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Jedruch charged due to appear in court Oct 14 TICO

first_imgTags: TICO << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — Pawel Jedruch has been charged with four counts of operating as a travel agent without registration contrary to section 4(1)(a) of the Travel Industry Act, 2002.Jedruch operated in the City of Niagara Falls and elsewhere in Ontario.The first court appearance in the case is scheduled for Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. at the Ontario Court of Justice, Provincial Offences Court, 71 King Street, St. Catharines, ON. Travelweek Group Jedruch charged, due to appear in court Oct. 14: TICOcenter_img Wednesday, August 17, 2016 Share Posted bylast_img

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DATE delegates get an eyeful of new Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia

first_imgDATE delegates get an eyeful of new Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Share Tags: Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts, Dominican Republiccenter_img Posted by Thursday, May 4, 2017 PLAYA BAVARO, D.R. — It was perfect timing: travel suppliers and retailers from Canada, the U.S. and beyond in town for the D.R.’s annual tourism conference (DATE) got to experience the fanfare grand opening of the new Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia Don Pablo Collection.More than 300 guests were treated to a dinner with shows performed by a cast of 15 top international artists. Music, circus acrobatics and choreography merged with a gastronomic menu created for the occasion by one of Bahia Principe’s Executive Chefs, Manuel Cendón and his team.For Isabel Piñero, Vice-President of Marketing and Communication at Grupo Piñero, “at this very special event, our intention was to put together a party that would reflect all of the features of Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia Don Pablo Collection, inviting those attending to discover the unique ambience that permeates throughout every part of the hotel.”Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia Don Pablo Collection, a five-star hotel, had its soft open last November. Facilities at the 512-room resort include two pools, five restaurants and five bars. Three castles house the Kids Club, the Garden Circus restaurant and the Kokoro sushi bar. Guests get access to the facilities and services of neighbouring Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort hotels (except the buffets) including the adults-only Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda, Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Green and Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Blue.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia is Grupo Piñero’s 26th hotel and its 14th in D.R. Grupo Piñero now operates in over 30 countries, managing over five million hotel stays per year in 26 four- and five-star hotels totalling 11,000 rooms.Check out the pics of the new resort (all photos courtesy of Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia):Junior Suite Deluxe Castle FrontJunior Suite Deluxe Castle FrontJunior Suite Deluxe Castle ViewJunior Suite Deluxe Castle ViewJunior Suite Deluxe Castle ViewLuxury Bahia Principe FantasiaLuxury Bahia Principe FantasiaLuxury Bahia Principe FantasiaLuxury Bahia Principe FantasiaLuxury Bahia Principe FantasiaLuxury Bahia Principe FantasiaLuxury Bahia Principe Fantasialast_img read more

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Beaches The Real Madrid Foundation to launch soccer clinics

first_img Thursday, June 7, 2018 Share Tags: Beaches Resorts, Sandals Resorts, Soccer TORONTO – Sandals Resorts International has teamed up with The Real Madrid Foundation to launch a first-ever series of soccer clinics at its Beaches Resorts in 2019.Hosted in partnership with the Sandals Foundation, these educational and training programs will take place over two separate 5-day periods in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. The first will be held in Negril on May 14-20, 2019, while the second will take place in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos on May 22-28, 2019. Each training sessions will feature immersive instruction and sport values sessions by Real Madrid Foundation coaches.“Partnering with Real Madrid Foundation presents a unique opportunity for us to bring local Caribbean children together with guests of the resorts, over the most popular sport in the world – soccer,” said Adam Stewart, Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resorts International. “Our work with the Sandals Foundation aims to improve the communities of the Caribbean, and this partnership is an exciting way for us to continue these efforts and facilitate bonds between visitors and locals alike.”More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaBeaches Resorts will offer limited packages at an introductory price of US$495 to guests ages 6-17 years to participate while on holiday as part of the company’s LIV+ Program. Additionally, a reserved number of spaces will also be made available for the Sandals Foundation to invite local children, as well as coaches, in each island to participate complimentary and have the chance to learn tricks and skills directly from the professionals of the Real Madrid Foundation.For more information go to www.beaches.com/liv-plus/real-madrid-clinic. Posted bycenter_img Travelweek Group Beaches & The Real Madrid Foundation to launch soccer clinics << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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MSC Cruises to enter ultraluxury segment with four newbuild ships

first_imgTags: MSC Cruises, New Ship Travelweek Group Thursday, October 18, 2018 Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img MSC Cruises to enter ultra-luxury segment with four new-build ships GENEVA — The ultra-luxury cruise segment will soon welcome a new heavy-hitter into the mix – none other than MSC Cruises.The cruise line announced today that it has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the construction of four ultra-luxury cruise ships for a total value in excess of EUR 2 billion.The first ship, set for delivery in spring 2023, will feature 500 staterooms and a gross tonnage of approximately 64,000 GT. The remaining three ships will come into service one per year over the following three years. All ships will feature the best and latest environmental technology, cutting-edge maritime solutions at sea and highly-innovative design, said MSC.On its new venture into luxury, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: “It is off the back of the great success of our ship-within-a-ship luxury concept that our guests asked us to enter into the ultra-luxury segment, as a natural evolution of the MSC Yacht Club. These ships will be able to offer unique itineraries, thanks to their size, and the guest services will be taken to another level, including our personalized MSC Yacht Club butler service, available 24/7.”More news:  Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemVago also highlighted the company’s longstanding partnership with Fincantieri. “The award-winning Seaside and Seaside-Evo class have already been recognized as groundbreaking and innovative designs. We are now introducing another new class, which will establish a new standard of ultra-luxury at sea with ships that will showcase the quality and highest standards that are associated with Made in Italy,” said Vago.Roberto Fusaro, Country Manager of MSC Cruises USA, noted how the new ships will be of particular interest to North American cruises.“In addition to our Yacht Club experience, North American guests will enjoy from 2023 onwards an even wider choice of five-star cruises experiences in the highest segment of the market. Our future ultra-luxury ships will come as close as it comes to a private yacht experience.”With the addition of these four new ships, MSC Cruises’ investment plan will now account for a total of 17 new ships to be built by 2027, for an overall investment of EUR 13.6 billion. Of these, three have already come into service since June 2017: MSC Meraviglia, MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview. Two more – MSC Bellissima and MSC Grandiosa – will be delivered in February and October 2019, respectively.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaAll five ships will feature MSC Cruises’ existing ship-within-a-ship luxury concept, the award-winning MSC Yacht Club.MSC Seaside Yacht ClubMSC Seaside Yacht Club RestaurantMSC Seaside Yacht Club Private PoolMSC Divina Yacht Club Stateroom Sharelast_img read more

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Transat Globus get a jump on Travel Agent Day with brand new

