US regional strategy discussed

first_imgNo related posts. By Mariano Andrade | AFPNEW YORK – Energy, education and freedom of expression in Latin America are “specific challenges” that U.S. President Barack Obama plans on addressing during his second term in the White House, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson said on Tuesday.In a presentation to the New York-based Council of the Americas, Jacobson declined to address the future of Venezuela, although she expressed hope for a quick recovery of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, who flew to Cuba this week for emergency cancer treatment.“Looking forward, I would like to mention some specific challenges that we face in three areas of our policy of partnership and shared responsibility that are the basis of President Obama’s policy in the Western Hemisphere: energy, education and freedom of expression,” the U.S. official said.Jacobson noted that while 20 or 30 years ago, some of the current Latin American leaders fought for freedom of expression against military dictatorships, now “some populist leaders are closing or censoring independent media, tribunals and other essential elements of democracy,” although she did not mention specific countries.Last October, the Inter-American Press Association issued strong messages to the governments of Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador, urging them to halt activities that prohibit the freedom of expression, such as new press and judicial laws against journalists.In terms of energy, Jacobson said “an extraordinary opportunity” exists, as Latin America increasingly is a strategic global supplier of energy resources from the region.On education, the State Department official said there is some concern in academic and business circles, because “Latin America has few or no educational institutions among the top global rankings on education.”“We can expand solid economic performance in recent decades if we devote sustained energy to developing education,” she said, adding that the region has never before been as “prosperous and peaceful” as it is today.During the presentation, Jacobson responded to questions about the situation of specific countries in the region, including the failing health of Venezuela’s leader.“I can’t predict the future, and I can’t comment as to what will happen in Venezuela,” she said. “But what I can say is that we always have publicly stated that we wish the president a speedy recovery.”“We have tried and we are going to continue trying to have productive relations with Venezuela,” she added, admitting that, “sometimes it has been very difficult.”Cuba also was mentioned, and Jacobson insisted that the Obama administration constantly “measures” the effect of a long-term economic embargo against the island nation, so that the Cuban people are effected as minimally as possible while they strive for democratic change.“What the president [Obama] decides in terms of certain parts of the embargo is something that is constantly measured and designed to encourage democratic change in Cuba,” she said.Jacobson also noted the “growing concern” by business leaders from the U.S. and elsewhere who operate in Argentina over that country’s restrictions on capital and trade transactions. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Oscar Arias confirms he will vote for Johnny Araya in the runoff

first_imgTranslation: “Oscar Arias reiterates his support for Araya in the second round, and denies that  Luis Guillermo Solís asked for his support.”Just in case you didn’t believe Luis Guillermo Solís — Oscar Arias makes it clear he will vote for fellow National Liberation Party (PLN) member Johnny Araya. The two-time Costa Rican president (1986-1990, 2006-2010) said neither Araya or Solís asked for his support, since they both already knew for whom he would vote. So that’s the end of that controversy.UPDATE: Several media are reporting that Solís will meet with ex-President Abel Pacheco at 10 a.m. Saturday. So at least one former president seems likely to vote for the opposition party candidate.Pacheco, a member of the Social Christian Unity Party, was the last non-PLN candidate to be elected president in Costa Rica. He led the country from 2002-2006. Facebook Comments Oscar Arias reitera su voto para Araya en segunda ronda y niega solicitud de apoyo por parte de Luis Guillermo Solís.— SemanarioUniversidad (@SemanarioU) February 14, 2014 Related posts:A look at Costa Rica’s 2014 elections Guevara snubbed for Friday forum with leading union and other presidential candidates The Tico Times to publish live election results starting at 8 p.m. Live Costa Rica presidential election resultslast_img read more

Don Beto Cañas is laid to rest with full honors

first_imgFacebook Comments Related posts:The man saddened by statistics: In memory of Carlos Sojo Adiós, Chespirito! Latin America’s beloved TV icon dies at 85 Remembering Rolf Ruge: Green architect leaves rich legacy Cynthia Lennon, who first married John Lennon, dies at 75last_img

