first_imgNo related posts. A court in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday sentenced former sports magnate and Costa Rican businessman Minor Vargas, 61, to 60 years in prison for the crimes of fraud and money laundering.Vargas was convicted in April of defrauding customers through the sale of life insurance bonds with Provident Capital Indemnity.According to prosecutors, Vargas and business partner Jorge Castillo defrauded some $670 million from clients seeking investments in the United States, the Netherlands, Germany and Canada.He is presumed to have transferred at least $50 million in investments to Costa Rica and other countries.Vargas was president and owner of Brujas Football Club and Club Deportivo Barrio Mexico, both in Costa Rica. He also was president of powerhouse soccer club Saprissa, and the owner of publishing company Icon Group and a synthetic turf business.He was arrested in early 2011 while on a trip to New York. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. — A United States federal judge on Monday condemned the military’s practice of force-feeding detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as “painful, humiliating, and degrading” and said President Barack Obama has the authority to stop it.In a forceful four-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler dismissed a Syrian detainee’s request to end the force-feeding, saying she lacks jurisdiction to rule on conditions of confinement at the prison. But, Kessler wrote, “there is an individual who does have the authority to address the issue.”Kessler quoted Obama’s national security speech from May, in which he was critical of the practice and promised to restart the process of transferring detainees out of the facility. As commander in chief, she wrote, “it would seem to follow” that the president “has the authority — and power — to directly address the issue of force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.”The opinion came in response to a detainee’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt the force-feeding, one of four such requests filed in federal court in Washington by prisoners who have been on a hunger strike since February.The hunger strike began as a protest against searches of the detainees’ Korans, which the military said had been used to hide contraband. It since has become a broader protest of the president’s failure to close the facility.The detainee in the case, Jihad Dhiab, has been held at Guantanamo Bay for 11 years. He was cleared for resettlement in a third country in 2009, and Kessler wrote that his detention has “for all practical purposes, become indefinite.”There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo, and 86 have been cleared by an interagency task force for transfer home or to a third country.In his May speech, Obama pledged to restart efforts to close the facility.The judge on Monday appeared swayed by concerns expressed by the American Medical Association, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and other organizations that have condemned force-feeding as unethical. The military has said it will do everything it can to preserve the lives of the hunger strikers.But Kessler wrote, “It is perfectly clear from the statements of detainees, as well as the statements from the organizations just cited, that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating, and degrading process.”There were 106 detainees on hunger strike Monday, including 45 who are being force-fed a liquid nutritional supplement through a tube that runs through the nose and into the stomach, according to a statement Monday from the military.Dhiab’s lawyer, Jon B. Eisenberg, called Kessler’s decision “remarkable” for its harsh assessment of the practice and the president.“A federal judge has tossed the ball in the president’s court,” Eisenberg said. “What is he going to do about it?”When asked about the court opinion Monday, a White House spokeswoman said the president had made his views on force-feeding at Guantanamo clear in his speech this spring.Eisenberg said he is waiting for rulings on the requests from the other three detainees before appealing Kessler’s decision.David Nakamura contributed to this report.© 2013, The Washington Post  Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

first_imgWhenever the Federal Reserve does startraising interest rates – whether this week, as seems likely, or next year – the biggest question will be whether the Fed eventually ends up back where it started – at zero.That, after all, is what has happened to every other country that has tried to “lift off” from what economists call “the zero lower bound.” The simple story is that central bankers, who pride themselves on choosing the hard right over the easy inflationary wrong, tend to look for any excuse to end zero interest rates, even if they have to invent one. But raising rates before the economy is ready means you will have to cut them back down to zero in rather short order – which has been the case in Europe, Japan, Sweden and Israel. And it might happen here, considering the Fed looks like it’s going to start increasing interest rates even though inflation is far below its 2 percent target and isn’t really rising.But even if it doesn’t, the Fed still might find itself back at zero in just a few years. That’s because the central bank thinks the aftereffects of the financial crisis have made the economy susceptible to slowing down at interest rates above 2 percent, instead of the previous 4 percent. And since the Fed usually needs to cut rates by four or five percentage points to fight a recession, simple math tells us there’s a good chance interest rates will end up at zero whenever that is. If it does, the Fed will have to rethink how it does things.It’s harder for the Fed to do its job when interest rates are zero. Sure, it can buy bonds with newly printed money, promise not to raise rates for a long time, or even, as other countries have shown, cut rates ever so slightly into negative territory. But none of those work as well as a regular old rate cut. That’s why a central bank that’s been forced to reduce rates down to zero is one that probably has more unemployment and less inflation than it wants. That bank has used up its best tool for getting the economy moving again, leaving it no choice but to turn to less effective options. So a future where zero interest rates are a recurring phenomenon would be one where both recessions and recoveries are nasty, brutish, and take too long.The Fed thinks it can avoid this fate, and maybe it can. It has done a better job than almost every other central bank since the crisis hit. But that’s the point. If even the Fed can’t lift off without crashing back down to zero, the bank needs more than better policy – it needs a better target. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, for one, thinks the Fed would have to seriously consider increasing its inflation target if it returns to the lower zero bound next recession. That would require higher interest rates to keep higher inflation in check, which, in turn, would give the bank the room it needs to later cut rates without getting too close to zero.There’s some question whether the Fed could just create as much inflation as it wants, but Japan, at least, shows that a determined central bank can indeed push it up, albeit at a plodding pace.In other words, this might be the Fed’s only chance of returning to normalcy. Maybe it can get us back to the economic nirvana of good growth, shallow slumps, and 2 percent inflation. But maybe not. It is possible that the financial crisis has changed things forever. The Fed might find out that it has to choose between longer recessions and higher inflation. That, then, is what’s really at stake when the central bank starts increasing interest rates in the near future. Is this the beginning of the end of the crisis era or the end of the end of the pre-crisis one?It depends on whether we ever hear the words “zero interest rates” again.© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:US Fed officials emphasize gradual tightening US economy revives in 2nd quarter Costa Rica’s fiscal deficit to reach 6.9 percent of GDP in 2016 Economists close in on spotting future recessionslast_img read more

