Crystal Cruises and Cousteau team up to offer ocean voyages

first_img Posted by Share Thursday, January 26, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> LOS ANGELES — Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of ocean pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, has been announced as a special speaker onboard three luxury Crystal Cruises voyages this year. Voyages will take place onboard the Crystal Serenity this spring and fall, as well as an expedition sailing on the boutique yacht Crystal Esprit.Cousteau will join Crystal Serenity’s May 24 ‘Hawaiian Havens’ voyage, which sails the warmer regions of the Pacific Ocean, and the Oct. 27 ‘Amazon Escape’, which sails the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean and Old Bahama Channel. Crystal Esprit’s Nov. 19 ‘West Indies Voyage’ sails roundtrip from Marigot Bay through the Caribbean.“As a company, we call the waterways of this planet our home, and as such, are honoured to welcome Mr. Cousteau for the first time aboard our ships to offer a glimpse into his fascinating work,” says Crystal Chairman, CEO and President Edie Rodriguez. “The sea is truly his heritage and he has dedicated his life to protecting it. It is an extraordinary opportunity for our inquisitive guests to learn from Mr. Cousteau as they travel the seas together.”More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksIn addition to lectures tailored to the region of each sailing, Cousteau will offer interactive and engaging presentations discussing his father’s legend and his own legacy, as well as insights into ocean life that most captivates him, including the balance of the roles of orcas and sharks. Guests will learn the connection between the oceans and everything else on the planet and enjoy a glimpse of his newest film, which features images captured by Cousteau for the first time in his 60+ years of diving. Cousteau, who is the founder of the Ocean Futures Society, will also speak to travellers about his extensive environmental and conservation efforts.More information can be found at crystalcruises.comcenter_img Tags: Crystal Cruises The Canadian Press Crystal Cruises and Cousteau team up to offer ocean voyageslast_img read more

In the spotlight Cayo Largo Cubas underrated gem

first_imgIn the spotlight: Cayo Largo, Cuba’s underrated gem Cindy Sosroutomo Posted by Share Monday, June 26, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — Despite President Trump’s recently announced revised Cuba policy that would restrict individual U.S. travel, the island nation is surging ahead with the message that it’s business as usual.At an industry luncheon in Toronto last Friday June 23, Cuban officials and hotel representatives were on hand to promote what they referred to as an undervalued and often overlooked destination in Cuba: Cayo Largo, a small resort island located off the south coast of the main island. Remote, quiet and considered a departure from Cuba’s largely commercialized tourist areas, Cayo Largo is a ‘hidden gem’ in a destination that’s been top of mind among Canadians for years.And Canadians are expected to continue to make a big impact on tourism, especially in light of President Trump’s announcement. According to Tania López Larroque, Consul General of Cuba, Canadians are as welcome as ever.Cuban officials and hotel representatives from Cayo Largo, Cuba“Of course, the new policy is considered a few steps back from everything we’ve achieved in the past two years. But Cuba will continue, tourism will continue to grow and we’re staying on course,” she told Travelweek. “For Canadians, Cuba remains the same.”More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Though there haven’t been any new resorts in Cayo Largo in recent years, the existing resorts in the area are regularly maintained, said Nieves Ricardo of the Cuba Tourism Office in Toronto. These include the four-star, 296-room Sol Cayo Largo, which is ideal for couples. Amenities include a beach restaurant that overlooks the sea, land activities, a wide range of watersports, three restaurants and three bars.Also available is the four-star IBEROSTAR Playa Blanca, where guests enjoy access to both Playa Sirena and Playa Paraíso beaches. This 374-room property located eight kilometres from the international airport features a miniclub, kid’s pool and playground, a gym, tennis courts, buffet and theme restaurants, three bars and nightly parties nearby.The Gran Cariba Cayo Largo is equally enticing, with a prime location on Lindamar beach. Offering 79 rooms in several buildings, it’s situated just 10 minutes from the Cayo Largo airport and offers a selection of non-motorized watersports, tennis courts and nightly entertainment.More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesHola Sun, the Cuba specialist, was also in attendance with its newly released Cuba Collection 2017-2018 brochure. At 112 pages, it highlights all major destinations in Cuba, including Cayo Largo, where the tour operator offers Sol Cayo Largo, Hotel Pelicano, IBEROSTAR Playa Blanca and Villa Iguana. Tags: Cuba About Latest Posts Cindy SosroutomoDeputy Editor at TravelweekCindy is Deputy Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 2007. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Kenya, Morocco, Thailand and Turkey among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Cindy Sosroutomo (see all) Frustrations mount over elusive consumer-pay model: Will it ever happen? – July 16, 2019 “It’s in everyone’s best interest to stay open”: Beaches Turks & Caicos will not close in 2021 – May 15, 2019 Putting “Partners First”: NCL’s CEO lauds agents and the new Norwegian Joy – April 29, 2019last_img read more