After 7 months on the run El Salvadors exPresident Flores turns himself

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:Court revokes house arrest for former president of El Salvador, orders him to prison pending trial El Salvador ex-President Francisco Flores to stand trial for embezzlement El Salvador graft trial set for ex-President Francisco Flores El Salvador court freezes ex-president’s bank accounts SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – In a surprise move on Friday, El Salvador’s former President Francisco Flores turned himself in to authorities in San Salvador to face charges of misappropriating $15 million in donations from the government of Taiwan while he was president.Flores, who served from 1999-2004, had been on the run since February. He arrived with his attorney at the First Instructional Court in the capital, where police officers served an arrest warrant that had been issued on May 6. Interpol also had issued a red alert to notify foreign law enforcement agencies that Flores was a wanted man back home.“He’s been read his rights, the crimes of which he’s accused and the reason for his arrest,” court spokesman Ulises Marinero said. “Prosecutors and the court now will determine to which prison ex-President Flores will be sent.”Images from local TV station Channel 19 showed Flores dressed in a suit, sitting calmly in a courtroom run by judge Levis Orellana. His appearance sparked a flood of local and foreign journalists who flocked to the court to cover the event.Flores claims to have been a victim of political persecution, but prosecutors say he is wanted for charges of corruption, illegal enrichment and disobeying a summons to appear after he allegedly misappropriated the $15 million.He was investigated by both the Prosecutor’s Office and members of Congress, following accusations against him in October 2013 by ex-President Mauricio Funes (2009-2014). Funes made public reports he had obtained from the U.S. Treasury Department that showed suspicious transactions from Taiwan to Flores between 2003 and 2004.last_img read more

Gay marriage bill signed into law in Ireland

first_imgRelated posts:US Supreme Court makes gay marriage legal in all 50 states More than 26 million people have changed their Facebook picture to a rainbow flag Ireland could become first country to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote Kennedy emerges as judicial champion of gay rights DUBLIN, Ireland – Same-sex marriage was signed into law in Ireland on Thursday, five months aftera historic referendum saw the traditionally Catholic nation become the world’s first country to vote for gay unions.In a brief statement, the president’s office said, “The Presidential Commission today signed the ‘Marriage Bill 2015’ into law,” paving the way for the first weddings within a month.Ireland voted 62.1 percent in favor of allowing marriage between two people “without distinction as to their sex” in May, the first time anywhere that gay marriage has been legalized in a referendum.Legal challenges to the result in favor of gay marriage had briefly delayed the legislation from coming into effect.Senator Katherine Zappone, who had long campaigned for her Canadian marriage to her wife to be recognized in Ireland, called it “a defining moment.”“It is a deeply emotional moment for those of us who have campaigned for so long,” Zappone said in a statement. “This victory truly belongs to the nation, it is a moment for us all.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

The Tico Times Weekly Digest Jan 21 2019

first_imgAn attack in Nicaragua, our Puerto Viejo Deep Dive and a new Sele squad. These stories and more in this Weekly Digest.This week in Costa Rica (Jan. 21, 2019):——————————Featured News Stories——————————Four Nicaraguan police officers killed near the border with Costa Rica:http://bit.ly/2FHyy7wNicaraguan resistance group claims responsibility for police killings near Costa Rican border:http://bit.ly/2FBAiiNRough edges and rich culture – Our Puerto Viejo Deep Dive:http://bit.ly/2T0ZiCZPuerto Viejo Deep Dive – Cancún crossroads, preserving culture forged by hardship:http://bit.ly/2FMjN2sPuerto Viejo Deep Dive – Surfing the Caribbean’s gnarly waves:http://bit.ly/2DrqjtVExtreme poverty rises again in Latin America:http://bit.ly/2AV7cquCosta Rica soccer announces squad to face United States:http://bit.ly/2HpAqDEOff the Eaten Path – Cebolla Verde:http://bit.ly/2U8A5qu——————————Follow The Tico Times:——————————Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/TheTicoTimesInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/theticotimesFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/TicoTimeshttp://ticotimes.net/——————————–Support The Tico Times:——————————–https://pages.donately.com/theticotimes/campaign/the-tico-times-5-clubhttps://www.paypal.me/theticotimesCR Facebook Comments Related posts:The Tico Times Weekly Digest: Jan. 28, 2019 Nicaraguan resistance group speaks out, refutes Nicaragua pointing finger at Costa Rica for attacks The Tico Times Weekly Digest: March 18, 2019 The Tico Times Weekly Digest: April 8, 2019last_img read more