first_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths “I am not sure I actually said it,” Kissinger told an audience that included diplomats and academics. He then drew laughs when he added, “But it’s a good statement so why not take credit for it?”Kissinger’s remarks came during a public discussion held alongside Poland’s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski.The telephone number quip has been repeated often to describe the lack of a single foreign policy across a continent made up of nations with divergent interests.Despite attempts at greater unity, including the creation of a foreign policy chief, a role now held by Catherine Ashton, European nations still struggle to find common ground on a range of issues. The key dilemma now is finding a way out of the financial crisis in the eurozone.“Now we have a kind of telephone number, but it isn’t really absolutely clear if America wants to deal with Europe who exactly the voice would be,” Kissinger said, noting that in addition to Ashton there are other EU leaders speaking for the bloc as well as the foreign ministers of the 27 member-states.“It’s relatively easier now to get answers to technical questions. But I would say that even if a telephone exists and even if they answered it, the answer is not always very clear,” Kissinger said. Check your body, save your life More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Associated PressWARSAW, Poland (AP) – “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?”Variations of that question have been attributed for decades to Henry Kissinger, but the former U.S. secretary of state says he doesn’t think it originated with him.The 89-year-old, who served as America’s top diplomat under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in the 1970s, said Wednesday that he thinks an Irish foreign minister first used the expression in describing a meeting between the two. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family “Europe has the capacity to be a superpower, but Europe has neither the organization, nor, so far, the concept, to be a superpower,” he added. “And that, for the European idea, is a challenge.”For his part, Sikorski said he believes that the EU has actually achieved unity and influence on economic matters _ but should now seek greater commonality on foreign policy and defense.“On trade matters Europe really does speak with one voice, and there we are a superpower,” Sikorski said. “We are the largest economy on earth, and when we regulate Microsoft, Gazprom, we really matter, because we speak with one voice.”The discussion took place in English, a language Sikorski mastered to near perfection after a period of exile and study in Britain during Poland’s communist era.The German-born Kissinger couldn’t ignore the linguistic achievement.“May I point out that my Polish hosts are carrying hospitality to considerable extremes by producing a foreign minister who speaks English better than I do?” he said.(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 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Comments   Share   Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Sponsored Stories Top Stories last_img read more

