Quebecor CEO mulls Transat acquisition

first_img By: The Canadian Press Friday, May 10, 2019 Share Tags: Quebecor, Transat Quebecor CEO mulls Transat acquisition MONTREAL — The head of communications company Quebecor Inc. says he is exploring a possible acquisition of Montreal-based tour operator Transat A.T., but another prospective buyer is already a step ahead.Chief executive Pierre Karl Peladeau said Thursday he has commissioned a financial analysis by an investment firm.“I believe it’s a very good brand. I think Quebecers like Transat,” he said Thursday after Quebecor’s annual shareholder meeting.“I will continue to fight for Quebec companies to stay here. I think that that could be an interesting…opportunity.”Peladeau, the controlling shareholder of Quebecor and son of its deceased founder, said he personally ordered the analysis – not his company – but “it’s premature to close any sorts of doors.”Peladeau is not the only interested party. Montreal developer Vincent Chiara, who owns Groupe Mach, which bought the former CBC tower in Montreal in 2017, told The Canadian Press he has already submitted an offer following several months of talks.“We had the idea of building a portfolio in the hospitality industry and they had a platform and projects in their plans to build exactly that,” said Chiara, referring to Transat’s $750-million plan to develop a hotel chain in Mexico’s Riviera Maya and the Caribbean.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaHe said Transat’s fleet of about 40 planes is particularly appealing to Groupe Mach, which until now has focused on Quebec real estate.“They have the means to move the passengers who go to the destination…They have an important capacity to fill rooms and with this capacity, we eliminate a lot of risks for hotel development.“Of course, we want to privatize…Our proposal is to buy out all the shareholders,” he added.Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said that more than two potential buyers have their eyes on Transat.The business is geared toward “knowledgeable adults,” he said in a scrum in Quebec City, noting the fierce competition of the airline and holiday tour industries.“Historically, a lot of people have had failures…I’m not expecting to have 25 buyers.”Transat confirmed last week it had spoken with several parties about a possible sale of the company.Last year the travel company bought a pair of adjacent properties in the village of Puerto Morelos – less than 40 kilometres from Cancun – with the goal of building a beach resort.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsQuebecor more than doubled its dividend as it reported its first-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago.The media and telecommunications company said Thursday it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 11.25 cents per share, up from 5.5 cents.The increased payment to shareholders came as Quebecor says it earned $189.0 million or 74 cents per share in the first quarter of 2019, up from $57.1 million or 24 cents per share a year earlier.Revenue totalled nearly $1.03 billion for the quarter ended March 31, compared with $1.00 billion in the first quarter of 2018.On an adjusted basis, Montreal-based company said it earned 44 cents per share from continuing activities compared with 38 cents per share a year ago. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Red Label promotes Carolyn Bujtas to Director of Sales and Operations

first_img Posted by Travelweek Group Red Label promotes Carolyn Bujtas to Director of Sales and Operations Share << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img MISSISSAUGA — Red Label Vacations Inc. (RLV) has named Carolyn Bujtas as Director of Sales and Operations for the retail brands and Bujtas brings more than 14 years of experience to her new post. “Over the years, Carolyn has developed a wide range of skills and expertise that made her perfect for this position,” says Dianne Jackson, Vice President, RLV. “I am confident that under her leadership, the sales and service in our retail divisions will continue to grow and succeed.”Bujtas got her start in the industry as a sales agent for Since then, she has grown into a senior managerial position, overseeing’s product training, travel agents, sales, groups, booking processes and more. As Director of Sales and Operations, she will innovate and’s sale processes, maintain partner and stakeholder relationships, and lead the retail sales teams. Bujtas can be reached at Tags: Red Label, Tuesday, June 11, 2019 last_img read more

Nicaraguas Pastora confirms request to obtain navigation rights on Costa Rican river

first_imgEdén Pastora, the Nicaraguan government official responsible for dredging the Río San Juan, confirmed Wednesday to local Channel 15 that Nicaragua asked the International Court of Justice in The Hague for navigation rights on the Río Colorado, located entirely within Costa Rican territory.The local daily El Diario de Hoy reported that after being questioned about whether Nicaragua had formalized a request to gain navigation rights on the Río Colorado, Pastora said, “This government of Daniel Ortega … applies the logic of  ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’; if [Costa Rica] can navigate our waters, why can’t we travel the waters of the Río Colorado, if 90 percent of its water is from the Río San Juan?”“Until we can establish a safe harbor in Punta Castilla [the mouth of the Río San Juan], we can freely navigate Río Colorado, according to the 1858 Cañas-Jerez Treaty,” Pastora said.Referring to the continuance of work on a border road by the Costa Rican government, the former Sandinista guerrilla told the daily that “the Tico government’s only intentions are to keep provoking.”“The Río San Juan dredging bothered them, so they responded with a trail that they will later call a road. … They will continue endangering nature in Nicaragua and Costa Rica,”  Pastora said. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Haitis Inconvenient Truth

