<< Previous PostNext Post >> Share Travelweek Group ORLANDO, Fla. — As you enter the dark set – an old library from the 1700s filled with ancient artifacts – at Universal Orlando Resort’s new Halloween experience, it’s obvious you’re in for a creepy time.The actor playing a librarian flips from quirky to spooky as he warns of a deadly curse if you venture into a warehouse filled with powerful, paranormal artifacts. But none of his warnings and babblings can quite prepare you for The Repository, a new virtual reality experience that opened Thursday as part of Universal Orlando Resort’s annual Halloween Horror Nights.The immersive, interactive adventure features human actors as well as first-of-its-kind virtual reality technology. Participants in groups of four follow a series of signs that must be remembered in the right order to wipe out the curse. And don’t you dare let go of the keystone you’re given. You’ll need it to finish the challenge.Be prepared for a pricey evening as well as a spooky one. The Repository, which runs select nights through Oct. 31, costs an additional $49.99 plus tax on top of the $104.99 general admission (prices can vary; details at HalloweenHorrorNights.com/Orlando).More news: A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passengerThe experience keeps you on edge as you and your group are guided through various rooms in the warehouse where actors and props await. It’s not an experience for those who scare easily or have personal space issues. The actors come close, talk loudly and are extremely animated as they react to your words, expressions and movements.“What this place is built on is interaction,” said T.J. Mannarino, senior director of art and design at Universal’s entertainment division. “It’s all about you and what you do together and with the actors in the space and even with the objects and the props that you come into contact with.”He added: “You now have the chance to be the story and we as storytellers now interact and react to what you do as you move to through the space.”The highlight of the 30-minute show is a virtual reality, or VR, experience, while wearing goggles, that creates the illusion of being in a cemetery with paranormal activity swirling around. It will leave the bravest person afraid to move.More news: Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong Kong“We have found that a very small amount of external senses really goes a long way in VR, whether that is motion, whether that is winds or just the implication of something flying over you,” said Thomas Geraghty, advanced technology director at Universal Creative.With goggles on, participants walk around a 20-by-20-foot room as they search for symbols, Geraghty said. “So you can really have some agency and explore the whole library and find your way around the tower,” he said.Once out of the virtual reality experience, you and your group come back together. Now you must remember the symbols and their order, and align the keystones accordingly to solve the curse. You don’t get a lot of time to complete the task, but there’s a payoff, says Mannarino: “You can pretty much wipe the curse out and basically neutralize this place from all of its evil.”Travelweek also recently announced a new VR app for agents. See the details here. Universal Orlando turns to virtual reality this Halloween Tags: Halloween, Universal Studios Friday, September 30, 2016 Posted by
The family ofYepi and Rober Sibaja, who died in a landslide Oct. 8, hosted a memorial luncheon after Mass at the Nuevo Arenal Catholic Church Oct. 20. They wished to thank everyone who participated in the heroic effort to rescue Yepi and his son Rober. Yepi’s brother Elkin addressed several hundred people who overflowed the capacity of the church by half.He cited the overwhelming response of the Gringo community, volunteers who prepared and brought food and drink to the scene, police, emergency medical services, fire department, MOPT, Conavi, and all of the Ticos who left their homes and places of work immediately to help. Beautiful memorial cards featuring photos of Yepi and Rober were given to everyone in remembrance of them.The Ladies of the Lake October meeting was hosted by Lee and Lahny McCray at their home. The Christmas Bazaar projects are progressing well. Anyone who would like information on how to be a vendor at the Bazaar should contact Ruth Fountaine at lol4thchristmasbazaar.com. Space is limited, so don’t delay in making your reservation.The Lake Arenal Garden Club will meet at Denyce Parnell’s home at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 7. Denyce is known for her collection of exotic plants, and will conduct a tour of her extensive garden walkways, which feature statuary from several Asian countries.Patrick Hughes, owner of Nuevo Arenal’s Sunset Grill restaurant, has confirmed the restaurant is closed. A gathering place for Gringos and Ticos alike, its famously well-stocked bar (Absinthe, anyone?) made the Sunset a popular watering hole for relaxation. The Boca Bar on NFL football nights provided fans with good eats throughout the season.The Sunset Grill also was home to Sushi Master Oz, whose delectable creations delighted the palates of Arenal’s sushi aficionadas. Devotees of his specialty are hopeful that he will remain in the Arenal area after his return from the U.S.Thanks to Jane Avery for providing information on Ladies of the Lake.-William & Jean Priestjeanfirstname.lastname@example.org Facebook Comments No related posts.