Costa launches new itineraries in Asia for fall winter 201718

first_img Travelweek Group Share Costa launches new itineraries in Asia for fall, winter 2017/18 Posted by GENOA — Starting this October Costa Cruises will offer new Asia itineraries to destinations including Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia onboard Costa Victoria, and Japan, Taiwan and South Korea with Costa neoRomantica.“Our new Asian itineraries are the result of a continuous dialogue with our guests and trade partners,” said Massimo Brancaleoni, SVP of Worldwide Sales for Costa Cruises. “We perceived an interest for new exotic destinations and we quickly answered to satisfy this desire. We are confident that these new options will even further enrich and diversify our selection of winter cruises – and that our past guests and those new to cruising will find very appealing when planning upcoming holidays.”From Jan. 6 to Feb. 17, 2018 Costa Victoria will depart every Saturday from Singapore to offer two different one-week itineraries, which can be also combined into a single two-week vacation.The first itinerary will include the island of Koh Samui, home to some of the most famous beaches in Thailand, an overnight in Bangkok and a call at Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The second itinerary will call at Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, Malaysia; Phuket with an overnight and Penang and Malacca, Malaysia.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaIn addition, Feb. 24, 2018, Costa Victoria will offer an exclusive 23-day cruise from Singapore to Savona, Italy. Guests will be able to enjoy different experiences on a single trip: the ancient cultures of Malaysia, Sri Lanka and India; the magical atmosphere of Oman; the historical sites of Heraklion, Greece; and the iconic city of Rome.From late October 2017 to late January 2018, Costa neoRomantica will be sailing eight-day cruises from Tokyo to Nagoya, Okinawa and the island of Miyakojima, and including a call at Keelung, Taiwan. In October and November 2017, guests can combine this itinerary with another six-day itinerary calling at Kobe or Osaka and Kagoshima, and the South Korean island of Jeju.For Christmas 2017, a special 10-day itinerary will be offered, visiting Kobe, Amami Oshima, Ishigaki, Okinawa (overnight call), Yokkaichi, Japan, and Keelung, Taiwan.center_img Friday, July 7, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Costa Cruiseslast_img read more

Late deals on Goways 2017 Europe tours

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Late deals on Goway’s 2017 Europe tours Friday, August 25, 2017 Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Tags: Britain & Europe, FIT, Promotions Share TORONTO — After a busy summer to Europe Goway Travel has some last-minute deals for late bookers.“There are plenty of excellent airfares in this competitive market,” says Nadya Phelan, Goway’s Europe Product Manager.“To sweeten the offer for Goway’s globetrotters, we are offering a $100 airfare credit per passenger when travelling on select small group tours in 2017.”With limited availability, Phelan warns against a long delay. A wide variety of tours are available, each with a maximum size of 18 passengers.For clients who prefer to go it alone, Goway can provide custom FIT itineraries to fit various budgets, taking in different parts of the continent, says Phelan.This promotion is valid on a first come first serve basis. Visit or call 1-800-387-8850 for more details.last_img read more

NCLs Cruise Norwegian app will be fleetwide by end of 2018

first_img MIAMI — Norwegian Cruise Line has launched the next generation of its booked guest mobile application, Cruise Norwegian. Currently available onboard Norwegian Sky, the free app will be available on board Norwegian’s newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, when it launches in summer 2018, and will be available fleet-wide by the end of 2018.Cruise Norwegian features a multitude of functions designed as a resource for passengers from time of booking to day of disembarkation, says the cruise line.“Whether they’re 60 days from their sail date or in the middle of their cruise, the Cruise Norwegian app brings seamless anytime-access to a myriad of onboard offerings, services and activities right into the palms of our guests’ hands,” says NCL President and CEO, Andy Stuart.Passengers using the app can preview and book shore excursions, make dining and entertainment reservations, purchase onboard packages such as dining and beverage packages or special occasion packages before they cruise.More news:  ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthThe app also provides directions to the port and offers mobile online check-in for a paperless boarding process.The app also features unlimited onboard calls and messages for a one-time fee of US$9.95. Groups can organize meet ups and share photos with everyone in their party with group messaging through the app. Those wishing to check-in with friends and family back home can make calls through the app for a fee of $0.79 per minute for outbound calls to almost every country in the world.Before disembarking the ship, guests using the app can track and review their onboard purchases, as well as view disembarkation information including immigration and Easy Walk-off details. Passengers can also view information about Norwegian’s Cruise Next program and review their Latitudes Rewards points. Travelweek Group NCL’s Cruise Norwegian app will be fleet-wide by end of 2018 Tweet Posted bycenter_img Monday, December 4, 2017 Tags: Norwegian Cruise Line << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Vail Resorts to invest 52 million in Whistler Blackcomb

first_imgTags: Ski Resorts, Vail Resorts, Whistler Blackcomb Share Friday, December 8, 2017 Source: The Associated Press BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Vail Resorts says it will invest $52 million in improvements at Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb resort.The Vail Daily reports the company will build a 10-passenger gondola and new lifts at the ski resort, North America’s biggest and busiest.Vail Resorts’ Thursday announcement came as it reported a $28.4 million net loss for its first quarter. That compares to a $62.2 million loss for the same quarter last year.Vail commonly posts a loss for the quarter because its resorts aren’t operating for most of the period. Its fiscal year runs Aug. 1 to July 31.Vail has 13 ski areas, all of them destination resorts courting overnight guests. Vail Resorts to invest $52 million in Whistler Blackcomb << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Europe Britain for less with Costsavers new 2019 program

first_img Wednesday, November 7, 2018 Share TORONTO — Costsaver has launched its 2019 Europe and Britain program featuring 35 handcrafted itineraries with prices starting at $130 per person, per day.Made possible with Costsaver’s ‘Ready to Go Rate’, agents can assure their clients that the rate they see is the best price it will ever be, guaranteed.“With over 72 years of travel knowledge and expertise, Costsaver is thrilled to allow clients to see the world, without a hassle in the world with exceptional value,” said Wolf Paunic, president of Costsaver and Trafalgar Canada. “With all the essentials covered, clients have the ultimate flexibility to tailor their experiences however they wish, such as staying at three and four hotels with daily breakfast and up to half of their evening meals included.”Next year’s Europe and Britain program will feature two different travel styles: Regional Experiences and Panoramic Experiences. Regional Experiences allow clients to explore just one country, while Panoramic Experiences allow them to cross borders and traverse regions.More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksFeatured itineraries include the new nine-day ‘Highlights of the Baltics’ adventure, which begins in Warsaw with a walking tour led by a Local Specialist before heading to Vilnius for a tour of Bishop’s Palace and the university. From there, guests will depart for the ancient city of Riga, home to the Hill of Crosses at Siauliai, and then continue on to Estonia via the seaside resort of Pärnu and the fairy tale capital of Tallinn.To view all 35 itineraries, go to Tags: CostSaver, Savings Travelweek Group center_img Europe & Britain for less with Costsaver’s new 2019 program Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Cruise industry vet makes the move to Trafalgar

