Share Tags: Norway Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Norway is feeling the thaw of ‘Frozen’, Disney’s mega-hit animated film that’s causing tourism to spike and infrastructure to degrade.News.com.au reports that Norway’s Lofoten Islands, located north of the Arctic Circle, is being overrun by tourists who arrive in search of ‘Frozen’-inspired snow-capped landscapes as well as locations featured in other Hollywood blockbusters filmed there.‘Frozen’, which was released in 2013, has led to an astounding 20% rise in foreign visitor numbers to the country, and that number continues to climb. Last summer alone, more than one million visitors arrived in the Lofoten Islands.But a tourist spike also comes with a host of problems, as the country is now seeing. Public facilities in Lofoten are being exhausted, with problems like waste disposal, public toilets and car parking. Locals are also concerned about severe erosion of paths leading to the coastline as well as the mass amount of garbage being left behind by tourists. One small woodlands near a top mountain climb has even been dubbed “the forest of sh*t” by residents.More news: Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesMore than a million tourists were expected to travel to Norway between April and September. Fredrik Sordal, the mayor of the town of Flakstad, said tourism these days has been “challenging”.“In Flakstad we have, for example, become extremely unbalanced when it comes to tourism this year, and need to take many measures before next year,” he told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. Disney’s ‘Frozen’ is causing huge problems in Norway Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Tags: Virtuoso NEW YORK — Virtuoso is giving travellers an easier way to book luxury accommodations with a brand new hotel booking tool that pairs them up with a professional consultant.When visitors to virtuoso.com request a reservation at any of the approximately 900 participating luxury hotels available worldwide, the booking will be routed to a Virtuoso travel advisor. If the traveller already works with a Virtuoso advisor, the booking will be sent directly to them. If they do not have a Virtuoso advisor, the tool assigns the booking to one who will service the booking and assist with other aspects of the trip like transfers, private guides and experiences.“Virtuoso’s new hotel booking tool is an advantage for travellers who have been suffering from DIY fatigue, and didn’t realize there was an alternative,” said Virtuoso Senior Vice President of Marketing Terrie Hansen. “We’re offering them the convenience of online booking, but marrying it with the advantages of both our hotel program benefits as well as expert guidance. For many, this will be their first foray into working with a travel advisor. The hotel booking tool is a great example of how technology is actually helping bring travelers back to advisors, rather than driving them away.”More news: Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoWith annual sales of US$21.2 billion, Virtuoso’s clout in the luxury marketplace translates into an array of value-added perks and specially negotiated pricing for its clients. Travelers who book hotel stays at www.virtuoso.com will receive a host of complimentary benefits not available on any other site, worth up to $450 per stay. Those include an upgrade to the next room category when available, breakfast for two, early check-in and late check-out if available, high-speed internet access and an additional perk such as a candlelit dinner or spa treatment. Some properties also offer in-demand experiential perks, such as a wine tasting, language class, guided bike tour or hands-on cooking encounter with a local chef.Virtuoso is launching the hotel booking tool during the 25th anniversary year of its landmark Hotels & Resorts Program. The program, which began as a complement to cruise offerings in 1992, started with just 25 properties. Today, with a total of 1,205 hotels, resorts, lodges, spas, luxury camps and villas across 100 countries, the Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts program is the industry’s longest-running and most prestigious, with more five-star properties than any other organization.More news: Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaTo reserve a hotel stay using the new booking tool, visit virtuoso.com/luxuryhotels. Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, April 4, 2017 Virtuoso’s new hotel booking tool assigns online bookings to advisors Travelweek Group Posted by
ACV cancels D.R. departures ahead of Maria; Sunwing has Cuba resort updates Share MONTREAL — Looking to stay one step ahead of tropical storm Maria, Air Canada Vacations has issued a travel advisory for the D.R., alerting all passengers with a scheduled departure on Sept. 18 that all flights are cancelled. Affected passenger files will automatically be eligible for rebooking at a later date.Maria is currently charting the same path as Irma as it gains strength up the northeast Caribbean’s Leeward Islands. Puerto Rico has already declared a state of emergency as it braces for Maria. Forecasters say Maria could become a major hurricane by Sept. 19.ACV customers scheduled to travel between Sept. 18 and Sept. 24, 2017 to the D.R. may rebook an alternate Air Canada Vacations package by Oct. 15, 2017 for travel until April 30, 2018. Customers are responsible for any price differential resulting from selection of a higher-priced alternative.ACV passengers travelling to Antigua, Barbados, Fort de France, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia between Sept. 18 and Sept. 20 may rebook an alternate ACV package by Oct. 15, 2017 for travel until April 30, 2018.Again, customers are responsible for any price differential resulting from selection of a higher-priced alternative.Meanwhile Sunwing has issued an update for its Cuba program in the wake of Irma.More news: Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaSunwing’s scheduled flights to Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco and Camaguey are expected to resume on Nov. 1, 2017.“Together with our destinations teams, we are in the process of conducting detailed evaluations on each hotel. Until we have more complete information, it remains too early to give an accurate assessment as to the reopening date of any specific hotel. We expect to be able to share preliminary information by early next week. Customers scheduled to travel to any of these three destinations up to and including Oct. 31, 2017 may book an alternate date or destination, or obtain a full refund in cash,” says Sunwing.To Varadero, Sunwing’s regular flight service resumed today from Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa as per the airline’s original flight schedule.All Sunwing-featured Varadero hotels are welcoming Sunwing guests from today onwards with the exception of the following properties:Expected to be ready within the next week: Be Live Turquesa, IBEROSTAR Varadero, Blau Varadero, Islazul Delfines, Club Kawama, Roc Barlovento, Club Tropical, Royalton Hicacos, Hotel Playa de Oro, Sol Sirenas Coral Resort, IBEROSTAR Bella Vista, Starfish Varadero, IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, Tuxpan HotelNot expected to be ready until later (exact dates will be advised once confirmed): Blau Marina Varadero, IBEROSTAR Playa Alameda, Blau Privilege Cayo Libertad, Melia Marina Varadero Brisas del Caribe, Naviti Varadero, Club Karey Varadero, Paradisus Princesa del Mar, Hotel Bella Costa, Paradisus Varadero, Hotel Gran Caribe Sunbeach, Villa Sotavento, Hotel Los Cactus, Hotel Atlantico (Havana by the Sea)More news: Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA Sales“Customers travelling to a Varadero hotel not scheduled to reopen before their travel date have been re-protected in an alternate hotel, but may choose to rebook to an alternative resort, date or destination, or obtain a full refund in cash.“All other Varadero customers scheduled to travel up to and including Sept. 21, that no longer wish to travel, they may rebook to an alternative date or destination, or obtain a full refund in cash. Regular policies are in effect for Sept. 22 departures onwards.”Where the price of the chosen alternate varies, customers will pay or be refunded the difference in price as appropriate, notes Sunwing. Monday, September 18, 2017 Travelweek Group Tags: Air Canada Vacations, Caribbean, Sunwing, Travel Alert Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>
