August, 2019 Archive

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Industry members give back to charity through Transat Sun Academies

first_imgIndustry members give back to charity through Transat Sun Academies Posted by Share Friday, September 29, 2017 Travelweek Group center_img Tags: Transat MONTREAL — Travel consultants and other industry members showed just how generous they can be at Transat Sun Academies this month, contributing over $7,900 to SOS Children’s Villages.This organization, present in 134 countries, is the world’s largest charity, providing homes for children who have been abandoned or orphaned.“A big thank-you to all the consultants who gave so generously again this year to the SOS Children’s Village cause that we care so much about,” said Dan Prior, Sales Manager, Ontario & Atlantic Canada, Transat Tours Canada. “We know that this money will help children who really need it.”All Sun Academy participant-donors were eligible to win an all-inclusive, seven-day holiday package at a Hard Rock Hotel in Mexico. There were three prizes drawn, one for each of the Quebec, Ontario, Atlantic Canada and Western Canada regions.The winners are: Lucie Gervais, Voyage Aquarelle, Quebec; Carie Mason, Durham Travel, Ontario and Atlantic; and Cheryl McDonald, ECSC Chestermere, Western Canada.More news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesTransat has been an SOS Children’s Villages partner since the fall of 2009. The tour operator has given a total of over $2 million to the organization since the beginning of this association. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Maverick Helicopters now offering tours of Kauai

first_imgMaverick Helicopters now offering tours of Kauai Tags: Hawaii, New Itineraries Posted by Share Travelweek Group center_img KAUAI — Maverick Helicopters is spreading its wings, all the way to Kauai.The award-winning division of Maverick Aviation Group is expanding operations to Hawaii’s northernmost and oldest island, Kauai, in quarter two of 2018. The expansion comes after nearly three years of successful operations on Maui and will be its the sixth permanent location.Flights will depart daily from the company’s facility at Port Allen Airport, located one mile southwest of Hanapepe, Kauai.“Maverick Helicopters is thrilled to offer our customers an unforgettable experience on the Garden Isle,” said Bryan Kroten, vice president of marketing at Maverick Helicopters. “With most of Kauai’s striking geographic marvels inaccessible by foot or road, helicopter travel provides the best way to see the island’s natural beauty.”Maverick’s new excursions will showcase Kauai’s spectacular landscapes, including Waimea Canyon, known as the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, which stretches 14 miles long, one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep. Passengers can also view the Napali Coast, Kauai’s 17-mile coastline, velvet green cliffs, cascading waterfalls and the vast Pacific Ocean.For more information go to flymaverick.com. << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, January 23, 2018 last_img read more

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Air Canada adds more capacity upgraded service from Toronto Montreal BC and

first_imgTags: Air Canada, Upgrade Travelweek Group Air Canada adds more capacity, upgraded service from Toronto, Montreal, B.C. and more Thursday, February 14, 2019 Posted bycenter_img Share MONTREAL — Air Canada is adding capacity and upgrading service from a long list of Canadian gateways, for select routes within Canada as well as routes to more than half a dozen key U.S. gateways.The changes are scheduled to take effect starting in May and June 2019.For transborder travel Air Canada will offer upgraded regional jet service from Toronto to Nashville, Washington Dulles and Memphis, plus it will add more frequencies from Toronto to Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Austin, TX.These changes are part of an ongoing transformation of Air Canada Express, says Mark Galardo, Vice President, Network Planning at Air Canada.“We are very pleased to offer customers travelling between Toronto and the cities of Nashville, Washington Dulles and Memphis an upgraded travel experience with larger and more comfortable aircraft featuring a choice of Business Class and WiFi options on all flights. We are also adding daily frequencies on our Toronto to Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Austin routes and from Montreal to Baltimore,” he added.These enhancements are in addition to Air Canada’s recent announcement it will launch new daily flights from Montreal to Raleigh and increase capacity by deploying larger aircraft with Business Class and WiFi options on its Toronto to Raleigh and Charlotte flights.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Air Canada is also making enhancements on several of its Eastern Canadian regional routes for spring 2019, specifically its Toronto to Fredericton, Moncton, Thunder Bay and Montreal to St. John’s flights.Aircraft on the routes will be upgraded from Air Canada Express regional aircraft to larger Air Canada Rouge A319s with inflight amenities.Capacity will also be added between Calgary and Halifax, with A320s.“Air Canada is upgrading key Eastern Canada routes currently operated with all-economy regional aircraft by deploying larger Air Canada Rouge jets which offer a choice of two cabins, WiFi and in-flight entertainment streamed to personal devices,” says Galardo. “We are pleased to add more travel options to and from Newfoundland and Labrador by increasing capacity on our flights to St. John’s via our Montreal hub which offers excellent connections to and from our extensive North American and global network. With our varied and flexible fleet, we are also adding capacity to our popular Calgary-Halifax seasonal flight with larger mainline Airbus A320 aircraft, with connections in Calgary conveniently linking eastern and western Canada.”More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upAir Canada is also boosting capacity for Vancouver Island, Northern B.C., the B.C. Interior, Saskatoon and Winnipeg with Bombardier Q-400 Next Gen aircraft.“Air Canada is strategically enhancing the flying experience and increasing capacity this summer on key regional routes in Western Canada.  The ultra-quiet, comfortable, fuel efficient and faster Q-400 aircraft will be well-received by our customers and is larger than the regional aircraft it is replacing.  We are pleased to deploy it to more communities in Western Canada as we further strengthen our regional network to optimize all significant connections between our extensive regional and global markets,” notes Galardo. “With our varied and flexible fleet, we are also adding frequencies to our Vancouver-Anchorage and adding capacity to our Calgary-Winnipeg route with larger Airbus aircraft in response to demand.” << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Guanacaste megaproject in courts hands