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Speaking to reporters after a weekly Cabinet meeting Wednesday, French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said she didn’t have precise information about the alleged attack, “but I don’t believe we have any particular worries” that the United States might have been behind any such hacking.Asked whether the government had taken any steps to boost its cyber-defenses, she replied: “To my knowledge, this was all repaired very quickly. There was no difficulty.”A spokeswoman for France’s National Agency for the Security of Information Systems, or ANSSI, which was created under Sarkozy and is in charge of helping France defend against cyberattacks, declined to comment.The report said the intruders combed through the computers of Sarkozy’s closest advisers _ including that of his chief-of-staff, Xavier Musca _ pilfering secret notes and “strategic plans” off hard drives, without elaborating.___Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Check your body, save your life Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project “We categorically refute the allegations of unidentified sources, which appeared in an article in L’Express, by which the United States government would have participated in a cyber-attack against the French government,” said the embassy statement, which was written in French.The U.S. Embassy said France was “one of the best allies of the United States” and pointed to remarkable bilateral cooperation between the countries on issues like intelligence, security and cyber-defense.The alleged hacking took place in May, just days before the conservative Sarkozy _ whose affinity for the United States once garnered him the nickname “Sarko the American” in France _ lost his re-election bid to Socialist Francois Hollande.Alluding to a possible motive, L’Express quoted an anonymous source close to the case who said a country could still want to make sure of the “unswerving support” of an ally “especially during a political transition.”Despite efforts to cloak the intrusion, the malicious code left a trail, L’Express reported. The magazine said several unidentified sources with knowledge of the case pointed to “France’s oldest ally: The United States” as the culprit.center_img Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressPARIS (AP) – The U.S. Embassy in Paris on Wednesday “categorically” denied claims in a French magazine report that the U.S. government was behind a hacking attack against computers in the French president’s palace earlier this year.The French government also played down the report in L’Express magazine. Many countries _ including France and the United States _ see cyber-attacks as a major threat in the 21st century, and have sought to boost their defenses against intrusions into their computer systems. An array of reported hacking attacks recently in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia have highlighted the menace. According to L’Express, hackers masquerading as Facebook friends of presidential palace employees duped them into giving up internal passcodes, then used them to spread a computer worm on Elysee Palace computers in May, including one used by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy’s chief-of-staff.In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy said the report was not based on facts and pointed to the article’s own language that said the magazine’s unidentified sources suspected the U.S. role in part because of “a bundle of presumptions.”While the U.S. and France are known to share intelligence, notably in their joint efforts to fight terrorism, it’s not uncommon for governments to try to keep tabs on their allies’ internal discussions.The report said French experts narrowed down the list of possible attackers based on the technical complexity of the intrusion, and said it bore some hallmarks of Flame _ a cutting-edge computer worm discovered earlier this year that has been linked to a secretive cyber-warfare campaign aimed at Iran. Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky said the program had a full suite of espionage technologies, including the capability to turn computer microphones into listening devices and wirelessly siphon data from nearby smartphones. Top Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

first_imgBUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – Hungary’s top court issued a ruling on Tuesday on the procedure the country should follow to decide which religions to officially recognize. But the verdict may have little practical effect because lawmakers are debating a constitutional amendment about the same issue.Last year, legislators slashed the number of officially recognized churches _which enjoy tax-free status, can qualify for government support and may collect donations _ from around 370 to 32. Sponsored Stories Tuesday’s ruling by the Constitutional Court repealed parts of that law and told Parliament to work out new rules to weed out groups that declare themselves to be churches but do not carry out religious activities, the stated purpose of the new law. The court said the current procedure is unconstitutional because the lawmakers’ decisions cannot be appealed, no written justification is provided and the process lends itself to political influence.The ruling may turn out to be just a moral victory for the hundreds of churches that lost their official status last year.For starters, the government coalition led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party is taking steps to modify the constitution it passed in 2011. One of the proposed changes would include in the constitution _ or Basic Law as it is known in Hungary _ the legislature’s right to decide which churches are officially recognized. In other words, it would add to the Basic Law legislation now found to be unconstitutional, therefore bypassing the ruling of the Constitutional Court.Also, while Tuesday’s court decision nominally restores the status of the hundreds of churches in Hungary that ceased to be officially recognized as such last year, the practical aspects of the ruling will likely be hard to implement. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix “Many of the churches which lost their status last year have disappeared or have turned themselves into associations,” said lawyer Szabolcs Hegyi of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union. “The government’s good will and assistance would also be needed to restore the churches’ rights and that is far from being the case.”Hungary is primarily a Christian country, but under a previous law all a church had to do to be formally recognized, and to capitalize on government benefits, was to register with a judge.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

first_img Top Stories In the capital, Taipei, about 150 kilometers (95 miles) from the epicenter, buildings swayed for more than 10 seconds and startled residents ducked for cover.Taiwan’s railway administration immediately suspended train service while it checked for any possible damage to tracks.Authorities reported scattered power outages in northern Taiwan. In at least two locations in the Taipei suburbs crews were working to extricate people trapped in stalled elevators.Local TV channels reported that there appeared to be almost no damage in Hualian. However, it could take some time for the full impact of the quake to be evaluated because of the remoteness of the epicenter.Newer buildings in Taiwan are built to withstand strong earthquakes, so damage in major cities tends to be limited. This is not the case for buildings constructed before the 1980s, when construction standards were less rigorous.Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan, but most are minor and cause little or no damage.However, a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – A strong earthquake hit eastern Taiwan on Thursday, shaking buildings over a wide area including the capital. There were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake struck at 8:02 p.m. and measured magnitude 6.3. It was centered in a remote mountainous area 45 kilometers (28 miles) south-southwest of the coastal city of Hualian at a depth of just 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), it said. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Comments   Share   Four benefits of having a wireless security systemcenter_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