first_imgWhen a major earthquake clobbered Haiti in January 2010, a shift in how international officials talked about solving the country’s ills was already under way. Starting with then-U.N. special envoy Bill Clinton, the word “aid” had fallen from use, in favor of the new buzzword in international development: “investment.” The term was sexier, more optimistic and promised something not only for recipients but also givers with diminishing economic and political confidence: a return.After the catastrophe, investment fever was everywhere, expressing itself in hundreds of millions of dollars poured into efforts to scale up Haiti’s moribund export sector, particularly in low-wage textile factories, tourism and niche-crop agriculture, such as mangoes. Another directly related trend was the investment of money and political capital in a new president, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, a former pop musician whose core governing principle – expressed, in English, at his inaugural address – was to create “a new Haiti open for business, now.” Anything that threatened those investments, and the further investments they were meant to attract, could expect a cold reception.That’s the greeting that awaited Michel Forst, the visiting U.N. independent expert on human rights in Haiti, when he returned to Port-au-Prince last November. His ensuing report was an ice bath in reply. Forst alleged police torture and pervasive judicial corruption, deteriorating security, crackdowns on press freedom, and a general inadequacy on the part of Haiti’s leaders – including Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe – to uphold the rule of law. He invoked the recent cases of Serge Démosthène, a groundskeeper allegedly tortured to death by police trying to elicit a confession in the killing of a major Haitian banker; and Calixte Valentin, a Martelly adviser arrested on murder charges but freed months later by a “judge believed to have been appointed solely for the purpose.” Forst even took a swipe at the United Nations for failing to “throw light on the causes of the outbreak of the cholera epidemic” its peacekeepers are suspected to have caused. (Evidence suggests U.N. soldiers introduced the disease, previously unknown in Haiti, by contaminating a major river with their sewage. With more than 8,000 dead, the U.N. has refused to apologize, and recently rejected a petition for redress.) “I cannot hide from you my concern and my disappointment in the face of how the situation has developed in the fields of the state of law and human rights,” Forst explained, as he presented his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva last month.The report was Forst’s last as the U.N.’s expert on human rights in Haiti. Upon finishing his presentation, the French official announced that despite being eligible for an additional, sixth year on his term, he was resigning immediately “for personal reasons.” As if to underscore the improbability of that explanation, the council’s president, Remigiusz Henczel, thanked Forst for his work, “Regardless of the reasons for your resignation.”To Haitians who had been following the story, it seemed clear that Forst hadn’t jumped on his own. “Michel Forst is very attached … to the rule of law and fight against impunity while we have a government that acts arbitrarily and encourages impunity and corruption,” Haitian human rights campaigner Pierre Espérance told the newspaper Haiti Progrès.Private interviews with officials familiar with Forst’s departure, granted on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, confirmed this view: that a breakdown in relations with President Martelly, exacerbated by impatience inside a U.S. State Department invested in the Haitian administration’s credibility, resulted in his dismissal. At first, those sources said, the Caribbean nation’s president simply wanted the human-rights council to deny the pro-forma yearly renewal of the independent expert’s mandate entirely. Eventually, pressured by allies who wanted to see the position maintained, Martelly relented – under the condition that someone other than Forst take over the position. “They felt Forst never really helped them at all. He’d just come to pontificate,” one diplomat explained.Forst’s critics blasted him for arrogance. But the departing official – who remains the voluntary chairman of the committee coordinating all U.N. special rapporteurs worldwide, and whose day job is secretary general of the French government’s national human-rights council – wasn’t finished. In a parting op-ed reprinted in Haitian newspapers and made available to foreign journalists, he poked his opponents where it hurt, rejecting the notion that Martelly’s Haiti is “open for business” at all. Noting that economic development is linked to the rule of law and stability to human rights, he hoped for a Haiti where “human rights proclamations will finally become real.” (In late 2012, Forst had been even more blunt, telling a press conference: “Haiti is not ready at this time for the return of large companies.”)The irony is that many of the same concerns Forst expressed are shared by many in the governments and organizations whose money and influence hold sway over Haiti’s leaders – including the United States – and even by Martelly himself. Forst praised many of the government’s efforts, including the dismissal of 79 police officers in November 2012, including chief inspectors, found guilty of crimes ranging from rape and drug trafficking to falsifying credentials. Aware of international concerns, Haiti’s president and prime minister – who both embarked in the middle of l’affaire Forst on investment – seeking tours of the Caribbean and West Africa – have affirmed they are in a “war against corruption.” But Forst seems to have broken an unwritten rule against criticizing the government’s efforts in public.Haiti has long suffered from an often-unfairly negative image abroad. Its current government knows that to attract serious investment, that image has to change, and has been aggressive about pushing back against negative publicity – no matter the source. Regardless of whether any specific initiatives were threatened by Forst’s condemnations, it seems clear that his tone was no longer welcome. (The Haitian government did not respond to a request for public comment.)Specifics may become clearer over time. Forst’s departure recalls the late-2010 dismissal of another outspoken diplomat – Organization of American States permanent representative Ricardo Seitenfus, who saw his contract expire after he criticized the heavy hand of the international community, particularly U.N. peacekeepers, in Haiti. In retrospect it seems clearer that Seitenfus was causing problems by airing public grievances at a moment when the OAS and other major players were embroiled in a debate over how and whether to intervene in a shambolic post-quake presidential election. Following his dismissal, the OAS presented a highly controversial report alleging fraud in Haiti’s vote count that would have benefited the then-ruling party of President René Préval. That report, backed strongly by the Obama administration, upended the electoral tally, and paved Martelly’s path to the presidency.Then, as now, it’s not that the international community was reticent to make its opinions felt in Haiti – even those far more condemnatory than Forst’s ultimately toothless reports. But when investments are on the line, it’s usually advantageous to keep embarrassing facts far from view. As one Western diplomat told me, “We find it’s better to beat them up in private than in public.”Katz is the author of “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.” He was the Associated Press correspondent in Haiti from 2007 to 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @KatzOnEarth. © 2013, Foreign Policy Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

