in some cases, was reason enough for many agents to strike a company off their sell list for a while. Now, of course, using both B2B and B2C marketing strategies is the new normal.At Transat, “retail travel is in our DNA”, says Joe Adamo, Transat’s Chief Distribution Officer and President, TDC.Indeed Transat’s principal founder, Jean-Marc Eustache, got his start in the tourism industry in 1977 at Tourbec, a travel agency specializing in youth and student tourism, before founding Trafic Voyages, the basis for the creation of Transat.Annick Guérard, Transat’s Chief Operating Officer, says that while Transat has always had a multi-channel distribution channel, “85% of what we do is B2B”.She adds: “With time we saw that distribution from B2B was not moving down that fast. In focus groups people tell us that they’re overwhelmed with information. They need to be guided. Booking travel is an agent’s métier and people are saying, ‘I’m going to pay you to make this booking because it’s valuable to me’.”Adamo adds: “People said, bricks-and-mortar is dying. And we said, no, wait. The role of the travel agent will evolve. Travel agents are the highest touch distribution channels and high-touch works for us. Agents can talk about our differentiators.”More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesWith 450 retail locations now for Transat Distribution Canada (TDC), and growing, Transat is heavily invested in travel retail as a means of distribution.Nathalie Boyer, General Manager of TDC, says the retail division is looking to shore up in markets where Transat could use more growth. “We are always on the lookout for new options, in markets where it makes sense for us to be present, either with affiliates/members, company-owned agencies or external agents. We will increase our presence in some markets.”From the sounds of things TDC is on the expansion trail, with announcements about future prospects “upcoming”, adds Boyer.Transat Agent@Home is growing too. “Obviously, the business of external agents has been growing quickly, and will still be in the upcoming years, globally in the market, as well as in our own network,” says Boyer. “That is why we have made some improvements to our reservation platform, as well as to our pay grid, just to name a few, to make sure they are better aligned with the different realities of our markets in Canada.”Asked how critical vertical integration continues to be for Transat, Boyer says the company continues to implement its vision of multichannel and global distribution: “Direct distribution remains a very important part of our business, and is one of the focus of our newest strategic plan.”Of course a big part of Transat’s vertically integrated game plan is its new hotel division. Following the sale of its 35% minority interest in Ocean Hotels in fall 2017, Transat announced plans to operate some 5,000 owned or managed hotel rooms within seven years.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Transat was able to tap into the knowledge and experience of its top TDC agents earlier this year at its Bravo Club Excellence conference in Riviera Maya, asking agents for their input as the company ramps up its resort plans.“For us, the possibility to discuss the hotel experience with these top travel agents was a great opportunity,” says Boyer. “We acknowledge the fact that they are travel experts and we value their opinion. They are our eyes and our ears when it comes to what the traveller wants.”The hotel division brainstorming session included tapping agents’ ideas about what defines the DNA “of a unique 5-star guest experience”, said Boyer. Sounds like the new Transat resorts will be no slouch in the luxury department.Agents were also asked about key differentiators for specific customer segments, like families and couples.In an interview with Travelweek’s sister publication, Montreal-based Profession Voyages, Transat’s Hotel Division President, Jordi Solé, says the focus for the new hotels will be on all-inclusive five-star properties “that will make their mark on products and services”.Adds Solé: “We want to establish ourselves in our main destinations: Cancun and Riviera Maya in Mexico, Punta Cana in the D.R., Montego Bay in Jamaica and Havana and Varadero in Cuba. We have a target of 5,000 rooms, either owned or managed, by 2024.”Solé also says that Transat wants to sign a first hotel project this year, “which could be inaugurated in 2020, and marketed in 2019.” Travelweek Group Friday, August 10, 2018 center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: B2B, B2C, TDC, Transat Posted bylast_img read more

You can now be fined for wearing these in Cinque Terre

first_imgYou can now be fined for wearing these in Cinque Terre CINQUE TERRE — The fashion police are out in full force in Italy’s Cinque Terre, where new rules are putting restrictions on what tourists wear on their feet.Known for its cliffside hiking trail that links a string of centuries-old seaside villages, Cinque Terre has now banned people from wearing flip flops while walking along its rugged terrain. Those who ignore the rule could face fines ranging from €50 (Can$75) to €2,500 (Can$3,775).The Cinque Terre National Park Authority has launched a public information campaign warning tourists to not climb the cliffs without appropriate footwear. Posters and flyers advertising the fines can be seen throughout the villages, plus a warning has been issued online when tourists purchase a Cinque Terre Card, which provides access to the region’s buses, trains and trekking paths.According to the Park Authority, the flip-flop ban comes after a string of visitors had to be rescued by mountain rescue teams. According to the Daily Mail, there has been talk about closing down certain paths in the area to help keep visitors safe.More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksPatrizio Scarpellini, director of the Cinque Terre National Park who spoke with CNN Travel, said that the Comandi Regione Carabinieri Forestale (a local law enforcement group) will help monitor the trails to inform visitors of the ban. Travelweek Group Posted by Tags: Funny, Italycenter_img Share Friday, March 8, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