first_imgFrancis said he was coming to Sarajevo for a daylong trip to encourage the process of peace and reconciliation and show his support for Bosnia’s tiny Catholic community. With Croat passports in hand, many Catholics have fled high unemployment in Bosnia to search for better opportunities in the European Union.The most poignant moment of the day came when two Catholic priests and a nun told Francis of their experiences during the war, of having been kidnapped, tortured and starved by Muslim or Serb Orthodox Christian troops and threatened with death. Moved by the testimony, Francis bowed down to one of them and asked for his blessing.Speaking off-the-cuff, Francis told the gathering of priests and nuns in Sarajevo’s cathedral that they must never forget the “cruelty” inflicted on their fellow Catholics — not to seek vengeance, but to show the power of forgiveness.“In your blood, in your vocation, there is the blood of these three martyrs,” a visibly moved Francis said. “Think of how much they suffered … and live a life that is worthy of the cross of Jesus Christ.”It was a reminder to today’s Catholics of the strong faith of their ancestors — and a bid to encourage them to stay put to keep Bosnia’s Catholic community alive. Check your body, save your life 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Sarajevo was once known as “Europe’s Jerusalem” for the peaceful coexistence of its Christians, Muslims and Jews. It became synonymous with religious enmity during the 1992-95 conflict that left 100,000 dead and displaced half the population.Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats and Christian Orthodox Serbs fought a three-way war over the country’s independence after Yugoslavia fell apart. A U.S.-mediated peace agreement confirmed Bosnia’s independence but divided the once mixed country along ethnic lines.Nearly every step of Francis’ day was designed to show off the interfaith and interethnic harmony that had grown in the two decades since: Muslim carpenters crafted the wooden throne Francis sat on during Mass. A Catholic pigeon breeder provided the white pigeons that Bosnia’s three presidents and Francis set free in a sign of peace at the end of their meeting. And a Muslim-Christian Orthodox children’s choir from Srebrenica — scene of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II — serenaded Francis with a song about love at the end of his busy day.“We all need peace and to receive the pope’s message,” said Alma Mehmedic, a 55-year-old Muslim who waited for a glimpse of Francis outside the presidential palace. “I came today to give love and receive love.” Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist “The pope cannot create jobs for us or improve the political situation in our country, but he can give us hope and strengthen our faith,” said Stipe Turalija, a 15-year-old Bosnian Croat.John Paul had tried to visit Sarajevo during the war, but the trip was called off for security reasons. His willingness to even consider a trip endeared him to a city that felt abandoned and betrayed by the world — sentiments of affection that have been projected onto his successor two decades later.___Nicole Winfield reported from Rome.___Follow Aida Cerkez at www.twitter.com/acerkez and Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfieldCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Pope Francis boards the airplane on the occasion of his trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia, at Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport, Saturday, June 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall But reminders of the devastation of war and lingering tensions were close at hand: Before hearing of the testimonies of the priests and nuns, Francis’ motorcade passed by the open market where a mortar shell fired from the surrounding hills on Feb. 5, 1994 killed 68 people in one of the bloodiest single attacks of the war. After another shell landed on the market in 1995, NATO launched airstrikes against Bosnian Serb positions that brought the Serbs to the negotiating table.The area is still a market, but a wall painted red has tags with the names of the victims.“War never again!” Francis intoned in his homily in Sarajevo’s stadium, drawing applause from the crowd. He called on Bosnians to make peace every day — not just preach it — through their “actions, attitudes and acts of kindness, of fraternity, of dialogue, of mercy.”“Mir vama!” (Peace be with you!) Francis repeated again and again as the day wore on. “Make peace. Work for peace. All together, so that this can be a country of peace.”Despite the outward show of harmony, wounds still fester two decades after the war ended. Bosnia’s Christian Orthodox Serbs want a breakaway state; Muslim Bosniaks want a unified country; and Roman Catholic Croats want their own autonomous region. Catholics represent only about 15 percent of the population — down from more than 17 percent before the war. Muslim Bosniaks account for 40 percent and Orthodox Christian Serbs 31 percent, according to Vatican statistics. Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober In a speech to Bosnia’s three-member presidency, Francis called for Bosnians to oppose the “barbarity” of those who want to continue sowing division “as a pretext for further unspeakable violence.” Rather, he urged Bosnians to continue working for respectful coexistence through patient, trustful dialogue.“This will allow different voices to unite in creating a melody of sublime nobility and beauty, instead of the fanatical cries of hatred,” he said.The Serb chairman of Bosnia’s three-member presidency, Mladen Ivanic, welcomed the pontiff by saying Bosnia-Herzegovina is a country of contrasts where “every word echoes much stronger and longer than elsewhere.”“We believe that the times of misunderstandings, intolerance and division are behind us forever, that we have learned our lessons from the past and that new times are ahead of us, times of reason, reconciliation and cooperation,” he said.Security was tight as thousands of police officers stood guard along Francis’ motorcade route through the city, which was expecting an influx of an extra 100,000 people. Shops and cafes were closed and residents along the route were told not to open their windows or stand on balconies. But they lined the route in droves and Francis’ open-sided car ambled slowly by. SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Pope Francis heard about the horrors of Bosnia’s fratricidal war of the 1990s and its slow process of healing Saturday as he visited Sarajevo to urge Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics to put the “barbarity” of the past behind them and work together for a peaceful future.Thousands of cheering Bosnians gave Francis a joyous welcome, lining his motorcade route through the mostly Muslim city of 300,000. Another 65,000 people, most of them Catholics, packed the same Sarajevo stadium where St. John Paul II presided over an emotional post-war Mass of reconciliation in 1997.last_img read more

