Mi familia es su familia at Kaps Place

first_imgThe entryway curiously features “Wizard of Oz” cutouts. A fountain spits water into an indoor fish and turtle pond. Gabe Dinsmoor From the print editionNortheast of downtown San José, a 10-minute walk from the National Museum, is perhaps the friendliest guesthouse in the capital. More than just a nice place to spend the evening, Kaps Place invites patrons into both its hostel and its every-growing family of travelers. The owner of the hostel and mother of the family is Karolina Bermúdez. Kaps has been around for years, but Bermúdez purchased the business this May from its previous owner. Bermúdez says she wants to maintain the warm, familiar ambiance on which Kaps has built its reputation, but she also has some upgrades in mind. At the moment, Bermúdez is replacing many of the individual fixtures in the rooms and training a new housekeeping staff.“My goal is to be the best, most well-known hostel in all of the capital,” Bermúdez said. “I am made happy by making others welcome and comfortable.”  Gabe Dinsmoorcenter_img The family-style hostel is brightly painted with mosaics scattered throughout the interconnected houses, which contain 25 guest bedrooms, dorm rooms, suites and long-term apartments. From the reception desk, visitors pass through to a comfy living room stocked with public computers and adjacent to two communal kitchens. Guests can eat meals at one kitchen’s island table, on the connecting outdoor patio or by the pool and ping-pong room. One living room also features hammocks alongside a fountain, where fish and turtles paddle about. Guest Vanessa Chambert can attest to the friendly vibes at Kaps. Visiting from George Town, Ghana, Chambert has been living in Kaps for a month and feels totally at home, she said, cutting potatoes in the communal kitchen. “Karolina has been like a sister to me,” she said.On Chambert’s birthday, Bermúdez and others in the guesthouse surprised her with cake and wine. All residents and staff partook in the dessert, making the far-from-home occasion something special for Chambert.Another group residing at Kaps is the Barrantes family. While Mr. Barrantes resides at the nearby Calderón Guardia Hospital, the four children, Mrs. Barrantes and a caretaker are staying at the hostel.“Though we are not here for the happiest reasons, it’s a good place for the kids,” said Dorcas Barrantes. This is the family’s second stay at Kaps, and the members report that the place has always been kind to them. Sometimes Bermúdez brings the kids cookies.  Room types range from single suites to five-bed, dorm-style quarters. A continental breakfast of bread, jams, cereal, fruit, coffee and fresh juice is served every day, 7-9 a.m. There are numerous computers in the lobby and WiFi throughout the building. One unique perk is the free international phone calls to 60 countries. And the owner has made friends across the country with owners of excellent restaurants and lodges, enabling her to hook you up with a good price.The hostel was 90 percent full last week, despite it being the rainy season, when fewer tourists venture to Costa Rica. Bermúdez said business was good, even as she has heard of three hostels in San José shutting down in the past month for lack of business.“It must be the pura vida vibes here,” she said. “I will be making some changes, but it will always be a guesthouse and a family.”Going thereRates range from $20-$125 a night, and the hostel is located in downtown San José. For more info, call  2256-4850 or visit www.kapsplace.com. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Johnny Araya says Liberation must win back legitimacy

first_img Lindsay Fendt “This is the time to correct errors and to win back the legitimacy that has allowed us to be the principle instrument in the Costa Rican people’s struggle for democracy. […] We are doing a true renovation of our party to face the challenges our country will face in the future,” Araya told the crowd dressed in the PLN’s green and white. Araya called for legislative and structural reforms to overcome the “paralysis” that has gripped the country. Snarling traffic jams, collapsing infrastructure and shady concessions illustrate the current PLN government’s inability to carry out public works. The candidate said that the Public Works and Transport Ministry would have to “suffer a transformation” to recuperate its management capability. In the same vein, Araya proposed civilian oversight boards to monitor public works for “chorizo,” a slang term here for graft. The PLN candidate’s statements on transparency and public works were couched in his eight “priorities,” which also included jobs, shoring up the socialized health care system, public education, security, clean energy (including natural gas exploration), and the ballooning fiscal deficit.  The candidate also presented his choices for the two vice president posts: Jorge Pattoni Sáenz, general manager of the Dos Pinos diary cooperative, and Silvia Lara Povedano, sociologist and executive director of the Business Association for Development. Araya’s trumpeting of the virtues of transparency and ethics in government, however, chafe against his record in public office. The candidate “barely” completed 27 percent of the promises laid out in his government plan between 2007 and 2011 and often failed to file annual financial reports as San José’s mayor, according to the city’s internal auditor as reported by the daily La Nación in August. “The circumstances demand from us a policy of zero tolerance for corruption,” Araya told supporters at the National Gymnasium on Saturday. Time will tell if Araya and the PLN can live up to their own standards.  Facebook Comments Believe it or not, this aerial dancer performed at a Johnny Araya political rally in San José on Saturday. No one said turning 62 would be easy.Aerial acrobats contorted themselves around billowing spools of green and white fabrics above a crowd of National Liberation Party (PLN) delegates and supporters who converged on the National Gymnasium Saturday afternoon to celebrate the party’s anniversary and listen to presidential candidate Johnny Araya deliver his campaign platform.Colored orbs from Araya’s campaign logo slowly bounced across the stage like a screensaver.Despite the fanfare, Araya acknowledged that the ruling party’s reputation was in jeopardy. The candidate said that Liberation must “renovate” and “win back legitimacy.”The references to the PLN’s tarnished reputation during President Laura Chinchilla’s administration were direct at times and obtuse at others, but spoke to perhaps the front-running candidate’s greatest hurdle: convincing Ticos that an Araya administration would not be more of the same.  No related posts.last_img read more