first_imgFrom the print editionBy Suzanna Lourie | Special to The Tico TimesFLAMINGO BEACH, Guanacaste – Despite a pending injunction against Las Catalinas, a massive luxury housing project near Flamingo Beach and Potrero, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, has given the green light for developers to build a private road on the property.The court halted construction at the 1,200-acre site in early August while it studied a lawsuit filed by environmental advocates seeking an injunction. On Aug. 31, the court said it would allow the new road, but other work would be suspended pending a review of the case.Luis Carlos Sánchez and Roberto Faris, both noted environmentalists, filed the lawsuit against Las Catalinas Holding Properties Limited, alleging the project was improperly using well water without the proper permits. The lawsuit also asked the Sala IV to investigate other permits issued at the site due to alleged irregularities in drilling and logging. “It’s more frustrating than anything else,” said Las Catalinas General Manager James Berry, who oversees daily operations at the site. “We had to fire 80 people, and after six years of hard work and doing everything correctly, to have to stop and wait [is frustrating].”For several weeks, the Sala IV has reviewed the legality of permits granted by the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute and other government agencies. Although the development team at Las Catalinas is confident the court will find no error in the project’s building permits and legal records, members of the regional environmental group Confraternidad Guanacasteca aren’t convinced. “We spent a year and a half going through all of Las Catalinas’ records and came to the conclusion that it looks like the environment is being violated,” said Confraternidad member Robert Campbell, an expat who has lived in Costa Rica for 11 years. In the case of Las Catalinas, the Confraternidad was one of the primary forces that investigated the project, eventually leading them to build a case to submit to the Sala IV in August. “I’m for sustainable development and respecting the land, but at Las Catalinas they are planning on building around 2,500 houses, and the fact is there are not enough resources to support that high of a demand,” Campbell said. According to Campbell, Las Catalinas has been getting its well water from an aquifer that hasn’t been properly studied to find out whether or not it can meet the demands of the large development project. “When you start a project, one basic requirement is you have enough water for it,” Campbell said. “If you’re in a rural area you need a viable concession for water.”Campbell said developers might have pure intentions with the project, and that they would likely point to documents from the municipality believed to be proper water concessions, but he questioned if the letters were valid.“It’s not atypical; some municipalities don’t even know what a letter of water concession is,” Campbell said. “Most developers don’t know what’s …  real versus what’s fudged because they don’t understand the details in Spanish,” Campbell said. Confraternidad also believes that Las Catalinas has been developing on forested land versus building on the approved pastureland. “The challenge here is development in Costa Rica is almost impossible; it doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, good or bad, rich or poor, it’s more about the regulations,” Campbell added.In response to questions raised by the Confraternidad, Las Catalinas developers stand by their legal documents, as well as how they have been interpreted. One of the key organizations required to submit a report to the Sala IV was the Environment Ministry (MINAET), which filed a document to the court written by Environment Minister René Castro. According to Michael Garcia, director of environmental and community affairs for Las Catalinas, Castro studied reports from  MINAET’s water issues office and the Tempisque Conservation Area and recommended judges “declare the claim placed by Roberto Faris Campbell without merit because all procedures are being performed legally as outlined in the report.” The MINAET document was released after The Tico Times interviewed Campbell, but Berry said Las Catalinas’ response to Confraternidad’s allegations have been the same throughout the process: Las Catalinas believes the court’s investigation will show they have not engaged in improper activity, and government agencies will recommend the construction ban be thrown out, he said.  Building another dreamWhile the court continues to investigate, Berry said he is focused on development goals set by major shareholder and investor Charles Brewer, a U.S. real estate mogul from Atlanta, Georgia, who hopes to pioneer “new urbanism” in Costa Rica. “Las Catalinas will be a town, where the different elements of life, such as houses, apartments, shops and workplaces, are together on walkable streets, rather than separated into separate pods,” Brewer told The Tico Times in 2010. “One of the things I hope we will accomplish is to introduce a pattern of development that I think would serve Costa Rica wonderfully well, which is that of a compact, walkable town with lots of preserved nature surrounding it,” he added.Brewer and his group of 25 investors plan to build 2,000 homes initially priced at $495,000-$995,000. Although Brewer doesn’t expect his community-building goal to be fulfilled for decades, as the town develops, prices are expected drop to the $125,000 range (TT, April 16, 2010). Six years after planning, zoning and building started, the evidence of what Las Catalinas could become is standing ready and open to the public, developers said. A wooden boardwalk runs parallel to the beach, lined by seven finished homes, four public plazas, Lola’s del Norte Restaurant, an outdoor gear and watersport shop as well as several playgrounds and lounge areas.  According to Berry, some of the most frequent visitors to Las Catalinas are families from Liberia, Santa Cruz and neighboring Potrero, who come to spend a day at the beach. The town model based on new urbanism is a design movement Brewer has been actively involved with in the United States. One of the movement’s core principles is a sustainable development model that originated when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began to realize that a high-density, suburban model – with two-acre, side-by-side plots – was worse for the environment than a low-density plan, where development is concentrated in one area.Developers vs. EnvironmentalistsAs developers at Las Catalinas noted, creating a sustainable model is complex, and inevitable tensions arise between large-scale developers and environmental organizations in Costa Rica. Concerns from environmental groups about the effect Las Catalinas would have on local ecosystems existed from the beginning of the project, but they appear to have changed from questions of plausibility to environmental integrity. In 2010, Gadi Amit, president of Confraternidad Guanacasteca, told The Tico Times the idea behind Las Catalinas was “not ambitious, but unrealistic,” because Sugar Beach, just south of the Las Catalinas property, is crippled by an erratic and insufficient water supply. “It will be very difficult for the development they have in mind to be supplied with all the resources promised. I’m sure the developers have the best intentions, but creating a project as big as this is almost always accompanied by problems,” he said.“We’re only developing 20 percent of the land,” Berry countered, adding that, “the other 80 percent we’ve been actively reforesting for the last six years. We planted 5,000 trees, and of those, the average mortality rate is only 10 percent, even though we have forest fires.”Berry said local forest fires have been controlled since Las Catalinas hired a trained fire brigade to help extinguish fires on the property. The brigade also helps out neighboring towns including Potrero and Flamingo, he added.“We really want to be a model of sustainability in Costa Rica,” Berry said. “We know building a town doesn’t happen overnight, and we’re committed to doing whatever needs to happen to see that vision become a reality.” In the meantime, Berry extended an invitation for anyone interested to come and see the Las Catalinas project. “If you don’t believe it, come see what we’re doing,” he said. “There’s no gate. You don’t need an invitation, you don’t need a reservation and you don’t need to pay. Come see it for yourself.” Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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FlamingoPotrero News