first_img Men’s health affects baby’s health too Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Top Stories center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced that peace talks between the warring parties in Yemen will resume in Geneva on June 14.U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban welcomed the decisions by Yemen’s exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Shiite Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa to attend the U.N.-led talks in Switzerland. He urged the parties to engage “in good faith and without pre-conditions.” Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Sponsored Stories Dujarric said Satuday that Ban hopes the meetings will restart “a peaceful, orderly, inclusive and Yemeni-led transition process.”The secretary-general also reiterated his call for another humanitarian pause to get aid to hundreds of thousands of Yemenis in need. Ban said this could also help create an atmosphere “that is more conducive for peaceful dialogue.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

first_imgThe President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, left, and the Director-General of the World Trade Organization,WTO, Roberto Azevedo, right, attend a final ceremony as Kazakhstan becomes a member, at WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday July 27, 2015. (Sandro Campardo/Keystone via AP) 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes BERLIN (AP) — Kazakhstan is set to become the 162nd member of the World Trade Organization after the Geneva-based body formally approved the country’s membership Monday.The largest former Soviet republic in Central Asia is rich in natural resources and a key transit country for goods between Asia and Europe.President Nursultan Nazarbayev says Kazakhstan is committed to opening up its financial and telecommunications sectors as agreed during its 19-year accession process. Nazarbayev says his country hopes that joining the WTO will encourage foreign investment.Kazakhstan, which has suffered from the economic downturn in neighboring Russia, must still ratify the membership agreement in its national Parliament by the end of October.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home 0 Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

first_img Parents, stop beating yourself up He has not been seen in public since fleeing the invasion over the border into Pakistan.Abdul Hassib Sediqi, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, said Mullah Omar died in a hospital in the Pakistani city of Karachi in April 2013.“We confirm officially that he is dead,” he told The Associated Press.It was not immediately clear why his death was only being announced now. Neither the Taliban nor Pakistani officials could immediately be reached for comment.A Pakistani security official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists, had earlier dismissed rumors of Mullah Omar’s death as “speculation” designed to disrupt peace talks.Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban are due to meet on Friday in Pakistan for a second round of official talks aimed at ending the war that is nearing its 14th year.“He was very sick in a Karachi hospital and died suspiciously there,” Sediqi said, without elaborating. He said the Afghan government had been aware of Mullah Omar’s death for two years and had made it public on a number of occasions.Earlier, Zafar Hashemi, the deputy spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said the government was investigating reports that the Taliban leader was dead. FILE – In this undated image released by the FBI, Mullah Omar is seen in a wanted poster. An Afghan official says his government is examining claims that reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead. The Taliban could not be immediately reached for comment on the government’s comments about Omar, who has been declared dead many times before. (FBI via AP, File) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency said Wednesday that the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has been dead for more than two years.The one-eyed, secretive head of the Taliban hosted Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaida in the years leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks and then waged a decade-long insurgency against U.S. troops after the 2001 invasion that ended Taliban rule. Sponsored Stories Top Stories The strategy has spread Afghan military resources thin after U.S. and NATO forces ended their combat mission at the end of last year.___This story has been corrected to show the last name of the intelligence spokesman is Sediqi, not Seddiqi.___Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death could complicate the peace process as it removes a figurehead for the insurgents, who until now have appeared to act collectively but are believed to be split on whether to continue the war or negotiate with Ghani’s government.Ending the war has been a main priority for Ghani since he took office last year.“Whether he is dead or alive is important because he is the collective figure for the Taliban,” said a Western diplomat with connections to the Taliban leadership. “If he is dead, it would be much more difficult to get negotiations with the Taliban because there would be no collective figure to rally around and take collective responsibility for entering peace talks.”The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to brief journalists about the situation.Taliban insurgents have spread their war from the traditional southern and eastern heartlands bordering Pakistan to northern Afghanistan this year.In recent weeks, the insurgents have taken control of remote districts in Badakhshan province, and continue to launch mass attacks on districts in Kunduz province, a strategically located region bordering Tajikistan. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Check your body, save your lifelast_img read more