In vitro case goes to trial

first_imgNo related posts. From the print editionCosta Rica will have to defend its 11-year ban on in vitro fertilization before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San José, the daily El País reported. The court set a tentative hearing for early September. The case stems from a 2001 suit filed against Costa Rica with the Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Human Rights Commission by 10 couples after Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) banned the practice in 2000. Costa Rica is the only country in the Western Hemisphere to ban the technique, which the Sala IV ruled violates the rights of unborn children.In 2011, Laura Chinchilla’s government tried to pass several bills that would allow the practice in Costa Rica, but each died in the Legislative Assembly.Ombudswoman Ofelia Taitelbaum has said she will file an amicus brief in the case explaining the necessity of allowing in vitro fertilization in the country, El País reported. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Barrondo wins Guatemalas first ever Olympic medal gives message of peace

first_imgNo related posts. LONDON – Erick Barrondo won Guatemala’s first ever medal in Olympic history with silver in the men’s 20 kilometers walk on Saturday and hoped his win would inspire youngsters back home to forgo violence for sport.The 21-year-old, who finished behind China’s Chen Ding, said that if this brought a reduction in his impoverished country’s problems with gang violence it would be another victory.“It is well known that Guatemala has problems with guns and knives,” Barrondo said.“I hope that this medal inspires the kids at home to put down guns and knives and pick up a pair of trainers instead. If they do that, I will be the happiest guy in the world.”Barrondo’s achievement prompted a phone call from Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina.“The president congratulated me on the first Olympic medal for the country. He told me that everyone had come out on the streets to celebrate the triumph.”A recent New York Times article said race walking is flourishing in popularity in Latin America. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

San José holds fourth PechaKucha

first_imgNo related posts. Sonámbulo performed at the finale of this year’s PechaKucha. Hundreds of people packed into the sixth floor of the parking structure on Avenida Escazú Wednesday night to see some of San José’s creative talent on display. Called PechaKucha, the event was the fourth of its kind; the first took place in 2007.PechaKucha is series of presentations involving 20 images each displayed for 20 seconds, while someone discusses creative work. The first PechaKucha Night was held in Tokyo, Japan, in 2003 and the term PechaKucha stems from the Japanese sound of conversation (“chit chat”). It was received so well that more than 580 cities now host nights of creative ingenuity every year. The cities include Miami, Amsterdam, Bogota, London, and Tel Aviv. Chris Rey Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham Architecture conceived the rapid-fire format for young designers, photographers and anyone with a creative idea to meet, network, and present their work to the public. The idea was to keep things to the point. According to PechaKucha’s website, “Give a microphone and some images to an architect – or most creative people for that matter – and they’ll go on forever! Give PowerPoint to anyone else and they have the same problem.”If you were thinking that the event sounds like TED Talks, you would be wrong on at least one count. Because anyone is allowed to present at PechaKucha nights, the format is considered “bottom up,” while TED Talks are “top down.”During San José’s fourth installation of PechaKucha Night, creative topics ranged from photography to the art of making beer to independent film-making. Juan Carlos Abarca presented photos of his sculpture work, which focused on the need to communicate, practicality and symmetry. One of his sculptures on display was a tortured-looking creature composed of rusted metal. This year’s event also shined for the craft beer provided by Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company, and a final performance by up-and-coming Costa Rican band Sonámbulo. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Guatemalas Otto Pérez Molina has 70 percent approval poll finds

first_imgNo related posts. GUATEMALA CITY – President Otto Pérez Molina’s administration, which marks one year on Monday, has 70 percent approval from the public according to a survey by the daily La Prensa Libre.The poll, conducted ​​from Jan. 3-8 by local firm Prodatos, found that 70 percent of citizens support the work of Pérez Molina, while 30 percent disapprove. The percentage of support remained almost unchanged in the last six months. In July, the president had a 69 percent approval rating.The newspaper noted that Pérez Molina’s approval rating is the highest ever achieved in the last four governments in Guatemala.Pérez Molina took office on Jan. 14, 2012, and on Sunday, he celebrated his first year with a mass gathering in a popular area in the north of the capital, occupied for three months by the military and police to counter violence.The president did not attend Congress Monday to present his annual report on his administration’s accomplishments, opting instead to send the document, which is permitted by law.Even with positive figures, 59 percent of those polled considered public insecurity as the main problem in the country. Violence causes an average of 16 deaths per day in Guatemala, one of the highest rates in Latin America.Regarding the Guatemalan economy, 24 percent said that it is worse than a year ago, mostly due to the high cost of basic goods and unemployment. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