A colossal paint party and other happenings in Costa Rica

first_imgLife in ColorIf you’ve never heard of “the world’s largest paint party,” imagine a regular old gigantic concert that also involves blasting colored paint out of a hose. We advise you to bring some disposable clothing, because it will likely get splattered with neon-hued liquid. The DJ lineup includes Javier Portilla and Bartosz Brenes, among others. You may not have many other paint parties to compare it to, but we’re pretty sure this one is bigger.Life in Color takes place Feb. 8 at Pedregal Conventional Center, San Antonio de Belén. 4 p.m. 20,000 ($40). Info: Life in Color website.National Mule FestivalYou’ve seen bullfights. You’ve seen horse parades. But have you seen an entire town celebrate mules? This offbeat festival has taken place in the town of Parrita since 1971. After 11 days of peculiar games and showcases, the festival culminates in a tope parade (Feb. 15) and a mule race (Feb. 16).The National Mule Festival takes place Feb. 6-17 in Parrita, Puntarenas. Info: Festival’s Facebook page.Music: Best FestA 2,000-acre farm, breathtaking scenery, and an all-star lineup of bands. No wonder they call this three-day music festival “Best Fest.” Choose from a wide variety of accommodations, from camping to four-star hotels.Best Fest takes place Feb. 7-9 in Costa Bellena. Fri. & Sat., 2:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.; Sun., 2-9:30 p.m. $100-120. Info: Best Fest website.Atenas Chili Cook OffTwenty-two chefs compete for the most delicious chili. But no matter who is victorious, everyone is a winner at the Atenas Chili Cook Off, whose proceeds benefit the Hogar de Vida children’s home. The cook off has been an Atenas tradition since 2006  – and organizers expect more than 1,000 visitors.The cook off takes place Feb. 9 at Quinta Roma Vista, Barrio Mercedes, Atenas. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Info: Atenas Chili Cook Off website.“Dr. Strangelove” screeningClub de Cine deleFOCO continues its Stanley Kubrick/George Lucas film series with “Dr. Strangelove,” the great 1968 black comedy about mutual assured destruction.“Dr. Strangelove” screens Feb. 13 at Casa Batsú, Barrio Escalante, San José. 7 p.m. Free. Info: Event Facebook page.Have a Heart FundraiserA silent auction and cocktail party – first of a three-part fundraiser for Amigos de la Educación, a scholarship program in Guanacaste. Part two, dubbed “Dinner with Friends,” is a feast that features gourmet platters, created by beloved local chefs.Silent auction takes place Feb. 7 at Villa Alegre B&B, Playa Langosta, Guanacaste. (Free). “Dinner with Friends” takes place at Rancho Villa Real Club House, Playa Langosta, Guanacaste. $50. Info: Amigos de la Educación website.Historical Cartoon ExhibitionHow better for kids to understand history than through comic strips? Eighteen works illustrate the history of Costa Rica, thanks to a comics workshop hosted by the Juan Santamaría Historical Museum.Exhibit continues through Feb. 27 at the Juan Santamaría Historical Museum, Alajuela. 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Free. Info: Museum Facebook page.Music: Album prelaunch partyCelebrate the new album “Rabia y Sentimiento” (“Rage and Feeling”) with ska-punk band Askatasuna and Jamaican Beat.Party takes place Feb. 7 at Bar El Observatorio, Barrio California. 8 p.m. ₡3,000 ($6). Info: Red Cultura website.Music SalonA veritable potluck of musicians performing at Jazz Café, including violinist-guitarist Syel and singer-songwriter Juan Bautista, among others.Music Salon plays Feb. 10 at Jazz Café, Escazú. 8:30 p.m. ₡3,000 ($6). Info: Red Cultura website.More American footballIf the Superbowl wasn’t enough, tune into American football in Costa Rica. A live game happens today in the Central Valley: Saints vs. Toros, Panthers vs. Dragons.Game takes place Feb. 8 at Pipilo Umaña Stadium, San Vicente. 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. ₡2,000, or Free for children 12 and under. Info:  www.AmericanFootballCR.comValentine’s DayAnd don’t forget it’s El Día de San Valentín, (or Día de los Enamorados, depending on whom you ask). There are too many excellent restaurants and romantic getaways to list, and don’t forget the chocolate. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica vs. Paraguay, Oscar Festivals and other happenings around Costa Rica Arts Festival in Jacó, and other happenings around Costa Rica Arts festival, music festival, yoga festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica Voca People show, Mother’s Day festivities and other events around Costa Ricalast_img read more

Malaysian jet with 295 passengers crashes in Ukraine

first_imgKIEV, Ukraine – A Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in rebel-held east Ukraine, regional officials said Thursday, as Ukraine’s president said the jet may have been shot down.Malaysia Airlines said it had “lost contact” with flight MH17, which Ukrainian officials said came down near the town of Shaktarsk, in the Donetsk region.Regional officials said the number of dead was “not yet known” but Russian news agency Itar-Tass cited an unnamed source at Ukraine’s aviation authority as saying there were no survivors.Eyewitnesses quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti spoke of dozens of bodies at the crash site.Interfax also quoted the deputy prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Andrei Purgin, as saying a group of rebels had arrived at scene and found “many dead.”Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the jet may have been shot down.“We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky,” Poroshenko said in a statement.The Boeing 777 aircraft was expected in the Malaysian capital at around 6 a.m. on Friday (2200 GMT Thursday), Malaysia Airlines said.Still reeling from the disappearance of flight MH370, Malaysia announced on Twitter the loss of the airliner.Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on his Twitter feed he was “shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed.”“We are launching an immediate investigation.”Ukraine’s Poroshenko expressed his “deepest and sincerest sympathies for the families and loved ones of those killed” and vowed that “those behind this tragedy will be brought to justice.”The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama had discussed the shocking new development in crisis-torn Ukraine where fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Western-backed government has claimed over 600 lives.U.S. stocks fell sharply following reports the plane had been shot down, while Britain’s Foreign Office said it was “working urgently to find out what’s happened.”The incident comes just months after Malaysia’s Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 on board. The plane diverted from its Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight path and its fate remains a mystery despite a massive aerial and underwater search. A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows smoke and wreckage of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Dominique Faget/AFPUkrainian jet ‘downed’ The crash came with tensions already soaring after Kiev accused Russia of downing a Ukrainian military plane on a mission over the east of the country.That allegation came a day after the U.S. and EU bolstered sanctions against Russia over its perceived support of the separatist insurgency in the ex-Soviet state.Moscow condemned the punitive measures as “blackmail” and warned of retaliatory actions against Washington.In the first direct claim of a Russian attack on Ukrainian forces, Kiev said a Russian airforce jet shot down a Ukrainian warplane Wednesday evening — before the fresh round of Western sanctions were announced — as it was carrying out its duties.The pilot of the Su-25 plane managed to eject and was rescued by Kiev forces, Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council said.Russia’s defence ministry — which NATO claims has massed some 12,000 troops along Ukraine’s porous border — dismissed the claim as “absurd”, Russian news agencies reported.Sanctions fallout The dramatic developments on the ground came alongside a major diplomatic fallout over fresh Western sanctions that Washington and Brussels hope will force Moscow to help halt the conflict.Obama took a swipe at major players in Russia’s finance, military and energy sectors in the new sanctions despite a warning from Putin that the measures would inflict “very serious damage” on the already tattered US-Russia relationship.In eastern Ukraine fierce fighting between government forces and pro-Moscow rebels has intensified in recent days with some 55 civilians killed since the weekend.The fighting forced more than a dozen Ukrainian border guards to flee into Russia seeking medical help with one dying from his injuries, the Russian authorities said.Germany and France have been spearheading a push to revive talks between Kiev and the rebels over a potential ceasefire but attempts to hold a Skype videoconference fell through Tuesday.Ukrainian forces made a string of major gains after Poroshenko tore up an unsuccessful ceasefire earlier this month, but progress has slowed since rebels retreated into two major regional centres where they have pledged to fight to the end. Facebook Comments Related posts:Flight MH17 and the role of Ukraine’s rebels Could the missing Malaysia Airlines plane have been stolen? Passengers on downed jet span cross-section of life, experience In court of public opinion, Putin goes on triallast_img read more