More than 40 percent of cellphone users in Costa Rica own smartphones, according to a study by consulting firm Demoscopía, conducted for Costa Rica’s Telecommunications Superintendency (SUTEL).According to a SUTEL spokesman, this is the first time the agency has solid data on the number of cellphone users in the country.The study results, released Monday, also show that 80 percent of smartphones in the country have Internet connections above 1 Mbps, and most users are satisfied with their current carriers. Just under 77 percent of all respondents said they have no problems with their mobile and Internet services.User satisfaction with the country’s five telecom carriers ranged from 71-82 percent.Local carrier Fullmóvil obtained the best results with an 82 percent satisfaction rate, followed by the Tico company Tuyo Móvil (77 percent), Mexico’s Claro (79 percent), Spain’s Movistar (78 percent) and state-owned ICE-Kolbi (71 percent).The survey was conducted during the last quarter of 2013 of a sample of 5,038 active users 15 and older, and at least 1,000 users per operator were surveyed.The study has a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of ± 1.38 percent.According to a SUTEL report last September, digital mobile penetration in Costa Rica increased from 69 percent in 2010 to 116 percent – 5.5 million cellphone lines – in 2013. In 2010, Costa Rica adopted legislation to allow private carriers to compete with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute for cellphone services.According to this study, competition has been good for Costa Rican cellphone customers. Facebook Comments Related posts:Court orders state-run mobile carrier to pay customers for poor coverage New smartphone app lets farmers crowdsource coffee fungus alerts Maintenance work may affect ICE Internet, phone services this week Waze partners with San José to improve city traffic
Related posts:Lonely Planet guide documents a changing Central America Once Mexico’s booze of ‘drunks,’ mezcal earns respect In Guatemala City’s Zone 4, a new effort at urban renewal Costa Rica tourism minister sees no threat from Cuba, Nicaragua See also in our Tico Times Travel section: 7 can’t-miss reasons to visit Granada, NicaraguaSAN JUAN DEL SUR, Nicaragua – It was quite easy to spot the rebbetzin, or the rabbi’s wife, within my first few minutes of a hot February afternoon in the Nicaraguan beach town of San Juan del Sur. Looking as if she belonged more in Brooklyn, with her modest, long dress and pushing a baby in a carriage, she bought a fruit juice in a definitively New York-accented Spanish, making her stand out even more among the throngs of scantily-clad tourists and surfers. But I of course knew there is a rabbi and his family in this small town along the Pacific Ocean, and that was one of my reasons for visiting.Yet here at this tiny outpost of Judaism, a part of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitcher outreach movement, Israelis and other Jews are made to feel welcomed and at home. That is true even though a huge statue of Jesus Christ towers above the town reminding all that Nicaragua, like other Spanish-speaking countries, is an overwhelmingly Catholic nation. A food cart just up the street from the Chabad House sports a sign saying “Cristo Vive” further adding to the contrast. Rabbi David Atar, left, Rebbetzin Chana Atar, right, and their son, Levy Itzhak. Paul M. Foer/The Tico TimesMaking a homeThe Rebbetzin Chana Atar and her husband, Rabbi David Atar, have not been in Nicaragua for long but have already made their presence known in this once-sleepy town, especially because among the many travelers who flock to the surfer’s paradise are throngs of young Israelis. They, along with a few local Jewish residents, volunteers and tourists, are attracted to the Chabad Center for traditional Jewish food, to speak in Hebrew, celebrate Shabbat and holidays and maybe to get a dose of some religious and liturgical sustenance.The U.S.-born Chana Atar grew up in Israel, while David, an Israeli who studied in France and New York, always wanted to be a shaliach, or rabbi-emissary. They are now making a home for themselves and their 8-month old son, Levy Itzhak, just enjoyed their second wedding anniversary, and opened an already popular kosher falafel shop on the beachfront this past February. They are making plans to build a mikvah, or ritual bathhouse, for cleansing. Of course for now, the lovely bay and beach of San Juan del Sur – just steps from the front door of the Chabad Center – will have to do.The ground floor holds the shtiebel, or religious sanctuary, and the second floor serves as the busy kitchen, dining room and living room of the corner building. Chaim Sand, 23, sat back and relaxed among the chairs and couches overlooking the ocean.“It’s like my house. No, it is my house,” said the handsome, kippah-wearing, Canadian-born Israeli. He was joined by Moishe Dansker, a rabbinical student from Buenos Aires who was working closely with Rabbi and Rebbetzin Atar. Chabad House in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Paul M. Foer/The Tico TimesFar-flung cornersThe Atars, of course, do what most Chabad shaliachs are known to do: They bring a Jewish presence focused on worship, holidays, religious observance and teaching to both major cities and the far-flung corners of the world, such as San Juan del Sur. A two-hour drive from the capital city of Managua and just a short ride to the Costa Rican border, it seems like an unlikely spot even for Chabad, until one sees how many Israelis are passing through.Atar also trained to become a shochet, or ritual slaughterer, so he could prepare kosher chicken, and he even does catering for Jews visiting Managua who request kosher food. But one of his strangest requests for help involved a decidedly un-kosher animal. Late one night, a young woman was stung by a scorpion in a nearby hostel. The first thing she and her hostel friends did was to wake up the rabbi who drove her to a nearby clinic for medical treatment. “You accept anyone and you help them,” said Atar, a Hebrew-speaker who is conversant – though not fluent – in English and has had to learn Spanish. He recalled dealing with what he only described as a “burial assignment” and had to call to friends in Israel to handle the delicate situation.“This place is a center for any Jewish person who needs anything. He or she can get it here. A non-Jewish girl who was beaten was brought here because they knew it would be safe for her,” said the rabbi. Zach Lunin at his real estate office in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Paul M. Foer/The Tico TimesFestive mealsOn a sweltering Friday afternoon, a long table was set as a huge meal was being prepared in the tiny kitchen. The sun was starting to sink over the bay making the view one of the nicest Sabbath settings for any Chabad center.As evening descended quickly – as it does in the tropics – a boisterous crowd of young Israeli backpackers, sprinkled with a couple of U.S. travelers and a Canadian family, arrived to welcome the Sabbath. Along with the blessings, the ritual hand washing, the wine and some superb, fluffy, home-baked challah (bread) came a sumptuous meal of a variety of vegetables, grains and salads, and of course libations, toasts, more wine and singing accompanied by table thumping. Rabbi Atar delivered a talk in Hebrew, and the visiting Canadian woman spoke in English of her local volunteer efforts. The Israelis, almost all in their 20s, talked among themselves, paying no mind or heed to the few