No related posts. By Vanessa I. Garnica and Hannah J. Ryan| The Tico Times Staff“This is the quake we were waiting for,” said Leopold Linkimer, seismologist at Costa Rica’s National Seismological Network, following a powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake that rattled the country Wednesday morning. “Regardless, we have to be ready for any contingency because nature can surprise us.”The earthquake was registered 8 kilometers (5 miles) west of Samara in the Nicoya Peninsula, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. After the quake, which damaged several buildings in the province, shaken residents wondered, was this the big one that experts had predicted would strike the peninsula?Scientists in Costa Rica have been contemplating the possibility of a big quake in the Nicoya region for more than two decades. The last time an earthquake of a similar magnitude was registered in the area was in 1950. On average about 18 small tremors are registered daily in Costa Rica, Linkimer said.Following the quake, emergency officials gathered at National Emergency Commission (CNE) headquarters in the western San José district of Pavas to discuss initial damage reports.“We are not declaring a state of emergency at the moment,” said Vanessa Rosales, CNE president. “We have begun to receive damage reports taking place around the country. Overall, we feel at ease at this point, even though it was a significant quake.”Wednesday’s quake is considered the second biggest in the nation’s history, behind a 1991 earthquake measuring magnitude-7.7. That quake, centered in Limón province along the Caribbean coast, killed 75 people and injured more than 600.Linkimer said the official magnitude of the quake could be adjusted in coming days, pending further studies. He said that several aftershocks also are expected.Earthquakes can cause landslides in areas near the epicenter, but not necessarily volcanic activity, Linkimer said. However, volcanic activity was reported at the Irazú and Rincón de la Vieja volcanoes in 1991.In some cases, volcanic activity could be registered at the exact moment an earthquake hits, Linkimer explained, although it could take weeks for activity to resurface as a result of a quake of such magnitude.The cause of Wednesday’s quake, and others of its kind in Costa Rica, is attributed to a process called subduction, where tectonic plates located in the Earth’s outer layer constantly move on top and under each other, causing the ground to move in the form of a tremor.Seismologists agree that all regions in Costa Rica are considered very active and apt for an earthquake at any given time. However, Linkimer said a big earthquake had been expected in the Nicoya Peninsula since the early 1990s.“There are certain [scientific] models that describe that some earthquakes will occur with regular occurrence,” he said.For more coverage of the Nicoya Peninsula earthquake, see Friday’s print edition of The Tico Times. Facebook Comments
No related posts. Normal rainy season conditions are expected to return this week after four days of mostly dry conditions throughout Costa Rica.Forecasts from the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) say heavy rains in the next two weeks could cause flooding in several areas of the country.Increased rainfall is expected in the Pacific region, the Central Valley and especially the Caribbean region. Heavy rains already fell last weekend in the Central and South Pacific zones. The northwesten province of Guanacaste this week will see a decrease in wind speed and increase in rainfall, while heavy rains are expected in the mountainous areas of the northern region.Cloudy skies in the Central Valley will bring cooler temperatures, and showers will be present mostly in the afternoons.IMN experts are monitoring a tropical storm currently forming in the Atlantic Ocean, and although preliminary reports indicate it is not expected to affect Costa Rica, they will be submitting regular reports to the National Emergency Commission.Costa Rica’s rainy season runs from May to November. Facebook Comments
The National Security Agency has made great strides in foiling encryption techniques used to protect Internet communications, and has established back doors to some companies’ encryption software, according to news reports and newly released documents.The documents, obtained by the Guardian, The New York Times and ProPublica from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, state that the agency for the past decade has led an “aggressive, multi-pronged” effort to crack widely used Internet encryption technologies.The NSA has worked closely with its British counterpart, the GCHQ, in the effort to break or get around the codes that protect the data that billions of people send across the Internet each day — including e-mails, bank transactions, Web searches, phone calls and chats, the newspapers reported on their websites Thursday.U.S. officials from President Barack Obama down have repeatedly said that the NSA’s surveillance efforts target adversaries overseas to gather foreign intelligence and thwart terrorist plots.Toward that end, the government has invested in “groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit Internet traffic,” according to the intelligence community’s 2013 budget, first reported by The Washington Post.“Vast amounts of encrypted Internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable,” stated one 2010 briefing document reproduced by the Guardian.If true, that has implications for the intelligence agencies’ efforts to collect massive amounts of often-encrypted traffic at Internet “gateways” and from transoceanic fiber optic cables. “Major new processing systems” must be put in place to “capitalize on this opportunity,” the document said.Code-named “Bullrun” after a major Civil War battle, the project has focused on defeating encryption in widely used protocols such as HTTPS, secure sockets layers (SSL) and virtual private networks (VPN), the papers reported.The documents described by the newspapers indicate that the agencies are working with commercial providers such as Google, Yahoo, Hotmail and Facebook to develop ways into encrypted traffic. The NSA’s Sigint Enabling Project costs $254.9 million a year, according to the 2013 budget document, also provided by Snowden. Sigint is shorthand for signals intelligence, or electronic interceptions.That project, according to the budget document, “actively engages the U.S. and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs” to make them “exploitable” or hackable.Google pushed back on the assertion of an NSA back door into its system. “We have no evidence of any such thing ever occurring,” a company statement said. “We do not provide any government, including the U.S. government, with access to our systems. . . . We provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law.”Phil Zimmermann is founder of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption and battled the U.S. government in the 1990s over his effort to establish strong Internet encryption for consumers. He said he is confident that the NSA has not cracked PGP encryption, which is now owned by Symantec. “The fact that they use PGP for government users indicates that they haven’t broken it,” he said. “Otherwise they’d have stopped using it.”The NSA, working through a standards-setting process, covertly introduced weaknesses into the encryption standards followed by hardware and software developers worldwide, The New York Times reported, citing a classified NSA memo.Such reports fuel concern that in the name of spying on foreign adversaries, the NSA is making the Internet less secure. “The NSA’s involvement in cryptography policy has long frustrated efforts to establish strong privacy and security standards for the Internet,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.He noted that the NSA has discouraged the adoption of public key encryption of the sort PGP offered.”There would likely be far less identity theft, economic espionage, and spying on U.S. interests if encryption was routinely deployed for digital communications and data storage,” Rotenberg said.Al Gidari, a partner with the law firm Perkins Coie in Seattle who represents telecom companies, said “it’s no surprise” that the NSA has “great tools” to crack codes. He said the agency is less of a concern for him than foreign spy agencies. “Really, it’s the Chinese who pose the biggest threat,” he said. “Not the NSA.”The newspapers reported that intelligence agencies asked them not to publish their articles on grounds that doing so might prompt foreign targets to switch to new forms of encryption or communications that would be harder to collect or read. The papers said they removed specific facts but decided to publish because of the value of a public debate about government actions that weaken the most powerful tools for protecting the privacy of Internet users.© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments No related posts.