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Monday, April 22, 2019 TORONTO — Travel Agent Day is just around the corner, a day when the travel industry celebrates all the work, dedication and loyalty of its front-line travel agent partners.This year Travel Agent Day takes place next Wednesday, May 1 and while most travel companies are busy putting the finishing touches on their promotions, others are getting a head start by announcing their special offers now.Transat wants to give agents ‘Europe for the World’, with a brand new contest especially for Travel Agent Day.Agents who book a European package or European cruise package with Transat April 22 – 30 will have their names entered into Transat’s Travel Agent Day draw to win two tickets for any of its flights.Transat will select one winner per region, who will be announced May 1.For more details, refer to Get Connected.Globus family of brands is also thanking agents with an Avalon Waterways prize, in honour of Travel Agent Day.Any travel advisor booking and depositing any of the company’s four brands – Globus, Cosmos, Avalon Waterways or Monograms – during the May 1 – 31 booking window will have his or her name entered in a contest to win one of Avalon’s European Avalon Active & Discovery cruises for two. Every booking results in one entry.“We rely on travel agents every day to help us promote and sell our product,” says Kim Clarke, Director of Sales for the Globus family of brands in Canada. “We hope they are as excited as we are about this contest, and wish everyone the best of luck!” Learn more about the Avalon contest at agentlingo.ca. Posted by Transat, Globus get a jump on Travel Agent Day with brand new contestscenter_img Tags: Contests, Globus, Transat, Travel Agent Day Travelweek Group Sharelast_img read more

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Scorpion hitches a ride to Canada in womans luggage then promptly gives

first_imgScorpion hitches a ride to Canada in woman’s luggage then promptly gives birth Share Tags: Cuba, Scorpion, Vancouver With file from The Canadian Press Thursday, June 20, 2019 VICTORIA, B.C. — Remember the snake that hitched a ride to Hawaii? Well, maybe it got the idea from the scorpion that bummed a ride to B.C.After travelling to Cuba recently, a Vancouver woman got the shock of her life when she found a scorpion crawling around in her kitchen. She found the courage to capture it alive and brought it to the Victoria Bug Zoo where it was initially identified as a potentially deadly species found in the Caribbean.It’s likely that the scorpion, which was given the name Gail after the woman, crawled its way into the woman’s luggage in Cuba and inadvertently migrated to Canada.(Note to self: Keep your luggage zipped up tight while abroad!)It’s a good thing the woman found Gail when she did because it gave birth to about 20 baby scorpions shortly after at the Zoo!Experts at the Zoo have since determined that Gail is a less venomous species known as the Cuban scorpion, or Heteroctenus Gerridoi. They say Gail is doing a fine job of raising the babies, which are currently clustered on her back.More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksWhen the offspring get a little bigger, zoo officials say they will be removed from Gail’s cage in case she mistakes them for prey and devours them.Gulp. Posted by The Canadian Press << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Brumas del Zurquí wins Costa Ricas top coffee competition

first_imgNo related posts. A coffee from San Isidro de Heredia, north of the capital, beat out beans from around the country to take top prize in Costa Rica’s International Cup of Excellence coffee competition, the daily El País reported.The coffee from Brumas del Zurquí, from the Zamora farm in the Central Valley near Heredia, will go on to compete in the global version of the International Cup of Excellence competition on July 3.Brumas del Zurqui grows coffee between 1,200 and 1,600 meters above sea level to achieve a complex coffee with flavors of flowers and fruit, El País reported.The competition began with 96 coffee entries, which were whittled down by national judges to a total of 27 that will go on to the international competition, according to the El País report. Winners will send samples to coffee roasters around the world. The roasters will roast the beans they receive to be bid upon in the International Cup of Excellence Auction in July. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Jacó Happenings

first_imgNo related posts. Australian surfing icon Rob Machado stopped by the central Pacific coast with the Hurley Team earlier this month. Rob was in town helping the Hurley brand re-launch throughout stores here in Costa Rica, stopping first at Jacó Beach’s Mango Surf Shop to sign autographs, and later running a special surf clinic.He also appeared at the Weekly Backyard Surf Series. In other surfing news: Congratulations to Carlos Muñoz, who just returned the Volcom VQS in Newport Beach, California, where he took fifth place. The fifth leg of the National Surfing Circuit will be held in Jacó, June 16-17. Maria Del Mar has been influential in the implementation of PayPal in Costa Rica. Maria’s business, Del Mar Surf Camp, has been selected as the pilot program for PayPal, with Banco Nacional pioneering the way for businesses on the central Pacific coast and Costa Rican banks to begin accepting PayPal. Not only has Maria opened a third location in Santa Teresa, but she is offering a youth surf academy in Jacó Beach. For more information, visit www.delmarsurfcamp.com.There’s little bit of everything to eat here in Jacó: Bubbas El Bohio not only features some of the best fish tacos in town, but now the restaurant is putting out homemade pizzas in the center of Jacó Beach. To order, call 2643-3112. Le Loft EATS Pizza, Pasta and Drinks also opened recently and features deck parties underneath Lemonzest on the main strip. Don’t forget “Tightwad Wednesdays” at Tsunami Sushi offering half priced tuna rolls all night. The Patio Classic Rock Sports Bar is now open in front of La Bruja. Soda Marea Alta, located across from Platinum gym, is open 24/7 and is a great spot to grab typical Costa Rican food. Next to the Jacó movie theater sits Planetarium Arcade, which features video games, Xbox, air hockey and pinball machines. On Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, bring your kids to Los Amigos and eat free from 5-9 p.m. (one child per adult and restrictions are limited to the kids’ menu). For more information, contact John Garcia at Los Amigos at 2643-2961 or visit www.losamigosjaco.com. In the Pacific Center, Kartwheels Boutique has children’s clothing and accessories. They are located next to CableTica and can be reached at 8603-3328. ShoeTopia on the south side of the strip has shoes for children in all sizes. For more info, call 2643-3039. Aqua Zumba is now available Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m. at Condos Vista Mar in front of the Hotel Cocal. One-hour classes offer a low-impact, high-cardio and fun alternative. For more info, contact Nina Ford, Jacó’s licensed Zumba instructor, at 8971-9157.A few upcoming dates to mark on your calendars: On June 1-4, El Hicaco will be hosting Jacó’s June Music Festival. Friday, June 1, features Bossa Nova with Nomada Group; Saturday, June 2, Joe Anelo & his Jazz Band perform; Sunday, June 3, Santos and Zurdo will be live and Monday, June 4, you can find jazz, funk and soul. The music starts at 7 p.m. each night, and a $35 entry fee includes dinner, two glasses of wine and dessert. For reservations, call 2643-3326. The Watusi Pura Vida Tour will spread the reggae vibe at Los Amigos, June 22, the Backyard performs June 23, and DoceLunas takes the stage June 24. Watusi grew out of a seed planted by the late original Wailer, Peter Tosh in Dallas. This reggae roots band is on a mission with a message of peace, unity and love, and is a tour not to be missed. Support live music on Costa Rica’s central Pacific Coast!–Christina Truittchristina_truitt@yahoo.com Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Arenal Report