Colombia FARC rebels resume peace talks in Havana

first_imgHAVANA,Cuba — Colombia’s government and leftist rebels launched a new round of peace talks Wednesday, one day ahead of the arrival of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to help facilitate negotiations.The talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, now into their third year, are resuming after a two-week hiatus.Negotiations so far have reached agreements on three of six points. However, they have yet to resolve various key issues, including disarmament, overhaul of the armed forces, reform of the government’s position on communism and compensation for victims of the conflict.A negotiator for the rebels, Pastor Alape, told reporters Wednesday that agreement on the remaining agenda items will allow for the “creation of a new social contract” in Colombia, where armed conflict has been waged for half a century.Both sides are to meet Thursday with Annan, who has been enlisted to help move the talks along.They also plan to meet during this round of negotiations with newly-appointed U.S. special envoy to Colombia Bernard Aronson, former assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs who came out of retirement to help facilitate the talks, which wrap up on March 7.Colombia’s civil conflict, the oldest in Latin America, has claimed more than 220,000 lives over the past half century.President Juan Manuel Santos’s government has been in peace talks since November 2012 with FARC, the country’s largest rebel group with an estimated 8,000 fighters.His government has also held preliminary talks with the country’s other guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN by its Spanish acronym. Facebook Comments Related posts:Q&A: Behind the Colombia-FARC talks Colombia is again the world’s top coca producer. Why that’s a blow to the US Colombia’s ‘discriminatory’ military draft under discussion as peace deal comes closer Demining Colombia will take ‘a generation’: ministerlast_img read more

Chile charges 7 in Pinochetera death of photographer

first_imgRelated posts:US cable says Pinochet told of army involvement in teens’ burning Pinochet carried out targeted assassination in Washington Sentencing in Chile begins to bring closure in 41-year-old murder cases of US citizens Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman Suspicions grow that Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was murdered by Pinochet regime SANTIAGO,Chile — Seven ex-military men were indicted Friday in Chile over the 1986 killing of a photographer reportedly doused with gasoline and set ablaze by soldiers during a protest against then-ruler Augusto Pinochet.The crime is considered one of the most grisly committed under the dictatorship of General Pinochet, who waged a brutal campaign against leftist dissenters both real and perceived.More than 3,000 people died or disappeared under the right-wing regime.An 18-year-old engineering student named Carmen Gloria Quintana was also set ablaze along with photographer Rodrigo Rojas, 19. She lived, but was horribly disfigured.Six of the detainees were charged as suspected authors of the crime and the last as an accomplice, said Judge Mario Carroza.The alleged authors are the former officers and non-commissioned officers that were in charge of the patrol that apparently set the youths on fire. The driver of the truck the others had ridden in is the accused accomplice, the judge said.All seven were arrested on Wednesday after a former soldier came forward and testified about what happened during the protest march on July 2, 1986.The case had been closed in the 1990s with just one military man being convicted, of negligence. The court accepted the argument that the two youths were burned after a homemade fire bomb exploded.“Maybe they were carrying something hidden and it exploded,” Pinochet said at the time.The case was reopened in 2013 after a new lawsuit was filed by relatives of the two youths.Rojas and Quintana were arrested that day in 1986 by a military patrol. They were allegedly doused with gasoline and set ablaze, then left for dead on the outskirts of the capital Santiago.Rojas had just returned to Chile from the United States, where he had been living with his exiled mother. He died after four days of agony from his burns.Quintana suffered burns to 60 per cent of her body. She now lives in Canada.“I never lose faith in justice being done,” said Rojas’s mother Veronica de Negri. “But the wounds have not remained in the past.”Pinochet seized power in 1973 in a military coup that overthrew president Salvador Allende, and ruled until 1990, although he stayed on for eight more years as head of the military, which gave him immunity from prosecution. Pinochet died in 2006. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Syrian rebels try win the hearts of countrymen