first_imgNo related posts. Our wishes for a full recovery for Flamingo residentJohn Critchley, who underwent an emergency appendectomy recently in San José. Also, our prayers are with Denio and Ewa Mack from Flamingo. They were in San José and are now in the U.S. seeking emergency and extended medical care for Denio.Ladies: The 3rd Annual Gold Coast Women’s Group event takes place Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Mar y Sol Restaurant in Flamingo from 5-8 p.m. This year, the show is being sponsored by Azul Profundo of Tamarindo. “We will be taking your taste buds and fashion sense on a world tour,” organizers say. For each country being showcased, there will be representative beverages, food, fashion and music. Valet parking is gratis, but carpooling is highly encouraged. Individual tickets are $30 and a table of eight is $200. Tickets may be purchased from ReMax Real Estate office located next to BCR, Azul Profundo in Tamarindo (azulprofundoboutique@yahoo.com), Maureen Thompson (Costaricamom@gmail.com) and Anne Scalf (annescalf@gmail.com).Monday, Oct. 8, a dual celebration for Columbus Day and Canadian Thanksgiving Day took place. It honored Colombus’ first voyage to the Americas in 1492 and the Canadian celebration of the harvest and other blessings of the past year.From time to time, there is an outbreak of distemper in our beach communities. Recently, a major outbreak in Brasilito killed more than 70 dogs. Dawn and Sid Scott of Flamingo had spent several days either vaccinating or taking dogs to Dr. Gilbert in Villa Real to be put mercifully to sleep. Dr. Ramírez, head of SENASA in Santa Cruz, was in the loop to help as well. Please get your dogs vaccinated because distemper is very contagious and a horrible way for a dog to die.–Babe Hopkinstbabehopkins@gmail.com Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Minister Environment tops 2013 agenda

first_img Alberto Font “We’re going to review [fuel] subsidies given to fishermen, which are not reaching artisanal fishermen as they’re intended to do, but rather are benefiting industrial-sized fleets. That has cost the country $100 million in the past five years,” Castro said. “We’re also working to help artisanal fishermen understand how to sustainably manage multiple-use marine areas, such as the Gulf of Nicoya.” In late December, Castro and Water and Oceans Vice Minister José Lino Chaves met with artisanal fishermen in the gulf to design responsible fishing strategies. “We want responsible fishing that doesn’t eliminate our resources, and we should create protected areas based on an overall plan for fishing,” said Wilson Pérez, a leader of artisanal fishermen in Puerto Thiel, in the Gulf of Nicoya.Castro said that in 2013, the administration will form a new group responsible for monitoring coastal areas with radar and helicopters, in an effort to combat illegal fishing and other environmentally damaging activities. In a joint operation in late December, park rangers from the Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA) and National Police officers seized equipment used in an illegal mining operation inside the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica. According to ACOSA Regional Director Etilma Morales, officials used satellite technology and a helicopter to disrupt the operation.Chaves said the administration’s environmental efforts need to be joined by actions by citizens. “The public should understand that if we destroy our rivers, wetlands, oceans and water sources, we’re destroying ourselves and the best part of our country. We need to understand that development should happen with the sustainable management of our ecosystems,” he said. Upgrading the Transport SectorSwitching to clean-energy technology and upgrading the country’s buses and taxis are also priorities for ministry officials, who hope to begin importing more natural gas in 2013, as well as using more wind and solar power, and purchasing cheaper, cleaner electricity from private generators. Costa Rica hopes to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021, and reducing its carbon emissions is a top priority for the current administration, according to Castro. “Unless we replace buses and taxis with ones that use cleaner fuel, carbon neutrality will be a utopia,” Castro said. “We held a very productive meeting with bus owners in December, and we plan on meeting with taxi owners this month. They will have to make decisions based on norms established by the government in terms of efficiency and emissions,” he added. Conservation EffortsCastro also promised to focus on forestry conservation this year. The government has $63 million donated by the World Bank’s Carbon Fund, and in national parks, officials hope to modernize infrastructure, both for tourists and for park guards. That includes better trails at Carara and Manuel Antonio national parks, to be inaugurated during the first quarter of 2013. The National System of Conservation Areas will invest more than $25 million on upgrading the parks from its own funds and from a loan by the Inter-American Development Bank. “This is going to be an intense year of work, as our environmental agenda is extremely important for Costa Ricans; it’s going to be a broad and complex agenda, and we need help and support starting now from everyone who lives here,” Castro said. Facebook Comments Environment Minister René Castro. Protecting rivers and oceans will be a priority in 2013 for the Environment Ministry, as well as adopting cleaner technologies and updating Costa Rica’s public transport sector, officials announced this week.The ministry plans on cleaning up polluted rivers and watersheds, among other measures. “In Costa Rica, we’ve lived with our backs turned on our oceans and rivers, and the situation has become disastrous at several rivers and coastal areas. But we’re changing at the [Environment Ministry] in order to address these issues properly,” Environment Minister René Castro told The Tico Times. Castro said that one of the administration’s achievements in 2012 was pushing forward a “Blue Agenda,” which calls for new measures to protect oceans and rivers, as well as the creation of a new Water and Oceans Vice Ministry. Ministry officials are preparing a series of measures to identify, register and protect major aquifers and threatened wetlands, he said. Officials also will initiate river cleanup initiatives, starting with rivers in the San José metropolitan area, home to some of the most polluted rivers and streams in Central America. Officials also hope to reduce the use of pesticides that often pollute Costa Rican waterways, and to strengthen environmental legislation. In coastal areas, environment officials plan on implementing a “maritime control and vigilance” strategy, which includes promoting responsible fishing and sustainable development projects. Officials would like to see better regulation of development in coastal areas.  No related posts.last_img read more