first_img Travelweek Group Share Posted by Thursday, January 3, 2019 Cruise industry vet makes the move to Trafalgarcenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — Trafalgar has named Margarita Peloso as Sales Manager for Ottawa, Montreal, Central and Eastern Ontario.Peloso is well known in the travel industry with a career that spans more than 20 years, primarily on the cruise side. She got her start in the industry in 1992 with Air Canada Vacations as cruise sales rep for Ontario, then in 1994 headed to Encore Cruises as a BDM. In 1998 she embarked on an 11-year stint with Centrum Travel. Most recently she was with Cruise Strategies Ltd.In her new role Peloso will be responsible for executing sales plans and fostering and developing strong relationships with agency partners in Ottawa, Montreal, Central and Eastern Ontario.“My transition to Trafalgar is an evolution for me personally and I am so excited to be your representative on providing guided vacations to your clients,” says Peloso. “Trafalgar allows guests to truly ‘Dive into Culture’ without having to worry about a thing.”More news:  ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growth“We are thrilled to have Margarita join our growing Trafalgar tribe in the Canadian market,“ says Anita Emilio, Vice President of Sales, Trafalgar Canada. “With Margarita’s extensive background and knowledge in the travel industry, we know she will be a tremendous asset to our loyal agent partners in the Ottawa, Montreal and Central and Eastern area.”Peloso can be reached at or call 1-800-834-5677, ext. 8497603. Tags: New Hires, Trafalgarlast_img read more