first_imgAssociated PressBEIRUT (AP) – Syrian rebels steal diesel from army trucks to give to the poor, form councils to restore basic services, fix power lines and make sure bakeries have flour for bread.But the attempts to win over public opinion come with a flip side, with the fighters increasingly accused of circulating exaggerated or false statements to stoke world outrage against the regime amid a deepening civil war. At the Bab al-Salamah border point with Turkey, hundreds of families fleeing the violence seek refuge in the old customs warehouses where goods brought from Turkey used to be stored.They are waiting to be transferred to refugee camps in Turkey, but for now they are dependent on mats, blankets, bread and water bottles distributed by Free Syrian Army volunteers.One woman who identified herself only as Um Ali, 63, said the rebels have good intensions, but she was skeptical they would be able to follow through.“I can see that they are doing their level best, but it’s not enough for our country,” she said. “Our country is too big and the population is enormous, no matter how much they try it will never be enough.”____Associated Press writers Khaled Kazziha in Killis, Turkey, and Ben Hubbard in northern Syria contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Many Syrians in rebel-controlled areas say the gunmen are polite at checkpoints, apologizing for any inconvenience as they verify identity cards and search cars.“The Free Syrian Army played an extraordinary role by supplying people with food and makeshift hospitals with medicine and equipment in the suburbs of Damascus,” Damascus resident and activist Maath al-Shami said.He added that while some people see the FSA presence in their areas as a blessing, others are scared because it usually brings “destructive retaliation” from regime forces.Residents in the countryside between the northern city of Aleppo and the Turkish border are largely sympathetic to the rebels.In some of these areas, rebel leaders have formed councils that are trying to restore services by trying to persuade electric company workers who aren’t working because of the violence to help repair damaged power lines.In other areas, rebels work to ensure bakeries keep running by providing them with gas and collecting flour from safer areas so they can continue to make the flatbread that is the main staple in many households.Mohammed, a Syrian citizen who recently fled to Lebanon from the northern province of Aleppo, said the region is suffering from a lack of cooking oil and diesel for generators that make up for power outages that can last for days in some areas. He added that many people are cooking on wood fires outside. He said rebels seized his town in July, but “did not bother any of us or damage any private property.” Mohammed said they entered government buildings and stayed there. He withheld the name of the town because he has to pass through government-held territories when he returns to Syria.Mohammed, who asked to be identified by his first name only for fear of government reprisals against relatives remaining in Syria, described one incident in which rebels captured a diesel tanker truck and distributed the fuel to residents.“The Free Syrian Army is gaining people’s support because of these acts,” Mohammed said in an interview in the Lebanese city of Tripoli.Faiz Amru, an FSA general, said the rebels serve the people because it is their duty.“When we capture a diesel truck, we keep the regime from filling up tanks to shell the people and we give it to the people instead,” Amru said. “Who are the Free Syrian Army and the rebels? They are the sons of people in this country.”A resident of the central city of Homs’ neighborhood of Baba Amr said rebel gunmen made sure all residents had bread and offered money to be people in need before the government regained control of the area in March. Parents, stop beating yourself up In pitching their cause to the outside world, rebels and opposition activists also have developed media operations to give information and videos to journalists who cannot freely travel in the country due to the violence and regime restrictions. But many of these activists manipulate the reports or provide incomplete information to ensure they are largely sympathetic to the rebels.In a small media office in the town of Marea, 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Aleppo, an activist who goes by the name Abu al-Hassan spends his days corresponding via Skype with activists elsewhere, compiling reports and relaying them to foreign journalists.On a recent afternoon, he spoke with an Arab satellite network producer about an interview, then went on the air with a private pro-rebel channel called Barada.Speaking in the formal Arabic of a professional TV correspondent, he gave the station a full report on the location of shelling by regime forces in Aleppo and where “honorable revolutionaries” were resisting government advances. When he finished, the channel thanked him for his contribution from “the city of Aleppo.”However, Abu al-Hassan told a visiting Associated Press reporter that he had last been to Aleppo a month and a half ago, before the current violence in the longtime regime stronghold had even begun. “When I said I want to leave, they smuggled me out of Baba Amr,” said the man who identified himself as Farouk. He also spoke in an interview in Tripoli, where many refugees have sought shelter.The effort to win public support, however, has been tarnished by acts of violence blamed on the rebels.In July, rebels captured members of a pro-regime clan in the northern city of Aleppo and made them identify themselves on camera with clear marks of torture on their bodies and faces. Another video, apparently taken by rebels, showed at least four members of the Barri clan being shot dead on an Aleppo street.Earlier this month, another video showed the bodies of dead policemen as they were being thrown from the top of a building in the northern town of al-Bab.It was not possible to independently verify any of the videos, but such reports appear to have thrust the rebels into damage-control mode, particularly when it comes to treatment of prisoners of war.On Aug. 13, rebels captured a Syrian army pilot whose plane went down while bombing rebel-held areas in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour. The pilot later appeared in a video in which a rebel promised the colonel would be treated according to the Geneva Conventions. Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Over the past few months, rebels known as the Free Syrian Army have taken control of wide swaths of Syria after battles with government forces that have devastated vast swaths of territory and left entire villages without fuel, money and many basic foodstuffs.As they sweep into the impoverished areas, they’re also doing their best to ease the suffering.The goal is to gain support for the fight against President Bashar Assad by showing Syrians that they are nicer than the ruthless regime that rules as a police state.Most Syrians have lived in fear during four decades of Assad family rule. The regime’s notorious security agencies often detain and torture people for matters that in other countries are taken for granted such as complaining about water cuts or state corruption.The rebels are seeking to prove they will be different if Assad is ousted by not disrupting life in the villages and towns they seize and distributing desperately needed goods such as food and medicine.The effort is limited. The opposition doesn’t have the power to rebuild destroyed areas or fix infrastructure that has been heavily damaged by the war. They also have faced allegations of torture and mistreatment of pro-regime elements by human rights groups. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

Indias emergency care system in tatters

first_img Top Stories This delay hasn’t really improved in the last six years, said Dr. Mahesh Joshi, head of emergency medicine at Apollo, India’s largest network of private hospitals. “Even in big cities like Mumbai, it is virtually impossible for a heart or trauma patient to reach any doctor within the first hour,” he said.Some private emergency response networks are quicker, but they bring in less than 7 percent of the 4,000-odd patients that reach Apollo’s emergency rooms across the country every day, Joshi said.People don’t even know how to call for help. The emergency number could be 108 or 102 or 100, depending on which state you are in. A survey at Delhi’s top trauma center showed that 90 percent didn’t know they could reach an ambulance at 102.Local police do help accident victims reach hospitals, but their response times vary. In most cities, patrol cars don’t have room for a stretcher, and victims can be injured during transport.The police in Delhi are the quickest, said Tewari, and they bring in most of the cases that make it to the city’s top trauma center.On one weeknight in July, the crew of patrol car Eagle Six had just unpacked dinner when the operator radioed about a motorcycle accident. Four minutes of siren blaring and tire screeching later, they were trying to resuscitate a badly bruised stranger in their patrol car. By the time they reached the hospital, their patient was disoriented but conscious. The vital role family plays in society New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix At a packed emergency room in Delhi recently, patients with broken limbs, bleeding wounds, even burns kept piling up until they were forced to share beds, and when those ran out, stretchers.Waiting for care can have tragic consequences, as it nearly did for Bharat Singh’s brother.“If the delay had been any longer, we wouldn’t have been able to reattach the torn muscle,” said Dr. S.K. Das, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the operation. “In fact, he almost lost his leg.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img Associated PressNEW DELHI (AP) – Bharat Singh saw headlights zooming toward his motorbike and swerved. For a split second, he thought he had dodged the truck. Then his passenger screamed.Singh saw the bloody flesh hanging loose from his brother’s knee and hit full throttle. It would take five hours for his brother to get the care he needed, in a journey that highlighted the deadly gaps in India’s emergency care system. “Still, we could use better training,” said Constable Ajeet Singh.Police say they are a stopgap solution to a problem that needs specialists. “A mechanism needs to be developed involving paramedics,” said Satyaveer Katara, one of the top officers in charge of the capital’s police control room.The only such mechanism in Delhi is the Centralized Accident and Trauma Service, which until recently ran just 34 ambulances for a population of nearly 17 million. In August, they added 70 more, but that’s still far from enough.Many accident victims end up riding in what are essentially taxis masquerading as ambulances, said Dr. Shakti Kumar Gupta, who is helping the government draft a national code to standardize ambulances.Emergency workers too are not properly trained. Rahul, 24, who uses just one name, is a high school dropout and failed mechanic who managed to find work as an ambulance assistant. His job is to load patients on and off the ambulance, and if needed, set up their oxygen supply. Often, he is the closest thing to a paramedic patients get.There were no emergency medical technicians in India less than a decade ago, and only about 10,000 have been trained since 2005 in the nation of 1.2 billion, said Subodh Satyawadi, chief executive of the Emergency Management and Research Institute. By contrast, the United States has 240,000 for a population that is a fourth of India’s. Singh didn’t bother calling the emergency helpline on the unlit Uttar Pradesh highway because he knew help would probably come late, and that it would probably be a police officer rather than a medical professional who responded.His brother would end up needing an ambulance anyway, because doctors at the nearest hospital, a half-hour away in Bulandshahr, said he needed surgery that was too complex for them to perform. He had to make the three-hour trip to New Delhi in a small van with a stretcher, an empty oxygen tank, worn-out shock absorbers that magnified each bump _ and no medic.Trauma care barely exists across much of India, where 160,000 people die in road accidents every year. Some of those people would surely survive if the system were better.Ambulances have no medical equipment, and very few doctors are trained in emergency care, said Piyush Tewari, whose nonprofit helps trauma victims get medical attention within the first 60 minutes after an emergency, when medical intervention has the best chance of saving a victim’s life. A 2006 report in the Indian Journal of Surgery found that more than 80 percent of Indians don’t get care within that “golden hour.” EMRI is one of the largest contributors to India’s emergency workforce, but the government doesn’t recognize their courses or those of other such institutions. There is a Paramedical Council of India, but they train technicians in areas like dialysis and echocardiograms _ not emergency care.Dr. Angel Rajan Singh, a member of the government’s workgroup on emergency medicine, said there is no standard to distinguish between trained paramedics and those off the street. He said a national emergency authority has been proposed.Even emergency rooms suffer from a lack of specialized trauma training. Emergency medicine was recognized as a subject only in 2009, and the programs accredited by the Medical Council of India admit only 22 doctors every year. The first batch won’t even graduate until 2014.“The government’s guidelines were, and still are, impractically stringent,” said Apollo Hospitals’ Dr. Joshi. He said even non-accredited programs run by the private sector have trained less than 500 trauma physicians.Most emergency rooms are overburdened, with three or four doctors and a couple of interns managing several dozen cases at a time, said Dr. Arshad Anjum, a professor at Aligarh’s university medical college. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your homelast_img read more