29yearold Tica becomes first certified disabled diver in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Dancer who lost a leg in Boston Marathon bombing finds solace in Costa Rican scuba diving Water concessions: A priority for use in Costa Rica Top medical experts say we should decriminalize all drugs and maybe go even further Tire mosquito trap could boost Zika control The dive boat pitched in the waves at the mouth of Culebra Bay off the coast of the luxurious Papagayo Peninsula in Guanacaste. Schools of rays jumped out of the water in the distance, flashing their white bellies in the hot sun, unfazed by the waves and wind that buffeted the red and white Buzos de Aventura dive boat on Jan. 25.Natalia Vindas’ smile hid behind a scuba mask and regulator as she floated in the choppy sea. Her legs rested near the surface as she and dive instructor Ernst van der Poll prepared to descend for one of her last skill dives. Vindas soon would become Costa Rica’s first certified disabled, van der Poll said.“We’re opening a big door so that people with reduced mobility problems can access the type of sports that normally aren’t for people in wheelchairs,” Vindas, 29, told The Tico Times, still in her black wetsuit after the dive.“I feel very proud to be the first Tica to break that paradigm and show people the only limits are the ones in your head,” she added. Natalia Vindas. Javier CastañedaOriginally from Heredia, north of San José, Vindas became a civil engineer and traded the green mountains of the Central Valley for the pampas of Guanacaste, where she worked as a highway engineer.One day in 2008, however, she lost control of her truck while not wearing a seatbelt on the job. The truck rolled and threw her from the vehicle, breaking her back.At 21, Vindas lost most of the mobility below her waist, and much of the self-reliance that she had come to enjoy living on her own. She needed help dressing, bathing and getting around as she adapted to life in a wheelchair.“That independence, that capacity to feel that I could do things for myself, that I could go where I wanted, that’s what I lost in the accident,” Vindas said. “That’s the part of diving I love, because it gives me back that independence. I feel so free, I forget about the wheelchair.”A little over a year ago, Vindas heard about adaptive diving, scuba diving specialized for people with disabilities, and met van der Poll, who was married to an old friend of Vindas from school. She went on her first dive in August 2013 with van der Poll and attended a Discover Scuba event at the Four Seasons Papagayo last September, the first of its kind in Costa Rica.Alonso Vindas, Natalia’s 20-year-old brother, took up scuba diving mostly as a way to help his sister at first. But he fell in love with the sport, too.“We both like the same things, we’ve always been partners in adventures,” said Alonso Vindas, who was also completing one of his last skill dives.The siblings teased each other on board the boat after Alonso’s shoulder-length hair caught in his mask. They commiserated on the less than ideal conditions on the water.“The sea was rougher, more turbulent, more difficult to descend,” Vindas observed. The strong currents clouded their visibility.Van der Poll said that Natalia Vindas took to diving naturally, quicker than many able-bodied divers he had taught.The dive master said that they had to develop hand signals for Natalia, since she uses her hands to propel herself underwater.“We’ve been teaching her to be autonomous,” van der Poll said, focusing on finding techniques so she can get her equipment on and off, use a weight belt and build strength.After her first dive six months ago, Vindas set out to become the first certified disabled diver in Costa Rica. Thanks to support from Buzos de Aventura diving company, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and the Four Seasons, she has been able to achieve her goal. Vindas said she hopes to become certified as a rescue diver too.“In the end that’s what it’s all about,” van der Poll said. “It’s about being inspired by something and then that inspiration follows through and gives purpose.”That new sense of purpose inspired Natalia Vindas to go back to school.She studies architecture, and plans to design buildings and public spaces that better accommodate people with disabilities.“I’m a very restless person. I like to do a lot of things,” she said. “When I do something, I feel like I need to achieve something else to feel like I’m always pushing myself.”That night, in the Four Seasons’ bar, Alonso Vindas leaned over the table to share more about his sister.“A lot of people talk about her like she’s an example. No, just put yourself in her position. [People with disabilities] have the capacity to do it, maybe in a different way, but they can do it,” he said. “I see her as a brave person. Someone who didn’t let the accident conquer her.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Legislative hearing on Supreme Court justice facing rape charges delayed until next

first_imgA Legislative Assembly hearing to discuss the possible removal of Supreme Court Justice Óscar González Camacho of the court’s Civil Chamber, or Sala I, was postponed until Monday.Assembly President Henry Mora suspended the debate scheduled for Tuesday evening after receiving an illness notice from González, who also sent a letter asking lawmakers for an opportunity to present his defense before the full Assembly.The Prosecutors’ Office in September filed six charges of rape and one of attempted rape against the Supreme Court justice following a criminal complaint by Judge Priscilla Quirós, whose supervisor is González. His removal from the bench by lawmakers is required by law in order for criminal proceedings to move forward.Assembly regulations require the subject of a legislative hearing to be present during the reading of the results of an inquiry by a legislative commission charged with evaluating the case. Rules also give that person the opportunity to present a defense against the accusations.On Monday, the commission – composed of  lawmakers Antonio Álvarez Desanti from the National Liberation Party, Carmen Quesada from the Libertarian Movement Party and Edgardo Araya from the Broad Front Party – recommended González’s removal.For more than a week, the three legislators studied the administrative case against González, the evidence presented against him and video statements from the alleged victim. Last Saturday, the commission also heard personal statements from both the plaintiff and the defendant.“We found no violations of due process, and the subject of the investigation has been allowed to exercise his right of defense. This was a fair process for both parties involved,” Álvarez Desanti said on Monday.Justices of the Supreme Court in May 2013 agreed to ask lawmakers to recuse González following an internal judicial inquiry.Monday’s hearing at the Assembly will be open to the public.Lawmakers will question González and will be allowed to issue opinions regarding his dismissal, but they will not be allowed to vote. That’s because this week González filed a complaint with the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, which then ordered legislators to refrain from voting until a ruling is issued on that constitutional inquiry. The complaint argues that “the Constitution does not authorize legislators to remove a member of the Supreme Court for disciplinary reasons.”Lawmaker Mora on Tuesday evening said the investigating commission would continue working despite the Sala IV order. According to Mora, “We are only blocked from voting pending the Sala IV resolution. For now, we hope that issue will be resolved soon.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican lawmakers remove Supreme Court justice accused of rape Supreme Court re-elects Jorge Chavarría as Costa Rica’s chief prosecutor despite protests Costa Rica Supreme Court cries foul on environment minister’s participation in Jairo Mora protest Costa Rican judicial reform bill would create specialized drug courtslast_img read more