Obama Castro call for end to Cuba embargo at UN

first_imgRelated posts:As talks with US begin, Cubans anticipate changes in their lives Cuba’s Christmas surprise for Caracas Why Midwestern farmers want to break the Cuba embargo US food producers see bonanza in Cuba, but steep barriers remain United Nations — U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro both called for an end to the U.S. embargo on Havana at the United Nations Monday, on the eve of their scheduled meeting in New York.During his wide-ranging speech, Obama said he was confident that the U.S. Congress would “inevitably lift an embargo that should not be in place anymore,” drawing applause from the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly.The embargo, which has been in place since 1960, remains a bone of contention in the United States as the Republican-held Congress balks at the administration’s move to end the blockade.Obama acknowledged that Washington’s Cuba policy had “failed to improve the lives of the Cuban people” but stressed that human rights remained a concern in relations with Havana.Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel in 2006, made his first address to the U.N. General Assembly only several hours after Obama took the podium.“Now a long and complex process begins towards the normalization of relations, but this will only be achieved with the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba,” he said.The White House announced on Sunday that Obama would hold talks with Castro on Tuesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.It will be their second meeting, after a first historic encounter in Panama in April.At a U.N. development summit on Saturday, Castro called the U.S. embargo the “main obstacle” to his country’s economic development.The General Assembly is set to discuss a new draft resolution condemning the U.S. embargo against Cuba at a session next month.The assembly has voted each year since 1982 to approve a resolution calling on the United States to lift the embargo.See more Cuba coverage from The Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

PHOTOS Annual oxcart parade brightens downtown San José

first_img Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times Traffic in downtown San José was a bit slower than usual this pastSunday. Oxcarts, oxen and traveled from rural areas all around Costa Rica to gather in downtown San José for the biggest oxcart parade in the country.An estimated 300 oxcarts, drivers and their families paraded from La Sabana Park all the way to La Plaza de la Democracia, next to the National Museum. The parade takes place every year, on the last Sunday of November.In 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, proclaimed Costa Rica’s traditional oxcarts and its boyeros an Intangible World Heritage. Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times Facebook Comments Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Times Related posts:14 photos of Cahuita’s 2nd International Calypso Festival La Voz de Guanacaste marks holiday with video tribute to beloved northwestern province PHOTOS: San José’s ‘tope’ takes spectators on a colorful ride Around the world in a Costa Rica Nativity scene Andrés Madrigal/The Tico Timeslast_img read more

Salary increase for private sector set at 114 percent

first_imgPrivate sector workers earning minimum wage will get a 1.14 percent increase in their monthly salary starting in January.The wage increase followed the approval of a new calculation methodology that National Wage Council members say will benefit workers. The council includes representatives from the government, business chambers and labor unions.The approved increase, however, was lower than figures requested by labor unions, which ranged from 1.74 to 3.5 percent.Council Director Dennis Cabezas said at a press conference on Tuesday that he knows many workers might be wondering how the new formula benefits them if such a low figure was approved. He explained if the old formula had been used, the wage increase for next semester would have been even lower.“Using the previous formula, the wage increase would have resulted in a salary hike of just 0.49 percent,” Cabezas said.The new formula takes into account the expected inflation for the upcoming period, instead of the inflation recorded in the previous period, which is the figure that has been used for the past five years. Cabezas said that they will use and evaluate the new salary calculation formula for the next three years.Less frequent changesThe Wages Council also agreed to calculate wage-settings only once a year, in October.Previously, the council calculated salary settings for private-sector workers every six months, “usually resulting in increases that didn’t match workers’ expectations,” Cabezas said.Council members analyzed the formula for three months following recommendations from the International Labor Organisation.Representatives of the Labor Ministry, the Union of Private-Sector Chambers and Associations (UCCAEP) and the National Wages Council unanimously approved the new formula on Oct. 31. The decision earned praise from Labor Minister Carlos Alvarado and UCCAEP President Franco Pacheco. Union leader Édgar Morales said workers had expected a higher increase, but in the end they are satisfied with the new formula.Cabezas said their main goal is for the new formula to give workers a fairer distribution of the country’s wealth.“The wealthier the country, the greater the salary hike for workers,” he said.According to the National Statistics and Census Institute, private-sector workers represent 85 percent of the country’s total workforce, estimated at 2.06 million people. Facebook Comments Related posts:0.5% pay increase approved for minimum-wage workers in private sector Private-sector employers offer 0.94 percent wage increase for second half of 2015 Private sector confidence remains lukewarm Is Costa Rica’s gender wage gap really among the world’s lowest?last_img read more