Shares extend rally in thin preholiday trade

first_img Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes The difference between men and women when it comes to pain In early European trading, Germany’s DAX index edged 0.01 percent lower to 9,589.17 while Britain’s FTSE 100 also was 0.03 percent lower, at 6,747.20. France’s CAC gained 0.2 percent to 4,284.32.This was a banner year for many markets, with the DAX up 26 percent, the CAC index up 18.4 percent and the FTSE 100 gaining 14 percent. But none matched the Nikkei 225, which soared 56.7 percent in 2013 on renewed confidence in the economy after years of feeble growth.Easy liquidity from government spending and monetary policies aimed at fueling inflation boosted shares, though the potential for continued strong gains remains uncertain.For now, Abe can point to the share rally as evidence his “Abenomics” policies are yielding results.“The Nikkei still looks to round off what has been an astonishing year … its best year since 1972,” Chris Weston of IG Markets said in a commentary, noting that the gain in that year was 92 percent and unlikely to ever be beaten.“For those looking for volatility, the Nikkei will remain a major focus for traders in 2014,” he said.Japanese shares will get support in coming months from newly established individual savings accounts, called NISA, that are expected to draw a significant share of household savings into the market. TOKYO (AP) – Shares advanced in Asia but were trading lower early Monday in Europe in thin pre-holiday trading, after Japan’s Nikkei 225 index ended 2013 at its highest level in more than six years.The Japanese benchmark gained 0.7 percent to 16,291.31 on Monday, its highest close since late 2007. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took time out from his winter vacation to celebrate the year-end trading close.“Thanks to our efforts, the economy went from minus to positive,” Abe said. With winter bonuses up by several hundred dollars on average, he said, “You have to use that money, keep it moving.” Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img For the rest of Asia, 2013 has turned out to be much less exuberant.Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, burdened by rising concern over debt and slowing growth in mainland China, has gained just 2.4 percent this year. On Monday, it edged 0.2 percent lower to 23,209.25 as end-of-year window dressing was offset by thin trading volume.The Shanghai Composite Index fell 7 percent this year and extended that loss Monday, drifting 0.1 percent lower to 2,098.77.Still, a correction in the Hong Kong and China markets earlier in the month has put shares at a stable level, said Kwong Man Bun, an analyst at KGI Securities in Hong Kong.“The market is still quite cautious, but confidence is still there,” he said. “There is a holiday mood, but turnover has not yet recovered.”Elsewhere in Asia, shares rose in Australia, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, mainland China and New Zealand. India share prices fell.In foreign exchange markets, the dollar was trading at 105.376 Japanese yen, while the euro fell a cent to $1.374.Oil prices remained above $100, with benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery up 6 cents to $100.38 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Markets in Thailand and the Philippines were closed for holidays.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   last_img read more

Blind China activists nephew languishing in jail

first_imgBEIJING (AP) – Chinese authorities have refused to accept a family application seeking medical parole for the imprisoned nephew of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, the nephew’s mother said Friday.The nephew’s plight showed the difficult conditions Chen’s family continue to face nearly two years after Chen made a bold escape from house arrest and eventually made his way to the United States. Chen, a blind, self-taught lawyer known for his activism against forced abortions, was able to leave China after high-level negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials. (Copyright 2014 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 Chen’s nephew Chen Kegui, 34, however, has been languishing in a prison in east China’s Shandong province and is suffering from serious stomach pains, said his mother, Ren Zongju. She said she visited her son at the jail on Monday.“He pressed a hand against his stomach, complaining of a stomachache and sweating on his face,” Ren said in a phone interview.In late 2012, local authorities sentenced Chen Kegui to three years and three months in jail after he fought with local officials storming his house in the wake of his uncle’s escape. The family says Chen acted in self-defense. Chen Guangcheng, who still lives in the United States, has repeatedly called for his nephew to be treated fairly.Ren said her son has been suffering from headaches and vertigo since he was hit hard in the head during the confrontation with officials. Last year, Chen suffered from appendicitis but also was denied medical parole.Ren said she submitted an application for her son to be released to seek medical treatment but the jail did not accept it. She said a prison doctor concluded after a medical checkup that Chen had no ailment.A woman who answered the phone at the Shandong jail said she did not know anything about the case before hanging up without providing her name. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The vital role family plays in society Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