Caleidoscopio Latino heats up National Theater

first_imgFacebook Comments Related posts:New theater company to host intensive Shakespeare workshop Cirque du Soleil pays homage to carny culture in ‘Corteo’ National Theater announces 2015 season ‘Blood Wedding’: García Lorca tragedy opens at Teatro Espressivolast_img

Costa Ricas howler monkeys are the least loud but most wellendowed

first_imgFor male howler monkeys on the search for a mate, size matters; but being a well-endowed monkey comes at a price. The results of a new study show that in some species of howler monkeys the larger a monkey’s testicles are, the smaller its voice.This might seem like an easy trade-off, but howler monkeys are the world’s loudest land mammals, capable of emitting roars of up to 140 decibels. The monkeys use their intimidating roars to locate one another, scare off predators and, for certain species, as mating calls.In the paper, published in Current Biology this month, researchers looked at nine species of howler monkeys found throughout Central and South America. They measured museum samples of each species’ hyoid bones, which in live monkeys sit next to their vocal chords and serve as amplification chambers, and compared these measurements with the size of the testicles of monkeys in zoos.The average results showed a clear correlation across species, but monkeys were not studied individually.The howlers found to have deeper calls belonged to the more competitive species. These monkeys favor a big voice to attract far-away females and scare off rival males. The monkeys with larger testicles belonged to species where females mate with more than one male, and a high sperm count influences the likelihood of the male successfully fertilizing a female’s egg.The reason howlers don’t have both large testicles and a big call seems to lie in the amount of energy required to develop either trait as it grows up.The mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata), the only species of howler found in Costa Rica, was found to have the wimpiest call, but the largest testicles of any of the monkeys studied. Facebook Comments Related posts:Looking back: A microscopic wasp and other amazing Costa Rica wildlife stories The secret lives of leaf-cutting ants Grab your binoculars: It’s Christmas Bird Count season in Costa Rica! Mysterious monkey deaths could be related to climate changelast_img read more

In Costa Rica visit Guatemala presidentelect Jimmy Morales reaffirms opposition to drug

first_imgSo, a president and a president-elect walk into a news conference…stop me if you’ve heard this one before.Guatemalan president-elect and former comedian Jimmy Morales reaffirmed his opposition to decriminalizing drugs during a brief news conference with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís at Casa Presidencial on Thursday. Morales was in Costa Rica on a leg of a traditional tour of Central American countries before he takes office on Jan. 14.Morales’ words separated him from comments by former – and now disgraced – President Otto Pérez Molina, who mused about decriminalizing drugs as a possible solution to the violence that has plagued Guatemala and other Central American countries.“At this time, Guatemala’s vision is not decriminalization, nor legalization, nor anything in that direction,” Morales said.Morales won Guatemala’s presidential runoff election on Oct. 25, beating left-leaning former first lady Sandra Torres. Morales campaigned on a platform of zero tolerance for corruption, which rang true with voters following revelations of a massive customs fraud scandal that forced the Guatemalan president and vice president to resign. Both are in jail awaiting trial.But many have expressed doubts about Morales’ lack of political experience and his strong military backing. In 1996 Guatemala ended a 36-year civil war, in which military leaders were accused — and in some cases have been convicted — of mass human rights abuses. Some of Morales’ backers held high military positions during the war.See: The military powers behind Guatemala’s comedian presidential front-runnerSolís thanked Guatemala for its participation in an emergency regional meeting Tuesday between Central American countries to find a solution to the influx of Cuban migrants. Morales did not give specifics about what his position on the subject is, but said, “It will be too late if we haven’t dealt with this by the time I’m in office.”Morales said that Guatemalan and Mexican authorities would meet Friday to further discuss the “humanitarian corridor” that Costa Rica proposed to no avail Tuesday after Nicaragua said it would not let the Cubans cross the border.“Guatemala’s position has always been conciliatory and one of unity,” Morales said. “Guatemala wants to be part of the solution and not worsen the problem.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina dismisses ‘spurious’ corruption case Guatemala prosecutor confident President Pérez Molina will be removed from office, charged with graft PHOTOS: A look back at how Guatemalan citizens demanded justice – and won In Guatemala’s capital, little enthusiasm for country’s next presidentlast_img read more