NEW YORK — The Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd roared, and Caroline Wozniacki urged it on, swinging her arms up and shouting triumphantly to a standing ovation. She had just won the break point of her year, chasing down a swinging volley and forcing Maria Sharapova to miss in the deciding third set.“Sweet Caroline” pumped through the speakers after her 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 U.S. Open win over Sharapova, and the 10th-seeded Wozniacki just looked around and smiled wide after advancing to the quarterfinals.The Dane’s public split with golfer Rory McIlroy and early exits in the Grand Slams this year were a distant memory as she flashed her vintage form and reputation as a retriever in arguably the biggest win of her career.In a women’s singles field that has been turned upside down with upsets, the road for Wozniacki to reach the final figures to be easier than the marathon 2-hour 37-minute match she won on Sunday.“It means a lot to me,” Wozniacki, 24, said. “The season for me has been a little bit up and down, and it’s so nice to kind of start feeling like I’m playing the way I want to.”To say it’s been up and down is an understatement for the former world No. 1. It started with a proposal on New Year’s Eve, then a week before the French Open in May, McIlroy announced their engagement was called off.Wozniacki’s upset loss in the first-round of the French Open came with prying questions about the breakup, even after she asked reporters to refrain from asking about it. She said she was committed to moving on and focusing on tennis, but the sport seemed to be moving forward without her. Her ranking dropped six spots from the start of the year. As she stumbled, McIlroy won major championships, and a story line about how he was playing better without her emerged.Less than a month after a fourth-round loss at Wimbledon, Wozniacki announced she would run the New York City marathon in November, the month she was supposed to get married. There was scrutiny about the toll that training would take on her tennis career, but she started to surge soon after she began training, losing three-set matches to world No. 1 Serena Williams in back-to-back tournaments. She got her ranking back to No. 11.“I never doubt myself,” Wozniacki said. “I work hard every day. I know I have the levels to compete against anybody, and I can beat anyone on a good day. But the women’s game is really evolving and it gets tougher and tougher.” Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark celebrates match point against Maria Sharapova of Russia after winning their women’s singles fourth round match on Day Seven of the 2014 U.S. Open. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFPWozniacki hasn’t been running as much in advance of the U.S. Open, but Sunday’s match was as good a workout as she’s had this week. Sharapova’s returns had Wozniacki sprinting from one end of the court to the other, from the baseline to the net.Sharapova, the No. 5 seed, said Wozniacki’s strength is her ability to get to shots as a solid defensive player, and it ultimately wore Sharapova down in a match with a lot of long rallies.Wozniacki said her marathon training enabled her to feel like she could keep playing more sets even though the conditions were so hot she had to change her sweaty dress after the second set.Sharapova said running a marathon wouldn’t help her, but acknowledged how well Wozniacki was moving on the court. With the third set at 2-1 and Sharapova serving, Wozniacki was a wall, returning everything and breaking Sharapova at love.In the final point of the game, Sharapova had Wozniacki running from one end of the court to the other before Wozniacki surged toward the net to return Sharapova’s swinging volley. Sharapova hit a backhand shot into the net, and the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd gave Wozniacki a standing ovation, admiring how she fought. With momentum on Wozniacki’s side, she broke Sharapova again in the last game of the set to win the match.“I think she’s better at what she’s done really well in her career,” Sharapova said. “I think she’s moving extremely well; she’s fit. I mean, she’s always been fit, but there is a little bit more on her defense shots. It’s not just balls up in the air. She’s doing a little bit more with them.”Sharapova, who won the French Open this year, is the latest top seed to fall at the U.S. Open this week. Williams and No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard are the top seeds left after the other seeds in the top six were upset this week.Wozniacki will play No. 13 seed Sara Errani in the quarters, and she wouldn’t face Bouchard or Williams until the final. Wozniacki was a finalist at the U.S. Open in 2009 and was the No. 1 player in 2011.She says it’s hard for her to compare herself now to how she was playing then. A lot has happened.“It’s a new year and I’ve gotten older — and hopefully a little wiser,” she said, smiling. “You know, I feel good.”© 2014, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:Federer shines in New York rain, Ferrer crashes Marin Cilic, 2014 U.S. Open champion, played in Costa Rica’s junior tournament 10 years ago At the 2014 World Series, Royals and Giants are truly happy to be here TV exec made Mayweather-Pacquiao bout possible
For days, María Magdalena Saldana has hooked a gold chain encircling her waist to the gate bulwarking one of Nicaragua’s most notorious prisons.And she vows to stay there – consuming nothing but water – until President Daniel Ortega’s government releases her son, who was detained last week without explanation during a police raid on his house.“As a mother, I am desperate,” Saldana pleads, her voice cracking through streaming tears as several security guards observe across the fence.“Let the world know what a Nicaraguan mother suffers,” she says, clutching her son’s release order from a Managua appeals court, which she says has gone ignored. “My heart hurts. My soul hurts.” In just one day, Braulio Abarca, a lawyer at the influential Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), says his agency received dozens of cases denouncing “illegal detentions with beatings; with cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and with clear signs of torture perpetrated by the National Police.”Some of the detainees, Abarca said, are as young as 15 years old.“The crime in Nicaragua is to be young and defend your homeland,” reads one of several signs protesters hoist outside the prison fence.A few feet away from the chained Saldana, 96-year-old Anastacia Morales Centeno clutches her face in her hands, sobbing for her grandson Bernardo.The tiny woman, her face riven with wrinkles, says he was thrown into a truck early one morning by groups of armed paramilitaries loyal to the president.“I cannot rest easy because I didn’t resist” the forces who arrested him, she says, as a relative uses an umbrella to shield her from the relentless sun.‘State of terror’In the early days of the anti-Ortega protests that began April 18, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said it documented “a pattern of massive and arbitrary arrests.”Detainees were sometimes stripped of their belongings and deprived of food and water, the agency said, with some “shaved, handcuffed with rigor and subjected to asphyxiating blows.”The legal director of the CENIDH, Gonzalo Carrion, was 18 when the Sandinistas ousted Somoza, and now expresses shock when describing the “tragedy” of the past months.