Chinchillas trip What you need to know

first_imgDuring an official trip to South Korea this week, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla visits the Monument of the Fallen, at the South Korean National Cemetery. Chinchilla and South Korean President Lee Myungbak met Tuesday to commemorate 50 years of relations between the two countries. Courtesy of Casa Presidencial No related posts. From the print editionPresident Laura Chinchilla returned to San José Wednesday, wrapping up a two-week trip to Asia with the goal of fortifying ties with China and South Korea. The president and her delegation spent the majority of their time in China, hobnobbing with various business leaders and government heads, including Chinese President Hu Jintao. In South Korea, the Costa Rican government honored 50 years of diplomatic relations with the country, and the two nations promised to work on a free trade agreement. This marked Chinchilla’s second trip to Asia after traveling to Japan at the end of last year. But how successful was this latest tour for the Central American country as it looks to court investment from the sturdy economies in East Asia? Following is a guide to understanding Chinchilla’s journey to Asia.Was the Asia tour a success?center_img A success might be going too far at this point. But in the future, we might look back and see the riches it sprinkled into Costa Rica. The trip created a lot of potential for China to invest in Costa Rica. Chinchilla met with Chinese leaders to discuss building an industrial park for Chinese businesses, funding for a logistical corridor to ease access to the country’s Atlantic coast, and ways for China to help pay for the expansion of Costa Rica’s oil refinery on the Caribbean coast.Costa Rica hopes to take advantage of a free trade agreement signed with China last year without resorting to mining (one of the reasons China invests so heavily in other countries). These ideas – the industrial park and fixing up the Caribbean – offered up by the Chinchilla government appear to have China interested.The two-day South Korea trip felt more symbolic, as the countries celebrated 50 years of ties, while the South Korean government showered gifts upon its Costa Rican guests. Still, the impetus behind most of these excursions is to attract foreign investment – and South Korea and Costa Rica agreed to further discuss signing a free trade agreement. That advancement came during talks between Chinchilla and her South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, Lee’s office said in a statement. The two nations emphasized expanded cooperation in the areas of renewable energy, environmental protection and “green” growth.As for immediate results, Costa Rica did get major donations from China. As reported in last week’s edition of The Tico Times, China offered to fund and constructs a $25 million police academy in the Caribbean canton of Pococí. The Chinese also gave close to 5,000 computers for Costa Rican schools. And just for the heck of it, China threw in $8 million for Costa Rica to use at its own discretion.The leaders also discussed building a large industrial park inside a Costa Rican free zone, a move that would put more investment dollars into the Central American country and give China a hub in the region for producing and selling its products.Those are some nice gifts. What does China want from Costa Rica?Commenters continue to dream up all types of odious intentions for why the Chinese keep giving “gifts” to Costa Rica, such as the $100 million National Stadium, completed last year, and the police academy. But in talks with Chinchilla, China made it clear what it’s looking for: access.The United States remains the biggest investor in the region. Overall, China only recently has started to put money into Latin America. But the Chinese would like to make a dent into the U.S.’s enormous influence here. In Central America, Costa Rica is the lone country with diplomatic ties to China. The rest of the isthmus maintains relations with Taiwan, but in 2007, then-President Oscar Arias dissolved its diplomatic link with the island nation and struck up a relation with China. Arias hoped to take advantage of China’s booming economy. He made Costa Rica’s first diplomatic visit to Beijing in 2010. Chinchilla just returned from the second. China is intrigued by the prospect of placing an industrial park in Costa Rica. China’s model for maintaining high growth rates focuses on the creation of Special Economic Zones. The construction of an industrial park would further enhance Costa Rica’s own system of free zones, which process 50 percent of exportsCosta Rica, the third country in Latin America to sign a free trade agreement with  China, could serve as a home for Chinese companies looking to set up production facilities in the region.The logistical corridor and expansion of a highway to the Caribbean city of Limón could benefit both parties. The corridor would give easier access to the Caribbean ports for Chinese-made products, which would likely be produced in a free trade zone in the Central Valley. On the other side, Costa Rica would see its poor infrastructure improved. The Costa Rican government also wants China’s help in upgrading its oil refinery in the Caribbean. The China National Petroleum Corporation and Costa Rica’s National Oil Refinery are negotiating the terms of the $1.3 billion project – and how it could be paid for. Negotiations also are ongoing for the Limón highway expansion.Still, on a larger scale, those millions of dollars China is sending to Costa Rica don’t mean much for the Asian giant. Excuse me, but how is $25 million for a police academy not much money?It’s a windfall of cash for Costa Rica. But to China, those millions are a drop in the bucket. A million dollars aren’t so cool anymore. What’s cool are a billion dollars, and that amount is exactly what other Latin American countries have received from China. According to El Financiero, China represents 9 percent of the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region. That places the Chinese third in Latin America behind the Netherlands and the U.S. Besides those three countries, no other foreign investor has an FDI greater than 4 percent in Latin America.But the majority of China’s money ends up in two South American countries: Brazil and Argentina. Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Ministry (COMEX) received its largest investment from China in 2010, when the Chinese allotted $3.6 million to Costa Rica. In 2011, the latest figure released, Costa Rica received $1.7 million from China.To compare, citing figures from the Latin American Caribbean Economic Commission, El Financiero stated that Brazil received $9 billion from China in 2010. Argentina received more than $5 billion. China is the largest foreign investor in Brazil, as the Chinese try to take advantage of Brazilian’s natural resources, energy potential and high-tech industries. And while Costa Rica certainly appreciates the hand-outs, it’s worth noting that, according to COMEX, China ranks 16th in FDI in Costa Rica. Why did Chinchilla visit South Korea?Chinchilla was offered an invitation to Seoul as soon as she took office, and her trip coincides with a half-century of diplomatic ties with South Korea. Other than free trade agreement discussions, the trip seemed to focus on showy gestures and unremarkable statements. Chinchilla backed Seoul’s policy on North Korea, agreeing that Pyongyang should carry out U.N. Security Council resolutions and international obligations. President Lee welcomed Costa Rica’s intention to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. President Chinchilla placed a wreath at the Monument of the Fallen, at the Korean National Cemetery. The governments also met to discuss education (and a possible exchange program) and health care. Chinchilla and her delegation, including Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González, met with South Korean business leaders.Chinchilla became the first Costa Rican president to visit South Korea in 11 years, and during her four-day visit she did well in terms of schwag. Hankuk University presented Chinchilla with an honorary degree. The prestigious school, with an emphasis on foreign languages, bequeathed the same degree to U.S. President Barack Obama in March. Seoul Mayor Park Won bestowed honorary citizenship upon Chinchilla. Won also offered to train Costa Ricans on urban development. Chinchilla said of Seoul – the second largest metropolitan area in the world – that if she ever had to leave Costa Rica, the president now knows where she could find her second home.Sounds like Chinchilla had a good time in South Korea. Did the Costa Rican government have as much fun in China?The China trip included an honorary dinner with Jintao and a sightseeing tour.Chinchilla, the daily La Nación noted, became the fifth female president to visit the Great Wall of China. She also saw the Bird’s Nest, the famous stadium built for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.Finally, the Costa Ricans enjoyed their very own army – at least for a short while. The Tico entourage witnessed the famous Terra Cotta Warriors, a collection of statutes dating back two millenniums in the city of Xi’an. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Arson suspected in Ecuador embassy fire

first_imgNo related posts. Ecuador will request authorization from the Costa Rican government to send a group of experts to aid in the investigation of a fire that broke out in the South American country’s embassy in San José, an Ecuadorean official said on Thursday.On Wednesday at daybreak, a fire consumed half of the embassy building, which houses offices in an exclusive sector west of the Costa Rican capital. No injuries were reported. Chief Costa Rican fire investigator Álvaro Sánchez told AFP it appeared the fire was intentionally set.“We understand there was arson involved because on the second floor we found four flash points, newspapers with accelerants on the stairs, and we work with a canine unit that found accelerant in other areas as well,” Sánchez said. A press release from Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry said Ecuadorean specialists would join the investigation “in order to determine the cause [of the fire], once it is approved by the Costa Rican government.”Ecuador’s ambassador in San José, Daisy Espinel, who was in Ecuador at the time of the fire, will travel to Costa Rica to meet with local authorities. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ballena Bulletin

first_imgOn Sunday, Dec. 16, the Boruca Christmas Party 2012 will take place at the Sala Comunal and the Cancha in Dominical.Donna and Daryl are a little late in kicking off fundraising efforts this year, but they hope to reach their goal of $3,500. They offer thanks to friends, previous guests and family members who have kept the party going over the years. Last year, they hosted 300 village children plus another 50 from nearby communities who had heard of the party but never met Santa. In addition, they feed the wonderful group of ladies from Boruca who help out by preparing the meals and minimizing chaos. The total number served last year was more than 420. In addition to face painting, the event includes races and games, plus unlimited ice cream and soft drinks. If you elect to buy toys rather than donating money, they ask that the gift have a value of about $6 to keep the gifts (more-or-less) equal for all of the kids. If you would like to make a pledge, need more info, or would like to help Santa with transportation gifts, food, ice, drinks, cups, utensils or plates, call Donna or Daryl at 2787-8262 or email  -Shawnell  Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Teachers workers unions and taxi drivers announce protests