first_imgNo related posts. The February meeting of the Ladies of the Lake was held at Victoria Torley’s home in Aguacate. Attendance was excellent, and many new members of the community were warmly welcomed. The potluck buffet is always excellent, and is indicative of the culinary skills of  “the Arenal Cooks.”Gloria Dempsey, Nuevo Arenal’s own animal welfare expert, delivered an outstanding presentation of what to do in case of snake bite or toad-poisoning affecting family pets. Gloria’s recent spay/neuter clinic in Nuevo Arenal was also discussed with much appreciation for her efforts. In Tronodora and Tilarán, Judy Reisman’s team operated on more than 60 dogs and cats. We salute the untiring efforts of these ladies in the reduction of unwanted and hungry street animals. Nuevo Arenal’s favorite community activist, Jeff Spencer, has spearheaded the Sports Committee and organized a great three-day event. The night of Feb. 25 was designated the “Good Shape” kickoff. Instruction and participation was held in the 5 Tibetan Rites (to prolong life), followed by aerobics and yoga. This was a free event, open to all at the gymnasium. Tuesday night the gymnasium hosted volleyball, basketball and stadium football. All were well attended. The final event of the three-day series was held on Wed., Feb. 27, and included an exciting relay race for the school children from grades 1-6. The kids formed teams and thoroughly enjoyed the competition. The Nuevo Arenal community continues to come together for the benefit of locals, temporary residents, permanent residents and folks just passing through town.–William & Jean Priestjean_pri@msn.com Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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The cutest town in Panama

first_imgCall me spoiled, but sometimes living in Costa Rica, I get sick of the same beautiful beaches, the same incredible volcanoes and the same wildlife-ridden jungles. No one back home in the U.S. will summon even an ounce of sympathy for overfamiliarity with paradise, but seriously, monkeys just aren’t that interesting anymore.This Semana Santa, in an effort to cure myself, I hopped the border down to Boquete, Panama. Unfortunately for me, Boquete’s cool climate, ridiculously beautiful mountain views and overabundance of flowers did little to help my problem. Instead, I just sort of longed to move to Panama. I’m not alone.Nestled in a valley next to the country’s highest point, Volcano Barú, the town of Boquete has become increasingly popular among backpackers, outdoor enthusiasts and retirees. With its spectacular scenery and multitude of activities, Boquete also makes the perfect getaway for the permanent vacationer living in Costa Rica.What to do and seeTo put it simply, Boquete is adorable, and we easily spent an entire day just walking through the beautiful parks and gazing at the river. While the town of Boquete is in itself a destination, it also serves as the perfect base to explore the rest of Panama’s Chiriquí Province.For the avid outdoorsmen, the surrounding mountains provide a number of sites and hiking trails. The 5- to 7-hour Quetzal trail is one of the most traveled in the country and is known, as its name suggests, for the quantity of rare Quetzals that nest in its trees. For a more strenuous experience, there is also a trail to the top of Volcan Barú, but the 8- to 14-hour hike is only for the physically fit.The region also has some of the best river rapids in the country. With everything from baby Class II rapids to terrifying, un-raftable Class Vs, the region’s most rafted river, the Chiriquí Viejo, a 2-hour drive from Boquete, has a little something for everyone.  Boquete Outdoor Adventures offers a wide variety of rafting and kayaking trips. Another more relaxing option is the Caldera Hot Springs, a short drive or a $30 cab ride from town. These natural hot springs, heated geothermically by Volcano Barú, are both a little bit weird and a little bit amazing. The springs are smack in the middle of a farm replete with animals; chickens and goats litter the front lawn, and keep an eye out for a water buffalo and a mischievous monkey that might just steal your lunch.Where to eat and drinkFinding a real sandwich in Costa Rica is about as likely as spotting a jaguar walking down a jungle trail, so the thick-cut deli meats and perfectly baked breads at Sugar and Spice were a welcome surprise to my Tico-ized taste buds. The cute café also has a variety of desserts, fruit shakes and coffees on its menu.For dinner, we checked out the popular Argentinean steakhouse La Posada, which serves up some great steak and trout. Bar Barú was another good choice for its classy Italian food. As a small town, nightlife is limited in Boquete, but certainly not lacking. Our top pick is Zanzibar, a relaxed, African-themed bar that often features live music.Where to stayAs a backpacker town on the rise, Boquete is full of cheap hostel options as well as high-class cabinas. For the best of both worlds, check out Refugio del Rio, a cute lodge where for $33 a night, you can get a private room with a terrace overlooking the river. Dorm beds are also available for $11.For a more high-class option, there is the Los Establos boutique hotel.  What it lacks in amenities (no pool, spa or restaurant), it makes up for in amazing views, free wine and soup and general cuteness.Going there: Boquete is located in Panama’s Chirquí province and is easily accessible through the transit town of David. From Costa Rica you can fly or drive to David, or catch the 7:30 a.m. Tracopa bus. Once in David, busses leave approximately every 45 minutes for Boquete and take about an hour. Facebook Comments This monkey will steal your lunch.Lindsay Fendtcenter_img Related posts:Spain trying to mediate Panama canal cost crisis Noriega could be home in Panama for Christmas Panama Canal Expansion Breaks Ground Noriega Fights Extradition to Francelast_img read more

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Costa Ricas oldest city reopens to tourists after renovation

first_img Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Facebook Comments Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Timescenter_img Alberto Font/The Tico Times Its ruins have been restored and more indigenous structures have been unearthed. And now the ancient site of Guayabo has reopened for visitors.Located in the Turrialba municipality of Cartago, Guayabo now features two new figure-eight-shaped dwellings, a road leading into the town and a plaza and amphitheater thought to be a gathering center for the city’s inhabitants.The pre-Columbian village was occupied between 1000 and 1400 AD, based on the dating of ceramic pottery found on the site, according to archaeologist Rodolfo Tenorio.“It’s the best example of conservation in Costa Rica,” Tenorio said in an interview. “It’s the most ancient city in Costa Rica.”Tenorio said that between 10,000 to 15,000 residents lived in the city while it was active. They ate farmed root plants such as yucca as well as corn and peijbaye. A freshwater fishbone had been uncovered among the ruins, but Tenorio said archaeologists are waiting to find more evidence before concluding that the residents also fished.Seated high in the mountains near Turrialba Volcano, visitors are also rewarded with gorgeous vistas of the countryside. Tenorio noted that these views explained the settlement’s location, as it was a strategic lookout point.Archaeologists have been most impressed by channels dug in the ground, which were used as aqueducts. Rocks stacked to build the structures also indicate a sophisticated knowledge of engineering. Tenorio said they have found pottery containing more than four colors, pointing to a complex civilization with distinct classes.The restored parts include the town’s entrance road, which runs past the two restored dwellings and into the plaza-amphitheater. Continuing past the plaza are larger mounds that formed the base of ancient dwellings, left unrestored.The site was first discovered in the 19th century, by accident, when the land was being cleared for a coffee plantation. Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly declared it a national site in 1973.Residents apparently abandoned the city around 1400, prior to Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. Tenorio said the city’s desertion remains a mystery.“One hypothesis is that maybe people from other territories invaded, or vice-versa,” Tenorio said. Alberto Font/The Tico Times Related posts:Costa Rica’s Guayabo National Monument reopens to tourists after flooding Tourists pay up to $6,800 each to visit Costa Rica’s Isla del Coco National Park Driving in Costa Rica: The rules of the road Che’s son offers ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ tour in Cuba Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Timeslast_img read more