“This police force is at the service of family and power,” he says. On June 12, police forcibly arrested her son Wilder Octavio García Saldana, 37, and took him to the infamous El Chipote prison, shrouded in lush vegetation high atop Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city.The institution’s reputation for brutality is as deeply entrenched as its underground cells, which reach far beneath a rugged hill in the city’s center.Saldana is one of an estimated 2,000 people who have been incarcerated at El Chipote since the start in April of a popular uprising against Ortega, a former leftist guerrilla who since 2007 has gripped power for three consecutive terms.His mother has joined dozens of people protesting the sudden imprisonment of their relatives and friends. At school-turned-command post, Nicaraguan students defy Ortega’s ‘law of the jungle’ “The only ‘crime’ I think my son has committed is to march,” she said, referring to mass anti-government demonstrations that have been met with a bloody crackdown, leaving at least 178 people dead in two months.“He raised the flag of Nicaragua, the patriotic symbol of our country” she cries. “We want liberty.”‘Clear signs of torture’The compound now known as El Chipote once served as a nerve center of military dictatorship under the Somoza political dynasty, where the primary means to squash rebellion was torture.Ortega himself was held at the complex, while fighting with guerrilla forces that ultimately toppled Somoza. But upon assuming power, Ortega opted to keep the infamous prison open.They baptized it El Chipote after the headquarters of the revered Augusto Sandino, a revolutionary who fought U.S. occupation during the 1920s and 1930s, inspiring Ortega-era rebels decades later. Among Nicaraguans today, however, the detention center with dark cells the size of closets still stirs fears equal to those that reverberated under Somoza rule.And the allegation from families of detainees and human rights lawyers that Ortega is allowing thousands of his political opponents to be imprisoned has left a particularly bad taste. Related posts:Sandinista stronghold calls for Nicaraguan leader to end repression At school-turned-command post, Nicaraguan students defy Ortega’s ‘law of the jungle’ PHOTOS: Death toll rises to 10 in Nicaraguan protests PHOTOS: Nicaraguans in Costa Rica gather to support their country during hard times Fed up: Nicaragua’s uprising Nicaraguan crisis leaves vital street market with economic bruises As Nicaraguans grapple with what Carrion calls “a state of terror,” the government refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing.When the Central American country’s Catholic bishops moved to rekindle mediation talks, Ortega’s foreign minister balked at laying blame on pro-government forces. Late Friday, the bishops announced that rival government and civil delegates had struck a deal to create a “verification” commission, and invite groups including the IACHR to probe the violence that almost daily ends in bloodshed.But Saldana has more immediate concerns.“I will not leave until he gets out of that prison. We are constantly under attack,” she says, weeping as relatives chant “freedom” behind her. “I’m disappointed in my beautiful Nicaragua.” Facebook Comments OAS calls on Nicaragua to stop violence against demonstrators
The most recent eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano ended Saturday, an official source said, with locals escaping a repeat of June’s eruption that killed 190.However, mild to moderate explosions sent smoke swirling up to 940 meters above the crater, while a lava flow measuring 1,200 meters continued.“All of this activity is expected to disappear in the coming hours,” said a bulletin from Guatemala’s government agency for seismology (Insivumeh), without ruling out that it could pick up again in coming days.The latest eruption began in the early hours of Friday, with 62 people evacuated and a highway near the 3,763 meter volcano, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Guatemala City, closed.Guatemala’s disaster management agency CONRED said two other volcanoes are also being monitored.The Pacaya volcano, located 20 kilometers south of the capital, and the Santiaguito volcano, 117 kilometers west of Guatemala City, have both showed increased activity.A powerful June 3 eruption of the Fuego volcano – located 35 kilometers southwest of the capital – rained rocks, ash and toxic gases on several villages and left 190 people dead and 235 missing. Meet the Costa Rican woman who saved 300 lives in Guatemala Facebook Comments Related posts:Meet the Costa Rican woman who saved 300 lives in Guatemala Former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt dies at 91 Toll rises in Guatemala volcano as more bodies recovered Landslide threat forces suspension of Guatemala volcano search
The field for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup is set. Costa Rica, the United States, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago all received automatic bids to the tournament due to their placing in the hexagonal round of regional qualifying for last year’s World Cup. They will be joined by the top teams from CONCACAF Nations League, which concluded Sunday: Bermuda, Canada, Cuba, Curacao, El Salvador, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique and Nicaragua. The 2019 Gold Cup — which has been expanded to include 16 teams instead of the usual 12 — will be played from June 15 to July 7, primarily in cities across the United States. But Costa Rica will make history on June 16 when it hosts the two initial Group B matches at the National Stadium in La Sabana, San José. It will mark the first time a Central American country hosts a Gold Cup game. The following day, a Caribbean venue will host a Group C doubleheader. The final Gold Cup groups and schedule will be announced April 10, but Costa Rica has already been announced as the seeded team in Group B. The other seeded nations are Mexico (Group A), Honduras (Group C) and the United States (Group D). The top two countries from each four-team group will advance to a knockout stage. The entirety of the knockout rounds will be held in the United States, with the final at Soldier Field in Chicago. The biennial tournament, which features national teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean, has been dominated by the United States and Mexico. Costa Rica’s best performance is a runners-up finish in 2002.This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $5 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica falls to Guatemala, 1-0, in soccer friendly Costa Rica defeats Jamaica, 1-0, in friendly Faster path to 2022 World Cup for Costa Rica, United States Legendary Radio Columbia sportscaster Mario McGregor dies at 59
Associated PressNEW DELHI (AP) – India said Thursday that Pakistan should prosecute the architects of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to build confidence in the countries’ peace efforts, while Pakistan said it would fight terrorism but denied that its intelligence agents were involved in the bloodshed.The two-day talks reflected the chasm that exists between the nuclear-armed neighbors over how to tackle terrorism. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since 1947 have been over the Himalayan region, which is divided between them but claimed by both entirely.The meeting in New Delhi over the past two days was intended to set the stage for a foreign ministers meeting in September in Islamabad.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) India says it has given increasingly detailed evidence to Islamabad over the past three years that Pakistani militants participated in attacks on India and has urged Pakistan to crack down. Islamabad insists New Delhi has not provided usable information.That disagreement resurfaced Thursday as Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai insisted Pakistan now possesses all the evidence Indian investigators had on the Mumbai attacks and should use that information to take down the terror leaders.Mathai’s Pakistani counterpart, Jalil Abbas Jilani, said Pakistan would act _ once India handed over the evidence.