Venezuela poll Chavez leading rival by 10 points

first_imgAdding to the uncertainty ahead of the vote is the large segment of voters, in some polls more than 10 percent, who describe themselves as undecided or who don’t reveal which candidate they plan to support.In Venezuela nowadays, people seem to view it as normal for there to be a “war of the polls” and don’t appear to be swayed one way or the other by the surveys, said Ignacio Avalos, director of the Venezuelan Electoral Observatory, a vote monitoring group.“Part of the election campaign is about making people think you’re the one who’s going to win and generating a positive effect,” Avalos said. Despite the conflicting surveys, he said, “I have the impression that the results are going to be close, that it’s going to be an election decided by a narrow margin.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “The variation between the polls is so big that there are some that say Chavez is winning by 30 points and others that say he’s losing by almost 10 points,” said Angel Alvarez, a political science professor at Central University of Venezuela. “Most people don’t believe in any of the polls anymore because they see so much variability that they say somebody is lying or everybody is lying, and on top of that … there’s been a lot of skepticism about the quality of the polls to predict results.”Many polls in the country are conducted using face-to-face interviews with people at their homes, and firms typically release details of their methodologies, including how interview questions are framed. In some cases, though, pollsters haven’t released full details.Datanalisis is widely considered one of the country’s leading polling firms. It has had a record of accuracy in past elections and has earned respect from both political camps with its monthly surveys. The pollster accurately gauged that Chavez was leading ahead of his last re-election victory in 2006, when he won with 63 percent of the vote.Chavez’s approval ratings have slipped since then, and he has been spending heavily on social programs and public housing construction this year seeking to shore up support while facing a vigorous challenge by Capriles. Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – President Hugo Chavez held a 10-point lead over rival Henrique Capriles in one of the final polls ahead of Venezuela’s Oct. 7 election, but the survey released Tuesday showed the challenger narrowing the gap.The poll by Datanalisis, one of Venezuela’s most respected polling firms, found that about 49 percent said they intend to vote for Chavez and about 39 percent said they plan to vote for Capriles. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Venezuelans have been bombarded with widely varying poll results ahead of the vote, and some pollsters haven’t been open about discussing their sources of funding or political leanings.Some political surveys, including those conducted by the pollster GIS XXI, run by Chavez’s former justice minister Jesse Chacon, have repeatedly shown the president with a lead of more than 20 percent, and have been touted on state television.Other polls, such as those of Consultores 21 and Varianzas, have shown Capriles either roughly even with Chavez or slightly ahead.A survey released by Varianzas on Tuesday indicated a close race, with about 50 percent saying they plan to vote for Chavez and 48 percent siding with Capriles. The Varianzas poll consulted 2,000 people between Sept. 7 and 20, and had an error margin of about 2 percent, said Rafael Delgado, the company’s director. He said the survey was financed by a private group, which he declined to reveal.Meanwhile, state television broadcast the results of a survey by another company, International Consulting Services, saying Chavez had a lead of nearly 20 percentage points. The source of funding for that poll was unclear.The wide differences in results have led many Venezuelans to doubt the accuracy of polls. The vital role family plays in society Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories About 11 percent didn’t reveal a preference, said Luis Vicente Leon, who heads the polling firm.The results showed Capriles narrowing the 46-31 percent lead that Chavez held in June’s poll by the same company.Leon said it was the final poll Datanalisis plans to release publicly before the vote. It’s possible the candidates’ percentages may already have shifted somewhat since the survey was carried out weeks ago.The poll questioned 1,600 people between Aug. 25 and Sept. 5, and had a margin of error of about 2 percentage points. It was paid for a group of about 100 clients, including businesses as well as government entities.Leon said Capriles’ active campaigning in about 260 towns across the country has had an impact.Chavez, in contrast, has concentrated on a smaller number of campaign rallies, and has been less active after more than a year of cancer treatments including surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy.Even though Chavez has said he’s now cancer-free, Leon said the president’s campaign clearly has been affected by his health problems.He said that after nearly 14 years in office, Chavez for the first time will face a strong rival and that no other opposition candidate has achieved such support in pre-election polls when facing Chavez. The pollster also cautioned that changes in public opinion can still occur in the less than two weeks before the Oct. 7 vote. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

Activist ProPalestinian boat en route to Gaza

first_img Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Israel imposed the blockade after the militant Islamic Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 from their rival, the more secular Palestinian Fatah.Palestinians and their backers consider the blockade illegal collective punishment against the people of Gaza. A September 2011 U.N. report upheld the legality of the naval blockade, calling it a “legitimate security measure,” although it criticized land restrictions. Other legal experts at the U.N., along with the Red Cross, have said the blockade is illegal.Under heavy international pressure, Israel eased the closure in 2010 after a naval raid killed nine Turkish activists on board another Gaza-bound flotilla.While many consumer goods now flow into Gaza through an Israeli-controlled crossing, some restrictions, including limits on exports, imports of key construction goods and the naval blockade, remain in place.Israel says the closure is needed to keep Hamas from obtaining weapons. Gaza militants smuggle weapons into the area through tunnels under the border with Egypt.Gaza militants launched dozens of mortar rounds at southern Israel on Monday.The Israeli military would not say whether it plans to stop the boat, saying in a statement only that it will “continue to ensure that the maritime restrictions near the Gaza Strip, instituted to prevent weapons transfers, are maintained.” Four benefits of having a wireless security system Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share   center_img JERUSALEM (AP) – A boat carrying pro-Palestinian advocates from eight countries is en route to Gaza in the latest attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade on the coastal territory, an activist on board said Tuesday.Dror Feiler, an Israeli on the boat, said it left Naples on Sunday and aims to reach Gaza in mid-October. He said the boat is carrying items such as cement, basketballs, musical instruments and theater lighting equipment. Sponsored Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home It said the aid on the boat should be delivered to Gaza through authorized Israeli-controlled crossings.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