first_imgJetset Travelworld has recently released encouraging results for the financial year to 30 June 2010, given the bottom-line impact of its proposed merger with Stella Travel Services.Jetset reported $8.7 million in profit after tax for FY10, down 45 percent from FY09. However, the company was quick to note that much of its profitability had been consumed by $4.5 million in costs associated with the proposed Stella merger. In its presentation to investors on 10 August 2010, Jetset highlighted that the $19 million Profit Before Tax (PBT) was attributable to improving trade conditions and strict cost control by the company.PBT in the second half of FY10 was 59 percent higher than PBT in the first half (before merger costs), Chief Executive Officer of Jetset Travelworld, Peter Collins said.“This result reflects the emergent recovery in the travel and tourism industry and the stringent cost measures we have implemented to ensure overall profitability.” Jetset reported that Total Transaction Value (TTV) of $2.2 million was down 7.5 percent in FY10 compared to FY09, whilst net revenue had dropped 6.9 percent and PBT was down 20 percent (excluding merger costs).However, when the second half of FY10 was compared to the first half, signs of post-global financial crisis were evident. Over this time, TTV was up 9.3 percent, and appeared to have stabilised.The company said that their principal short-term focus was the proposed merger with Stella. As such, the Jetset Board suspended any final dividend for FY10, in order to retain sufficient cash reserves – reported at $114 million – to facilitate Stella’s integration.Jetset currently has approximately 800 staff across 670 franchises. Stella has TTV of $3.3 billion, and 1,800 staff across 1,530 franchises. Synergies from the proposed merger include: increased online competitiveness, reduction of unit cost distribution, stronger business partners and a stronger balance sheet. The focus of the merger will be on strict cost control, volume stimulation, sustainability initiatives, and integrating Stella.An ACCC decision is expected on 2 September 2010, with shareholders able to vote at an Extraordinary General Meeting to be held on 6 September 2010. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Clast_img read more

first_imgVancouverites are offering ‘free hugs’ as a display of their safe and friendly nature after a handful of rioters torched parts of the city’s streets following Vancouver’s loss in the Stanley Cup last week.Canada’s tourism office explained that “Vancouver love their ice hockey team” and while the loss saw a sour response it did not last “for long” and now the people are taking action to restore the city’s image.‘Apology Walls’ have been propped up in the city’s CBD where locals have posted their thoughts on the riots while others have to Youtube to post notes, images and words of wisdom.Tourism Vancouver also launched an online wall called ‘This is our Vancouver’ where proud citizens are able to post positive blogs, videos and photos of what they love about the city.Meanwhile, the effort of police officers who attempted to re-gain control during the riots have also been recognised during the apologetic period, with people sticking ‘post it notes’ on police cars, expressing their gratitude for their work.  Click here to read about the image Tourism Vancouver and Vancouverites have teamed up to protect. Showing Vancouver love Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

first_imgTiger Airways Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Tiger Airways says last year’s fleet grounding down under and high fuel prices have affected its operations, with the airline posting a net loss of up to $104 million for the financial year ending March 2012.The Singaporean carrier reported the substantial deficit this week, a staggering contrast to net profits of $40 million for the previous year.Tiger claim the under-utilisation of its fleet in Australia during the imposed suspension, coupled with persistent fuel price hikes were the primary factors that determined the negative profit yields.“Clearly, the Tiger Airways Australia suspension by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia from 2 July 2011 to 11 August 2011 contributed significantly to the poor financial result,” Group chief executive Chin Yau Seng said.Mr Seng explained the airline had analysed the reasons behind the dramatic drop in revenue and has begun to take steps to amend poor business practices.“Following the suspension, Tiger Airways Australia conducted a thorough internal review of its processes and procedures, and has made major improvements,” he said. “These have included changes in its governance practices, organisational structure, management systems and approach in dealing with external stakeholders.”In looking to the future, the carrier was positive about bouncing back and eager to face the challenges accompanying this task.“The new financial year presents us with an opportunity to close the books on FY11-12 and focus on our growth strategies to pull the Group back into profitability,” Mr Seng added. “Fuel prices continue to hover at uncomfortably high levels and our challenge is to improve yields and boost ancillary revenue to compensate for the fuel cost impact.”In keeping with this strategy, Tiger have announced increased frequency on flights from Singapore to Kuching and Penang in Malaysia, and Haikou in China over the August holiday period.“With the increased frequencies to Kuching and Penang over the Hari Raya Puasa season, our customers will find it easier to make plans to celebrate and spend time with family and friends over the holiday season,” Tiger Airways Singapore managing director Stewart Adams said.Twice daily services to Penang will operate between 17 and 26 August, while flights to Haikou will jump from three per week to five for the entire month.last_img read more