“Whatever evidence India has, should be shared with us, and we will investigate,” Jilani said, standing beside Mathai at a news conference.The talks came two weeks after India arrested a suspect in the attacks that killed 166 people in India’s financial capital. Indian investigators say Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari told them Pakistani intelligence agents were in a Karachi control room helping coordinate the 60-hour siege by 10 attackers.Mathai said Ansari’s arrest added urgency to India’s demand that Islamabad prosecute the planners of the attack.“I emphasized that terrorism is the biggest threat to peace and security in the region and that bringing the guilty to justice in the Mumbai terror attacks would be the biggest confidence-building measure of all,” Mathai said. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories Comments Share Jilani said his country is “willing to enter comprehensive cooperation in order to defeat the forces of terrorism,” but he rejected India’s accusation that Pakistani officials were involved in the Mumbai attack or any other assault on India.He suggested that top security officials from the two South Asian nations meet to discuss ways to tackle the common threat of terrorism.India has long said Pakistani officials helped coordinate the attacks and that Islamabad is dragging its feet in prosecuting the planners.Ansari, who also uses the alias Abu Jundal, has corroborated evidence given by American terrorist David Coleman Headley during his trial in Chicago last year that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba worked closely and had cooperated in planning the Mumbai attack.Pakistan has repeatedly maintained that the ISI has no links to Lashkar, which officially is banned in Pakistan but is widely thought to be supported by some in government.The Mumbai attacks paralyzed peace efforts between the countries, but ties warmed gradually and talks resumed in February 2011. The countries have pushed bilateral trade and increased people-to-people contacts even as the thorny issues of terrorism and the status of the Kashmir region remain unresolved. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in society
Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Nyamwasa said he believes that in addition to the attempt to kill him, Rwandan government agents were behind the killing in Uganda late last year of a Rwandan journalist who was a prominent critic of Kagame. And Nyamwasa cited warnings British police have issued to Rwandan exiles in Britain that their lives were in danger, a threat believed to emanate from the Rwandan government.Nyamwasa said one reason Kagame wants him dead is that he has evidence Kagame ordered the shooting down of a plane carrying Juvenal Habyarimana, then president of Rwanda in 1994. Rwanda’s 100-day genocide was sparked by the death of Habyarimana, a Hutu. Militants from Rwanda’s Hutu majority blamed Tutsis for the president’s death, sparking the slaughter of more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The genocide ended when Kagame’s forces seized power.The Rwandan government blames Hutu extremists for the crash that killed Habyarimana. A French investigation completed earlier this year found that the missile fire came from a military camp and not Kagame’s forces. But Nyamwasa said he had evidence Kagame ordered the plane be brought down. Nyamwasa would not elaborate, but said he would present his evidence to French investigators. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories “There is no doubt that my life has been threatened by the president of Rwanda, using government institutions and using hired killer squads,” Nyamwasa said. He spoke in the court room where he testified for several days last month and just over two days this week. When he mentioned hired assassins, he gestured to the dock where three Rwandans and three Tanzanians accused of trying to kill him had sat during a trial session earlier Thursday.The Rwandan government has said it would not comment on matters before a court. Kagame’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on Nyamwasa’s allegations.Nyamwasa, who has faced questions about his own conduct when he was close to Kagame, said of Rwanda’s president, “I was his chief of staff. I was his ambassador. And I came to South Africa because I’m running away from him. He hires killers to kill me. What else can he be other than a dictator?”“When I called him a dictator, it was not out of assumption. It was not out of speculation. It was based on facts,” he said as his wife Rosette Kayumba sat next to him. His wife, who was in the car with him when he was shot, attended every hearing at which he testified, once bringing along two of their four children. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Nyamwasa denied accusations he is responsible for human rights abuses or war crimes.“I can concede that during the process of war, people died and there could have been some excesses,” he said. “But those could not explicitly implicate me.”He said he supported incursions by Rwandan forces into neighboring Congo in the mid-1990s, saying toppling the Mobutu regime in power in the former Zaire was necessary. But since then, Nyamwasa charged, Kagame has waged unnecessary wars, fueling instability in the region, and is now funding rebels in Congo.Kagame’s government has denied a U.N. experts report accusing it of helping create, recruit for and arm an insurgency in Congo that since April has forced more than 200,000 people from their homes.Nyamwasa said Thursday that Kagame wants Congo, Rwanda’s giant, mineral-rich neighbor, weak so that he can manipulate its politics and loot its wealth.Nyamwasa, identified earlier as Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, clarified during his testimony that he does not use the name Faustin.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Observers speculate Kagame saw Nyamwasa as a political rival, but Nyamwasa said Thursday he had no personal political ambitions. Working with other dissidents in South Africa and elsewhere, Nyamwasa established the Rwandan National Congress in South Africa. It is dedicated to pursuing peaceful political change in Rwanda, he said Thursday.He said he began opposing what he called “creeping dictatorship” in his homeland before fleeing to South Africa, arriving just months before he was shot. He compared Rwanda under Kagame to Egypt under now-toppled Hosni Mubarak, saying Kagame’s political opponents are jailed, journalists are killed or forced into exile, and judges answer to the president instead of the law. Independent human rights groups make similar charges.“I protested,” Nyamwasa said. “That’s why I am in exile.”He has refugee status in South Africa and has been under South African government protection since the shooting.A Spanish judge in 2008 charged Nyamwasa and 39 other members of the Rwandan military with mass killings of civilians. The Spanish allegations, which have prompted rights groups in South Africa to call for Nyamwasa to be stripped of his refugee status here, stem from accusations Nyamwasa and other senior Tutsis waged a retaliatory extermination campaign against Hutus after the genocide. Top Stories Comments Share Associated PressJOHANNESBURG (AP) – A prominent Rwandan exile accuses the president of being a dictator, imprisoning political opponents and destabilizing East Africa, adding in an interview Thursday that he believes the leader, who he once served, has hunted him and other dissidents around the world.Kayumba Nyamwasa, once Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s army chief, spoke to The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Thursday after finishing his testimony as a witness in the trial of six East Africans accused of attempted murder in his 2010 shooting. Rwanda’s government has denied involvement in an attack in Johannesburg that left Nyamwasa with a bullet lodged at the base of his spine.