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Is the US taxpayerfunded Central America Regional Security Initiative effective at stopping

first_imgRelated posts:State Department official: Real improvement in regional security requires ‘new approach’ Experts debate approaches to stemming Central America gang violence Honduran military aims to fill in for ‘absent’ parents with program targeting at-risk kids From ‘America’s Mayor’ to international security guru: Rudy Giuliani sends experts to El Salvador WASHINGTON, D. C. – Cristina Equizábal, a senior fellow at El Salvador’s National Foundation for Development (FUNDE), visited Costa Rica earlier this month – and was shocked to learn that local police had uncovered an enormous cache of M-16s, Uzis, AK-47s and other weapons in a suburb of San José.Despite Costa Rica’s reputation as a relative haven of calm in one of the world’s most dangerous regions, the raid proved to her that generalized statistics about the safety of one country relative to another often can be deceiving.“Some neighborhoods of San José and Limón have homicide rates of close to 60 per 100,000 – just as high as some places in the Northern Triangle,” Equizábal said in reference to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, three of the most violent nations on Earth.Equizábal was one of nine speakers who participated in a Dec. 11 conference on Central America’s security challenges. The first half of last Thursday’s event – sponsored by the Washington-based Wilson Center – focused on the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), a U.S. taxpayer-funded program that since 2008 has spent $642 million to combat crime, gang violence and drug trafficking throughout the region.“One thing CARSI is missing is knowledge,” said Equizabál, who before joining FUNDE in San Salvador directed the Latin American & Caribbean Center at Miami’s Florida International University. “The situation on the ground is very variable. In El Salvador, for example, homicides are concentrated in 14 of the country’s 262 municipalities – and there are 45 municipalities that have not had a single homicide in six years. You have to stay very close to the ground in order to tailor your response.”Asked if CARSI is a success or a failure, Equizábal said the answer depends on the level of analysis.“Individual projects have mostly been successful according to the criteria established, and the people implementing them in El Salvador are fairly satisfied.” But in order for such initiatives to really succeed, she said, “you need a stronger tax base, more transparency and increased accountability from all sectors of society.”Related: Top U.S. diplomat defends Central America Regional Security Initiative Cristina Equizábal, senior fellow at El Salvador’s National Foundation for Development (FUNDE), speaks Dec.11 at the Wilson Center as part of a panel titled “The Central American Regional Security Initiative in the Northern Triangle.” Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesGuatemala, with 16 million inhabitants, is Central America’s most populous country and has received the biggest chunk of CARSI funds to date. But how much the program has actually helped Guatemala is a big question mark, said Nicholas Phillips, author of the Wilson Center study, “CARSI in Guatemala: Progress, Failure and Uncertainty.”He said U.S. officials have conducted no evaluation of a CARSI-funded heroin poppy eradication program, and there’s no evidence these programs have actually affected the volume of cultivation. In addition, programs to establish model police precincts have had some success in the specific areas where they were established – but they haven’t been expanded because the government isn’t committed to the program.“The most common crime in Guatemala is everyday robbery and theft. Sadly, violence against women is also very prevalent, and 70 percent of the time people don’t even bother reporting crimes,” said Phillips, a Wilson Center consultant since 2013. “Most Guatemalans don’t have a lot of faith in their public institutions. The police are not well-trained, and they don’t have a tight relationship with folks on the street.”He added: “In a recent survey of 10,000 people in the capital, 90 percent said they had not been a direct victim of crime in the last eight months, but they also said it was an unsafe place to be. Guatemalans are afraid – they don’t go out at night and they don’t trust strangers.”On the other hand, said Phillips, “public prosecutors have gotten a lot better in the last few years, especially under the leadership of [former attorney general] Claudia Paz y Paz. He said the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has done a “solid job” bolstering the Guatemalan court system by installing one-way, bulletproof windows so that witness can testify anonymously and safely against “bad guys.”See also: Experts debate approaches to stemming Central America gang violence Nicholas Phillips, a print journalist based in Central America, speaks Dec.11 about Guatemala at the Wilson Center as part of a panel titled “The Central American Regional Security Initiative in the Northern Triangle.” Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesIn addition, the State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau (INL) has provided equipment to Guatemala’s PANDA anti-gang unit, helping it collect wiretaps and videos and working with prosecutors to build strong cases against gang members.“INL helps vet these guys. Every six months they have to take a lie detector test. Everyone I interviewed said they’re doing a good job,” he said, noting that INL is also actively promoting the U.S.-developed Drug Abuse Resistance Education program – even though evaluations of DARE in the United States show little or no impact.“We’ve got to better evaluate what we’re doing with our CARSI money,” said Phillips. “Frankly, it’s not enough to say we trained 1,000 officers or we gave them 100 new laptops. Those are outputs. We want outcomes.”Much the same is true in Honduras – the world’s most violent country – where homicide rate has begun to fall after reaching 90.4 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012.“While it’s still the highest in the world, there’s a clear trend toward [rates] going down. That’s because Honduras is addressing high-level organized crime, but they have farther to go in that respect,” said Aaron Korthuis, a Yale Law School student who spent two years working in Honduras with two nonprofit groups working to reform the country’s police and justice sectors.“Only 4 percent of homicides in Honduras reach a conviction, so there’s very little deterrence effect. That’s why you continue to see high impunity rates,” Korthuis said. “Change is happening, but slowly and often faltering and ridden by corruption.” Aaron Korthuis, who spent two years in Honduras working with nonprofit groups to help reform the Honduran police and justice system, speaks Dec.11 at the Wilson Center as part of a panel titled “The Central American Regional Security Initiative in the Northern Triangle.” Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesSteven Dudley, co-director at Insight Crime and a former Wilson Center fellow, said a big part of the problem is that projects like CARSI are destined for nations run by wealthy elites who evade taxes and deplete their country’s security and justice systems.“Stories abound in places like Honduras, where public ministries are lending printers to the police, where there’s one car for every 50 cops,” he said, suggesting that Central American presidents are being unrealistic in their demands that the United States bankroll their proposed Alliance for Prosperity plan. That program was unveiled during last month’s visit to Washington by the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.“We need to put this into perspective. With Plan Colombia, for example, $8 was spent by Colombians for every dollar spent by the United States. In Mexico, it was $10,” Dudley told his audience. “These countries in Central America are spending much less, on average, for these programs, and they’re asking [Washington] for incredibly outsized sums in the amounts of $5 billion. There’s a complete disconnect between the reality on the ground and what they hope to get from the U.S. government.”See also: For justice in Guatemala, ‘2 steps forward, 1 step back’ Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Costa Rica makes first large marijuana seizure of 2015