Spains police seize massive cocaine haul in banana cargo

first_imgSpanish police said Thursday they had seized over six tonnes of cocaine hidden in a shipment of bananas and arrested 16 suspects, some of them wanted in the Netherlands.The police raid in the southern port of Malaga also netted cash, weapons and luxury vehicles.The operation broke up a trafficking ring made up of well-known Dutch criminals based on Spain’s Costa del Sol, police said in a statement. They had specialised in smuggling cocaine into Spain and the Netherlands.“Some were considered priority targets by police in the Netherlands,” the statement added.The cocaine was hidden in a banana shipment that arrived by boat in neighbouring Portugal and was then transported by truck to Malaga in southern Spain.Police said the gang used a company that imported fruit from Costa Rica as a cover for its operations.Officers seized 300,000 euros ($343,000) as part of the operation along with four guns and several luxury vehicles.Fifteen people were arrested in Malaga and one in Badajoz in the eastern region of Extremadura on the border with Portugal.The operation was carried out in collaboration with the anti-drugs arm of Portugal’s police and with the United States’ Homeland Security Investigations unit, the statement added.Spain, with its historic and linguistic links to South America, is the main entry point to Europe for cocaine from the continent, mostly from Colombia.Smugglers often resort to creative methods to get drugs past Spanish customs.In recent years, police have found cocaine inside breast implants, hollowed-out pineapples, a wig, a wheelchair cushion, a plaster cast encasing a man’s broken leg as well as inside a 42-piece crockery set. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica detains three Colombians and one Ecuadorian in boat with 690 kilos of cocaine Costa Rica Coast Guard seizes more than 2 metric tons of cocaine Golfito fishermen caught with 2 tons of cocaine show up for appeal, get 6 months preventive detention Costa Rican drug traffickers connected to Italian mob plead guilty to shipping cocaine to the U.S.last_img read more

FrancoSwiss drug money laundering ring broken up

first_img Check your body, save your life Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   PARIS (AP) – French and Swiss prosecutors say they’ve dismantled a major drug trafficking and money laundering network, arresting 20 people on Wednesday, including employees of a finance company and major international bank.The network, largely members of an extended family that imported Moroccan drugs for sale in France, laundered millions over many years, according to prosecutors, who described the family as “masters of financial engineering.” The ring included at least one employee at a major international bank, the Swiss said. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixcenter_img Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Police searches in France netted cash in dollars and euros, accounting documents, counting machines and weapons. In Switzerland, authorities found 160 luxury watches and jewelry worth nearly (EURO)1 million ($1.3 million), as well as cash.Paris prosecutors said between May and October alone, nearly (EURO)12 million ($15.5 million) passed through the network.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