first_imgSource = Travel Counsellors Travel Counsellors Contact Ray Howe today! ray.howe@travelcounsellors.com.auTravel Counsellors CommentDavid Hughes, Managing Director of Travel Counsellors Australia believes that all travel companies and agents should offer full financial protection to their customers and not expect the government to cover the slack.“From time to time businesses fail in all industries due to the actions of individual business owners. We need to question whether the government should provide funds to cover this across all industries or provide appropriate legislation that protects consumers, and then let the participants in the industry decide if they value their customers enough to protect them through accreditation schemes and personal financial guarantees,” Mr Hughes says.“I believe it is up to our industry to ensure consumers are fully informed about the consequences of trading with both unscrupulous providers and those who aren’t prepared to back their product enough to provide full financial protection,” says David, adding that “…implementing full financial protection immediately following the cessation of the TCF and being ATAS accredited is something that we are very proud of.“We believe it is an important component of the care Travel Counsellors offer to our customers. I challenge all operators and agents to follow suit by offering full protection – not partial or limited financial coverage – to further cement the trust customers have in travel agents.”About Travel CounsellorsTravel Counsellors Australia was established in 2007 and currently has over 135 Travel Counsellors. Our head office in Australia is in Melbourne. Travel Counsellors Australia is accredited with ATAS. Travel Counsellors is the world’s largest home-based travel company. Founded in 1994 it currently has 1,500 travel consultants who work from home with the support of over 350 staff at the company’s UK headquarters and overseas offices. The company operates in Australia, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, UAE and Belgium.last_img read more

first_imgQuest’s plan to add 790 rooms to WA marketQuest’s plan to add 790 rooms to WA market kicks off with Quest Mounts Bay RoadQuest Apartment Hotels has cemented its position among the top apartment hotel offerings in Western Australia, with the opening today of Quest Mounts Bay Road at 130 Mounts Bay Road in central Perth.Today’s opening is a continuation of Quest’s assertive growth strategy in the state. The leading apartment hotel operator will add 790 rooms to the local market over the next two years with eight brand new properties in the WA pipeline.The new property is Quest’s second in the Perth CBD, joining Quest West End to offer guests a wider range of options, while meeting a growing demand for quality accommodation in the area. A third CBD property is scheduled to open in September – Quest East Perth – providing yet another premium apartment hotel offering for both the leisure and corporate traveler.Quest CEO, Zed Sanjana is confident about the future of tourism in WA, buoyed by Deloitte’s latest half-yearly Tourism and Hotel Market Outlook, which highlighted that surging tourist numbers are requiring all major centres to up their accommodation offering, with Perth at the forefront.“WA is experiencing a tourism resurgence, along with significant growth across the education and agricultural sectors – major demand drivers for Quest’s style of accommodation. The market has responded strongly to the Quest offering given the current lack of choice of quality properties.” said Mr Sanjana“The Australian headquarters of many global companies are located in the City of Perth due to its proximity to key international markets. Strong growth is expected to continue over the next decade as major industries strengthen and diversify, thereby expanding the workforce in the CBD.”“State Government investment in WA is strong, with an ongoing commitment to several major redevelopment projects, including the $1 billion Gateway WA project improving access to and from the Perth Airport precinct, the $2 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital and the new $1.2 billion Perth Children’s Hospital.”“Today’s opening exemplifies Quest’s commitment to WA, with an additional 790 rooms to be added to the local market over the next two years,” he concluded.With a background in the hotel industry, Quest Mounts Bay Road Franchisee, Don Goode is well equipped with a wealth of experience in providing the highest levels of guest service. Mr Goode expressed his excitement about becoming part of the highly regarded Quest network and eagerness to welcome his first guests to the stunning new property.“I am thrilled to open the doors of Quest Mounts Bay Road in Central Perth, at the foot of Kings Park surrounded by parkland and the Swan River with CBD skyline views. The new property is ideally located for both the corporate and leisure guest, within walking distance of Mount Hospital, the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, Esplanade Station, Elizabeth Quay, the Perth Arena, and the State Theatre,” said Mr Goode.“Central Perth and its surrounds are going from strength-to-strength – it is a very exciting time to be doing business in the area. We anticipate strong continued demand for Quest’s style of accommodation and look forward to delivering the premium quality experience guests know they can expect from the iconic Australian brand,” he concluded.Developed by Diploma the brand new property features 71 fully self-contained studio and one-bedroom apartments. Guests have access to an onsite gymnasium, reception, restaurant chargeback, pantry shopping, valet dry cleaning and business administration services.Quest has an extensive pipeline of nine brand new properties opening in FY16/17, in addition to Mounts Bay Road, including: East Perth, Fremantle and Midland (WA); Newcastle West, Griffith and Macquarie Park (NSW); Port Adelaide (SA); Dandenong Central (VIC); and Petone (New Zealand). Quest Apartment Hotelsbook your accommodation hereAbout Quest Apartment HotelsQuest is the largest and fastest growing apartment hotel operator in Australasia with over 150 properties located across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.Established in Melbourne, Victoria in 1988, the growth of Quest has been achieved through its commitment to meeting the accommodation needs of the extended stay business traveller.Quest Apartment Hotels are managed by franchisees who follow a proven and successful franchise model. Source = Quest Apartment Hotels – Quest Mounts Bay Roadlast_img read more