first_imgRelated: Costa Rica’s 3-pronged strategy scores high against drug trafficking, says Coast Guard chiefThere’s one metric ton less of Jamaican “high red” marijuana destined for Costa Rica after authorities seized a boatload of the drug off the Caribbean coast of Limón on Sunday, according to a statement from the Public Security Ministry.The joint operation between the U.S. and Costa Rican coast guards and Colombian authorities resulted in the interception of a suspicious vessel in the Caribbean spotted by a U.S. P3 surveillance plane 20 miles off the coast of Limón. The Coast Guard fished at least 38 bags of marijuana out of the sea after the five-member crew started throwing their illicit cargo overboard.Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa called the seizure the first important marijuana seizure of 2015. Gamboa added that the drugs were destined for consumption in Costa Rica.The suspects include three Jamaicans with the last names Reynold, Duman and Curryi; a Nicaraguan identified as Lacayo; and a Costa Rican named Patterson.On Monday, police discovered 1,284 marijuana plants guarded by a 17-year-old boy toting a .22-caliber rifle outside Salitre, Puntarenas, in the southern part of the country, according to a separate statement from the ministry.Costa Rica seized more than 7 metric tons of marijuana in 2014. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s 3-pronged strategy scores high against drug trafficking, says Coast Guard chief Costa Rican police arrest 8 in international money laundering, drug-running investigation Costa Rican Coast Guard seizes nearly 2 metric tons of marijuana US seizes $12 million of drugs in Caribbeanlast_img read more

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US candidate Bernie Sanders sues party as Democrats on verge of open

first_imgRelated posts:Biden won’t seek White House in 2016, clearing Clinton’s way Expats ‘feel the Bern’ as Democrat Global Primary kicks off in Costa Rica Bernie Sanders ‘wins’ Costa Rica in Democrats Global Primary Sanders to win Maine caucuses while Clinton nears half the delegates needed for nomination WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ campaign filed a lawsuit against his party, setting up a potentially fiery showdown with rival and frontrunner Hillary Clinton at their prime-time televised debate on Saturday.The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Thursday temporarily suspended the Sanders campaign’s access to the party’s voter database, after at least one of its staffers took advantage of a computer glitch to peek at crucial Clinton voter data.The suspension is a slap to Sanders’ hopes of scoring an upset over Clinton for the Democratic nomination because the trove features information on voters nationwide and candidates use it to plan strategy, as they vie to replace Barack Obama.With the Democratic Party on the verge of all-out warfare, the Sanders team filed a 12-page lawsuit with the U.S. Court for the District of Columbia against the DNC over breach of contract on Friday.The Vermont senator’s campaign also fired one staffer and the party blamed NGP VAN, the technology company that provides campaigns with access to the data, for allowing the intrusion.The glitch — in which a firewall protecting proprietary data was lowered briefly on Wednesday — made voter data unique to the Clinton campaign viewable for outside eyes.Sanders, an independent who calls himself a democratic socialist, is running a distant second in national polls behind Clinton, who has a more than 20 point lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.Clinton, Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley face off Saturday in the party’s third presidential debate, which is to be held in the early voting state of New Hampshire.The dismissed staffer, Josh Uretsky, told CNN he had not been trying to spy on Clinton.Rather, Uretsky said he had become aware of the breach and just poked around in the Clinton data for a while to see how exposed the Sanders campaign was. Then the firewall protecting the data went back up.“To the best of my knowledge, nobody took anything that would have given the campaign any benefit,” Uretsky told CNN. Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver, right, leaves after talking to reporters outside the campaign’s headquarters on Dec. 18, 2015 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFPAccording to the DNC, the suspension will remain in effect until the Sanders campaign provides a full explanation of what happened. It must also present proof that any pilfered data has been erased.Although Uretsky was the only staffer fired, The New York Times reported that from four user accounts associated with the Sanders campaign searches were carried out while Clinton’s data was exposed.Sanders’ campaign spokesman Michael Briggs said it was not the first time the technology company has dropped the firewall.He said the Sanders team had learned of such glitches months ago and told the DNC that campaign data, including Sanders material, was being made visible to other campaigns.“Unfortunately, yesterday, the vendor once again dropped the firewall between the campaigns for some data,” Briggs said late Thursday.“After discussion with the DNC, it became clear that one of our staffers accessed some modeling data from another campaign. That behavior is unacceptable and that staffer was immediately fired.”Earlier Friday, Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver issued a news release describing the ordeal, and stated that, “by their action, the leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign. This is unacceptable. Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want, but they are not going to sabotage our campaign – one of the strongest grassroots campaigns in modern history.“We are announcing today that if the DNC continues to hold our data hostage, and continues to try to attack the heart and soul of our campaign, we will be in federal court this afternoon seeking an immediate injunction.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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ExIrish president knocks S Africa ruling party

first_img“Those questions need to be addressed if South Africa’s hard-fought democracy is to be sustained for generations to come,” she said.Robinson, also a former U.N. high commissioner for human rights, focused first on South Africa’s proposed official secrets law. The bill, passed by lawmakers in November, makes it a crime to divulge state secrets, while not allowing for those who break the law to avoid going to jail if they argue they acted in the public interest. The bill also makes it a crime for an official to withhold information to conceal wrongdoing or incompetence, or merely to avoid embarrassment.The bill comes as the ANC faces a string of corruption allegations, and the nation has seen its top police official, a longtime ANC member, convicted. The government has also become more aggressive in going after journalists.The bill’s critics have included two Nobel prizewinners: retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a peace laureate, and literature laureate Nadine Gordimer. The office of Nelson Mandela, a Nobel peace laureate himself, has also expressed reservations about the bill.“If you enact a law that cloaks the workings of state actors, that interferes with press freedom to investigate corruption, that stifles efforts by whistleblowers to expose corruption, you are sure to increase those levels of corruption tomorrow,” Robinson said. “The public interest demands that basic truth, of having both transparency and accountability in government. Secrecy is the enemy of truth in this regard.” Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories In her speech _ the keynote address at the 10th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture _ Robinson also touched on South Africa’s high crime rate and the unending poverty for many in the nation, years after the end of apartheid. While applauding ANC for reaching power, she said much remains to be done.“Sadly, though, in recent years my South African friends tell me the ANC’s moral authority has been eroded, tainted by allegations of corruption, a temporary betrayal of its history,” Robinson said. “And meanwhile, there remains, in the transformation process, much unfinished business. We cannot deny that South Africa faces serious problems.”Mandela, who was imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against apartheid before becoming the nation’s president in the country’s first fully democratic vote in 1994, did not attend the lecture. Now 94, he has retired from public life and lives in his home village of Qunu.___Jon Gambrell can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jongambrellap.center_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Parents, stop beating yourself up Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressJOHANNESBURG (AP) – The African National Congress’ “moral authority has been eroded” by a string of corruption allegations, Ireland’s former president said Sunday, telling South Africa’s governing party to back away from a proposed official secrets law and confront poverty and inequality in the nation.Mary Robinson used a speech Sunday in Cape Town at an event honoring Nelson Mandela, the ANC’s iconic political leader, to try and prod his party’s focus toward social justice. While acknowledging the party’s long history at bringing true democracy to the country, Robinson said South Africa remains “a nation of paradoxes” where economic opportunities remain few for the nation’s youth. Men’s health affects baby’s health too 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