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Authorities seize a ton of cocaine off Costa Ricas Pacific coast

first_imgNo related posts. From Sunday to Tuesday, U.S. and Costa Rican officials confiscated a ton of cocaine transported in two drug boats in the Pacific Ocean, authorities reported.Six people were arrested during the operation, including four Costa Ricans, two Mexicans and a Colombian, Costa Rica’s anti-drug police director, Mario Boraschi, said.Boraschi said that on Sunday, U.S. patrol boats stopped a ship flying the Costa Rica flag that had 500 kilograms of cocaine on board. Two Costa Ricans and two Mexicans were arrested.On Tuesday, some 180 miles from the central Pacific port city of Puntarenas, officials stopped a second boat with 500 kg of cocaine on board. Three Costa Ricans and a Colombian man were arrested on the second boat.Boraschi said the arrests were made thanks to a joint patrol operation by the United States and Costa Rica that used a radar system to track drug boats in the area.“We are waiting [for the suspects] to arrive at the port to initiate criminal proceedings against them,” Boraschi said.According to an official report released this week, Costa Rica has seized 3.2 tons of cocaine already this year.Like other Central American countries, Costa Rica is an important transit route for cocaine that is shipped from South America to consumers in the U.S. An estimated 90 percent of all cocaine destined for the U.S. market passes through Central America. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Chinchilla looks for way out of highway row

first_imgThe administration of President Laura Chinchilla turned to dialogue Tuesday as a way to stamp out the fires of public discontent over a highway expansion project to San Ramón, on the western edge of the Central Valley.The president promised not to move forward on a concession with Brazilian company OAS for expansion of the San José-San Ramón Highway, a 57-kilometer stretch of road leading northwest from the capital, until an agreement is reached.Roadway expansion work was set to begin in September, but public protests forced the administration to postpone their plans.But despite the government’s willingness to discuss the issue, no specific solutions have been put forward, as most of the concession was finalized without public input. Local residents who would have to use the highway would pay $8 in round-trip tolls if the $524 million project moved forward.“The government has focused its efforts on responding to the concerns and listening to the points of view of various actors,” Communications Minister Francisco Chacón said on Tuesday. “The president has taken charge of the situation, and it’s an issue that she’s being very careful with.”Officials hope to find a solution that will meet their goal of renovating and expanding the route to cut down on travel time, while avoiding a $35 million fine the government said it would incur if the contract with OAS is broken.On Tuesday, Chinchilla removed Public Works and Transport Minister Pedro Castro from negotiations over the concession, a measure aimed at appeasing opponents after it surfaced that Castro had worked as a paid consultant for OAS on the project.Alajuela residents, however, called Castro’s removal a “smokescreen.”“Pedro Castro isn’t the enemy, the concession is,” Nuria Badilla, a resident who would be affected by the proposed tolls, told crhoy.com.A group of residents opposed to the project called the “Foro de Occidente” (Western Forum) announced on their Facebook page they would meet Tuesday night to plan an upcoming demonstration against the concession. Facebook Comments Related posts:Border road scandal broadens Probe widens in roadway scandal Chinchilla’s troubles continue over San Ramón highway concession President Solís asks Prosecutor’s Office to review ethics report on former transport ministerlast_img read more

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Bill seeks to eliminate trawling nets in Costa Rica

first_imgCitizen Action Party lawmaker María Eugenia Venegas on Thursday presented a bill to the Legislative Assembly aimed at prohibiting the possession and sale of trawling nets in the country. The bill also seeks to close a loophole in current laws that allows shrimp trawlers to continue operating, but bans the use of trawling nets on other fishing boats.Environmental organizations Pretoma and MarViva helped draft the bill.According to Pretoma, some 80 percent of the total catch in trawling nets is later discarded. Costa Rica’s shrimp fleet discards some 4,000-6,000 metric tons of bycatch each year. In addition, trawlers snag some 15,000 sea turtles annually.If passed, the bill also would revoke fishing licenses for approximately 100 semi-industrial fishermen who currently use trawlers.Fishing companies in the country have used trawling nets for more than 50 years. Artisanal fishermen also use them, mostly in the Gulf of Nicoya. The bill would provide assistance to artisanal fishermen who quit trawling.The Assembly’s Agricultural Affairs Commission is studying the proposal. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Biden to discuss child migrants at Guatemala visit