English speakers enjoying the Shabbat, self-separated as they were by language and apparently by age.The next morning, the parashah, or Torah portion, was about Moses receiving the Ten Commandments to give to the children of Israel. Thanks to Rabbi and Ms. Atar and Chabad, it was possible for those gathered to obey the commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Later that evening, a crowd of 25 again enjoyed another festive meal. After havdalah (the end of the Sabbath), many wandered over to the beachfront food stall Chabad just opened. The Middle-Eastern staple falafel was new to some, yet quite familiar to many of the mostly youthful, surfer crowd who lined up to get fresh and kosher pita-filled treats for as little as $4 each.Among the frequent local visitors to Chabad are Zach Lunin and his family. The Newton, Massachusetts native operates a thriving real estate concern, in no part due to North Americans who are attracted to Nicaragua. He came by way of the University of Maryland, Prague, and then Boston, before moving to León in the northern region of Nicaragua, and then to San Juan del Sur, in 2004. Lunin finds Chabad to be a welcoming place where he can introduce his small children to Jewish tradition, music, prayer and food. At the Preiss home in Granada, Nicaragua, Veronica and Kurt display their Jewish-themed artwork. Paul M. Foer/The Tico TimesSigns of Jewish lifeWhile Chabad, a worldwide Chassidic movement, is making its presence known in San Juan del Sur, there was probably a Jewish presence in Nicaragua – as elsewhere in the Caribbean and Latin America – dating back to the Spanish Inquisition and early days of exploration, although little is known. Some European Jews arrived in the 19th century, mainly centered in Managua, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that their numbers had grown enough to establish a communal presence and synagogue. Because they were generally of the professional or business class, many left when the Sandinistas came to power, although some rose to prominence in the Sandinista regime and government, including Herty Lewites (1939-2006), the late popular mayor of Managua. He went on to challenge Daniel Ortega for the presidency, and there is some speculation that the Sandinistas may have assassinated him. There is also mention of another earlier Jewish mayor named A. Raczkiewsky.Jewish gravestones can be found in Managua, the town of Masaya, and in the former colonial capital and now thriving tourist town of Granada, where there is a Jewish section in the large cemetery with Magen Davids (Jewish stars) adorning walls and gravestones.But there are also signs of Jewish life in Granada, mostly centered around the home and hotel resort of La Fortaleza, owned and operated by Kurt Preiss and his wife, Veronica, a native Nicaraguan. Preiss, who could pass for a Jewish Burl Ives or Santa Claus, was born in Colombia to German immigrants in 1946. His father, a leather merchant, moved the family to Honduras in 1947 and exported kosher meat to the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine-Israel. Preiss received a Jewish education and an AA in agricultural engineering, and came to Nicaragua in 1967 where he operated a leather processing and manufacturing company. He operates a leather goods store in Granada.He and his Nicaraguan wife, Veronica, host Jewish guests, organize Sabbath dinners and holiday receptions from La Fortaleza Granada, the resort villa they own just outside of Granada. Fortaleza has a pool, restaurant and 12 apartments. Their garden displays sculptures with Jewish themes such as a Magen David and Menorah. Inside is a virtual museum of Jewish art and family memorabilia ranging from painting to photographs, documents, seder plates, books and ornaments. Preiss plans to expand the lodging with 34 single rooms and is contemplating bringing Jewish tour groups to Nicaragua. Sabbath dinner at the Preiss home in Granada, Nicaragua. Paul M. Foer/The Tico TimesA stone’s throw from the central park of Granada, Israeli couple Yasmin and David Tzafar operate what is apparently becoming one of the town’s hottest restaurant spots. David had dreams of a restaurant in Israel but said “it’s expensive and complicated,” so through family connections he found his way to Granada and opened Pita Pita. They’ve been serving Mediterranean food and pizza since June 2014 in their restaurant that is now ranked No. 3 out of 112 restaurants reviewed by customers on the website TripAdvisor.Even with its beautiful and peaceful courtyard with lush vegetation, the Tzafars have found that operating a Nicaraguan restaurant has its own set of complications and expenses. David said that finding the right ingredients is “super complicated,” and lamented that a kilo (2.2. pounds) of garbanzo beans that cost a dollar in Israel costs him $4 a pound in Nicaragua. But his hummus and falafel have won praise.“I find that most Nicas actually love Israel and Israelis and Jewish people and get emotional when they meet us,” said Tzafar. The Tzafar family in front of Pita Pita in Granada, Nicaragua. Paul M. Foer/The Tico TimesWhile enjoying a snack with her two small children, Yasmin said, “By definition, we’re not religious. I grew up with a lot of culture around the Jewish holidays, Israeli poets and this is an obvious thing to me,” adding that “almost every day Israelis come through.” She has introduced Jewish holiday celebrations and culture at the school her children attend.Jewish visitors and residents may increase as tourism continues to develop and as more Canadians and travelers from the U.S. flock to the increasingly popular and – for now at least – relatively peaceful and inexpensive tropical destination.For further reading, click here and here.See also: Costa Rican Jews brave hazards, homesickness and Hamas to pursue new lives in Israel Facebook Comments
Environment Ministry (MINAE) officials have reported an increase in the unauthorized entry of tourists to restricted areas ofArenal Volcano National Park, one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations.Visitors are not allowed within an established perimeter that averages 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the crater. The measure aims to protect visitors from both volcanic activity and rough terrain.Park administrators said that unlicensed tour guides are increasingly promoting hiking tours to the volcano’s cone, which poses a severe risk for tourists.At riskMINAE officials explained in a news release that because the area around the volcanic cone is not an authorized tourist site, it does not have any infrastructure for visitors. The restricted area lacks tourist trails or proper demarcation, and it includes very steep slopes.“The accumulation of material from the volcano makes the slopes unstable and prone to landslides,” the MINAE report states.Eliécer Duarte, a volcanologist with the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI), told The Tico Times that for the most part, Arenal has been quiet for the past seven years. However, the areas close to the crater still maintain high temperatures and gas spewings.“Temperatures at fumaroles near the crater can reach some 200 degrees Celsius (392 ° F),” he said.Duarte said the biggest risk for those trying to reach the summit are rocks that fall from the sides of the volcano.