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Devout Israeli Jews moving to ArabJewish cities

first_imgAssociated PressACRE, Israel (AP) – Orthodox Jewish Israelis, the driving force of the West Bank settlement movement, have begun to turn their attention inward to Israel itself, moving into Arab areas of mixed cities in an attempt to cement the Jewish presence there.Activists say that in recent years, several thousand devout Jews have pushed into rundown Arab areas of Jaffa, Lod, Ramle and Acre, hardscrabble cities divided between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. Their arrival has threatened to disrupt fragile ethnic relations with construction of religious seminaries and housing developments marketed exclusively to Jews. Parents, stop beating yourself up While the settlements are seen as an obstacle to peace talks and considered illegal by the Palestinians and most of the international community, the current campaign is taking place inside Israel’s borders.Still, the movement of religious, nationalist Jews into the mixed cities is promoted along the same pioneering lines as the original West Bank settlements. The settlers themselves don’t make the distinction between the two sides of the line, claiming it should all belong to Israel.The Israel Land Fund, one of the organizations promoting the move, helps Jews buy property in both Israel and the West Bank with the goal of “ensuring the land of Israel stays in the hands of Jewish people forever.”Its director, Arieh King, said the fund, with the help of a donor who contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars, was instrumental in bringing about 50 families into Jaffa, a mostly Arab town that is now part of Tel Aviv. He would not identify the donor.“There are places in Jaffa where the Islamic Movement and other groups have been radicalized,” King said. “People were afraid to fly the (Israeli) national flag for fear of how the Arabs would react.” Now, he said, Jews feel more comfortable there. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Lankri estimated that 200 religious families have moved to Acre in recent years.A similar process is under way in Lod, about halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.Religious Jewish activist Aharon Atias said that after he and his wife married, their “first thought” was to move to a West Bank settlement. Then they came to the conclusion that they could transplant the settlement ethos to Atias’ hometown.He undertook to reverse a Jewish flight from his blighted hometown, which is about 25 percent Arab and 75 percent Jewish, by bringing in religious Jews. His project began with two families in the late 1990s, he said.“Now, we’re an empire,” Atias said. He said 400 new religious families have moved in, and six day care centers, three schools, a seminary and a pre-military academy have been built for them. Another three projects for religious Jews are under construction, with about 660 units expected to be populated within the next two years, he said.One development is in an Arab neighborhood, and the other two are in poor, mixed neighborhoods.“We want to prevent Arabs from becoming the majority,” Atias said. “The city of Lod, since 1948, and with God’s help, has been a Jewish city where non-Jews live, and it has to remain that way.” Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 0 Comments   Share   “Israel has to act as the state of its citizens,” said Mohammad Darawshe, co-executive director of The Abraham Fund Initiatives, a nonprofit group that promotes co-existence between Jews and Arabs in Israel. “Ethnic preference is clearly inappropriate, violating the principles of democracy.”About 20 percent of Israel’s citizens are Arabs. Most live in Arab towns and villages, with some notable exceptions, especially Haifa, the port city that is Israel’s third-largest.Before Israel’s establishment in 1948, these mixed cities were populated by Arabs. Many fled or were expelled during the two-year war that followed Israel’s creation. Arabs commemorate that as a “catastrophe.”The Jewish move into Arab neighborhoods for ideological reasons echoes the nationalistic fervor of the first Israeli settlers in the West Bank in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They set up trailer camps and squatted in unoccupied houses, determined to hold on to the territory for religious and security reasons.The settler movement has grown into a huge enterprise that, with government backing, has attracted more than 300,000 Israelis into the West Bank. The Israel Land Fund is seeking investors for a $16 million residential, hotel and country club project in the northern port city of Acre, where the mostly Arab Old City has been designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site.“As always, the financial rewards are outweighed by the spiritual and ideological benefit of knowing that these projects will make a huge impact in the fight to keep Acre a Jewish city,” the ad for the seafront project says.Acre, a city of about 50,000, is 72 percent Jewish and 28 percent Arab. While relations are generally quiet, Acre was convulsed by bitter ethnic fighting three years ago after an Arab citizen drove through a mostly Jewish neighborhood on the holy day of Yom Kippur, when even secular Jews keep their cars off the streets.The efforts to bring Jews to Acre have won praise from high levels of government. Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom hailed the establishment of a Jewish seminary in Acre last year a measure as “helping to strengthen the trend of Judaizing the Galilee.”“There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that statement,” he said at the time.Acre’s Arab deputy mayor, Adham Jamal, warned that the activists threaten to disrupt a fragile status quo. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Quick workouts for men Top Stories Arab activists bridle at the notion that Jews must dominate.“They’re like a cancer that enters the body and doesn’t leave,” said activist Horia ElSadi, a Lod native, reflecting lingering bitterness over the establishment of a Jewish state. “They want to live alone. They want Lod to be a Jewish city.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The newcomers “don’t understand the mentality of Jews and Arabs living together,” said Adham, who serves under a Jewish mayor. “Those coming now aren’t coming to live in Acre. They’ve come to kick out Arabs.”Acre’s mayor, Shimon Lankri, insisted there is no policy of “Judaization,” although he said he was sympathetic to a still-unapproved request to build a 100-apartment development for religious Jews in his city.Such projects, where residents might be required to dress modestly and respect the Jewish Sabbath by not driving or blasting loud music, exist in many other communities in Israel.“Do I have a policy that discriminates, that favors Jews? There is no such policy,” Lankri said. “I myself lived in a building with Arabs and Jews for five years.” He maintained that Arab and Jewish residents receive equal services in his city.Arab activists dispute that, saying they face discrimination in Acre and other mixed cities. Arab neighborhoods are often marred by dilapidated buildings and roads, plagued by a shortage of schools and social services.Before the religious Jews started moving into Acre several years ago, Arabs were preoccupied with the lack of equality, said Adham. With the influx of the Jewish religious nationalists, “the main subject has become Arabs and Jews, and that’s dangerous,” he said. “The discourse is now about demographics.” Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

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Slain Salvadoran archbishops beatification a rallying point