first_imgU.S. Vice President Joe Bidentravels to Guatemala on Friday to discuss the growing numbers of unaccompanied minors from Central America and Mexico illegally trying to cross the U.S. border.U.S. officials have called the tidal wave of children arriving to the United States alone after making the treacherous journey a “humanitarian crisis” and have pledged special assistance — but not to let them stay.Biden will meet with the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as a senior representative from Honduras’ government and Mexico’s interior secretary to “develop concrete proposals to address the root causes of unlawful migration from Central America,” the White House said.U.S. President Barack Obama also spoke with his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto on the eve of the talks to discuss a “regional strategy” tackling the migrants, the release said.During the call, Obama noted that the United States and Mexico can help by “working together to return the children safely to their families and to build Central American capacity to receive returned individuals,” the White House said.Obama also urged Mexico to “help target the criminals that lure families to send children on the dangerous journey and to alert potential migrants to the perils of the journey and the likelihood that they will be returned to Central America,” it said.A White House official said Biden will emphasize that illegal immigration — and putting children in the hands of traffickers — is not safe, and U.S. immigration code does not allow children to cross the border without papers.Between October 2013 and the end of May 2014, U.S. border officials intercepted more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors trying to illegally enter the United States, almost twice the number registered between October 2012 and the end of September 2013.Guatemala says around 1,550 of its emigrant children are currently in shelters in Texas and Arizona.Honduras said Wednesday it was preparing to receive around 13 undocumented migrant children detained in the United States and Mexico.Guatemalan Foreign Minister Fernando Carrera expressed alarm at the “explosion” in child migration during the last nine months.He attributed the increase to children looking to be reunited with their families living in the United States.But the nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America said increasing violence and pressure to join criminal gangs is also feeding the drive to flee for a better life.Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina said he will also raise the issue of “temporary protected status” — an immigration benefit given to migrants from countries where it is temporarily unsafe to return — asking for it to be accorded to Guatemalans who arrived in the United States before 2011.Currently, Honduras and El Salvador, but not Guatemala, are among the countries whose migrants are able to apply for “temporary protected status.”Guatemala is the last stop on Biden’s four-country tour of Latin America. Related posts:Did we forget the lesson the ‘Greatest Generation’ fought so hard to learn? Central American child migrant crisis ‘one of the greatest tragedies,’ says Costa Rica’s Solís US nation-building efforts should be in Central America, not Iraq and Afghanistan Remittances account for 10 percent of Guatemala’s GDP Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Seattles only legal pot shop runs out of marijuana after 3 days

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO, California – Cannabis City in Seattle, the only shop in Washington’s largest city to legally offer marijuana, ran out of stock on the third day of state-approved retail sales, its owner said.The store, one of 25 licensed statewide this week, had 11 pounds (4,990 grams) of pot when it opened July 8 and sold out about 5 p.m. local time Thursday, owner James Lathrop said. With taxes, 2-gram bags sold for $46.77, he said.“We knew it was coming,” Lathrop said. “We didn’t have any guaranteed additional deliveries.”Washington, home to Amazon.com, Microsoft and Starbucks, became the second state after Colorado to permit the sale of marijuana for recreational use. Voters in both states approved ballot initiatives in 2012, and Colorado retailers began sales in January.Lathrop said growers didn’t receive licenses in time to produce enough marijuana for the store openings this week. The plants take three to four months to mature, he said.Washington issued 90 licenses to pot growers and processors as of last week, according to Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the agency charged with regulating the industry. Alison Holcomb, criminal justice director of the ACLU of Washington, speaks with the media after purchasing marijuana at the Cannabis City retail marijuana store on July 8, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. David Ryder/Getty Images/AFP© 2014, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments Related posts:Medical marijuana opponents’ most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research 92 percent of California patients say medical marijuana works Cannabis on a high in 2014 The New York Times calls for marijuana legalizationlast_img read more

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Ode to the corn tortilla

first_imgRelated posts:Experience new sensations dining blind at Racó La Voz de Guanacaste marks holiday with video tribute to beloved northwestern province Christmas cheer, oxcart parades, and other happenings around Costa Rica Festival of Light, Egyptian dancers, and other happenings around Costa Rica It is a cold and stormy night. We children are starving and dinner is almost ready. The meat is cooked, the rice is done. Now the best part – they’re making tortillas frommasa right on the stove. The smell is intoxicating. And we hear the tortillas being slapped from rolled masa balls into tortillas between warm, loving hands, making the wait all the more painful.Everything on our plate is devoured inside these piping hot, thickish, homemade corn tortillas. When food is eaten in a tortilla, in Costa Rica we’ve traditionally called that a gallo.Flash forward: Working at construction sites, or grabbing a quick lunch at work in San José. A chunk of chicken with a pile of warm, corn tortillas. I could take on the world after that.Another flash-forward: Living and working in Mexico (Durango, Zacatecas, Sinaloa) as a geologist. Going out with the field crew, the camp cook loads up our bags with a variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, and, yes, corn tortillas, rolled into a piece of cloth. Lunchtime comes, and regardless of the weather, regardless of the horrible conditions, everything stops while we light a fire, fill our tortillas, warm them over the fire, and stuff them down before a short siesta, and then we take on the world.We could start with a discussion of corn and where it came from, which isn’t clear, but we don’t have time to get into that. “Tortilla” is an Old World term from Spain that usually refers to what in other European countries might be considered a frittata, or open omelet. Discovering corn in the New World, and the masa that could be made from it on metates, gave the colonizing Europeans a whole new view of gastronomy. It has become a ubiquitous staple throughout Mexico and Central America, and a good part of South America where it sometimes goes by other names, like arepa.Unfortunately, in large portions of northern Mexico and southwestern United States conditions were too arid for corn. But there was flour. So, reluctantly our forefathers in these parts improvised making tortillas with flour, to everyone’s chagrin.I don’t know about you, but when I was a young one in arts or crafts class, we mixed flour and water to make glue. And for making papier-mâché thingamabobs, which eventually dried out unless lacquered somehow. In high school, we met some Texans who immigrated for the regulation three-year stint at the embassy. They invited us over for Texan food, and dumbfounded, we watched them pour gobs of flour glue on the grill, creating tortilla-looking things that we were then supposed to eat. They tasted like fried glue to us.Don’t get me wrong. My Better Half is a Texan, and this is what she grew up with. I’ve also lived in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, so I understand that the flour tortilla has become a staple, and amazingly, even favored over corn tortillas by those who simply don’t know any better. Plus, my favorite Tex/NM/Ari/Cali-Mex food includes the chimichanga (invented, by the way on 22nd Street in south Tucson), which is one of my favorite things to eat, anywhere, anytime. Not to mention the burrito, which I’ll take on like the best of them, and always in a flour tortilla. And don’t get me going on the churro, glue extruded and fried in front of you, served hot and covered with sugar. Nothing better – what fried glue is supposed to taste like.But come on! Andrés Madrigal/The Tico TimesWe went to a taco [sic] joint here in San José. There was a salad bar of sorts with great fillings, a very inspiring menu of taco-like edibles, and a friendly crew serving a 99 percent Gringo clientele. We ordered a number of things, and because I wasn’t asked (which is what is normally done in the U.S.), I specified, just to make sure, that we wanted tortillas de maíz, as if such an obvious thing even had to be said. The girl blushed. She shuffled her feet. She couldn’t look us in the eye.“Ay perdόn, es que aquí no nos dejan trabajar con tortillas de maíz.”Gadzooks! We left.Sure, in retrospect, of course I understand. They’re catering to a niche that prefers the glue to the corn, and might even be insulted if a corn tortilla was seen anywhere on the premises. But don’t expect the Ticos to come a-runnin’ unless they’re under the impression that because that’s what you eat in the U.S., it’s better, like a Big Mac.So in the meantime, I have a fridge full of Escazú’s finest tortillas caseras (homemade), and I’m determined to make my other half (the “better” part waiting to see how this goes) appreciate the corn, oh heavenly manna in which we wrap our protein. Of course she loves the cob, slurps up the chowder, and has no problem munching a can of the creamed when feeling peckish. Maybe I’ll slip them into a casserole with enough spice to make even that Texan palate go “Gadzooks!”And of course, corn tortillas are better than glue on the digestion. That’s what I’ll tell her!Jonathan Harris is a Costa Rican geologist and president of The Tico Times’ board of directors. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Arcadios World