Tel Aviv Beloved oasis outraged by rocket fire

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Some 400,000 people live within the city’s official municipal limits, but these have been effectively wiped out by urban and suburban sprawl that swell the population to 3 million. That’s almost a third of the country’s population, and encompasses almost half its Jews.Some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Gaza, Tel Aviv is often accusingly taunted by some Israelis as a “bubble,” disconnected from the rest of the country and indifferent to the suffering of about 1 million people in the south who have regularly faced the threat of rockets fired from Gaza.“The people of Tel Aviv are now feeling a little bit of what the people in the south have been feeling for the last years, and that’s not a bad thing,” said Itai Madhalla, a 31-year-old investment manager.Later Friday, Gaza militants escalated their fire even more by targeting, also for the first time, the city of Jerusalem.Despite the general mood of calm and steely resolve, some in Tel Aviv admitted to being shaken.“I am not afraid of being hit, but I just don’t want to be alone when the alarm goes off,” said Rebecca Mandel, a 28-year-old PR consultant.Some hotels reported cancellations from overseas. Dani Tamari, the manager of a boutique hotel in downtown Tel Aviv, said that after the first attack Thursday evening guests were offered free shots at the hotel bar and massages to calm frayed nerves. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories People parked their cars on the side of the Ayalon intercity highway, taking cover against concrete walls. Later, nightlife raged on.On Friday morning, rockets were fired for a second day, catching Israelis lounging in their favorite cafes and restaurants.“Everybody just got up and went inside, there was no panic, and when it was over they went back to their plates,” said Rina Kol, a schoolteacher dining near Tel Aviv’s largest open-air market.Shortly after the siren sounded, an explosion sounded in the distance. Israeli authorities would not disclose the landing site so as not to help Gaza rocket launchers improve their aim.Within minutes, though, customers crowded the cafes again to enjoy a mild, sunny fall day and leisurely sip their espressos. Street musicians picked up their instruments and shoppers made last-minute purchases before the start of the Jewish Sabbath.City Hall announced it was opening all municipal bomb shelters to the public.Eytan Schwartz, a spokesman for the mayor, said it was telling that a local entrepreneur was already developing a smartphone app that locates the closest shelter.“The legacy of this country is that we will not let terror paralyze us. In Tel Aviv, that means we won’t let it stop us from going to restaurants and coffee shops,” he said. “Part of the legacy in this city is that the show must go on.” Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories “Attacking Tel Aviv is seen as crossing a red line,” said Steven Reiter, U.S.-born banker who lives in the posh north of the city.Violence is not unprecedented here. Tel Aviv did witness battles during Israel’s 1948 war of independence _ when it was a far cry from the city of today. It was also hit by Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles in the 1991 Gulf War. And about a decade ago it suffered an onslaught of Palestinian suicide bombings.But Gaza militants have waited a long time to target the city with their arsenal of Iranian-made long-range missiles. With Israel starting an offensive Wednesday against them, the militants had an excuse.Tel Avivians were caught by surprise Thursday when sirens wailed in the city for the first time in more than two decades _ exhibiting a paradox of moving on despite the outrage that seemed somehow of a peace with the lovingly nurtured image of the city.In high-rise office buildings, workers froze in silence for a few seconds before quickly and calmly walking down the stairwells to their buildings’ shelters. Some murmured “I don’t believe it” while reaching for their phones to call loved ones. Several mobile networks crashed from overload.center_img Associated PressTEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – Leehee Goldenberg was having lunch at an outdoor cafe in Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest metropolis, when an air-raid siren wailed. She and other diners knew the drill: They dashed inside the coffee shop and kept away from the windows. Then, from a distance, came the boom. Minutes later, everyone was back outdoors, chatting loudly.“It’s kind of unbelievable,” said Goldenberg, a 31-year-old lawyer. “In Tel Aviv we always feel like we live in a different world.” Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home The scenes of lively normalcy in Tel Aviv were surprising to foreigners and recent immigrants. On trendy Rothschild Boulevard, home to many of the boxy 1930s Bauhaus-style buildings that earned the city a rare UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site, stores and shops were bustling.“I come from a quiet country, and yesterday I heard sirens and had to run to a shelter for the first time in my life,” said Vivian Hamui, 21, who moved from Panama five months ago to study here. “I am still in shock at how Israelis take it _ look, that guy is just drinking coffee, that one is playing his guitar.”____Heller reported from Jerusalem. Follow him on Twitter (at)aronhellerap(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) For Israelis, the targeting of Tel Aviv is a direct puncture of the bubble of normalcy they have built around the city. Whenever it occurs, the outrage expressed in the media and on the street is palpable, as if what is acceptable in the southern desert or even in Jerusalem is inconceivable in a place so painstakingly trying to be “normal.”The freewheeling seaside oasis has long served as an escape from the troubles of everyday Israel. But Israel’s financial and cultural center is also something more: a symbolic reflection of Israelis’ deep-rooted need to feel like the prosperous and progressive place many of the early Zionist founders hoped the country would become. Thanks partly to its vibrant nightlife and balmy climate, it’s also developed an international reputation as a fun place to visit. In a country where the religious population is growing, the city is overwhelmingly secular. And its tech industry is known as a hub of innovative companies on a world-beating scale.It is this notion of preciousness that created the widespread sense that the question of whether or not Israel escalates its offensive may actually rest on whether Hamas dares target the city. Men’s health affects baby’s health too 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

Mexican activists released from custody in Arizona

first_img Comments   Share   Top Stories TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – Nine activists arrested after attempting to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. in protest of American immigration policy were released Wednesday from federal custody in southern Arizona.The National Immigrant Youth Alliance announced that the so-called “Dream 9” were freed from the Eloy Detention Center.They were arrested July 22 in Nogales, Ariz., as they tried to call attention to hundreds of thousands who have been deported during President Barack Obama’s administration. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Earlier this week, the Homeland Security Department tentatively approved asylum requests for the nine immigrants.DHS ruled the nine have a “credible fear” of being persecuted if they are sent back to Mexico.An immigration judge will have the final say on whether they can remain permanently in the U.S., but such a ruling could take years.According to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Justice Department agency that runs immigration courts, new cases for immigrants not being held in detention are being scheduled in Arizona for 2014.Meanwhile, the nine immigrants could be eligible for a work permit in the future.The nine spent part of their lives in the U.S. Some returned voluntarily to Mexico years ago, while others had been deported. Three of them were raised in the U.S. and left the country for Mexico expressly to participate in the protest when they attempted to cross the border in Nogales.The immigrants were pushing for legislation being considered in Congress to offer eventual citizenship to some immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.House Republicans recently took a tentative step toward offering citizenship to some immigrants who fit into this category, but Democrats said it wasn’t enough. Four benefits of having a wireless security system The dismissive reaction to the Republican proposal underscored the difficulties of finding an immigration reform compromise in the Republican-led House.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories How men can have a healthy 2019 The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Easing sanctions no easy goal for Irans president