British PM says Assad must step down

first_img Sponsored Stories Associated PressKABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – British Prime Minister David Cameron called on Thursday on Syria’s president to step down following an escalation of violence and bombings in the capital Damascus.Cameron also appealed to Russia and China to support a new U.N. resolution that threatens non-military sanctions and is tied to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict. Comments   Share   “It is time for him to go, it is time for transition in this regime,” Cameron said. “Clearly Britain doesn’t support violence on either side, but if there isn’t transition there is going to be civil war. That is the clear fact that we can all see on the ground.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories How do cataracts affect your vision? Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates “It is time for the United Nations Security Council to Pass clear and tough messages about sanctions, I believe under Chapter 7 of the U.N., and be unambiguous about it,” Cameron said.Russia, which is a close Syrian ally, has said it will veto any Chapter 7 resolution.In Moscow on Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed to Wednesday’s deadly bombing in the heart of Damascus that killed the defense minister and his deputy, President Bashar Assad’s powerful brother-in-law, and accused the West of inciting the Syrian opposition.Russia is vehemently opposed to sanctions and any mention of Chapter 7 and Lavrov argued that the British text amounted to support for the rebels and would lead to more bloodshed.“I would appeal to those who in the past have held out against tough action against Syria that what more evidence do we need of a brutal regime in Syria?,” Cameron saidHe made the call in Kabul, where he is meeting with the Afghan president and Pakistani prime minister to discuss the ongoing war in Afghanistan.The British leader said it was time for Assad to “go,” saying that otherwise civil war is inevitable. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementslast_img read more

Saudi ruler names former US envoy as spy chief

first_imgPrince Muqrin is replaced by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who served as ambassador to the U.S. from 1983 to 2005.Prince Bandar retains his role as secretary general of the National Security Council.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centercenter_img RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Saudi Arabia says it has replaced its intelligence chief with the country’s former ambassador to Washington amid growing pockets of unrest in the kingdom.The official Saudi Press Agency cited a royal decree shifting Prince Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz from the powerful intelligence post to become a special adviser to King Abdullah.No reason for the move was given Thursday, but it comes as Saudi authorities faces increasing protests and clashes with minority Shiite factions claiming discrimination by the Sunni leadership. Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Men’s health affects baby’s health too How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

North Korea Japan discuss WWII soldiers remains

first_imgBEIJING (AP) – The governments of Japan and North Korea will be asked to participate in negotiations to repatriate the remains of Japanese soldiers buried in North Korea, a Japanese Red Cross official said Friday.The countries do not have diplomatic relations, and a key issue in the matter is getting the governments involved.Japanese Red Cross Society Director-General Osamu Tasaka met with Ri Ho Rim, secretary general of North Korea’s Red Cross Society, over the past two days in Beijing to discuss whether the grave sites could be visited and if the remains, including those of Japanese soldiers and military officials who fought in World War II, could be returned home. Tasaka said the objective of the meeting was achieved when both sides agreed to seek governmental cooperation. He said he would soon ask for his government’s involvement and felt optimistic about its participation.Talking to reporters outside a Beijing hotel, Ri called the negotiations sincere.“We have deepened understanding for each other,” Ri said. “We will continue our discussions vigorously in the future.”He said the sides reached consensus on some issues, but did not give details.Japan’s Kyodo News agency said Friday that North Korea’s Red Cross Society would welcome family members to visit burial sites of Japanese.Kyodo said about 34,600 Japanese are believed to have died of hunger and disease in the final phase of World War II in what is now North Korea, and that the remains of 13,000 had been returned to Japan.Japan occupied northeast China and the Korean Peninsula before and during the war.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family The vital role family plays in societycenter_img 0 Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Top Stories last_img read more