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home The beatification of Romero stands to officially bring his legacy in from the cold as state and church officials portray him as a force for healing wounds remaining from an era when left-leaning clergy were targeted by military regimes in Central America and censured by the Holy See.“He becomes a symbol of an El Salvador in a new era that could unite the Salvadoran people,” said Enrique Lopez Oliva, a historian of religion at the University of Havana.At a time when Latin American Catholics celebrate having one of their own as pope in the Argentine-born Francis, the beatification further bolsters the church’s standing in the region, he added.The Vatican “is trying to regain space it has lost in the world,” Lopez Oliva said. “You have to remember that the largest population of Catholics is in Latin America.”At least 250,000 people are expected to mass in the Plaza El Salvador del Mundo for the ceremony of beatification, a first step toward canonization and sainthood.Romero, known as “the voice of the voiceless,” was named archbishop of San Salvador in 1977 with the blessing of El Salvador’s government, which signed off because Romero was seen as a friend of the elite and the armed forces, according to his biographer, Monsignor Jesus Delgado. The church hopes the beatification “will be a point of hope,” said Salvadoran parish priest Luis Ayala, who is organizing this weekend’s celebration. “Afterward, we can love and break the prejudices that may exist at an ideological and party level.”Romero’s remains lie in a tomb in the basement of the cathedral of San Salvador capped by a bronze sculpture of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, covering his body with a blanket. St. John Paul II, U.S. President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are among the dignitaries who have visited to pay their respects.On weekends, thousands flock to the crypt to honor his memory and beseech favors. Believers say it’s a place of love, faith and solidarity, and many credit the spirit of “Saint Romero of the Americas” with healing illnesses and other miracles.“He is the spiritual guide for the family and for the nation,” said Alma Dinora Aguirre, who travels to the tomb twice a month from her home in San Miguel, 80 miles (135 kilometers) from the capital, to thank Romero for answering her prayers to ease her dying mother’s suffering. “He is a true saint.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — To some he was a champion of the poor, a defender of human rights during some of El Salvador’s darkest days. Others called him a supporter of armed revolution, a Marxist guerrilla clothed in a cleric’s cassock.Thirty-five years after a right-wing death squad assassin’s bullet pierced his heart, Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero will join the hierarchy of the blessed on Saturday even as conservative corners of El Salvador and the Vatican still harbor his critics. A month later, a death squad killed the Rev. Rutilio Grande, a fellow priest and Romero’s friend, greatly affecting the newly minted archbishop. Before long, Romero rededicated his archdiocese to serving social justice. He sought to mediate labor disputes, established a human rights office and opened the doors of the church to give refuge to campesinos fleeing persecution in the countryside.On March 23, 1980, Romero boldly admonished the military government to end abuses of civilians: “In the name of God and this suffering population, whose cries reach to the heavens more tumultuous each day, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you, in the name of God, cease the repression.”A day later, he was gunned down as he celebrated Mass in a cancer hospital chapel in San Salvador.The assassination came in the opening days of the Salvadoran civil war, one of the last major conflicts of the Cold War pitting leftist guerrillas against a U.S.-backed military junta and subsequent governments. The conflict lasted until peace accords in 1992 and resulted in at least 75,000 deaths and 12,000 disappearances, according to a U.N. account.Twenty-three years after the war’s end, the FMLN political party that arose from the former rebel movement has its second president in power in Salvador Sanchez Ceren, and many see Romero as a figure that can help rally a nation struggling not only with its past, but also rampant gang violence and sky-high homicide rates today. FILE – In this March 23, 1980, file photo, a nun plants a kiss on the forehead of slain Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador at the Hospital of Divine Providence. Thirty-five years after a right-wing death squad assassin’s bullet pierced his heart, Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero will join the hierarchy of the blessed this Saturday, May 23, 2015, even as conservative corners of El Salvador and the Vatican still harbor his critics. (AP Photo, File)center_img “So that internal debate within the Catholic Church is, I think, over,” added Quigley, who was with Romero at the last Sunday Mass before his assassination. “He’s clearly been approved of by the pope, and you can’t go any higher than that.”___Associated Press writers Peter Orsi in Mexico City and Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories The Jesuit-trained Francis, known as the “slum bishop” for his work in Buenos Aires’ poorest neighborhoods before he became pope, declared in February that Romero was slain out of hatred for the faith, approving a martyrdom decree that cleared the way for beatification.With Francis sharing Romero’s concern for the impoverished, it is fitting that Romero would come up for beatification now. A beatification process has also begun for Romero’s slain friend, Rev. Rutilio Grande.Benedict has said a critical turning point for Romero’s beatification was the 2005 book “Primero Dios: The Life of Oscar Romero,” which argued that the archbishop’s writing and preaching were fully in line with Catholic doctrine. Romero was not a proponent of revolutionary liberation theology as many claimed, but rather merely sought justice for El Salvador’s oppressed, the book said.“In terms of the church itself, (Romero’s beatification) signifies something of an end to an unpleasant, controversial time when Oscar Romero and people like him on the left were vilified and downgraded and distrusted because they were seen as being too close to the real enemy, which was international communism,” said Tom Quigley, Latin America policy adviser to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops until his retirement in 2007. 0 Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Others still view Romero with distaste, even if they are hesitant to be seen as openly criticizing his memory.“Communist,” muttered one man in a San Salvador church who declined to expand on that thought or give his name, simply waving his hand and walking away.Filmmaker Gerardo Muyshondt’s father was a friend of the now-deceased death squad commander, Maj. Roberto d’Aubuisson, who was accused by the United Nations and many others of being the man who ordered the assassination. Muyshondt grew up hearing nothing good about Romero but now believes his image was misused for ideological purposes.“We have to stop using his image in a political way” or else Romero will remain a divisive figure, said Muyshondt, whose documentary trilogy “El Salvador: Lost Archives of Conflict” examines the 1980-92 civil war.Romero’s beatification was held up for years by church politics, questions about his orthodoxy and concerns it could encourage liberation theology clerics who maintain that faith requires followers to fight for social and economic justice.In late 2012 Pope Benedict XVI, who as a cardinal had launched a crackdown on liberation theology, “unblocked” the case by moving it to the Vatican’s saint-making office from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where it had languished. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