first_imgTeachers from public schools will gather outside the Labor Ministry at 2 p.m. on Thursday, at the same time that government officials meet with workers unions to discuss a draft bill known as the “Public Employment Law.”Union representatives claim the proposed law would significantly decrease public employees’ salaries – especially teachers’ wages – by cutting public employee seniority bonuses, or “anualidades.”Leaders from the National Association of Public and Private Employees will not participate in negotiations with government officials, and have chosen to protest instead. They also warned that “if lawmakers pass the bill they would cause a mess in the streets.”On Tuesday, taxi drivers also announced they will take to the streets next week if the Public Works and Transport Ministry does not enforce a law preventing unpermited taxi drivers, known as porteadores, from working.According to union representatives, thousands of taxis would jam the streets across the country. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Brazils Rousseff postpones US state visit

first_imgNo related posts. BRASILIA – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed a state visit to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday in protest over allegations of U.S. cyberspying on her country.Rousseff announced the decision after discussing the espionage row with U.S. President Barack Obama Monday in a telephone call.“The two presidents decided to postpone the state visit since the outcome of this visit should not be conditioned on an issue which for Brazil has not been satisfactorily resolved,” Rousseff’s office said.The visit had been scheduled for Oct. 23 but no new date was immediately announced.The statement reflected Brasilia’s anger over disclosures that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spied on her email communications and on the state-run energy giant Petrobras.“The illegal interceptions of communications and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government represents a serious act which violates national sovereignty and is incompatible with democratic coexistence between friendly countries,” it noted.Brasilia had slammed the alleged spying as “unacceptable.”In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney, said: “I think it’s because the relationship is so important and because it has so many facets that the president agrees with this decision they made together to postpone the visit.”“They both look forward to that visit, which will celebrate our broad relationship, and the president believes, and their president believes, as I understand, it should not be overshadowed by a bilateral issue no matter how important or challenging the issue may be,” he added.Carney said Obama understood the Brazilian leader’s concerns and “looks forward to welcoming President Rousseff to Washington at a date to be mutually agreed.”He called Obama’s invitation to Rousseff a “reflection of the importance he places on this growing global partnership and the close bonds between the American and Brazilian people.”“Other important cooperation mechanisms, including the presidential dialogues on political, economic, energy, and defense cooperation, will continue,” he said.Brazil had demanded an investigation, explanations and a U.S. commitment to stop such spying.The Brazilian government expressed confidence that once the spying issue is satisfactorily resolved,” the state visit will take place as soon as possible.”In July, the daily Globo, citing documents provided by fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, reported that Washington eavesdropped on Brazilians’ phone calls and Internet communications.The report said Washington maintained an intelligence base in Brasilia, part of a network of 16 such stations operated by the NSA around the world to intercept foreign satellite transmissions.Brazilian Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo then dismissed claims by U.S. officials that the NSA was only collecting metadata – logs of phone numbers called and the duration of such calls – and not listening in on calls.Washington’s biggest electronic spy agency, he said, is conducting a “much deeper surveillance.”Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is now a fugitive in Russia, living under temporary asylum after fleeing U.S. justice.He is wanted by Washington on espionage charges linked to media disclosures about U.S. surveillance programs.Rousseff is meanwhile to address the U.N. General Assembly session in New York later this month, and her aides said she will raise the US spying issue. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