“We’ve seen falling rocks the size of a house. Some of them measure 13 by 35 meters (42 x 115 feet),” he said.Both the ascent and descent from the cone demand great physical preparation, as each trip represents a four-hour walk on very inhospitable terrain, Duarte said. The terrain’s topography, the dense vegetation and even weather conditions are a significant challenge for many.Ongoing problemMINAE prohibited entrance to the restricted area in 1998. Today, access is allowed only for scientists, as well as staff from MINAE and the ministry’s National System of Conservation Areas.However, Duarte said OVSICORI staff frequently see groups of people walking inside the restricted area and hiking on the volcano’s slopes.“At nights, they look like fireflies. You can see them moving in lines from nearby areas, and even from the roads,” Duarte said.He said unlicensed tour guides are organizing many of these trips.“They are usually near bus stations and other tourist sites. They approach tourists and offer to take them to the crater and other restricted areas,” he said.Many of them also promote their trips on websites and Facebook profiles and then agree on a meeting point.“These so-call guides and their businesses are also hurting the park’s finances, as these people do not pay entrance tickets,” Duarte said.Wilson Barrantes, Regional Director of the Arenal Huetar Conservation Area, told The Tico Times that area officials have witnessed a spike in the illegal entrance of visitors to Arenal.“They are entering areas strictly devoted to conservation, not to visitation, but some people just care about profiting from the park’s resources,” he said.Prison timeBarrantes said the conservation area is increasing surveillance, and noted that National Police or Tourism Police officers will immediately evict anyone found inside a restricted area.They also will file a disobedience of authority complaint against those responsible for illegally taking people into a banned area.According to Costa Rica’s Criminal Code, those found guilty of such a charge could face prison sentences ranging from six months to three years.Barrantes said taking people to the restricted areas is highly irresponsible and “represents a huge risk, as it would take a lot of time and effort for a rescue team to reach and transport someone who is hurt.”He called on visitors to the area to enter the park only at authorized entrances.There are two official trails that explore Arenal National Park: Coladas and Ceibas. The park administration plans to open a third trail, La Península, next weekend, Barrantes said on Tuesday.“The new trail has big common areas, new viewpoints and essential services, all following accessibility standards,” Barrantes said.Recommended: La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano, and the Northern Plains Facebook Comments Related posts:Unlicensed guides are risking tourists’ lives by taking them too close to Costa Rica’s active volcanoes Gas, vapor at Poás Volcano prompts preventive measures UPDATE: Poás Volcano eruption prompts temporary closure of national park National Police announce operation to combat crime wave in Costa Rica’s Northern Zone
Related posts:Andrey Amador and Movistar win best team in Tour de France You can do it, Andrey! Amador dreams of making history for Costa Rica in Tour de France Costa Rican cyclist Andrey Amador finishes fourth in Giro d’Italia Costa Rica’s Audrey Amador, center, and other riders get up after being caught in a massive pack fall in the last kilometers of the fourth stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between La Baule and Sarzeau, western France, on July 10, 2018.At press time, Amador was in 108th place, according to NBC Sports. Facebook Comments
Sponsored Stories As Britain celebrates the queen’s Diamond Jubilee with four days of parties, processions and pomp, here’s a gallery of AP photos from across the eight decades of Elizabeth’s life.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Parents, stop beating yourself up Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Men’s health affects baby’s health too More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths LONDON (AP) – She wasn’t born to be queen, but many Britons can’t remember a time without her.Queen Elizabeth II _ once a shy princess _ was thrust onto the throne by the abdication of her uncle and then the death of her father. She has now been Britain’s head of state for 60 years, and matriarch of a royal family that has been riven by divorce, death and scandalAt 86 years old, she is a monarch whose longevity and devotion to duty have won her a firm place in her subjects’ hearts. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates 0 Comments Share
Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Check your body, save your life Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix PARIS (AP) – The Paris appeals court has ordered former Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel to spend three years in prison and pay back (EURO)4.9 billion (about $7 billion) to the bank in damages for one of the biggest trading frauds in history.If that sum sounds a tad dizzying, it is. Here’s some perspective on $7 billion:_ Kerviel used to take home a salary and bonus of under (EURO)100,000 (about $155,700) a year. For him to pay off those damages, he would have to work 49,000 years. 0 Comments Share Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of _ It’s about double the amount of money that Facebook made last year._ It can buy 17 million Ferraris._ It can buy 20 Airbus A380 superjumbo jets._ It’s the size of the economy of the eastern European nation of Moldova._ It’s way more than the cost of the 2012 U.S. election (projected by analysts to be around $6 billion.)(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 Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The definition is so broad that rights advocates say it could be used as a driftnet to sweep up all inconvenient figures.“I believe this law is very dangerous,” said human rights council member Liliya Shibanova, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. Shibanova also heads Golos, Russia’s only independent elections watchdog group.“If, for example, I pass on information about alleged poll violations to a foreign journalist, this could be considered espionage,” she said.“It’s very broad and it’s very dangerous,” Rachel Denber, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division, told The Associated Press.She said it’s not clear yet how vigorously Russian authorities will enforce the bill, but says it recreates a “sense of paranoia and suspicion and uneasiness about foreigners.”Putin has repeatedly dismissed opposition leaders as pawns of the West and once accused U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of instigating protesters to weaken Russia.The law, which was drafted by the Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor agency known under its Russian acronym of FSB, also introduced a punishment of up to eight years for simply getting hold of state secrets illegally even if they aren’t passed to foreign hands. The FSB explained in a statement run by the ITAR-Tass news agency that the new clause better protects confidential information. It said the previous law, which dated back to the 1960s, failed to provide efficient deterrence against foreign spies.“Tactics and methods of foreign special services have changed, becoming more subtle and disguised as legitimate actions,” the spy agency said. “Claims about a possible twist of spy mania in connection with the law’s passage are ungrounded and based exclusively on emotions.”Tamara Morshchakova, a former Constitutional Court judge, told the presidential rights council meeting Monday that the new law is so broad the FSB no longer needs to provide proof that a suspect inflicted actual damage to the nation’s security.