Pope encourages ceasefire effort in Gaza conflict

first_img Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in society (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI says he is praying for victims of the conflict between Israel and Gaza militants and gave his encouragement for efforts to obtain a cease-fire and negotiations.He told his weekly public audience Wednesday that “hate and violence are not the solution for problems,” receiving applause from pilgrims in the Paul VI auditorium.Benedict called on both sides “to make courageous decisions in favor of peace” and end a conflict with “negative repercussions in the entire Middle East.” 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

UN says needy Syrians outstripping available aid

first_img Sponsored Stories Guterres called the humanitarian situation “dramatic beyond description” and said “the refugee crisis is accelerating at a staggering pace, month after month.”He noted that in April 2012, about a year after the conflict began, there were 33,000 registered refugees in the region.As of Monday, he said, his office had registered or given registration appointments to 940,000 Syrians across the Middle East and North Africa. Since early January, he said, more than 40,000 people had fled Syria every week.While these figures are “stunning,” Guterres said they don’t convey the suffering of the estimated 2 million people displaced within Syria and more than 4 million affected by the conflict.“We also must not forget the half-a-million Palestinian refugees in Syria who are affected by the conflict,” he added.Zainab Bangura, the U.N. envoy for sexual violence in conflict, said she discussed with the council “the alarming issue of systematic use of sexual violence in the conflict in Syria _ sexual violence against women, against men, against boys and girls.”“It’s widespread,” she said, adding that fear of sexual attack has forced people to flee. “I think the first two months of this year have been a real game-changer,” Amos said. “It demands more of us in terms of our ability to scale-up our operations, but … even with us working full-tilt, the scale is out-pacing whatever we do on the response side.”On a positive note, she said, her office has been able recently to cross “conflict lines” between opposition and government-controlled areas to help people in need in the cities of Homs and Idlib. But the Syrian government is still refusing to allow aid to enter from Turkey, leaving thousands of people trapped without aid, she said.Amos said she and U.N. refugee chief António Guterres delivered the same warning to the Security Council during the closed-door briefing.Guterres, speaking by videoconference to the council, warned that a “moment of truth” was approaching in Syria and that the international community must not allow the situation to deteriorate further, according to quotes released by his office.“What is happening in Syria today risks escalating very quickly into a disaster that could overwhelm the international response capacity _ political, security-related and humanitarian,” he warned. “This must not be allowed to happen.” 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 3 international destinations to visit in 2019center_img Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari told reporters the presentations by Amos, Guterres and Bangura “do not relate to reality” because they are one-sided, don’t take into account the political dimension of the crisis, and don’t acknowledge the government’s cooperation with the three U.N. officials.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The U.N. humanitarian chief warned Wednesday that the growing number of Syrians fleeing the country’s increasingly brutal conflict _ now 4 million and rising every day _ is outstripping the international community’s ability to help.Valerie Amos told reporters after briefing the Security Council that “this is a crisis that is completely stretching our capacity.”She said she is extremely concerned about the rising cost, noting that the U.N. has received only $200 million of the more than $1.5 billion pledged for Syria at a Jan. 30 donor’s conference in Kuwait. The $1.5 billion was supposed to cover humanitarian needs in Syria for six months but that projection, from the end of the year, is already out of date, she added.last_img read more