San Carlos hackathon aims to boost womens roles in technology development

first_imgAn upcoming hackathon for women in San Carlos, in north-central Costa Rica, is seeking bright minds to help develop new technology applications to address social problems, and at the same time foster better training and more tech jobs for women.The intensive two-day hackathon, organized by the Sulá Batsú Collective, will take place August 30-31 at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (TEC) campus in Santa Clara, San Carlos, from 10 a.m. on Saturday to 3 p.m. on Sunday.Participants will receive training from tech mentors from the information and communications technology sector, or TIC.Kemly Camacho, coordinator of both the Sulá Batsú Cooperative and the “TIC-as Project,” told The Tico Times that participants are invited to create apps to alert the public to flooding and other natural disasters, foster public security, help market local products, and other problem-solving ideas.Members of the cooperate already have visited with Northern Zone organizations to study ongoing social problems and interview employees of local fire departments, the National Institute for Women, the Ciudad Quesada municipality and development associations.The hackathon is open to all women who are students or graduates of information and communications technology in the Northern Zone, which includes Upala, Los Chiles, Santa Clara and Ciudad Quesada. Registration is open through July 19. Mentors and university students discuss opportunities for tech development and jobs in rural areas of northern Costa Rica. (Courtesy Cooperativa Sulá Batsú)TIC-a powerThe hackathon is part of the cooperative’s “TIC-as Project,” which aims to provide incentives and promote better conditions for women to participate in the TIC sector. TIC-as is supported by the U.N.’s Fund for Gender Equality, and it targets young, rural women in the region.Camacho said Costa Rica’s Northern Zone was selected because opportunities in the tech sector usually only are found in the San José metropolitan area, and they’re usually focused on men. Therefore, the cooperative sought to develop a pilot project that targets rural women. But they had to select the ideal rural community for their goals, and the Northern Zone fit the bill.According to Camacho, several universities in the region offer tech programs, including the Catholic University, the State University at a Distance, the National Technical University, TEC and Cenfotec University.The Northern Zone also has a Technology Chamber, and 13 small and medium-sized tech businesses. But according to Camacho, “few women are studying for technology careers, and even fewer are working in tech companies.” Mentors and university students discuss opportunities for tech development and jobs in rural areas of northern Costa Rica. (Courtesy Cooperativa Sulá Batsú)Leading by exampleVera Gamboa, 53, is one of the few women who graduated from San Carlos’ TEC campus with a degree in informatics engineering, although she began her studies in 1978 in Cartago.“When I started my studies, I didn’t even know what a computer was,” she said. “But I was told it involved a lot of math, so it sounded interesting.”In 1980, Gamboa married and returned to San Carlos, where she raised four children. In 1994, she returned to the classroom at TEC in San Carlos and earned a bachelor’s degree. She currently teaches computer engineering at the same school.Gamboa said it is “difficult to explain” why so few women are studying and working in the sector. “It’s a cultural thing, with social reasons. I think there are a series of factors that lead women to choose career paths, and even more so, to remain in a particular field.”Members of the TIC-as Project are working with 10 schools in communities near the TEC campus in Santa Clara. One goal is to eliminate the stereotypes that steer young women away from technology jobs.“We think it’s important to provide incentives to girls from a young age so that they experiment with, explore and get used to technology – not only digital technology, but anything from a screwdriver to a hammer to a wrench. From there, it’s important to eliminate the stereotypes that linger in these communities,” Camacho said.Project members have noted that there are certain stages in a young woman’s life when she stops being interested in technology, and some believe this is due to social influences and ongoing stereotypes.“There is this attitude that people interested in this field are constantly glued to their computers and they have no social lives,” Camacho said. “That plays an important role in a woman’s decision [to pursue a tech career].”In San Carlos, TIC-as has been working for more than a year with 70 high school and college students and teachers, and others who work in both the public and private sectors.They organize “technology coffees” and meetings with mentors to strengthen leadership skills, and above all, according to Camacho, “develop the ability to believe in one’s self.”Organizers hope that after the upcoming hackathon, participants will continue developing their own projects, and the initiative will serve as an incubator for more entrepreneurial leadership by women.According to Gamboa, many opportunities exist for women who study information and communications technology, because the Northern Zone is home to several software development companies created by TEC teachers, including Avantica San Carlos and NCQ Solutions, among others.Hackathon participants can be “any woman who lives in, was born in, or who has a relation to the Northern Zone. We’re pushing for a mix of high school and college students,” Camacho said.Prizes will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place entries, as well as a people’s choice award for best prototype.To register or obtain more information, visit: or email See their Facebook page at: Facebook Comments Related posts:Bacardi to open support services center in Costa Rica Bacardí opens regional service center in Costa Rica Talent and good policy are key targets for improving Costa Rica’s competitiveness, forum experts say Bilingual employment fair to offer 3,800 jobslast_img read more

Costa Rican court hands GMO opponents a victory by declaring permitting process

first_img Facebook Comments Correction: This story originally said the court rejected the process on two grounds rather than one.In a ruling Thursday lauded by Costa Rica’s anti-GMO activists, the country’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, struck down the government’s regulatory framework on genetically modified organisms, declaring the process of approval for GMO projects unconstitutional.In the court’s opinion, Chief Justice Gilbert Armijo Sancho wrote that the regulations violate the Costa Rican Constitution because the secrecy allowed to GMO companies in terms of the genetic information of their products violates the constitutional right to freedom of information.The ruling will only affect Costa Rica’s Fitosanitary Law, which regulates the process of approval for GMO projects. It does not ban GMOs or affect projects already in existence in the country.Anti-GMO groups applauded the ruling, which stems from a complaint filed by environmental groups in late 2012. Follow more of our coverage on the GMO debate in Costa Rica here:Awaiting a court decision, anti-GMO activists gain symbolic groundWhat you need to know about GMOs in Costa Rica “This guarantees that the procedures to authorize GMOs from now on will be accessible to all individuals, which will allow opposition that guarantees the cultivation of these crops will not disrupt the balance of ecosystems or the public health,” the Costa Rican Federation for Environmental Conservation, or FECON, said in a press release. The group also noted that current applications for GMO projects in the country must be put on hold until they comply with the court’s ruling.“This is an important precedent that shows the interests of companies linked to this type of activity – among them the multinational Monsanto which is seeking permits to plant corn – have benefited from the granting of permits in a manner that violates the fundamental rights of the population,” FECON said. Related posts:Awaiting a court decision, anti-GMO activists gain symbolic ground Following court ruling, anti-GMO activists ask for map of transgenic farms Lawmakers begin discussions on bill that would place a moratorium on GMO crop production in Costa Rica Top Mexican chefs take stand against GM cornlast_img read more