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Thai police chief Evidence in tourist murder trial not lost

first_img Comments   Share   BANGKOK (AP) — Authorities have possession of crucial DNA evidence in the murder trial of two Burmese migrants accused of killing two young British tourists on a Thai resort island, the national police chief insisted Friday, disputing reports that it might have been lost.The trial has drawn global attention both for the gruesome murders on the quiet, scenic island of Koh Tao last year and for an investigation that raised questions about police and judicial competency. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Sponsored Stories The latest questions arose three days into the trail on Thursday when media covering the trial on the nearby island of Koh Samui quoted a police witness as saying some of the evidence may have been lost or destroyed. The court was expected to rule Friday on a defense request to re-examine the DNA evidence.“It is not lost,” national police chief Gen. Somyot Poompanmoung told reporters in Bangkok. “I repeat: Nothing is lost.”Somyot called it a misunderstanding that stemmed from foreign media covering the case who might have poor Thai language skills.Somyot said the local police investigator, Lt Col Somsak Nurod, was vague in his testimony and therefore was misinterpreted. Somsak was no longer in possession of the DNA evidence since he collected it and then sent it to the Forensics Medicine Institute in Bangkok, Somyot said.“Nothing is missing. It’s a misunderstanding,” the police chief said.The bodies of backpackers David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were found Sept. 15 on the rocky shores of Koh Tao. Autopsies showed that both had suffered severe head wounds and that Witheridge had been raped.Under intense pressure to catch the murderers, police carried out DNA tests on more than 200 people on Koh Tao before arresting the two Myanmar migrants in early October. Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Mesa family survives lightning strike to home The men — Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin, both 22, — have retracted their initial confessions, saying they were extracted through beatings and threats, which police deny. From the start, investigators faced a variety of criticisms, including for failing to secure the crime scene and for releasing names and pictures of suspects who turned out to be innocent.Prosecutors say the DNA evidence, collected from cigarette butts, a condom and the bodies of the victims, links the two men to the killings, and defense lawyers have been requesting that evidence for re-examination since April.Andy Hall, a British migrant rights activist working with the defense, said that handing over the DNA evidence was crucial to delivering justice.“Without the samples it undermines the opportunity of the defense to get a fair trial,” Hall said. “More importantly, if it is not provided, or if the forensics material is used up, it would undermine the credibility of the whole investigation.”___Associated Press writer Jocelyn Gecker contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

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In Iran deal Obama sees validation for diplomatic gamble

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Negotiators blew through the congressional deadline and were able to extend the timelines, according to the officials, who insisted on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the president’s thinking.Obama first planted the seeds for engagement with Iran as a presidential candidate, saying in a 2007 Democratic primary debate that he would be willing to meet with Iranian leaders without preconditions. His statements were ridiculed by Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, who went on to be his secretary of state and help jumpstart the secret negotiations with Iran.The president’s opening months in office included public and private overtures to Tehran, all with a more conciliatory tone aimed at signaling a shift from predecessor George W. Bush, who cast Iran as part of an “axis of evil.”In a veiled reference to Iran in his inaugural address, Obama said he was willing to “extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your first.” He exchanged letters with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He used conciliatory language in a videotaped message to both the people and government of Iran on the Persian new year, calling for engagement “that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.” 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Comments   Share   President Barack Obama walks with Vice President Joe Biden, after delivering remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, after an Iran nuclear deal is reached. Obama heralded a historic nuclear agreement with Iran Tuesday as an opportunity for the longtime foes to move in a “new direction,” while sharply warning Congress that it would be irresponsible to block the accord. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) How men can have a healthy 2019 Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Obama has taken a similar approach — clandestine diplomacy, prioritizing negotiations over military action — to other foreign policy challenges, with mixed results. Plans to negotiate an end to Syria’s bloody civil war have gone nowhere. A resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba after a half-century of hostilities is moving along largely as planned.Yet the stakes and the scope of the Iran effort stand apart, a reality not lost on Obama. While he talked of American strength and long-sought change Tuesday, he acknowledged in an interview with The Atlantic earlier this year that if Iran does ultimately get a bomb, “it’s my name on this.”___Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.___Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDCCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.center_img The sheer amount of time and political capital Obama invested in the Iran talks has fueled speculation that he had too much at stake to walk away from the negotiating table, no matter the compromises in a final deal. Obama authorized secret talks with Iran in 2012, followed by nearly two years of formal negotiations alongside Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. His rapprochement with Iran sent U.S. relations with Israel plummeting to near-historic lows and deepened tensions with Congress.Even with the high-stakes implications of an Iranian nuclear program, the talks over time seemed to represent more than just the quest for a deal. They were a referendum on Obama’s belief that even America’s most ardent enemies can be brought in line by wielding diplomacy and economic pressure instead of military might.“It represents the core of who he is and what his presidency stands for,” said Julianne Smith, a former Obama White House and Pentagon official. “He needs it to validate that approach.”With the deal now in hand, one of Obama’s top priorities is selling its virtues to skeptical lawmakers and world leaders, as well as the American public. He spent much of Tuesday calling leaders in Europe and the Middle East. On Wednesday, he planned to discuss the deal in a news conference, while dispatching Vice President Joe Biden to Capitol Hill to meet with House Democrats. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The vital role family plays in society Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — To President Barack Obama, the historic nuclear accord with Iran is a validation of an arduous, politically fraught diplomatic gamble, one he foreshadowed before winning the White House and one that will shape his legacy long after he leaves.The deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program may prevent Tehran from developing a bomb or being the target of U.S. military action during Obama’s presidency. But whether the agreement succeeds in stemming Iran’s nuclear ambitions after his tenure is a far murkier question. “I’m here to answer questions and explain what the deal is and I’m confident they’ll like it when they understand it all,” Biden told reporters as he entered the closed-door session.Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said Biden was trying to make a case for the agreement’s longevity and said the reaction to the vice president’s remarks were “pretty favorable.”Green added, “I’m pretty close to my Jewish community in Houston so I still have some questions.”Senior U.S. officials say Obama is sensitive to the perception he was desperate for a deal. With big gaps remaining as a June 30 deadline neared for a final agreement, officials said the president urged his team to send clear messages to Iran both publicly and privately that the U.S. was ready to end the talks without a deal.“He did not want people to have the impression that this is something we needed to have,” one official said, adding that Obama was frequently among the most pessimistic members of his national security team about the prospects of a deal.Officials also pointed to a video conference Obama convened with Kerry and other negotiators last week as an example of his willingness to forgo a deal. With momentum for an agreement building in Vienna and a deadline to limit congressional oversight looming, officials said Obama essentially rejected the deal at hand because timetables for keeping restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and a U.N. arms embargo in place were insufficient.last_img read more

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Venezuela arrests 2 military officers for drug trafficking

first_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Top Stories CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Two retired Venezuelan military officers sought on drug trafficking charges have been arrested, authorities announced.An anti-narcotics task force arrested former National Guard Capt. Vassyly Villarroel Ramirez on Monday, according to a statement released by the Interior Ministry. Ramirez has long been a wanted man. He was named in an Interpol alert and was classified as a drug kingpin in 2013 by the U.S. Treasury Department. U.S. officials say he has ties to Mexican and Colombian cartels and has been involved with cocaine trafficking. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The task force also arrested former National Guard Lt. Robert Alexander Pinto Gil on Monday. The ministry accuses him of leading local drug trafficking gangs. He previously escaped from prison.National Guard commander Nestor Reverol said Tuesday that the two will be brought before the courts soon.The arrests come amid reports that U.S. prosecutors are investigating the head of Venezuela’s congress for possible ties to cocaine trafficking and money laundering. National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello has emphatically denied that he heads a drug cartel composed of senior government and military officials. He has promised to sue the local and international outlets that have published reports related to the investigation.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

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