first_imgSource = Radisson Blu General Manager, Björn-Henning Buth promises 100 percentWith its latest addition to the Radisson Blu portfolio, Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu has appointed resort veteran, Björn-Henning Buth at the helm of its stunning new cliff resort property. With 25 years of industry experience, including 15 years managing beach and golf resorts in some of South East Asia’s most celebrated locations, Björn is the perfect fit to apply the brand’s renowned Yes, I can! service ethos along with its hallmarks of quality standards in a refreshing and stylish juxtaposition to a gorgeous new iconic property. With Björn’s skillsets and mind to create, his perfect experience seamlessly matches customers’ expectations with service delivery.Under his leadership, Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu will enchant its visitors with architecture and design that is modern yet inspired by the island’s rich history, spacious rooms, a culinary experience that offers a wide range of local and international delicacies across five outlets, and a health and wellness oasis – all set in an exceptional natural environment.With extensive work experience spanning across three continents, Björn has meticulously selected his winning team, focusing on character, positive energy, diversity and charm. An innovative leader, he advocates out-of-the-box thinking as he challenges the ‘tried and tested’ with the aim to make a guest stay at Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu more experiential and rewarding. He believes in the communal sense of responsibility that will place the resort in the forefront of the travelers’ choice of accommodation in Bali.‘It is diversity in philosophy and thinking, and the engagement of everyone to contribute in a guest’s experience, that will truly enhance this resort’s inspired facilities,’ says Björn.  “It is our goal to match the passion of our owner, architect and designer to create an exceptional resort here in Uluwatu and I firmly believe that we will achieve great success.’Björn is an alumni of the University of Oklahoma and a graduate of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management. Previously, he worked for multiple international upscale hotel and resort brands and spent the last six years in Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group properties in Asia.last_img read more

first_imgSikkim is planning to develop new tourist attractions, including a reptile park and a golf course. Sikkim’s Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, met with Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, Dr Mahesh Sharma, to discuss plans for the new tourism projects.According to the Tourism Ministry, Chamling sought Dr Sharma’s co-operation in establishing a Reptile Park in Sikkim, which would showcase four or five types of reptile that are native to the Himalayan state.The Chief Minister has also proposed a new golf course to be developed near the Nathula Pass. Set at approximately 4,300m above sea-level, the tentatively named Yak Golf Course would be the highest in the world.It is hoped that accessibility to these projects will increase with the opening of Sikkim’s first airport slated for next year.last_img read more

first_imgThe Kigali Convention Centre will open in June this year, just in time to host the 27th African Union Summit.The Executive Chairperson of Ultimate Concepts Limited (UCL) which owns this project, Eng. Didier Sugashya said the Centre is poised to be a service hub in the East African Community.Valued at more than $ 300 million, the Centre will comprise of a 5 star hotel, with 292 rooms, a conference hall that can host 2,500 people, several other meeting rooms to cater to MICE groups of different sizes and also an office park.Clarence Fernandes, Representative, Rwanda Development Board, remarked, “We are delighted to share with our industry partners here in India details of the state-of-the-art Radisson Blue Hotel and Convention Centre, Kigali.”“This new icon, in Rwanda’s safe, secure and spotlessly clean capital city of Kigali is only five km from the city centre and the International Airport. Apart from the Convention Centre, there will be an outdoor swimming pool, a variety of restaurants, frees high speed wireless internet, cosy cafes and bars and many more facilities,” Fernandes added.In conclusion, Fernandes has invited the travel trade, MICE and even wedding planners to visit the Rwanda pavilion at the forthcoming Outbound Travel Market 2016 which will take place at the Mumbai Exhibition Centre from February 18-20. Representatives from Government and the Private Sector will be there to meet and transact business with their counterparts.last_img read more