Commenting on Zika virus Pope Francis calls abortion a human evil

first_imgVATICAN CITY – Pope Francis insisted Thursday that abortion was always a crime but hinted that the Church could exceptionally relax its ban on contraception for women at risk of contracting the Zika virus.“Abortion is not a lesser evil. It is a crime,” Pope Francis said in response to a question about how best to combat the outbreak across Latin America of a virus possibly linked to birth defects. But he added: “Avoiding a pregnancy is not an absolute evil.”The 79-year-old pontiff recalled that one of his predecessors, Paul VI (1963-1978) had authorized nuns working in Africa to use contraceptives in light of a high risk of them being raped by soldiers.“We must not confuse the evil consisting of avoiding a pregnancy with abortion,” Pope Francis said. “Abortion is not a theological problem. It is a human problem, medical. One person is killed to save another. It is evil in itself, it is not a religious evil, it is a human evil.“On the contrary, avoiding a pregnancy and, in the cases of Paul VI which I have cited, it was clear.“I would also urge doctors to do everything they can to develop a vaccine.”The United Nations and aid organizations have urged countries hit by the virus to ensure women have access to contraception to reduce the risk of infection and the right to abortion should they decide to terminate a pregnancy. Many Latin American countries outlaw abortion or allow it only if the mother’s life is in danger.After initially saying little about the outbreak, Catholic leaders in the region have recently begun to assert the Church’s opposition to what it terms “artificial” birth control and abortion.Instead of using condoms or the contraceptive pill, Church officials have been recommending abstinence or what they term natural family planning — scheduling sexual relations for the least fertile periods of a woman’s menstrual cycle.See: Pope Francis preaches to marginalized indigenous in a fight to keep Catholics Pope Francis speaks to journalists aboard a flight from Mexico to Italy, on Feb. 18, 2016. Pope Francis left Rome on Feb. 11, 2016 bound for Cuba, where he met Russian Patriarch Kirill before continuing on to Mexico for a five-day visit. Alessandro Di Meo/AFP/PoolFrancis was also questioned about the recent revelation that another of his predecessors, John-Paul II, had an “intense” 30-year friendship with a married woman.The current pope said he had been aware of his Polish predecessor’s friendship with philosopher and writer Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka.“A man lacks something if he does not know how to have a good rapport with a woman,” he said, adding for good measure that, “sexists are sick.”Every priest should seek out the feelings of women on different subjects, he said.“I like to receive advice from women. A friendship with a woman is not a sin – a love affair, on the contrary, is.”Although he has given no indication of a change in current Church teaching on the question, Francis has said that the requirement of celibacy for Catholic priests is not set in stone and could be reviewed. Facebook Comments Related posts:With abortion banned in Zika countries, women beg on web for abortion pills Zika research to be published rapidly and free Obama seeks $1.9 billion to combat spread of Zika virus Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill urge Christian unity at historic Cuba talkslast_img read more

Juvenile detention center inaugurates new facility for teen mothers

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:How to help the victims of Tropical Storm Nate in Costa Rica U.S.-bound – and delighted National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions ship makes first visit to Osa Peninsula New grant program seeks to boost Costa Rican nonprofits The Zurquí Juvenile Formation Center in San Luis de Santo Domingo de Heredia, north of San José, has inaugurated a new facility where teen mothers who have been ordered to detention at the center can raise their young children in a more welcoming environment.A private-sector partnership led 70 volunteers from the Costa Rican offices of food and beverage group Mondelēz International to work on the preparation of the new center, which, according to a statement from the company, “allows the teen mothers and their children to exchange cells for a cozier space.” The new facility has a living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry area, a garden and games.Mondelēz International also donated 24 computers to the Formation Center’s library and made improvements to the library and sports facilities.The center is home to 93 minors including 12 girls, the statement said.last_img read more

The Tico Times at 62 Finding new ways to serve and celebrate

first_imgThe Tico Times has been telling Costa Rica’s stories to the world since 1956 – and in the past few months, it has returned to its roots while forging new partnerships.After the brief closure following the death of owner Jonathan Harris in mid-2017, The Tico Times returned to its online and print editions in late 2017 under new ownership. We seek to embrace The Tico Times’ traditional missions as a way to honor Jonathan; former publisher Dery Dyer; our founders, Elisabeth and Richard Dyer; and all those who have led, supported and shaped our newspaper through its 62-year history.Specifically, we are working every day to do more to support and empower young journalists, to celebrate Costa Rica, and to showcase those who are making Costa Rica a better place. We’re also pursuing innovation in every way we can: in our work with new freelancers and media partners, in our video coverage of Costa Rican events, and even in the way the paper is distributed.Here are some of the highlights from the past few months. We hope you’ll join us.Costa Rica’s first-ever 360 election coverageWe tackled Costa Rica’s historic elections with a 100 percent Costa Rican reporting team of 15 freelancers and staff (with one proud wannabe Tica in the editor’s seat; see the results here). On April 1, The Tico Times became the first media organization in Costa Rican history to use 360 video for electoral coverage. Thanks to TT collaborators Gaby Brenes and Alexander Villegas, our readers were immersed in the experiences of heading to the polls with the candidates, celebrating victory at the Plaza Roosevelt, or grappling with defeat on Paseo Colón (watch them here).  Carlos Alvarado is interviewed by journalists on Election Day. Alexander Villegas / The Tico TimesA return to print Our Special Print Editions in December, February and April have helped us connect with longtime and brand-new readers alike. The current edition, out today, is our largest yet this year at 24 pages. Our Special Print Edition Andrés Madrigal / The Tico TimesA distribution model focused on microenterprise and nonprofitsFor the print edition in your hands, we implemented a new distribution scheme: distributors can give the paper to their clients, charge the ₡500 cover price and keep the proceeds, or charge and donate the proceeds to a local nonprofit organization. We hope this model will help support small news vendors and microbusinesses that would like to sell our paper, while also providing fundraising support to outstanding initiatives that are making a difference for Costa Rica. Learn more here. Donald and Pip Kelly Varela, shown with their daughters, are the first business owners to become Tico Times distributors who will donate the proceeds to nonprofit organizations. Courtesy of Casitas Tenorios B&BBuilding a community newsroom Our organization now boasts an insanely tiny and absurdly motivated staff that has been pounding the pavement in pursuit of new alliances with talented young Costa Rican journalists, freelancers from around the world, and media partners including Semanario Universidad and Vecinos Activos. Interested in joining our contributor network or sharing content from your site with us? Just contact me at focus on philanthropyThe Tico Times has always highlighted ways to give back to Costa Rica (see facing page). It was a natural next step to welcome our first-ever section sponsor in March: the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA) and Amigos of Costa Rica now sponsor our Costa Rica Changemakers section, where every week we feature stories about leaders, donors and organizations working to make Costa Rica a better place. Visit the section here, and join the conversation in our Facebook group.   Two nonprofits have created a space for inspiring stories about change and giving back in Costa Rica. Courtesy of CRUSAThe columns you loveWe’ve continued publishing Weekend Arts Spotlight, Maeology, Wetline Costa Rica, Home Gardening, The World in Costa Rica, No Sugar, Please! and a wide variety of op-eds, plus our Day in the Life, Pic of the Day, Costa Rican Happy Hour, Travel, Real Estate, Welcome to Costa Rica, and more. We strive for the mix of Costa Rican and international perspectives that have always been our organization’s bread and butter.New options for advertisers and sponsorsEvery day, we’re searching for the partnerships we need to keep sharing our content with people who visit, live in, or dream about traveling or relocating to Costa Rica. We’re pleased to be working with a variety of businesses including those who share our commitment to covering rural tourism, sustainable development, innovation, education, conservation, culture, philanthropy and more – all while supporting young journalists. Learn more here.We hope you’ll spread the word and stay in touch with us (on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, here at, and through our print editions – we’ll post soon where you can find our latest edition, hot off the presses as I write this). And to all those who have been a part of our journey for years, thank you for continuing to be a part of The Tico Times family. See all The Tico Times’ 360 videos from Costa Rica’s election Facebook Commentscenter_img Related posts:Download our High Season Print Edition here AP story on TT circled the globe Read our September print edition online Our 2018-2019 High Season Print Edition is here!last_img read more