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Oktoberfest clarinet allstars and other happenings around Costa Rica

first_imgOktober Beer FestOktoberfest returns to Costa Rica with two days of concerts featuring more than 12 bands, and the final rounds of “The Beer Games” and “How to Make Beer at Home.” Many international breweries will be present, as well as national and international craft beer brewers. The organizers have arranged 50 different bus routes to make it easier for people to reach the out-of-the-way location.“Oktober Beer Fest” takes place Oct. 3-4 at Parque Viva, La Guácima. 11 a.m. – midnight. ₡10,000 – 15,000 ($20 – 30). More info at the Oktober Beer Fest Facebook page.Oktober GaffPrefer an East-side bash? Another Oktober Fest held by El Gaff will feature eight of the Costa Rica’s craft beer breweries: El Buho, Sin Corbata, Os Beer Co., Niño Huracán, Rancho Humo, Cervecería Gracia, La Cofradía Brewing Co., and the Costa Rica Craft Brewing Company. The price of the ticket includes a glass of beer.“Oktober Gaff” takes place Oct. 3 at El Gaff, San Pedro. 12 m.d. ₡4,000 ($8). For more information call 2234-1596. Wine ExpoBeer not your style? (Yes, this is the last alcohol-related event in this listing.) Taste wines from Germany, United States, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Greece, among others. At the stands you will be able to talk to the winemakers and buy wines at a discount.“Expo Vino” takes place Oct. 8 – 9 at Salon de Eventos Pedregal, $65 – 75. 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. More info at ExpoVino Website.Theatre: “Deja Vu”Mimes Alexander Neander and Wolfram Von Bodecker, followers of the great French artist Marcel Marceau, will bring a cosmic and surrealistic universe to the stage of the Melico Salazar Theatre. Neander and Bodecker have performed at many renowned festivals around the world, and won the People’s Choice Best Gestural Theater Spectacle Award in Berlin.“Deja Vu” will be performed Oct. 7 at Melico Salazar Theatre, downtown San José. 8 p.m. ₡19,000 – 42,000 ($40 – 84). For more information call  2295-6032.First Inclusive Art Festival of CartagoThe festival will be divided into three main events. A painting workshop for people with disabilities will take place from 9 a.m. – 12 m.d., followed by an exhibition of crafts by members of the Atjala Association: Center for Integral Attention for Adults with Disabilities, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Finally, a dance and a performance of a play will take place at 7 p.m., with a cost of ₡2,500 ($5). Additional activities will surround these three main events throughout the day.“Primer Festival Artístico Inclusivo de Cartago” takes place Oct. 3 at Casa de Ciudad, downtown Cartago, east of San José, 9 a.m.-evening. Free (except for the play at 7 p.m., ₡2,500 ($5). More info at RedCultura WebsiteTheatre: “A Ciegas”This free adaptation of the play “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre will be performed at the Casa Museo in Barrio Amón; the Oct. 4 performance will include a tour of the museum as a preamble of that day’s performance. Check out our preview, also in today’s edition.“A Ciegas” will be performed October 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 at 8 p.m., and October 4 and 11 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. At Casa Museo, Barrio Amón. For more information call 8420-9161 / 8997-5813, or visit the event’s Facebook page.Music: International Clarinet FestivalGet ready for six days of concerts by students and professionals from near and far, including Michael Arrignon, from the Queen Sofia Superior Music School of Spain; Ronald Van Spaendonck, of the Normal School of Paris; and Alcides Rodríguez, clarinettist of the New York Philharmonic. Concerts will be held Oct. 5 at the University of Costa Rica’s Teatro de Bellas Artes at 5 p.m., Oct. 6-7 at Eugene O’Neill Theatre in Barrio Dent at 5 p.m., Oct. 8 at the National Institute of Music at 4 p.m.; Oct. 9 at Sala Cullell of the University of Costa Rica at 5 p.m.; and Oct. 10 at the National Institute of Music at 1 p.m.“Festival Internacional de Clarinetes de Costa Rica” will take place Oct. 5 – 10 at different theaters around San José. Free. For more information call 2240-0333, or visit The National Institute of Music Facebook page.Theatre: “Perhaps”Guatemalan actress Magdalena Morales will perform a monologue about identity, joined by musician Óscar Jiménez. Based on the work of the Guatemalan poet Vania Vargas and the work of the compositor Carlos José Castro, the monologue uses puppets to show how the main character ages.“Quizá” will be performed Oct. 2-3 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Arts School of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), in San Pedro. ₡4,000 – 5,000 ($8 – 10). More info at the RedCultura Website.Circus: “Saint Expedite”Group Punto Muerto has prepared a show full of acrobatics, contemporary dance, aerial acrobatics, and many surprises.“San Expedito” will be performed Oct. 2 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 3-4 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Dance Theater inside the National Cultural Center (CENAC), downtown San José. ₡2,000 – 4,000 ($4 – 8).Upcoming Concerts:Fly Again – Pro Brazil: Cantoamérica will offer a concert alongside the band Infibeat in order to raise funds for their trip to Brazil, where the group has been invited by musician Leandro Maia to play at a university in the south of the country. Oct. 2 at MundoLoco El Chante, San Pedro. 9 p.m. ₡4,000 ($8). For more information call 2253-4125.Akasha: The rock band will be playing their three albums, including their latest “Revoluciones.” Oct. 3 at MundoLoco El Chante, San Pedro. 9 p.m. ₡4,000 – 5,000 ($8 – 10). For more information call 2253-4125. Facebook Comments Related posts:San Ramón celebrates, International Guitar Festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica Serrat concert, live karaoke, and other happenings around Costa Rica Design Festival, Marine Corps picnic, and other happenings around Costa Rica Nrmal Festival, Expo Tattoo, and other happenings around Costa Ricalast_img read more