“Their goal was simple: We have few traitors, it’s difficult to prove their guilt, so it’s necessary to expand it,” Morshchakova said. “Now they don’t have to prove it any more. An opinion of law enforcement agencies would suffice.”The revised treason bill first came up in 2008, under then-President Dmitry Medvedev, who quickly shelved the bill after an outburst of public criticism. Comments Share 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Medvedev, now prime minister, was seen as more reform- and compromise-inclined than Putin and initially raised tepid hopes that Russia would turn away from the domineering policies of Putin’s first two terms as president. But Medvedev was a comparatively weak leader and stepped aside to allow Putin to run for another term.Now “there is an effort to recreate an old sense of fear,” Denber of Human Rights Watch said, adding that the new legislation was apparently aimed at discouraging Russians from joining protests. “One of the aims is surely to never have that happen again and to demonize any … people or organization that might be associated with that.”Along with the series of tough measures enacted this year, Moscow in October ended the U.S. Agency for International Development’s two decades of work in Russia, saying the agency was using its money to influence Russian elections _ a claim the U.S. denied.Denber said her group already felt a new chill on a recent visit to one of Russia’s Siberian provinces while doing a research on health care. Local officials demanded to know who invited them, who paid for the trip and the names of the group’s local contacts. Associated PressMOSCOW (AP) – Adding to fears that the Kremlin aims to stifle dissent, Russians now live under a new law expanding the definition of treason so broadly that critics say it could be used to call anyone who bucks the government a traitor.The law took effect Wednesday, just two days after President Vladimir Putin told his human rights advisory council that he was ready to review it.His spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies Wednesday that Putin would be willing to review the treason law if its implementation reveals “some problems or aspects restricting rights and freedoms.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Parents, stop beating yourself up “It was very hard. It was an echo of a different time,” she said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) But what Putin might consider a problem is unclear. His opponents say a series of measures enacted since Putin returned to the Kremlin in May for a third term show he is determined to intimidate and suppress dissidents.One recent measure imposes a huge increase in potential fines for participants in unauthorized demonstrations. Another requires non-governmental organizations to register as foreign agents if they both receive money from abroad and engage in political activity. And another gives sweeping power to authorities to ban websites under a procedure critics denounce as opaque.After fraud-tainted parliamentary elections last December, an unprecedented wave of protest arose, with some demonstrations attracting as many as 100,000 people. Putin still won the March presidential election handily, but the protests boldly challenged his image as the strongman Russia needs to achieve stability and prosperity.Under the new law, anyone who without authorization possesses information deemed a state secret _ whether a politician, a journalist, an environmentalist or a union leader _ could potentially be jailed for up to 20 years for espionage.While the previous law described high treason as espionage or other assistance to a foreign state that damages Russia’s external security, the new legislation expands the definition by dropping the word “external.” Activities that fall under it include providing help or advice to a foreign state or giving information to an international or foreign organization. Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Check your body, save your life
Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pisarenko will lead a team of photographers while working closely with videographers, reporters and editors across the four countries. She has been acting chief photographer for the region since late last year.“I’m delighted by Natacha’s promotion,” said Victor Caivano, the AP’s news director for the Southern Cone. “Her new leadership role in the Southern Cone team will elevate our report and keep us ahead with fascinating images and photo-driven stories.”Pisarenko, 40, joined the AP in Buenos Aires in 2002 and has covered Olympics in Sochi, Beijing and London, the Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally, Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, the rescue of 33 miners in Chile in 2010 and a devastating earthquake in Chile that same year. She went to Afghanistan on assignment in 2003.Pisarenko also shoots video, and the vast amount of photos and video footage she produced from a rare visit with scientists to Antarctica early this year were widely used by news outlets worldwide.Last year, she came up with the idea for a powerful project looking at links that Argentines have made between their health problems and agrochemicals. Her photographs and story with then-Southern Cone Bureau Chief Michael Warren won an award from The Deadline Club, the New York City Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, in the category for science, technology, medical or environmental reporting. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 0 Comments Share Associated Press photographer Natacha Pisarenko poses for a portrait in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, June 15, 2015. Pisarenko, a photojournalist who has covered major news and sports events across Latin America and around the world, has been named chief photographer for The Associated Press for the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan) She also won a first place award from the Press Club of Atlantic City in the sports photography category for magazines, news services or syndicates for an image from last year’s World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany.Born in Buenos Aires, Pisarenko studied photography at the city’s School of Photographic Arts and began her photojournalism career at La Nacion, one of Argentina’s largest newspapers.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like MEXICO CITY (AP) — Natacha Pisarenko, a photojournalist who has covered major news and sports events across Latin America and around the world, has been named chief photographer for The Associated Press for the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile.The appointment was announced Monday by Enric Marti, AP’s regional photo editor for Latin America.“Pisarenko is a great all-around photographer and has excelled at covering sports and producing poignant photo essays,” said Marti. “She has proven herself to be a capable leader as well, and I am pleased she will be assuming this new role.” Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies
New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies MEXICO CITY (AP) — Authorities in Mexico on Wednesday formally accused seven state police officers of torturing three women who survived a confrontation a year ago in which soldiers allegedly killed at least a dozen suspected gang members after they surrendered.Four of the police officers have been detained and a judge is expected to issue an arrest warrant for the other three, according to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico State, where the killings took place. Sponsored Stories Check your body, save your life FILE – This July 3, 2014 file photo shows the warehouse where 22 alleged gang members were killed by soldiers on the outskirts of the village of San Pedro Limon, in Mexico state, Mexico. One year after soldiers executed as many as 15 suspects at a grain warehouse in southern Mexico, many say justice has still not been done. Human rights groups said Tuesday, June 30, 2015, the Mexican government must clear up the truth about what happened on June 30 2014. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File) Top holiday drink recipes Top Stories Comments Share 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Three women who survived came forward to say that agents of the Mexico State prosecutor’s office had tortured them to support the army’s version.Before Wednesday, no charges had been filed against any of the detectives or prosecutor’s agents accused of trying to cover up the case, although the Mexico State prosecutor had said about 20 were under investigation.The state government has said it is considering payments to the women, while the federal Commission for the Attention of Victims will pay about $3.2 million to the families of all 22 people killed.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The charges came a year after the bloodshed at a warehouse on June 30, 2014.In November, three soldiers were charged with aggravated homicide and four others, including a lieutenant, were charged with “actions improper to the public service” for failing to report the killings. But there have been no trials.The incident initially was announced as a gunbattle between when suspected criminals fired on an army patrol. The army said 22 suspects died during a fierce firefight, but only one soldier was wounded.Questions about the killings, known as the “Tlatlaya case” after the rural township where they occurred, were first brought to light by an Associated Press story last July that reported on apparent contradictions in the army’s account.AP journalists who visited the scene three days later found little evidence of a long gunbattle. Bullet holes in the walls showed the same pattern: one or two closely placed bullet holes, surrounded by spattered blood, giving the appearance that some of those killed had been standing against a wall and shot at about chest level.The Mexican government’s Human Rights Commission later reported that its investigation determined that at least 12 and probably 15 people had been executed at the warehouse.
4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Top Stories Quick workouts for men Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — A suicide bomber attacked a popular night spot in northern Cameroon on Saturday evening, killing at least 10 people only days after Islamic militants were blamed for another attack on the town that left at least 20 dead, the governor said.Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of the far northern region of Cameroon, told The Associated Press that the attacker detonated the explosives in the popular Pont Vert neighborhood in Maroua. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home How men can have a healthy 2019 Sponsored Stories Comments Share “We are still counting the dead and wounded,” Bakari said by phone Saturday night.While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, Islamic militants from the Boko Haram group have been blamed for scores of attacks in the region this year.Boko Haram, which was founded in neighboring Nigeria, has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State group and has vowed to attack Cameroon because the country has supported the Nigerian military’s mission to defeat Boko Haram.Troops from Cameroon and Chad are fighting Islamic extremists in several communities on Cameroon’s border with Nigeria. Cameroon has arrested dozens accused of promoting radical ideology and collaborating with Boko Haram.On Wednesday, at least 20 people were killed in Maroua when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a busy marketplace and a popular neighborhood. Authorities later said one of the bombers was a 9-year-old girl who had been disguised as a beggar.Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds of girls and young women from near its base in northeastern Nigeria, residents and human rights groups say.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility
Quick workouts for men Mesa family survives lightning strike to home ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s energy minister says an explosion on a natural gas pipeline between Iran and Turkey caused a large fire and shut down the flow of gas.Taner Yildiz said Tuesday the explosion was in Agri province, some 15 kilometers from the Iranian border, and he suggested Kurdish rebels were to blame. He said the fire was quickly brought under control.The attack late Monday comes amid a spike in violence in recent weeks. Turkey last week launched raids against Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq — at the same time that it began cracking down on the Islamic State group — ending a fragile cease-fire with the Kurds. Top Stories The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, has attacked pipelines in the past as part of its armed campaign for autonomy.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 0 Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Sponsored Stories
“Travel agents remain a key part of our distribution network and we will continue to work closely with the industry.” A High Court ruling which will see Qantas pay millions to travel agents on unpaid fuel surcharge commissions will have far reaching implications as other airlines face the chopping block.In May, the Federal Court ruled that Qantas owed millions of dollars to travel agents when it failed to pay commission on fuel surcharges however Qantas applied to appeal the ruling in High Court, but was last week denied this path. “[Last week’s decision] reaffirmed the Federal Court ruling,” Slater & Gordon lawyer Steven Lewis told e-Travel Blackboard, adding that the carrier was found to have broken the terms of its International Air Transport Authority contract with travel agents.The case is now set to return to the Federal Court to determine the ins and outs of who gets what and how.“This was a very important judgement and has ramifications for the remainder of international airlines flying to Australia and all airlines [globally] who do not pay commission on fuel surcharges,” Mr Slater said.“The results mean that all other international airlines have the potential to pay.”Mr Lewis said the decision had put “all major stumbling blocks put to one side” such that the other airlines named in the case were in the same boat as Qantas. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A “Six airlines were named in the class action: Qantas Airways, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Malaysian Airlines – although we are not seeking money from Malaysian Airlines,” Mr Slater advised.“We were running the Qantas case as a test case.”Mr Lewis hopes to see the case finalised this year, though accedes that this might be wishful thinking as the airlines have dragged the case on since 2004.A Qantas spokesperson told e-Travel Blackboard that, “We are disappointed with the decision and now need to time to consider our options”.