first_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches The two sides of Iran under sanctions have come into sharper relief as the economic pain digs deeper _ and the country’s new president seeks ways to roll back the restrictions.On one level, government planners are working hard to find workarounds against the embargoes on oil exports and banking, while insisting Iran’s “resistance economy” can ride out anything the West can throw in its direction. But there is also the daily struggle and frustration faced by businesses and families as inflation heads toward 40 percent and unemployment, officially 13 percent but likely higher, climbs alongside it.The broad challenges posed by sanctions shape President Hasan Rouhani’s agenda this week at the U.N. General Assembly. He hopes to win promises to restart talks over Iran’s nuclear program and to make the case to the U.S. and its allies that easing sanctions could bring rewards in the form of concessions and greater cooperation from Tehran.Rouhani’s overtures have gained the attention of the White House. But Washington faces a policymaking quandary since many believe sanctions may have forced Iran into a bargaining mood. Reversing them as a confidence-building gesture _ even for the moderate Rouhani _ may bring an onslaught of criticism from Congress and ally Israel. In an important dress rehearsal for possible new talks, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, plans to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry and counterparts from five other world powers later this week. It will mark the highest-level contacts between the U.S. and Iran in six years.Rouhani, for his part, has to confront split personalities in Iran’s leadership. His outreach apparently has the all-important approval from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all key issues. Hard-liners, though, are not fully on board and could sharply turn against Rouhani if it looks like the West has snubbed him.Just before leaving for New York on Monday, Rouhani urged Western leaders to heed his appeals for greater dialogue and take steps to ease sanctions as a way to “reach joint interests” _ a reference to the nuclear standoff, but also possibly other regional flashpoints where Iran carries influence such as Iraq and Syria.The West should choose the “path of interaction, talks and leniency,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Rouhani as saying. Hours later, Rouhani was handed another possible diplomatic boost after Iran’s judiciary released 80 prisoners arrested in political crackdowns. Top Stories Iran has ruled out any chance of closing down its uranium enrichment program, which the West fears could eventually produce material for nuclear weapons. Iran insists that it only seeks reactors for energy and isotopes for medical treatments.That means Rouhani’s proposals will most likely focus on greater openness and other assurances over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.If those fail to win the West’s approval, Iran’s economy will continue to suffer. But officials say that while the public feels the pain, the state _ and its nuclear program _ will survive.“The economic effects of sanctions can’t be denied at all,” said Mohammad Nahavandian, an economist and Rouhani’s chief of staff. “Unfortunately, the pressure of sanctions is on the poorest sections of the society.”The U.S. has been applying various levels of sanctions on Iran for decades, but tighter restrictions by the West on the oil sector have cut exports from 2.5 million barrels in 2011 to 1.2 million. The U.S. has granted exemptions from possible American penalties to some key customers of Iranian oil, including China and Japan. But most countries have scaled back on overall Iranian oil imports. Comments   Share   “Regardless of pressure,” said Marzieh Afkham, spokeswoman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, “sanctions did not lead to a change of policy or change the path of people.”___Murphy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) At the same time, the hard-line Kayhan newspaper warned in a commentary that shaking hands with President Barack Obama would be a “big mistake” and would represent a concession to Washington without any direct benefit for Iran. It further denounced Obama as a “war criminal” for the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and its bases in the Gulf and elsewhere in the region.“This is the same evil hand that signed the economic punishments against Iranian nations,” it said.The uncompromising tone suggests rifts at Iran’s highest levels. Kayhan typically reflects the views of hard-liners close to Khamenei. These factions could pressure Khamenei to rein in Rouhani if they feel his efforts are heading off course.This is what makes Rouhani’s gambit over sanctions such a complicated move. It addresses a core issue in Iran _ getting some relief for the sinking economy _ but loosening the embargoes by the West would take some of the bite out of its main strategy, which many believe is now paying dividends by forcing Iranian outreach.“For this to work, Rouhani has to show, in very clear terms, what Iran would do in exchange for easing some of the sanctions,” said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, director of the Middle East Studies program at Syracuse University. “That remains to be seen.” Further U.S. measures have blocked Iran from directly tapping into even the reduced income, forcing Tehran to set up barter agreements _ India paying in agricultural products and China giving subway trains in exchange for oil.Steps to block Iran from international banking networks, meanwhile, sent the national currency, the rial, into free-fall in late 2012, losing 40 percent of its value in a matter of weeks. The rial has clawed back since Rouhani’s election in June, but is still far below its exchange value before the latest wave of sanctions.In response, Iran has tried to quickly retool its oil industry to concentrate on refined products, which can be more easily sold under the sanctions radar. The nearly complete Ilam petrochemical complex near the Iraq border, which is supposed to produce ethylene, fuel oil and other refined oil-based goods, is among more than half a dozen such facilities on the drawing board.Non-crude oil exports, such as pistachios, carpets and oil byproducts, have steady risen since 2010 to about $41 billion with more aggressive marketing and a bounce from the weaker rial.Officials _ even Rouhani’s top allies _ have sent the message that sanctions will not halt Iran’s nuclear program despite the crippling hits _ which his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described as an “economic war” waged by the West. TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Near Iran’s border with Iraq, work crews are putting finishing touches on a petrochemical plant expected to pump out hundreds of tons a year of oil-based products that the country hopes can slip through the net of Western economic sanctions.In Tehran’s bazaar, merchants must rely on shadowy money transfer networks to make purchases abroad because Iran is blocked from global banking systems. Inflation is so high that prices can jump between breakfast and dinner. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Oslo university admits mass killer Breivik to study program