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High tides expected along Pacific coast this week

first_imgRelated posts:High tides flood hundreds of homes along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast Hundreds left homeless by Costa Rica flooding Heavy rains cause flooding in Costa Rica’s southern Pacific region Landslides block roads, cause losses at farms in Tilarán The University of Costa Rica’s Marine Sciences Research Center (CIMAR) reported Friday that high tides could cause flooding in communities along the Pacific coast starting Tuesday.The rise in tides is expected due to effects of a full moon, the proximity of Earth to the sun and, to a lesser extent, the increase in sea level caused by an El Niño weather phenomenon, according to CIMAR.Oceanographers forecast that tide levels likely will exceed 3 meters (10 feet) starting Tuesday and will reach their maximum height at 3:31 a.m. on Thursday.High tides, on average, will be 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) lower than those recorded at the end of September, when high tides flooded several communities in Puntarenas province.Tides next week are expected to generate big, powerful waves up to 2 meters (6.6 feet). These waves could cause similar flooding in coastal areas, “especially along open beaches in Puntarenas and Guanacaste such as Jacó, Hermosa, Panamá, Junquillal and Cuajiniquil,” CIMAR stated.Flooding in downtown Puntarenas could be similar to that experienced last month, however this time it would be caused primarily by overflow of the adjacent estuary. Floods are not expected to affect the Paseo de los Turistas.CIMAR’s forecast states that flooding is most likely to occur in the early mornings and evenings and that the effects could be heightened by rains expected next week. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Caja to stop printing social security slips starting next year

first_imgRelated posts:Mandatory prices for medical procedures rankle public, politicians Costa Rica welcomes first IVF baby after 16-year ban Number of obese Ticos has almost quadrupled in four decades Social Security System launches anti-influenza vaccination campaign The Social Security System, orCaja, will stop printing its ubiquitous monthly insurance slips starting Jan. 1. The print document, or orden patronal, will no longer be a requirement for people requesting services at public hospitals or at any other public office.Insurance holders who attend hospitals will only need to present their personal identification and their Caja card. All other insurance information will be available online on the Caja website.The online platform already allows people to register to get a username, a password and a security code that will grant access to their insurance status, current and former employer’s information, salary records, and updated records about their pensions.The security code consists of the letters “OP” plus four digits. The code is valid for up to two years, but people can generate a new one as needed on the website.Caja Executive President María del Rocío Sáenz said the change is key for eliminating costly red tape both in public agencies and private sector companies.Sáenz said the new system will save the ₡200 million (some $356,000) the Caja invests each year in printing nearly 14 million insurance slips.Verification processRónald Lacayo Monge, the Caja’s administrative manager, said at a press conference on Tuesday that public offices or private companies seeking to confirm people’s security status can also register on the new system. Registration will allow agencies or companies to verify a person’s basic information and insurance status using the person’s security code.The system also allows users, companies or public agencies to download, if required, a social security slip in PDF format.Foreign residentsForeign workers and residents holding a Caja insurance policy also can use the new online system. However, they must register and request their first security code in person at Caja headquarters in downtown San José or at the agency’s branches in other provinces.They will be asked to present their current Caja insurance number and the number of their Immigration Identification Card for Foreign Persons (DIMEX). Once registered, they will receive a username and password so they can access the online system.Caja spokesman Diego Coto told The Tico Times that the Caja is currently working with the Immigration Administration to allow foreign residents the opportunity to register online in the near future. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Costa Rica presents interoceanic canal project