Top Stories Police spokeswoman Sigita Pildava said DNA samples taken from a body found four weeks ago in a forest near the seaside town of Jurmala match those from Rozhetskin’s nearby villa taken after his disappearance on March 16, 2008.“The DNA from the body in the forest … coincides with that from his house in Jurmala,” she said. “But we cannot say yet that this means it is his body.”Police will now compare the DNA samples to those of his family members to confirm the identification, she said. Pildava declined to give further details and could not say when the results of a post-mortem would be available.Rozhetskin’s credit card was found on the corpse, police said.Rozhetskin was seen leaving the villa with two unidentified men in the early hours of the morning, according to the Russian-language daily Telegraf. When investigators searched the house later in the week they found traces of blood on the floor, which they said matched the DNA of his personal items.Born in Leningrad _ now St. Petersburg _ Rozhetskin moved to the United States in 1980. After receiving a degree from Harvard Law School, he moved back to Russia in 1992, where he made his fortune after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He eventually helped establish Renaissance Capital, a top investment bank and brokerage in Moscow that had been at the epicenter of Russia’s turbulent financial sector in the 1990s. How do cataracts affect your vision? In 2001, he became deputy chairman of Russia’s Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel, a post he left in early 2005.He spent much of his time at his homes in Los Angeles and London. In 2003, he bought the villa in the Baltic Sea resort, popular among wealthy Russian businessmen and situated about 15 kilometers (10 miles) west of the Latvian capital, Riga .In recent years Rozhetskin devoted his efforts to media and film, creating a movie production company with Eric Eisner, the son of former Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated PressRIGA, Latvia (AP) – A body recently discovered in a forest is apparently that of a Russian-born U.S. businessman who disappeared in mysterious circumstances more than four years ago from his villa in a resort in Latvia, police said Wednesday.The process of identification is still under way, but it could help police finally determine what happened to Leonid Rozhetskin, a millionaire who made his fortune in Moscow and spent much of his time in Los Angeles and London. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Comments Share Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 3 international destinations to visit in 2019
The vital role family plays in society Sponsored Stories Comments Share 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Associated PressDAKAR, Senegal (AP) – Ten years after one of the worst maritime disasters in history, a handful of survivors gathered in Senegal on Wednesday to pay homage to the victims of the Joola, a Senegalese ferry that sank off the coast of Gambia, killing 1,863 people.That’s 361 more than were killed when the Titanic went down nine decades earlier, claiming 1,502 lives. The MV Le Joola took off on Sept. 26, 2002 from Ziguinchor, the capital of Senegal’s southernmost province. The government-owned ferry was carrying several times the maximum recommended number of passengers, and survivors say it was already listing from the excess weight when it ran into a storm. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top holiday drink recipes Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Survivors wept at the graves Wednesday, most of which are unmarked in the Dakar cemetery that was created for the disaster. The bodies were so decomposed that most could not be identified and one relative of the dead went from headstone to headstone, placing his hand on the white marker, as if to find his loved one.Among the 64 who made it out alive was Victor Djiba, a soldier who was assigned to work on the boat. He got out only because he knew the layout of the ferry. But his friend, with whom he was sharing a cabin, perished.“Since 2002, I have to use sleeping pills to be able to fall asleep. And even with the pills, I still don’t manage to fall asleep until 2 a.m.,” said Djiba, who attended an interfaith ceremony held at the cemetery on Wednesday. “When the boat started to sink, I was in a cabin with my colleague. I feel responsible for his death,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement
Germany is also contributing around 500 million euros ($650 million) to a NATO drone program that will be based on a newer version of the Global Hawk, although it is not yet known how and whether it will gain approval for use in European airspace.De Maiziere last year still lobbied parliament’s budget committee to free the funds for the NATO project, even though his ministry already knew about the problems with the Euro Hawk.“The minister wasn’t informed, but he also hadn’t asked, even though he promoted the NATO drone project,” said center-left opposition lawmaker Carsten Schneider. “Mr. de Maiziere must accept the political responsibility and step down,” he added.___Follow Juergen Baetz on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jbaetz (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Unlike the U.S., Germany’s military has only a handful of large unmanned surveillance drones so far _ all leased from Israel.Despite the fact the development of its own surveillance drones has long been considered one of Germany’s strategically most important defense projects, de Maiziere said his deputies only informed him last month about the problems.“The procedure shows significant shortcomings. We have to draw consequences from that,” he told reporters in Berlin. “That was not good.”De Maiziere said that from now on he will strengthen oversight and receive regular status reports on all armament projects to detect problems early on. The reports “shall not only state wishes and intentions but problems and possible solutions,” he added.He also announced the creation of a new department to streamline the process seeking approval for the European airpace for all military aircraft.De Maiziere was questioned for several hours by two parliamentary committees, but the opposition remained unimpressed, saying he was simply blaming predecessors or subordinates for the mistakes.“The minister’s show was an insurmountable display of self-righteousness,” lawmaker Hans-Peter Bartels of the opposition Social Democrats said. “We still have important questions in many areas,” he added. De Maiziere said he was “quite angry” about his deputies’ failure to inform him early on that the drones couldn’t be approved for use in Europe’s airspace without significant extra costs. He said he wouldn’t rule out “consequences for some personnel” once the matter is fully investigated.Germany purchased one prototype of the U.S.-made Global Hawk surveillance drone years ago to modify to its specifications, but last month scrapped plans to buy four more from Northrop Grumman at an additional cost of 1.4 billion euros ($1.83 billion). The defense ministry says securing approval for their use in European airspace would have cost another 600 million euros ($784 million), a claim Northrop Grumman and European partner EADS rejects.Aviation authorities have warned that Germany’s so-called Euro Hawk drones, among other shortcomings, lack an automatic system that would avoid crashes with other aircraft in Europe’s busy airspace _ a standard technology for civilian planes. The drone’s wingspan is larger than that of a Boeing 737.Germany wants the drones to use in support of military deployments, such as in Afghanistan, but has said it also needs the ability to fly them back to the country for servicing and testing. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s defense minister on Wednesday admitted mistakes were made in the handling of a program to develop unmanned surveillance drones and announced tougher oversight procedures for all armament projects.Opposition parties say Thomas de Maiziere wasted public funds by canceling the botched 600 million euro ($800 million) program too late, but he rejected calls for his resignation.For Chancellor Angela Merkel, the controversy engulfing one of her staunchest allies and most popular Cabinet ministers is a major embarrassment only three months before national elections. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share Top Stories Sponsored Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist The difference between men and women when it comes to pain
VIENNA (AP) — What’s a potty worth? Thousands of euros, if it was used by an Austrian empress — but much less than her footwear.A chamber pot owned by Empress Elisabeth has fetched 4,290 euros (nearly $5,000) at an auction of imperial Austrian memorabilia in Vienna. But a pair of her white silk half boots went for 75,000 euros (nearly $85,000) — more than 10 times the lowest estimated price. Most expensive was a set of white and gold dinnerware. It sold for more than 100,000 euros at Thursday’s auction.The Habsburg empire ended a century ago with the abdication of the last emperor. But the 19th-century empress, known in Austria as Sissi, remains idolized in her home country.._Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How men can have a healthy 2019 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories
Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — A giant hack of millions of government personnel files is being treated as the work of foreign spies who could use the information to fake their way into more-secure computers and plunder U.S. secrets.Federal employees were told in a video Friday to change all their passwords, put fraud alerts on their credit reports and watch for attempts by foreign intelligence services to exploit them. That message came from Dan Payne, a senior counterintelligence official for the Director of National Intelligence. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “The kind of data that may have been compromised in this incident could include name, Social Security Number, date and place of birth, job assignments, training files, performance ratings and current and former addresses,” Schumach said in an email.The breach occurred at a network maintained by the Department of Interior, which also houses the personnel agency’s files. Schumach said agencies share computer systems partly to save money — and it’s also supposed to strengthen security.Security experts said the hackers may have gone after the personnel agency because it’s an easier target than the Pentagon or National Security Agency.Private cybersecurity researchers said they believe the personnel agency was targeted by the same hackers who got into the Anthem and Primera health insurance groups last year.John Hultquist, head of cyberespionage intelligence at iSight, said the Dallas-based security firm had found evidence linking the insurance and government attacks, but declined to say whom they suspect. “We think they are creating a database they can leverage for follow-on espionage,” Hultquist said.A spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence declined to discuss whether there was evidence against China or whether intelligence agency employees were among those whose information was compromised. 0 Comments Share 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches He said details from personnel files could be used to craft personalized phony messages to trick workers. Federal employees who think they’re opening an email from co-workers or family members might infect their computers with a program that would steal more information or install spy software.Spies also could use details about an employee’s interests or background to befriend them and try to manipulate them into revealing secrets.Kevin Mitnick, a former hacker who now runs Mitnick Security Consulting of Las Vegas, called confidential details about federal employees “a gold mine.”“What’s the weakest link in security?” Mitnick said. “The human. Now you know all about your target.”The hackers may have made off with even more information about workers who undergo security clearance background checks. That information includes the names of family, neighbors, even old bosses and teachers, as well as reports on vices, arrests and foreign contacts.However, OPM spokesman Samuel Schumach said there was no evidence to suggest that security clearance information collected by OPM was compromised. It’s stored separately from routine personnel files, he said. FILE – This Feb. 24, 2015, file photo, shows the Homeland Security Department headquarters in northwest Washington. The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Thursday, June 4, 2015, that data from the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department had been hacked. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File) The breach was an embarrassing showing for the U.S. government’s vaunted computer-defense system for civilian agencies — dubbed “Einstein” — which is costing $376 million this year alone. It’s supposed to detect unusual Internet traffic that might reflect hacking attempts or stolen data being transmitted outside the government.A wide range of information is prized by spies — classified military secrets but also economic strategy and internal foreign policy debates.This latest breach occurred in December but wasn’t discovered until April, officials say. It was made public Thursday.“The scale of it is just staggering,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. There’s no telling how many more attacks could be spawned by the information stolen in this case, he said.Although most Americans think of identity thieves stealing from credit card or bank accounts, the information about civilian federal workers has other value for spies.“They’re able to identify people who are in positions with access to significant national security information and can use personal data to target those individuals,” said Payne, the counterintelligence official. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Sponsored Stories “Some of you may think that you are not of interest because you don’t have access to classified information,” he said. “You are mistaken.”Federal officials said Friday the cyberattack appeared to have originated in China, but they didn’t point fingers directly at the Chinese government. The Chinese said any such accusation would be “irresponsible and unscientific.”“We know that the attack occurred from somewhere in China, but we don’t know whether it was an individual or a group or a nation-state attack,” said Rep. Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat and leading voice in Congress on cybersecurity. He added, though that it had “all the hallmarks of a nation-state attack.”White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he couldn’t divulge much while the case was under investigation. Still, he noted that investigators “are aware of the threat that is emanating from China.”One U.S. official said the breach of data involving more than 4 million past and present federal workers was being investigated as a national security matter. That suggests authorities believe a nation was behind it rather than a more loosely organized gang of cybercriminals. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke only on condition of anonymity. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement U.S. investigators have improved their ability to attribute cyberattacks in recent years, officials said, and Chinese attacks often have identifiable signatures.The Homeland Security Department noted that the Einstein defenses were just one part of the government’s cybersecurity, and said it was used to confirm the breach. But that’s like a smoke alarm sounding after the house burned down.Einstein also helped understand how the break-in happened and protect against a repeat of a similar attempt.“It didn’t fare so well,” said James Lewis, a leading cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank. “It’s only a victory if you defeat the opponent, and we didn’t.”___Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Brandon Bailey, Raphael Satter, Jim Kuhnhenn, Darlene Superville and Connie Cass contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Qatar Airways Country Manager UAE Mohamed El Emam and David Falcon, Senior Vice President World Travel Awards Qatar Airways has claimed yet further key international awards, winning three accolades at two glittering award ceremonies in Dubai.The Doha-based carrier retained its Leading Business Class Airline in the Middle East title as voted by travel industry professionals in the prestigious World Travel Awards, an honour that the airline has now held for five consecutive years. The airline’s innovative exclusive Premium Terminal for First and Business Class passengers at Doha International Airport was named Leading Airport Lounge in the Middle East. The two awards were presented at a ceremony held at The Address in Dubai Marina where acclaimed international singer Nancy Ajram was the star performer of the night.At a separate ceremony organised by Business Traveller Middle East for travel industry professionals held at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Qatar Airways took home the airline award for Best Economy Class in the Middle East for the second year running. Readers of the monthly magazine based their voting on cabin comfort and inflight service. The airline, which offers superior space with an Economy seat pitch of up to 34 inches – above the industry norm – recently began introducing seat back entertainment across its cabins on the new Airbus A320 family of aircraft. The British Embassy Consul General in Dubai Guy Warrington presented the evening’s awards and the latest accolades demonstrate Qatar Airways’ commitment to offering the travelling public with unrivalled levels of inflight service.Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Most airlines invest heavily in developing their premium cabins and, while we continue to do this, Qatar Airways strives to innovate in Economy Class ensuring our high standards are maintained and passenger expectations are exceeded worldwide.” The awards coincided with Arabian Travel Market – the Middle East’s premier travel trade event – taking place in Dubai where Qatar Airways is participating with a prominent exhibition stand.More than 400 leading figures from across the regional and international travel and tourism industry attended both events. Al Baker added: “Winning the Leading Business Class category five years in a row and Leading Airport Lounge once again proves that we have an outstanding product, which continues to convince travel industry professionals and our customers year on year.”“These are great achievements for the airline and show that we clearly deliver an ultimate inflight experience which our customers appreciate. Our exclusive Premium Terminal is the world’s only dedicated commercial passenger terminal for First and Business Class passengers – and winning again just four years after its opening reflects the importance we place on service delivery.“Our passengers travelling in Economy also have an unrivalled experience and we are extremely delighted to have won over the travelling public for our high service standards in the Economy cabins.”The World Travel Awards were conceived in 1993 to acknowledge and celebrate excellence in the world’s travel and tourism industry. Now in their 17th year, travel professionals and discerning travellers have come to regard the World Travel Awards as the very best endorsement that a travel product can hope to receive.Dubai-based Business Traveller Middle East is a prestigious monthly travel magazine, part of a global franchise of similar publications worldwide dedicated to frequent travellers.Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 82 aircraft to 89 diverse cities across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and North America. The airline has over 200 aircraft pending delivery with the orders worth more than US$40 billion. Source = Qatar Airways
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Tapping into the rising number of Chinese travelers, Adelaide Airport has teamed up with Cathay Pacific to launch non-stop services between Adelaide and Hong Kong.Commencing 24 November, the new three times weekly services will add on to the carrier’s existing four times weekly flights between the two cities, upping its operations to daily. South Australian Minister for Tourism John Rau expects the services to build on the 20 percent increase in travelers from China welcomed into Adelaide last year.“Non-stop flights are always good for tourism in South Australia and I commend Cathay Pacific for this vote of confidence in our State,” Mr Rau said.The earlier take-off period of 7.45am will also open up connections to other destinations according to Adelaide Airport managing director Phil Baker.“This is great news for travellers wanting to travel to Asia and North America without having to spend a night in Hong Kong,” Mr Baker said.“It will also make Adelaide more attractive to international tourists because they know they’ll be able to get home quicker at the end of their holiday.”Earlier this month Cathay Pacific announced that it had carried up to 2.5 million people during the month of July, up 1.6 percent compared to the same month last year.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J More than 7,000 flights have been cancelled over Sunday, Monday and Tuesday as the East Coast USA braces for the “catastrophic impacts” of Hurricane Sandy.Although travellers and locals in the southern New Jersey, Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania are expected to feel the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, aka Frankenstorm, today and tomorrow, more than 375,000 New Yorkers have already been evacuated, while 16 million others living on the East Coast have been told to be prepared. According to an AccuWeather.com update, the storm is travelling with storm-force winds extending 450 miles away from its centre and is expected to build up more than eight inches of rain.Airports from Washington DC up to Boston remain open for the moment, however, they are reportedly in the process of implementing contingency plans while airlines announced the cancellation of 1,200 yesterday, 5,500 on Monday and an addition 640 on Tuesday, Los Angeles Times reported.Airlines affected include: United Airlines The airline has cancelled selected flights and limited operations to and from mid-Atlantic and northeast airports today and tomorrow.United has advised it will waive change fees for passengers booked to fly to or from impacted cities from 28October through 31 October.Impacted airports include its hub Newark Liberty International Airport as well as John F Kennedy and LaGuardia, Dulles International Airport and Reagan Washington National.Other destinations and airports also impacted include; Albany, N.Y, Allentown, Pa, Baltimore, Md, Boston, Mass, Buffalo, N.Y, Burlington, Vt, Charleston, S.C, Charleston, W.V, Erie, Pa, Harrisburg, Pa, Hartford, Conn, Manchester, N.H, Norfolk, Va, Philadelphia, Pa, Pittsburgh, Pa, Portland, Maine, Providence, R.I, Raleigh-Durham, N.C, Richmond, Va, Roanoke, VA, Rochester, N.Y, Syracuse, N.Y, White Plains, N.Y and Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa. US Airways The carrier has advised “relaxed” changes to its fee policies, agreeing to waive the fee for passengers who trips are affected. The “relaxed policy” applies to passengers booked to travel between 28 October and 31 October may change to travel from 1 November to 7 November.Passengers are required to rebook to the same destination and may be asked charged a fee if they change the origin and destination, travel outside the dates provided or if there is a different in fare. US Airways flight affected include trips to: Hartford/Springfield, CT, New Haven, CT, Washington, DC (Dulles), Washington, DC (Reagan National), Portland, ME, Baltimore, MD, Salisbury, MD ; Boston, MA ; Manchester, NH, Newark, NJ, Albany, NY, Binghamton, NY, Buffalo, NY, Elmira, NY, Islip, NY, Ithaca, NY, New York, NY (Laguardia) ; New York, NY (JFK), Newburgh, NY, Rochester, NY, Syracuse, NY, White Plains, NY, Greenville, NC, Jacksonville, NC, New Bern, NC, Raleigh/Durham, NC, Allentown, PA, Erie, PA, Harrisburg, PA, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Scranton, PA ; State College, PA, Williamsport, PA, Providence, RI, Burlington, VT, Charlottesville, VA, Lynchburg, VA, Newport News, VA ; Norfolk, VA,; Richmond, VA, Roanoke, VA, Charleston, WV, Huntington, WV.Delta Airlines Delta has advised passengers are entitled to a refund without fee if their flight is cancelled or significantly delayed and they are scheduled to fly to, from, or through the affected cities between 28 October to 31 October and ticket must be reissued before 4 November to fly no later than 4 November.Impacted flights include those flying to and from: District of Columbia, DC, Delware, DE, Maryland, MD, North Carolina, NC, New Jersey, NJ, New York, NY, South Carolina, SC, Virginia, VA, Massachusetts, MA, West Virginia, WV, Pennsylvania, PA, Conneticut, CT, Vermont, VT, New Hampshire, NH, Rhode Island, RI and Maine, ME. American Airlines The US airline has directed impacted passengers with tickets issued no later than 26 October this year to change flights departing 28 October to 31 October. Affected destinations include: Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, Buffalo, NY, Charleston, WV, Charlottesville, VA, Greensboro / Highpoint, NC, Harrisburg, PA, Hartford, CT, New York Kennedy, NY, New York LaGuardia, NY, Newark, NJ, Norfolk, VA, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburg, PA, Raleigh / Durham, NC, Richmond, VA, Rochester, NY, Syracuse, NY, Washington Dulles, VA, Washington Reagan National, DC, Watertown, NY and Westchester County / White Plains, NY. Hawaiian AirlinesAt the request of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the airline has cancelled scheduled service between Honolulu and New York City for 29 October.Hawaiian said it expects to resume regular scheduled services on Tuesday afternoon, weather permitting and will add an additional roundtrip to New York. British Airways The UK carrier has cancelled all flights to and from the East Coast USA including New York, Baltimore, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia. The airline is offering the option to rebook or receive a refund to those customers whose flights are cancelled. New York’s transit system The city’s popular subway system will also be suspended, with New York governor Andrew Cuorno advising the emergency suspension running from Sunday through to late Wednesday, The Guardian reported.The governor also advised that decisions on New York’s bridges and tunnels to and from Manhattan would be made individually. Travellers and locals in the southern New Jersey, Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania are expected to feel the brunt of the storm, aka Frankenstorm, today and tomorrow. Image: AccuWeather.com