4 killed as Philippine troops clash with Abu Sayyaf

first_img Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The four-hour running battle left one soldier dead and seven wounded, and on the side of the militants, three killed and three wounded. Soldiers, however, recovered the body of only one Abu Sayyaf fighter.Troops later entered a camp believed to be used as a bomb factory and a training facility and found various types of homemade boms, Yoma said.The Abu Sayyaf, a loose grouping of around 400 Muslim rebels, has turned to ransom kidnappings, extortion and other crimes to survive years of battle setbacks dealt by U.S. military-backed Philippine offensives.The Abu Sayyaf is one of several Muslim rebel groups operating in the predominantly Christian nation’s south. The biggest rebel movement has signed a peace agreement with the government in exchange for broad autonomy, but the Abu Sayyaf have never been part of any negotiations.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Four benefits of having a wireless security system Sponsored Stories center_img MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops overran a bomb factory of Abu Sayyaf militants after a firefight that killed three insurgents and a soldier in the country’s restive south, the military said Friday.Troops on Basilan Island, the birthplace of the Muslim militant Abu Sayyaf movement, clashed with 25 rebels who also included one Malaysian on Thursday, said Rear Adm. Reynaldo Yoma, a military task force commander. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Patients with chronic pain give advice 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Russian opposition leader Navalny in Siberia to rally voters

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia (AP) — The first trip outside Moscow in three years for Alexei Navalny highlights the challenges faced by Russia’s beleaguered opposition.The 39-year-old anti-corruption campaigner and sharp-tongued Kremlin critic on Sunday attracted only a few hundred supporters to a rally in Russia’s third-largest city to urge voters to participate in primaries that will choose opposition candidates for regional elections. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 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 And the rally also attracted dozens of rowdy protesters who shouted abuse and accused Navalny of being a U.S. spy. Earlier, several people threw eggs at him as he was on his way to the gathering.Navalny didn’t back off from the animosity and during the rally he even invited one of the protesters to come up on stage and air his views. The man blamed corruption and Russia’s other problems on the United States, contending that the fact that many areas in the Novosibirsk region have no hot water is a “consequence of the Soviet Union’s loss in the Cold War against the United States.”Navalny told the rally “I’m here to convince you to put your trust in democracy.”The primaries are to be held June 14-15 to pick candidates for the September regional elections. The elections are to be held in 16 regions, but the opposition is aiming to field candidates only in three regions.The decision reflects how opposition forces are weak in much of the country and that the domination of Kremlin-appointed governors in some regions entails the risk of physical threats. The United Russia party that obediently backs President Vladimir Putin’s every initiative has a smothering domination of national politics and opposition figures get barely any coverage from state-controlled television. Sponsored Stories But Navalny sees Novosibirsk, a scientific center where education levels are comparatively high, as a potential foothold.“Here, in Novosibirsk people are ready for it,” Navalny said. “I’m convinced that when this happens and in all regions opposition candidates will be nominated by people, then we will make it to the parliament, we finally will receive political representation.”Navalny had not left Moscow since 2012 because of trials for corruption charges, but a court earlier this year lifted his house-arrest restriction. Although convicted in both cases, he avoided prison. His brother was sent to prison in one of the cases.Navalny was the driving power behind anti-Putin protests in 2011-12 and his investigation into official corruption has exposed the wealth of Russian officials.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Aussie coach has advice for defending Japan

first_img Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Overall, she’s allowed three goals and made seven saves.LAST CHANCE: This is the last World Cup for three of the game’s best players.German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer and Japan’s Homare Sawa both say they plan to retire from their national teams following this World Cup, and U.S. forward Abby Wambach says this will be her last World Cup.Germany faces England in the third-place match on Saturday in Edmonton, while the United States plays Japan in the final Sunday at Vancouver’s BC Place.Sawa has had limited playing time in Canada, four years after playing a lead role in Japan winning the 2011 title in Germany. Sawa, the 2011 FIFA women’s player of the year and 2011 World Cup player of the tournament, did not play against England.Sasaki did say that he was preparing to have Sawa play if the semifinal went to extra time.The 36-year-old has been credited with six shots attempted — none on net — and 184 minutes played in five tournament games.Wambach, 35, is the all-time international leading goal scorer, male or female. The 2012 FIFA player of the year has seen her role change with the U.S. team, but has all along maintained that she’s willing to do whatever it takes. Sponsored Stories During this World Cup she’s started three matches, and come in off the bench for three.Angerer was the 2013 FIFA player of the year, the first goalkeeper to win the award. She started for Germany in the 2007 World Cup and did not allow a goal on the way to the title, setting a World Cup record for most minutes played (540) without a goal.Angerer has allowed five goals with 12 saves in the tournament.HEADING NORTH: Americans are headed across the border for the Fourth of July holiday.Fans of the United States have followed their team throughout the World Cup, and Vancouver’s proximity to the border means that the final against Japan will likely bring a big, pro-American crowd.Tournament organizers say more than 51,000 tickets have been sold for the final on Sunday at BC Place. More than 20,000 tickets have been sold for the third-place match Saturday between England and Germany in Edmonton.The Americans’ group-stage finale at BC Place last month brought in 52,193 fans.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Australia was effective, but eventually wore down before giving up a goal in the 87th minute in a 1-0 loss last weekend.England, however, was much better at containing Japan in a 2-1 semifinal loss decided on Laura Bassett directing a shot into her own net in stoppage time.England directed 15 shots on net, while limiting Japan to just seven. And England carried much of the play in the second half, particularly during a four-minute stretch in which they generated three scoring chances. They included Toni Duggan’s shot off the crossbar.Japan coach Norio Sasaki referred to England’s style as “simple,” but noted it did hamper his team’s ability to move the ball.Now the United States and coach Jill Ellis gets the task of defending against Japan, which has won all of its matches in Canada. The final is scheduled for Sunday at Vancouver’s BC Place.FINDERS, KEEPERS: After giving each of his three goalkeepers a start in the preliminary round, Sasaki has stuck with Ayumi Kaihori in the knockout stage. And that was despite Kaihori misplaying an easy shot that allowed the Netherlands to cut Japan’s lead to 2-1 in second-half stoppage time.Ever since, Kaihori has allowed just one goal — Fara Williams’ penalty kick against England — in two games. Against England, she also made a diving save to her right to bat away Ellen White’s shot from inside the penalty area to keep the score tied 1-1 in the second half. How do cataracts affect your vision? Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Japan players celebrate a 2-1 win as England’s Ellen White (23) watches following a semifinal in the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer tournament, Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Japan won 2-1. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Perhaps, Australia coach Alen Stajcic was on to something when he said, “We’re not the Netherlands,” in responding to question regarding how his team might defend against Japan in the quarterfinals.Familiar with their Asian rivals, Stajcic said the key was pressuring Japan’s ball carriers and clogging up the middle so they couldn’t generate chances off their crisp-passing attack. That was unlike the Netherlands, which allowed Japan to create in the offensive zone in a 2-1 loss in the Round of 16. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Check your body, save your life Top holiday drink recipes Top Stories last_img read more