Shooting stirs questions about arming military recruiters

first_imgTucked in strip malls in rural and suburban communities and in high-traffic city spots like New York’s Times Square, military recruiting and reserve stations are designed to be open and welcoming to the public. The troops inside aren’t allowed to carry weapons.The ban is largely due to legal issues, such as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. U.S. forces don’t routinely carry guns when they are not in combat or on military bases. And Pentagon officials are sensitive to any appearance of armed troops within the United States.“We’re always going to be somewhat vulnerable to a lone wolf, or whatever you want to call it, a surprise shooter, because we are out there with the population and that’s where we have to be,” said Odierno.This is not the first time that recruiting offices were targeted. In June 2009, one soldier was killed and another injured when self-proclaimed jihadist Abdulhakim Muhammad shot them outside a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas. In October 2013, Tennessee National Guard recruiter Amos Patton shot and wounded three people in the Millington armory after learning that he was being removed from his job because a female soldier had accused him of sexual assault. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Navy officials said Smith, a reservist serving on active duty at the Chattanooga center, was badly injured and is still hospitalized. It’s something his grandmother said she’d never really worried about, because he’d always been stationed in the U.S.“A lot of people are praying for him,” said Wallace, who was flying to be with him, his wife and three daughters. “He’s a very good, God-fearing man and he’s a great father. I’m very proud of him.”___Associated Press writers John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio, Pat Eaton-Robb in Brookfield, Connecticut, and Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. “It makes no sense that recruiters are not allowed to carry at least a sidearm,” said Craig Cook, who owns a car repair shop behind a military recruiting center in Brookfield, Connecticut. “They are trained. Most of them are trained infantrymen. That definitely would make it a lot more safe.”In San Diego, Army Sgt. Brandy Solis, 31, said he and his fellow recruiters would prefer to be armed at their office, which in a shopping plaza near a bakery, noodle restaurant and barber shop.“Me, my colleagues and my boss, man, we would probably prefer being armed just for our own protection,” said Solis, adding that recruiters were on high alert and working in pairs for added protection.In the Thursday shooting, authorities said Kuwait-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, of Hixson, Tennessee, unleashed a barrage of fire at a recruiting center in Chattanooga, then drove several miles away to a Navy and Marine reserve center, where he shot and killed the Marines, and wounded Smith. Abdulazeez was shot to death by police.The military services strengthened security precautions at the centers in recent years. Odierno said there are currently no plans to have security personnel posted at recruiting centers. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home WASHINGTON (AP) — As Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith fights for his life after being shot at a military support center in Tennessee, his grandmother wonders why troops at recruiting and reserve offices aren’t allowed to have guns.It’s a question many were asking Friday, a day after the deadly shooting that killed four Marines and injured three others in Chattanooga. Military officials say the Pentagon shouldn’t rush to change the ban, which is governed in part by century-old law, because arming troops in those facilities could cause more problems than it might solve. Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Speaking by phone Friday, Linda Wallace of Midlothian, Texas, said she was upset to learn there was no security outside where the shootings took place. “A lot of people are learning our bases aren’t guarded,” she said.Military officials said security at recruiting and reserve centers will be reviewed, but the Army’s top officer said it’s too early to say whether the facilities should have security guards or other increased protection.“I think we have to be careful about over-arming ourselves, and I’m not talking about where you end up attacking each other,” Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, told reporters. Instead, he said, it’s more about “accidental discharges and everything else that goes along with having weapons that are loaded that causes injuries.”Defense Secretary Ash Carter late Friday asked the military services to determine if additional steps can be taken to ensure people are safe at military installations, and said he wants a report back by the end of next week.The comments came as Navy officials confirmed a separate incident outside Atlanta, where a recruiter accidently shot himself in the leg with his personal .45-caliber pistol while discussing the Tennessee shootings with one of his recruits. Officials said he showed the sailor the unloaded gun, then reloaded it and inadvertently discharged it as he was putting it back in his holster.last_img read more

Policing changes counteract lax rules at Aussie airports

first_img<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1d2a9/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L Eleven major airports across Australia have increased their levels of security following the recent foiled terrorist attack on a Northwest jet in Detroit.Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said yesterday evening that airports in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Gold Coast, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney would now implement changes to security. There will now be more Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers instead of the existing combination of federal and state police patrolling airports. O’Connor said the move, which will continue over a five-year period, aimed to strengthen security arrangements.”We believe having sworn federal police officers in the 11 airports will provide a more co-ordinated approach, will ensure a more rapid response to emerging threats in our airports,” he told AAP.However, the changes to policing come a few days after the Federal Government eased its rules prohibited items when travelling. From Christmas Day onwards, the same day of the failed attack, travellers could take through security screening points and into the sterile area of airports within Australia pointier items.These include umbrellas with metal points, knitting and crochet needles, pointed metal nail files (including nail clippers), corkscrews, and racquets used in squash, tennis, badminton or any other sport.Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the changes were designed to minimise inconvenience to passengers and allow security screeners to focus on items that pose serious security risks.last_img read more

Blasts wound 75 in Thailand Australians cancel travel plans

first_imgSeveral grenade blasts between pro- and anti-government protesters in Bangkok have killed three and injured more than 70 people overnight.The blasts occurred in the Silom Road commercial district just after nightfall where pro-government demonstrators had gathered to show their opposition to the Red Shirt protests.The violence between the two political factions escalated after the five explosions, caused by M79 grenades, with both sides hurling bottles, rocks and firecrackers at each other for more than four hours.Strangely, the 1500 riot police stationed along Silom Road did nothing to stop the fighting, instead taking shelter in building entrances and under highway overpasses, according to the Globe and Mail.Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said that three people were killed while 75 others, including an Australian, were wounded.The government has said the grenades were fired from the Red Shirt encampment and noted that the M79 grenade launchers had been used before by the Red Shirt demonstrators earlier this month. However, Red Shirt leaders have denied responsibility for the attack, saying their protest was peaceful.But whether the explosions came from the pro- or anti- government protesters, the violence, which has gained widespread international attention, has already hampered travel to the capital.A Tourism Authority of Thailand spokesman told e-Travel Blackboard this morning that a number of MICE groups from Australia had already cancelled their trips to Thailand.He said around 25 percent of MICE bookings had been lost, including bookings from Orient Express, Access Advance and Stella Travel Group, which was a group of 720 people.The spokesman added that forward bookings have also “really slowed down.”DFAT has also increased its travel advisory rating for Thailand, up from ‘high degree of caution’ to ‘reconsider your need to travel’.Explore Holidays has also made some changes. <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/29ee2/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.Llast_img read more