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:Moín cargo terminal will not be ready in January Travel Alert: Route 32 to Limón to close for two days this week Cargo ferry between Costa Rica, El Salvador to start in July Study: Costa Rica’s natural food producers should eye Canada’s West Coast MOPT/Googlecenter_img Officials from various public agencies announced that they are evaluating a proposal to build an interoceanic shipping canal through the country’s northern zone to connect ports on the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts of Costa Rica.The National Concessions Council (CNC) on Monday confirmed they have received the proposal for the $16 billion project from Canal Seco de Costa Rica (CANSEC), a private consortium.The megaproject would link three ports: one on the Caribbean coast in Parismina, another in San Carlos, north of Alajuela province and another in Santa Elena, in La Cruz, Guanacaste.Silvia Jiménez, technical director of the CNC, said at a press conference on Monday that ports would be connected by 315 kilometers (196 miles) of railways that can accomodate double-height containers.The proposed project also includes the construction of a 10-lane road, 30 hydroelectric plants and two seaports.Ambitious projectCANSEC representative Lucia D’Ambrossio said at the presentation that the project is the opportunity the country needs to position itself globally.“It’s an integral solution. The canal would end the traffic jams. It will change the face of the provinces and make the country a global reference,” she said.Public Works and Transport (MOPT) Minister Carlos Villalta said this would be the most ambitious and expensive project in the country’s history. Villalta said that the first phase of the project is already underway: analyzing the documents that make up the CANSEC proposal.“The impact of this project would be similar to that of Panama Canal, as it would create about 80,000 jobs for the country,” Villalta said.Initial estimates indicate that completion of the project would take five years. The feasibility studies of the project will be ready in a year, while the public bidding and the signing of the contract with the selected firm would take 18 months. Construction would take about three years, MOPT reported.Minister Villalta also said that four investor groups have already shown interest in financing the project.last_img read more

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More than 500 arrests made in raid against arms trafficking in eight

first_imgRelated posts:U.S. man escapes from Costa Rican detention center Costa Rican authorities investigate explosives left on La Platina bridge Costa Rica: Police detain suspect of threats against Ariana Grande concert National Police: Property crime down in Limón from last year A raid against arms trafficking in eight Latin American countries ended with 560 arrests, including the detainment of a person suspected of providing weapons to Colombia’s National Liberation Army, Interpol announced Monday.The operation involved police, customs, immigration and military agents from Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama.Coordinated by Interpol, the operation, called “Trigger V,” took place from Feb. 22-28 and led to the seizure of 857 weapons, 40,000 bullets, 20 grenades, and police or military uniforms.In a vehicle control site in Costa Rica, two AK47 assault rifles were discovered, one of which had been registered in the Interpol database by a Middle Eastern country — which, according to the agency, “shows the transcontinental nature of the arms trafficking.”In Panama, an anonymous tip led police to an isolated warehouse that was full of ammunition, firearms and explosive materials.Interpol, the police cooperation agency based in Lyon, France, highlighted the arrest of a man known as “Zeus the Monkey,” who is suspected of being at the forefront of an arms trade that supplies Colombia’s National Liberation Army, a guerrilla group.The man was arrested when he tried to illegally travel from Guatemala to Honduras. He was handed over to Colombian authorities.A Honduran who was the subject of an international arrest warrant was also detained.Interpol added that among the 47 people detained in El Salvador, 18 are linked to gangs such as Barrio 18 and MS-13.The general secretary of Interpol, Jürgen Stock, declared that the operation constituted “an important step for the dismantling of illicit networks and the protection of citizens.”Featured photo: Massimiliano Mariani [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons​​​​This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.​​​​Support the Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Uganda denies supporting Sudanese rebels

first_img Quick workouts for men Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressKAMPALA, Uganda (AP) – Ugandan officials said Wednesday that a fresh allegation by Sudan that Uganda supports anti-Sudan rebels is a tactic to divert attention from Uganda’s claim that Sudan is sheltering warlord Joseph Kony.James Mugume, permanent secretary at Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said a formal complaint was made this week by the Sudanese embassy in Uganda.“It’s mere rhetoric,” Mugume said. “We have asked the Sudanese to send us a team which we can discuss with. Let them send a team here with clear allegations, with proof that we can deal with.” Sudan denies ever supporting Kony.Some analysts believe Sudan is making the allegation against Uganda to avoid losing a propaganda war.“The counterclaim is to tie Uganda’s hands in the diplomatic game and in the rhetoric,” said Angelo Izama, a Kampala-based political analyst with the security think tank Fanaka Kwawote. “This is important for Khartoum because it makes sure that Uganda does not take the moral high ground.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Ugandan army spokesman Col. Felix Kulayigye said Sudan’s allegation was an effort to get even with Uganda, where diplomats and security officials are increasingly accusing Khartoum of renewing its support for Kony’s brutal Lord’s Resistance Army.“We kept quiet until we got human intelligence that Khartoum was again supporting the LRA,” Kulayigye said. “They are the ones who have an agenda. They have not produced any evidence.”Ugandan officials now say Kony is no longer hiding in the Central African Republic, where Ugandan troops have been hunting for him since 2009. They cite as evidence the account of a captured LRA rebel who wore a new uniform he said was supplied by Sudan.U.S. President Barack Obama sent 100 U.S. forces into Central Africa last year to help regional militaries track Kony, and an online campaign this year by the advocacy group Invisible Children made Kony a YouTube sensation.Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, overall commander of the Ugandan army, told a meeting of regional chiefs last month that Uganda would “not sit back” and do nothing if South Sudan and Sudan went to war over an unresolved border conflict.Uganda has long accused Khartoum of supporting the LRA in retaliation for Kampala’s support for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the southern rebel movement that is now the South Sudan military. Comments   Share   Check your body, save your life Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

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