Mideast nuclear conference in jeopardy

first_imgCountryman also criticized Syria _ found by the International Atomic Energy Agency to be “very likely” hiding a covert nuclear program _ and urged it and Tehran to “return to full compliance” with their treaty obligations.Iran insists that it has no intention of harnessing its expanding nuclear program into weapons making, a stance repeated Tuesday by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mahdi Akhondzadeh. He condemned the “hyprocitic and double standard approach of the United States and the EU member states for keeping “deadly silent on the Israel nuclear program (while) they express baseless concern about Iran’s nuclear program.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Associated PressVIENNA (AP) – Hopes dimmed Tuesday for staging major nuclear talks later this year between Israel and its Muslim rivals, as Iran and Arab countries at a 189-nation conference accused Israel of being the greatest threat to peace in the region and Egypt warned that Arab states might rethink their opposition to atomic arms.Because Israel has not signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it was not present at Tuesday’s gathering of treaty members. But the United States defended its ally, warning that singling out Israel for criticism diminished chances of a planned meeting between it and its Muslim neighbors to explore the prospect of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. Top Stories The Mideast conference planned for later this year was a key plank of a monthlong 2010 high-level gathering of treaty signatories that convenes every five years to review the objectives of the 42-year-old treaty. Muslim nations have warned that failure to stage the Mideast meeting would call into question the overall achievements of the 2010 conference.Egypt, speaking for nonaligned NPT signatory nations _ the camp of developing countries _ said Israel’s nuclear capabilities constitute “a threat to international peace and security.”Later, in his separate capacity as Egypt’s delegate, senior Foreign Ministry official Ahmed Fathalla warned that Arab nations might “revise their policies” regarding their opposition to having nuclear weapons if the planned Mideast conference failed to materialize.Fathalla said he was citing a declaration from the March 29 Arab summit in Baghdad. But a senior U.S. official, who demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to comment to reporters, said it was the first time he had heard that threat.The senior official also said he was not surprised by the verbal attacks on Israel, noting that outreach by Washington to individual Arab countries for moderation so as to not jeopardize the Mideast conference had been unsuccesful. Israel is unlikely to attend any hostile Mideast meeting and its absence would strip the gathering of significance, leaving it as little more than a forum for Arab states to further criticize the Jewish state and its undeclared nuclear arsenal.Israel has remained opaque on its nuclear capabilities but is commonly considered to posess atomic arms _ a status that Muslim nations say make it the greatest threat to Mideast stability.Western allies of Israel disagree, accusing Iran of violating the nonproliferation treaty by noncompliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding it curb uranium enrichment and other activities with nonmilitary applications that could also be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. As such, they say, Iran most menaces Mideast stability.Reacting to a harsh series of attacks on Israel, U.S. State Department envoy Thomas M. Countryman urged Muslim nations to ease their pressure at the Vienna meeting, convened to prepare for the next NPT summit in 2015, telling delegates: “continued efforts to single out Israel … will make a (Mideast) conference less likely.”He also voiced “deep concern over Iran’s persistent failure to comply with its nonproliferation obligations, including … U.N. Security Council resolutions,” and urged Tehran to reduce concerns about is nuclear program by coming to May 23 talks with six world powers in Baghdad “with the same serious and constructive attitude that the six partners bring.”center_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

Indian believers swallow live fish as asthma cure

first_img Top Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates One man died of a heart attack and several others sought medical attention for breathing difficulty after waiting hours for the treatment, Hyderabad police said. They said the stadium was unprepared to deal with the 70,000 people who rushed the gates when they opened.The family offers the treatment annually on a day chosen by astrologers.After swallowing the live fish, believers are told to abstain from fried foods and keep to a strict 45-day diet of 25 different foods, including lamb, rice, white sugar, dried mango, spinach and clarified butter.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories center_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Quick workouts for men HYDERABAD, India (AP) – Tens of thousands of asthma-sufferers mobbed a southern Indian stadium Friday to swallow live sardines smeared with a yellow herbal paste they believe will cure their breathing problems.Despite doctors’ criticism, the Goud family has drawn throngs of people for years with a secret fish and herbal formula it says it received from a Hindu saint about 170 years ago. They give it away for free annually and refuse to reveal the mix, saying the saint warned it would lose its potency if commercialized. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more