President promises thorough investigation into death of Mexicos

first_imgOfficials say the assassination was related to his personal dealings. Image: Yalibnan.com Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto has assured a thorough investigation will take place after the recently appointed tourism minister for western Jalisco state, Jose de Jesus Gallegos Alvarez was shot dead.Officials said Minister Alvarez was shot on Saturday while driving through Zapopan outside Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, Fox News reported.State Government General Secretary Arturo Zamora said preliminary investigations revealed the attack was not related to his tourism work, but rather personal business dealings.”We are working to resolve this case to the ultimate consequences,” Mr Zamora said.”The state will not allow such acts.”Minister Gallegos was sworn into the new role on 1 March 2013.According to the official, incidents against tourism ministers are rare in Mexico.Last year, Mexico Tourism Board regional director of the Americas, Alfonso Sumano told e-Travel Blackboard the US economy was a bigger threat to tourism than concerns over traveller safety.Click here for more information.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J.last_img read more

Broaden your wine and food knowledge with SeaDream

first_imgBroaden your wine and food knowledge with SeaDreamWine buffs can now broaden their knowledge of wine in general, as well as learn about the best in wine-and-food pairing, while enjoying holidaying aboard the world’s highest-rated boutique passenger vessels, SeaDream I and SeaDream II.With current bourgeoning interest in wine-and-food appreciation, several select sailings in the Mediterranean between now and October and a further eight in 2016 will allow guests to meet with eminent winemakers who will be aboard, enjoy free tastings of the makers’ wines, participate in specially-created wine-and-food dinners, and visit some of Europe’s most prestigious, smaller and historic wineries.SeaDream Yacht Club’s owner and CEO, Atle Brynestad has appointed one of Scandinavia’s most-respected sommeliers and chefs, Elisabeth Donheim as Director of Wine to develop these new optional programs. Her impressive hospitality pedigree includes manager of Norway’s Vårsøg Hotel, chef at London’s legendary three Michelin star restaurant Fat Duck, sous chef at Norway’s Hotel Britannia, and most recently hotel manager at the Hotel Angvik known for delivering one of the most innovative culinary experiences in NorwayThis year’s remaining Mediterranean Wine Voyages and eight in 2016 will all include the option of participating in a Winemaker’s Dinner that will be created by each yacht’s Head Chef to match the wines of the winemaker or winery owner who is aboard at the time. There will also be complimentary onboard Wine Tastings for all guests, optional visits to wineries at select ports for those who wish, and the optional onboard Winemaker Dinner; costs will apply for these optional winery visits and Winemaker’s Dinners.SeaDream’s guests on all sailings enjoy premium label drinks from the open bars, select premium wines with lunch and dinner, use of power and sail water-sports where locally permitted, a fitness centre, mountain bikes for shore explorations, a golf simulator, gratuities and all port charges and taxes and included in prices.Source = SeaDreamlast_img read more

International fleet sets sail for Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui

first_imgCentara Grand Beach Resort Samui is the home of the Samui Regatta“It’s great to see such a competitive line up again this year across all the sailing classes. There are some very evenly matched boats and crews so I’m sure everyone will enjoy the five days of racing we have planned for them,” added Race Director, Simon James.As well as action on the water, the Samui Regatta attracts spectators and vacationers for its onshore social scene. Centara Grand Beach Resort, as host venue, ensures everyone from the crew to visitors, enjoys the resort’s facilities, services and world class cuisine.The official opening party is traditionally held at Centara Grand Beach Resort with free-flow drinks, snacks and great entertainment. During the competition, the Regatta Tavern, right in front of the host resort, opens for beachfront sundowners from 5-7pm runs Race Day Happy Hour with an open bar serving Samui Regatta signature cocktails, a huge range of isotonic drinks, canapes and more. It is a go-to meeting spot to check-out the day’s race results and presentations.The Samui regatta ends in style with an exclusive Gala Dinner for 500+ guests on the beachfront lawn at Centara Grand Beach Resort, with a delicious buffet, live music and awards presented by a guest MC. Tickets are included in the crew fees with some available to purchase, along with one-day social passes.Centara Hotels & Resorts have been welcoming visitors to Koh Samui for over 20 years and the Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui is the ideal regatta host venue. Sophisticated, and with a wonderfully nostalgic seaside air, the beachfront resort boasts chic bars and restaurants as well as stunning rooms and suites, including private-pool suites, as well as a spa; a timeless resort that is classic yet gloriously modern and reflects the contemporary culture of yachting tradition.For more information: Website: www.samuiregatta.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/SamuiRegatta Twitter: twitter.com/samuiregatta  Sailors from around the world will compete in the waters off Koh SamuiInternational fleet sets sail for Centara Grand Beach Resort SamuiSome 500 sailors from over 20 countries will take part in 5 days of world class sailing at the 17th Samui Regatta From 26th May until 2nd June 2018, the Samui Regatta will attract marine sports enthusiasts from around the world to Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui on the island’s idyllic Chaweng Beach. The now legendary annual yachting event showcases the skills of top international racers and regional yachting veterans over five days of exhilarating competition in the azure waters of the Gulf of Siam.Now in its 17th year, the Samui Regatta has been hosted by award-winning Centara Grand Beach Resort Koh Samui since its inception, prompting members of the regional yachting community to refer to the resort as the ‘Home of the Samui Regatta’. Each year, a fleet of spectacular yachts sails in to Koh Samui, arriving with crew and yachting fans to experience some world-class sailing and enjoy the island’s glamorous social scene. The resort provides the perfect base for spectators, competitors and crew members to stay, relax and dine while also enjoying a full line-up of regatta parties during the event.“We’re proud to be the host of this truly international event as we welcome visitors from around the globe to enjoy our fabulous facilities and stunning island environment,” says Voytek Klasicki, General Manager Centara Grand Samui Beach Resort. “Koh Samui is Thailand’s most popular boutique island with good reason and the Samui Regatta has become part of its modern heritage with people returning year after year to enjoy the fun on and off the water,” he added.In the last decade, the Samui Regatta has grown to become one of Asia’s leading regattas and one of the best sporting and lifestyle events in Thailand, attracting strong racing, cruising and multihull fleets with around 500 participants from over 20 countries taking part. In the final event in the Asian Yachting Grand Prix Championship, the event generates around THB 18 million for the local Koh Samui economy annually. Source = Centara Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