Suntec Singapore Source = Suntec Singapore Fresh from a string of awards in the last quarter of 2010,Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre (Suntec Singapore) has onceagain received the honours for being voted as “Asia’s Best Convention and ExhibitionCentre” and “Best MICE Sales Team” at the CEI Asia Industry Awards 2011.The awards are presented by CEI Asia – the region’s leading magazine for the Meetings,Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry. The annual CEI Asia Industry Awardsare voted by the magazine’s astute readers whose profile includes MICE buyers, planners andinfluencers in the Asia-Pacific region.“We are honoured to be recognised as one of Asia’s top convention and exhibitioncentres once again for the third consecutive year. This accolade is significant as it endorses ourproduct and services offerings amidst rapid industry growth. This award further solidifies theSuntec brand – allowing us to keep improving on our standards,” says Pieter Idenburg, ChiefExecutive Officer of Suntec Singapore.Suntec Singapore has consistently remained tops for the third year running.“We are privileged to receive this recognition once again for the third consecutive year. Thishonour is a clear endorsement for our team as they attest to the industry’s warm appreciation ofus – allowing us in our unceasing quest to cater to and improve our products and serviceofferings for our clients,” commented Mr Ong Wee Min, Director of Commercial.Suntec Singapore emerged from an extraordinary year in 2010 – having hosted a total of 1,536events, welcomed approximately 6.8 million visitors to the venue and hauled in copious awardsand accolades.What a great start for what looks set to be a remarkable year!
Lost luggage attracts travellers to cruise More travellers are attracted to cruise holidays as a stress-free way to travel the world and hold onto their luggage, according to Cruiseabout.With 25 million items of luggage lost worldwide at airports last year, Cruiseabout general manager Siobhan McGovern said cruising was appealing for those travellers tired of experiencing lost luggage while flying.A great alternative for travelling from destination to destination, no baggage transfers are required on a cruise holiday.“There is a reduced risk of lost baggage,” Ms McGovern said. The general manager explained passengers only need to unpack once and their baggage conveniently remained in one location for their entire trip. Described as travelling in a comfortable and secure floating hotel, Ms McGovern emphasised cruise ships 24-hour security, saying “it provides travellers with great peace of mind.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W
Left: Ben Hansberry, Liquid Logic. Centre: Consuelo Jones, Department of Tourism. Right: Arnul Pan, Philippine Airlines. :: Philippines ‘Grace’ Sydney with fantastic flavours :: Dining at The Grace Hotel Brasserie. Lechon (Suckling Pig). National dish of the Philippines. Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T. Flavours of the Philippines. Philip Pratley with Chefs from Manila. The Philippines Department of Tourism, Philippine Airlines and San Miguel hosted an opening night dinner for special guests at The Grace Hotel to celebrate the ‘Flavours of the Philippines’ food festival.The Grace Hotel, Sydney has been running this festival for the past four years, allowing Australian’s to experience the unique, distinctive style of Philippine cuisine.Guests were treated to a buffet-style dinner in the Grace Brasserie, sampling the many flavours and delicacies of the Philippines, specially prepared by top Filipino chefs flown in from Manila.Some of the delicious dishes on offer include lechon kawali (crunchy pork), bam I guisado (egg and glass noodles), kare kare (oxtail stew) and chicken inasal (grilled chicken).“In the Philippines food and eating is an integral part of our daily lives and it is customary to eat five small meals a day,” Chef Rodito I. Dimatera, head chef from the Philippines said.“We hope that during this festival, you can taste the diversity of our food from over one hundred and twenty different ethnic groups.”Grace Hotel General Manager Philip Pratley was excited about the fifth instalment of this ongoing Filipino feast.“The hotel is delighted to once again host this incredible event, giving Australian’s the opportunity to sample an array of tantalising Filipino fare.”Department of Tourism Philippines Australia/New Zealand Consuelo Jones told guests, “we do not eat to live in the Philippines, we live to eat.”Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis thanked sponsors Philippine Airlines, San Miguel and the Philippines Department of Tourism for their ongoing support.Philippine Airlines country manager Arnul Pan said the food festival was “a great way to sample traditional Filipino food, cooked under the supervision of authentic Filipino chefs.”The ‘Flavours of the Philippines’ food festival runs from 10-26 August at The Grace Hotel.Guests who dine have the opportunity to win return tickets on Philippine Airlines from Sydney to Manila, including 3 nights’ accommodation at the Mandarin Oriental.