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Mesa family survives lightning strike to home “It is important to us that he remains in his cell,” Lisbeth Kristine Roeyneland of the victims’ support group told Norwegian news agency NTB. “To us, it is irrelevant whether he sits there and reads fiction or whether he is studying a book of political science.”Hours before the attacks, Breivik emailed a 1,500-page, anti-Muslim manifesto, citing counter-jihadist groups who have condemned his actions and dismissed him as a lunatic. Breivik also claimed to be part of a secretive, non-existent network of “Knights Templar.”He set off a car bomb explosion that ripped open buildings in the heart of Norway’s government quarter in Oslo, then went to a summer camp dressed as a police officer and gunned down youths as they ran and swam for their lives.Breivik’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment on the development.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Convicted mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has been admitted to the University of Oslo’s political science program, although he will stay in his cell to study, the university’s rector said Friday.The 36-year-old right-wing extremist is serving 21 years in prison for killing 77 people in politically motivated bomb-and-gun massacres in 2011. The sentence can be extended when it expires. Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 “All inmates in Norwegian prisons are entitled to higher education in Norway if they meet the admission requirements,” university rector Ole Petter Ottersen said Friday in an email to The Associated Press.Breivik’s application was rejected two years ago after the university said his qualifications were insufficient. That submission stirred a debate in Norway over whether someone convicted of such a horrific crime should be considered for higher education.Norway has a rehabilitation-focused justice system aimed at helping inmates prepare for life after they get out, which includes giving them the right to pursue higher education. Before the 2011 attacks, Breivik attended high schools in Norway and took online course in small business management. But he had not completed secondary education, which he has been working on since his 2012 conviction.“He then didn’t meet the admission requirements. Now his grades live up to what is expected,” university spokeswoman Marina Tofting said.Breivik will begin the university program in August. Prison regulations will prevent him from going to the Oslo campus, attending classes, accessing digital learning resources or having any contact with students or university staff, Ottersen said. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

LAX is most popular Check In Airport on Facebook

first_imgLos Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the most ‘checked into’ airport in the world, yesterday receiving recognition from Facebook as the “Most Social Airport in the World”. More people are checking-in via Facebook or third-party location applications to the LAX Facebook page, launched in 2009 with nearly 39,200 fans, than any other airport worldwide. Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey recognised social media sites as a cost effective element in customer service, providing travellers with airport information, timely flight details, travel tips and even weather information. The airport also has much to tweet about to its 8,275 followers, with a $4 billion on-going renovation of new facilities in all terminals.  Social media offers a platform for comments and questions on this construction news and the future of LAX. “We’re excited to receive this recognition and are committed to ensuring these sites remain relevant and valuable to our travellers and fans,” Ms Lindsey said. Social Media will also be utilised to promote specials and surprises for fans and followers according to airport officials. Facebook Check in Icon Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.Wlast_img read more

7000th Airbus aircraft delivered

first_imgAirbus delivers an A321 to US Airways Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Airbus delivered its 7,000th aircraft, an A321, to United States-based US Airways which operates the largest fleet of Airbus aircraft in the world. This milestone comes just two years after the delivery of Airbus’ 6,000th aircraft has delivered in early 2010, highlighting the vitality of the commercial aviation sector.Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said It’s particularly fitting that our 7,000th aircraft is an A321 going to US Airways.“The airline not only operates the largest fleet of Airbus aircraft in the world; with over 220 A320 Family aircraft flying in US Airways colours today, they also operate the largest fleet of our best-selling, eco-efficient A320 Family,” Mr Enders said.US Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, Douglas Parker said the airline is celebrating a significant milestone in Airbus’ history.“It is an honor to be the recipient of their 7,000th delivery. On behalf of the 32,000 employees at US Airways, we applaud this tremendous accomplishment and look forward to a continued successful partnership,” Mr Parker said. Since delivering its first aircraft an A300B2 in May 1974, Airbus production output has been rapidly increasing.In March 1993, the 1,000th delivery landmark occurred with an A340-300, which was followed by the 2,000th handover six years later in May 1999 which was also an A340-300.Then In July 2002, just three years later the 3,000th Airbus aircraft was delivered an A320 followed by an A330-300 becoming the 4,000th aircraft supplied to a customer on September 2005.Only three years later, the 5,000 milestone was achieved in December 2007 with an A330-200 delivery to Qantas.  The 6,000th delivery was an A380 which was delivered to Emirates in January 2010. last_img read more

Tiger roars back to Cairns

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Tiger roars back into CairnsImage source: Australian Geographic Following its annoucement in early February 2012, Tiger Airways will resume its Melbourne to Cairns service tomorrow.The service will depart Melbourne Tullamarine at 8:50am and arrive at Cairns Airport at 12:15pm and the return service will depart Cairns at 12:45pm arriving back in Melbourne at 4:10pm.Tiger Airways Australia chief executive officer Andrew David said the airlines return to Cairns is another Australian milestone it can add to the list.  “In 2011 Cairns was voted the fastest growing domestic route in Australia so it should come as no surprise that we are responding to customer demand and in the process helping to level the competitive playing field,” Mr David said.  “Tiger has worked closely with Tourism Queensland/Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Cairns Airport and we are thrilled to bring back a service that will support North Queensland’s local economy and community.”Mr David said there are other destinations throughout Australia that are eager for the airlines return.“We continue to talk to our tourism and airport partners around the country and will be making further announcements in due course.”last_img read more