Banff National Park Rated 1 in Canada by TripAdvisor Travelers Choi

first_imgThe annual TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Best Destinations Awards have just been released for 2011 – with Banff National Park in the province of Alberta, rated # 1 amongst the Top 25 Destinations in Canada. Winners are determined by a combination of TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index and through the unbiased opinions of millions of traveller ratings. The Popularity Index is a well-defined decision matrix that determines traveller satisfaction based on hotel reviews, travel articles and opinions found throughout the web.  Adventure World has 4 day / 3 night packages to Banff National Park for $1200pp staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs including a Discover the Grizzly Bears Tour, Evening Wildlife Safari, Luggage handling and Canadian GST.   Valid for travel on selected dates, for enquiries and bookings call Adventure World on 1300 363 055. Source = Banff National Parklast_img read more

Etihad launches green flight

first_imgReducing the industry’s carbon footprint, Etihad Airways launched its first “green flight” over the weekend from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.The environmentally friendly flight cut back on carbon with the carrier opting to fly its own personalised direct and fuel-efficient route, The National reported.  Etihad chief executive James Hogan said that airports and ground controlling allowing carrier’s to plan their own routes “based on aircraft capabilities” would allow airlines to save “in terms of emissions and fuel”.”In recent years the advances in aircraft navigation technology have been impressive,” Mr Hogan explained. The flight was conducted in conjunction with Abu Dhabi Airports Company and the Indian Ocean Strategic Partnership to Reduce Emissions (Inspire).”The Inspire partnership helps airline companies in their quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an initiative that is also in synergy with fulfilling the UAE’s vision for sustainable aviation,” Department of Transport (DoT) executive director Mohammed Hareb Al Yousef said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Crown Towers Voted Best Large Luxury Hotel

first_imgSource = Crown Entertainment Complex Crown Towers has won the Best Large Luxury Hotel Award as part of the Readers’ Choice Australian Gourmet Traveller 2012 Travel Awards. The prestigious magazine’s panel of experts also named Crown Towers as runner-up as the “Best Capital City Hotel” while Melbourne was named “Best Weekend Away” destination. “The hotel’s return to premier form might have something to do with the refurbishment of its villas last year, creating some of the country’s most decadent accommodation. The villas occupy floors 30 and above, which guarantees sweeping city views to match custom-made interiors that channel the style of penthouse residences more familiar to New Yorkers and Londoners. The remainder of the hotel’s 482 rooms and suites don’t want for luxury touches either, with televisions and chandeliers in the bathrooms and the finest finishes throughout. The secret to Crown’s success is its unflagging attention to quality – the glittering new lobby complete with Neil Perry-run bar is a case in point –to meet the exacting expectations of its global clientele. Life at the top requires nothing less,” cited Australian Gourmet Traveller’s June 2012 issue.Crown Towers’ General Manager, Andrew Cairns commented, “We’re thrilled that so many of our guests took the time to cast their vote. We’re immensely proud of the hotel’s newly unveiled villas on the top floors of the hotel, our stunning new lobby and Crystal Club that paired with a dedicated and service-oriented team creates a world-class hotel experience for our guests.” “In July, the hotel’s renowned Conservatory restaurant will re-open and later in the year, we look forward to showcasing a newly upgraded Crown Spa which promises to set the benchmark in luxury spa facilities. At this time the upgrade of Crown Towers will be complete,” added Andrew Cairns. To celebrate this prestigious accolade, until 31 July, Crown Towers is offering an exclusive accommodation package to Crown Towers Facebook fans. The package includes overnight accommodation as well as one year’s subscription to Australian Gourmet Traveller for $270.00 per room, per night. This exclusive offer is valid until 31 July, subject to availability and strict terms and conditions do apply. Crown Towers features a total of 482 guest rooms and suites, including 32 villas, a luxurious guest lounge; Crystal Club, Crown Spa, four restaurants including the acclaimed Chinese restaurant, Silks with newly appointed double Michelin Star chef, Peter Chan as Executive Chef, Breezes, Koko, JJ’s Bar & Grill and the soon to be re-opened, Conservatory, as well as Neil Perry’s The Waiting Room. last_img read more

Travellers need adequate consumer protection CHOICE

first_imgThe move to close down the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) which protects travel consumers would leave many Australians out of pocket when travel agents go bust, according to people’s watchdog company CHOICE.CHOICE is urging Consumer Affairs Ministers in Australia to reject the proposal to abolish the protection scheme in the new Draft Travel Industry Transition plan, arguing that the proposed changes will leave travellers high and dry.CHOICE head of campaigns Matt Levey said just recently, more than 5,000 passengers that were booked on cancelled ‘Athena cruises’ were told to contact the Travel Compensation Fund, with most believed to have paid 40 percent of the total cruise deposits.“If the Fund is abolished, Consumer Affairs Ministers need to explain where they will direct people next time a travel company fails, recognising that one-third of travel expenditure is still done through agents, often for very expensive holidays,” Mr Levey added.Abolishing the TCF means consumers would rely on their credit card ‘chargeback’ protections, travel insurance or industry accreditation scheme arrangements.Along with other consumer groups and parts of industry, CHOICE believes these options in the draft are inadequate as not everyone pays with credit card and most existing travel insurance products don’t cover the insolvency of travel agents.“Simply establishing an industry accreditation scheme, with no compensation fund, no prudential oversight and no consumer involvement, will do nothing to enhance consumer protection,” Mr Levey said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.Wlast_img read more

Etihad Airways network update

first_imgEtihad Airways has also revealed plans to increase its Abu Dhabi-Munich services from seven flights per week to a double daily schedule from 1 February 2014. Etihad will launch daily non-stop flights to Zurich, Switzerland from 1 June 2014. Passengers utilising this new service will be able to connect, through Etihad Regional’s new extensive network, to a range of secondary European destinations and hubs of equity alliance partners. The United Arab Emirates national carrier has acquired a 33 percent share in Switzerland’s Darwin Airline – to be re-branded as Etihad Regional – offering expanded network services from April 2014. Source = ETB News: P.T.center_img “This is a step-change for Etihad Airways… we are creating a unique approach to network development for global airlines,” Etihad Airways president and chief executive James Hogan said. Earlier this week, Emirates and Etihad Airways made their largest fleet orders in aviation history. Etihad Airways will launch a new regional carrier in Switzerland, while offering non-stop daily flights to Zurich and boosting frequencies on the Abu Dhabi-Munich route.last_img read more