Adventure Canada – Greenland – photo credit Michelle ValbergAustralian consumers and travel agents invitedGrowing demand in Australia for expedition travel to the Arctic has paved the way for the most extensive trade visit yet here this March by eco cruise company, Adventure Canada, which this year enters its fourth decade of offering its award-winning expedition cruises to some of the world’s wildest and most remote destinations.Adventure Canada Expedition Leader and Business Development Director, Matthew James (MJ) Swan – the son of the company’s founder, Matthew Swan – will meet hundreds of travel and cruise agents in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia from March 5-16, 2018, as part of the Ontario-based company’s biggest ever promotional tour to Australia to meet growing demand for authentic wilderness experiences in the Canadian Arctic and beyond.Consumers, travel agents – and their clients – in Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast are invited to attend one of five information sessions with MJ Swan.First visiting the Arctic at the age of two, MJ now has more than 50 Arctic journeys under his belt and will share his incredible experiences and Adventure Canada’s biggest-ever program in 2019 with agents and their clients on March 13.Since its birth as a family-owned, expedition cruise line in 1987, Adventure Canada has operated increasingly popular cruises, including complimentary zodiac excursions, to the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, Newfoundland and the famed Northwest Passage. In the 2018 program, Iceland and Scotland was added to the company’s wilderness destinations as part of its summer program aboard the 198-passenger, ice-class ship, Ocean Endeavour, from June to October. And 2019 will see the remote corners of Ireland added to the program for the first time.Agents invited to RSVP to information sessionsTo register for one of the information events in Sydney on March 13, Brisbane on March 5 and Gold Coast on March 6, which will be hosted by Adventure Canada’s Australian representatives, Cruise Traveller, and include light refreshments and exclusive offers for consumers on the day, visit www.cruisetraveller.com.au/AdventureCanadaSeminars to register or email email@example.com with any questions.“Our life-changing expedition cruises to the Arctic are all about engagement, education, enlightenment and entertainment – all delivered with snowballs of humour – so our March information sessions will be the same, with agents and adventure-seeking travellers able to see how our unique voyages to wild, untouched places open people’s eyes, hearts and minds,” said Mr Swan.“Our business from Australia has been growing every year since Cruise Traveller partnered with us five years ago and the two main reasons why Aussies want to explore the Arctic is to see polar bears in the wild and to meet the indigenous Inuit people who make the Arctic their home,” he said. “The close relationships we have forged with the Inuit people of the Arctic sets us apart and we look forward to showing Australians how we can immerse them in one of the planet’s most inspiring and pristine environments and how we work to keep these places so magical.”Mr Swan said he had committed himself to progressing his father’s trailblazing work in sustainable tourism in the Arctic – work that saw his dad honoured with a Canadian Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.“We visit very special places on our expeditions and we find we attract very special people who want to expand their horizons and their understanding of the world and those are the types of people we hope will join us at our information sessions in March,” he said.Craig Bowen, the Managing Director of Cruise Traveller, which represents Adventure Canada in Australia, said: “The power of hearing first hand from those who actually lead expeditions can’t be overestimated. It adds a level of excitement and understanding that a brochure or website just can’t replicate. We have seen it time and time again over the years – these information sessions deliver sales. This is why we are thrilled to facilitate MJ’s Australian visit!”To register for the free agent and client information sessions on March 13 (Sydney); March 5 (Brisbane); and March 6 (Gold Coast), visit www.cruisetraveller.com.au/AdventureCanadaSeminarsThe five info seminars:Sydney (CBD) Tuesday, March 13 – 2pm to 4pm; AND 6pm to 8pmBrisbane (CBD) Monday March 5 – 10am to 12noon; AND 6pm to 8pmGold Coast (Main Beach) Tuesday March 6 – 10am to 12noon onlySource = Adventure Canada
Air Astana NetworkAir Astana marks 16 years in the Russian marketAir Astana, the award-winning Kazakh flag carrier, has marked 16 years of successful operation in the Russian market. The airline inaugurated services to Russia in 2002, with the first flights from Astana and Almaty to Moscow. Between 2009 and 2012, additional services were launched from Astana to Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Omsk and St. Petersburg, as well as from Almaty to Kazan and St. Petersburg. Earlier this month, two new services commenced from Astana to Tyumen and Kazan, which brought the total number Russian cities being served from Kazakhstan to seven.“Russia continues to be one of Air Astana’s most important markets and together with China and India, service frequencies with continue to grow in the future,” said Peter Foster, President and CEO of Air Astana. “Air Astana currently operates daily flights from Moscow, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, with many of our passengers taking advantage of onward connections from the Astana and Almaty hubs to destinations in Asia, Caucasus, Central Asia and the Gulf.”Since 2012, Air Astana has transported almost 4.5 million passengers and 24,000 tons of cargo on services to Russia, with revenue passenger-kilometers exceeding 13 million. During the first half of 2018, the passenger load factor on Russian services was almost 70 percent.About Air AstanaAir Astana, the national carrier of Kazakhstan, operates flights to over 60 domestic and international routes from hubs in Astana and Almaty. The company was incorporated in late 2001 and commenced operations on 15 May 2002. Air Astana fleet consists of Boeing 767/757, Airbus A320 Family aircraft including A320neo and A321neo and Embraer 190 aircraft. Air Astana became the first carrier from Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (the CIS) and Eastern Europe to be awarded the prestigious 4-Star rating by Skytrax at its World Airline Awards 2012 and was also named ‘The Best Airline in Central Asia and India’ that year. Both achievements were repeated in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. TripAdvisor named Air Astana as a Winner in the Regional Airlines – Asia category in the 2018 Travellers’ Choice Awards, which identifies travellers’ favourite carriers around the globe.Source = Air Astana