Hotel Indigo to make its New Zealand debut in Auckland from 2021

first_imgHotel Indigo to make its New Zealand debut in Auckland from 2021Auckland will welcome New Zealand’s first Hotel Indigo to the neighbourhood in 2021, with IHG signing an agreement with Ninety Four Feet, an Australasian property development, investment, and construction company, to open Hotel Indigo Auckland.Uniquely, no two Hotel Indigo properties are the same, with each drawing on the story of its local area to inspire every aspect of the hotel to help guests feel part of the destination. The “City of Sails” will set the backdrop for this boutique hotel, drawing inspiration from local artists for its design, service, amenities, food and beverages.The 225-room hotel will be part of a mixed-use development in a coveted Auckland Central location, including food & beverage and residential components that will create their own ‘neighbourhood story’. The new build development will be among Auckland’s tallest buildings, maintaining the façade of the original historic building with a new world-class hotel blended elegantly around it.The hotel itself will feature its own all-day dining and bar, meeting space and gym, and a majority of hotel rooms will offer stunning views of the city and Auckland ‘s iconic harbour.Abhijay Sandilya, Senior Director, Development, Australasia, said: “Hotel Indigo is one of our fastest growing brands globally and, closer to home, Hotel Indigo Auckland will be the fifth signing in Australasia. We’re so excited to open one of the first globally-branded boutique hotels in Auckland, creating a destination for travellers who are looking for a local experience, with the security and amenity of a global brand.”Dean Rzechta, Managing Director at Ninety Four Feet Property Development said: “Auckland is becoming recognised as one of the world’s key gateway cities, and is consistently one of the top 10 most liveable in the world. Its rich arts and culture scene makes it a great fit for a boutique brand, and we can’t think of a better match than Hotel Indigo.”“This development is destined to become an iconic landmark on the Auckland landscape, and with robust tourism arrivals and unprecedented demand we are confident that Hotel Indigo Auckland will be a story of success.”Hotel Indigo Auckland is perfectly located, with convenient access to corporate demand generators including Sky Tower, new NZ International Convention Centre, Sky City Casino, CBD office buildings, and entertainment precinct of Britomart and Viaduct.The momentum behind the Hotel Indigo brand in Australia and New Zealand has accelerated in 2018. Hotel Indigo Auckland is the third signing for the brand this year and the fifth in total, following Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, Sydney’s Central precinct, Melbourne’s Docklands and Melbourne’s Little Collins Street.IHG currently has 47 hotels operating under four brands in Australasia, including: InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, with another 19 in the pipeline, including Hotel Indigo Brisbane Fortitude Valley and Hotel Indigo Melbourne Docklands.Source = IHGlast_img read more

FEST Travel Turkey appoints Global Destinations as India representative

first_imgFEST Travel has appointed Global Destinations as their Sales and Marketing Representative in India effective April 7, 2015.FEST Travel is a member of the Association of Travel Agencies of Turkey (TURSAB), American Society of Travel Agencies (ASTA), International Social Tourism Organisation (ISTO), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and works under the supervision of both TURSAB and the Ministry of Tourism in Turkey.FEST Travel is Turkey’s number one specialist in Cultural Tours, both inbound and outbound. As an international operator, FEST travel provides services to cultural organisations, tour operators, travel agencies, travel shops, trade unions, NGOs, group organisers and companies as well as individuals.Pranav Kapadia, Founder, Global Destinations stated, “We are extremely delighted to add FEST Travel to our portfolio and promote Turkey, one of the top 10 popular travel destinations from India.”Zekeriya S Şen, General Manager, FEST Travel said, “India has always been one of our top outbound destinations. We have explored more than 16 different destinations within India from Ladakh to Nagaland and Orissa to Karnataka. We are tremendously excited to now welcome Indian travellers and experience our country.”last_img read more

Dusit International receives Gold Certification by EarthCheck

first_imgDusit International has become the first hotel group in Thailand to receive multiple properties awarded Gold Certification by EarthCheck. Nine Dusit International properties have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 34%, cut energy and water consumption by almost 20% and reduced waste production by more than two million litres.While congratulating Dusit International on their long term commitment to sustainability, Stewart Moore, CEO and Founder of EarthCheck, said, “Dusit International has worked with EarthCheck since 2009 to implement a sustainability management system which aligns to the group’s corporate social responsibility approach, and we are very pleased to be awarding Gold Certification to these nine properties.”Suphajee Suthumpun, Group Chief Executive Officer, Dusit International, said that as a leading hotel group, Dusit International is committed to providing exceptional experiences for guests while playing an active part in conserving the environment. “Dusit International believes responsible tourism requires more than operating a building in a sustainable way. We encourage everyone, from staff to guests, to understand and embrace our approach to sustainability,” Suthumpun said.last_img read more

Pride Hotels launches its first property in Northeast India

first_imgPride Hotels has launched Pride Terrace Valley Resort Gangtok, the group’s first property in Northeast India. The luxury resort is prominently located at National Highway 10, Ranipool, Gangtok, 18 km from Pakyong Airport and is well connected by road, rail and air. With major tourist attractions namely Nathu La Pass, MG Road, Rumtek Monastery, Tsongmo Lake, Ganesh Tok in close proximity, the resort boasts of elegantly furnished rooms and suites that will appeal to both leisure and business tourists.Announcing the launch, S P Jain, Managing Director, Pride Hotels Limited said, “We are pleased to expand our footprint in India’s Northeast with the launch of Pride Terrace Valley Resort Gangtok. This is our first property in Northeast India and 16th property nationally. Sikkim with its spectacular natural beauty, amazing lakes, mystic valleys and snow-peaked mountains attracts a huge slice of leisure tourists from across the world. We are delighted to tap the growing potential of tourist inflow by presenting a host of contemporary amenities, refined elegance and exceptional services for our esteemed patrons.”Binay Thakur, Associate Vice President, Pride Hotels stated, “Pride Terrace Valley Resort offers 45 well-appointed rooms and suites replete with all modern elements. Guests can choose deluxe and superior rooms facing the pool or mountains. The superior rooms feature sleek wooden floors, large work desks with ergonomic chairs and contemporary bathrooms with rain showers. All the guest rooms are equipped with LCD TV, climate control with air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, coffee/tea maker and comfortable bedding. The resort facilities include swimming pool, travel desk, laundry services, multi-cuisine restaurant, bar, conference hall, banquet hall and an open-air courtyard.”Pride Terrace Valley Spa is the perfect retreat for  relaxing and pampering oneself. Guests can rejuvenate themselves with an extensive variety of massages and spa treatments designed to soothe the mind and body.Satyen Jain, CEO, Pride Group of Hotels said, “This is our 16th hotel and we have further expansion plans to add about 500 rooms at Goa, Nagpur and Pune. We are also planning to have a total of 20 hotels and resorts by 2022. Currently, Pride Hotels Ltd is operating four brands Pride Plaza which is upper upscale luxury hotels, Pride Hotels which is upscale hotels, Pride Resorts the 3-star upscale resorts and Pride Biznotel, a midmarket hotel. Pride Group has a presence in all most all regions of the country, offering world class hospitality standards, combined with excellent ambience and quality service.”last_img read more

Refi Share of Q4 Originations Reaches 57 MBA

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing April 5, 2012 466 Views Agents & Brokers Fixed-Rate Mortgage Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Bankers Association Processing Profits Quarterly Earnings Service Providers 2012-04-05 Ryan Schuette Sharecenter_img The refinance share of originations ran up to 57 percent for independent mortgage banks during the fourth quarter last year, according to the “”Mortgage Bankers Association””:http://www.mbaa.org/default.htm (MBA).[IMAGE]The trade group said in a fourth-quarter performance report Thursday that new numbers for refinance share reflected a jump from 45 percent seen in the third quarter.””The fourth quarter 2011 results were mixed for mortgage bankers,”” “”Marina Walsh””:http://www.mbaa.org/files/SpeakersBureau/WalshMbio.pdf, MBA’s associate VP of industry[COLUMN_BREAK]analysis, said in a statement. “”Mortgage volume increased in the fourth quarter, driven by heavier refinancing activity, translating into higher productivity.””Chartered financial institutions and independent bankers profited by $1,093 from each loan made in the fourth quarter, a decline from $1,263 per loan in the third quarter last year.Average production income hovered around 58 basis points in the fourth quarter, down from roughly 66 basis points seen in the third quarter.Companies saw $313 million in production volume on average over the same time frame, up from $237 per company in the third quarter.The MBA said that the net cost to originate loans ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a combination of production operating expenses and commissions ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô averaged $3,324 in the fourth quarter, down from $3,360 per loan from the third quarter.Personnel expense also fell to $3,226 per loan over the fourth quarter, down from $3,317 per loan from the third quarter.Seventy-two percent of the 300 companies that fielded production numbers during the fourth quarter were independent banks, according to the MBA. Refi Share of Q4 Originations Reaches 57%: MBAlast_img read more