July is deadliest month of 2012 for US troops

first_imgCasualties have jumped each year in the summer months, when warm weather makes it easier for insurgents to move around the mountainous country and carry out attacks. The three deadliest months of the war for U.S. troops have been in summer: August 2011, 71 deaths; July 2010, 65 deaths; June 2010, 60 deaths. During the winter, the Taliban and other insurgent groups have tended to bed down to wait out the cold.In the past two years, there has also been a surge of insider attacks in which Afghans have turned their guns on their international counterparts. NATO says that 34 international service members have been killed in such inside attacks so far this year.The U.S. started drawing down forces from a peak of nearly 103,000 last year and plans to have decreased to 68,000 troops in Afghanistan by October.Yearly breakdown of U.S. deaths In Afghanistan since start of the war:_2001: 3_2002: 23_2003: 30_2004: 49_2005: 93_2006: 88_2007: 110_2008: 151_2009: 305_2010: 492_2011: 398_2012: 219Monthly U.S. death tolls In Afghanistan since January 2010:_August 2012: 26_July 2012: 40_June 2012: 27_May 2012: 39_April 2012: 34_March 2012: 18_February 2012: 10_January 2012: 25 _December 2011: 15_November 2011: 17_October 2011: 28_September 2011: 38_August 2011: 71_July 2011: 33_June 2011: 46_May 2011: 34_April 2011: 46_March 2011: 27_February 2011: 19_January 2011: 24_December 2010: 33_November 2010: 53_October 2010: 49_September 2010: 42_August 2010: 55_July 2010: 65_June 2010: 60_May 2010: 34_April 2010: 19_March 2010: 24_February 2010: 28_January 2010: 30———-These numbers are based on Department of Defense press releases and include only deaths that occurred from incidents in Afghanistan. Data includes military civilian deaths. It does not include deaths of service personnel from other countries in the U.S.-led coalition. Data is current as of Aug. 16, 2012.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist (AP) – At least 1,961 U.S. service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan over the course of the 11-year war. Casualties rose steadily each year before reaching a peak in 2010 when 492 personnel were killed. There has been a slight decrease in casualties since then, with 398 killed in 2011, and at least 219 so far this year. Even with the downward trend in deaths, however, one U.S. soldier has been killed every day this year on average. July has been the deadliest month of 2012 for U.S. troops, with 40 killed as a result of war-related violence. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Top Stories Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Assads regime steps up use of air power

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Analysts say it is difficult to come up with reliable figures on the Syrian air force and air defenses because of the extreme secrecy that blankets its military matters. Some of the aircraft used so far also raise questions whether the regime _ anticipating major battles against Western powers _ is engaging in deception.The Syrians have been using trainer aircraft fitted to operate as light ground support when they could have used some of the relatively modern Soviet-made MiG-25s and MiG-29s it is believed to have.“So far, Syria has mainly used low-end systems, such as jet trainers or helicopter gunships, against the rebels,” said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.“That raises the question why they have not used more advanced equipment,” he said. “Are they holding back, saving them for possible outside intervention?”Chivvis, the Rand analyst, believes it could also be a question of the regime unable to trust pilots not to defect with relatively advanced aircraft that would be needed to resist later.In June, a Syrian fighter pilot flew his MiG-21 warplane to neighboring Jordan, where he was given asylum. Comments   Share   Experts say that Syria possesses one of the most robust air defense networks in the region, with multiple SAMs providing overlapping coverage of key areas in combination with thousands of anti-aircraft guns capable of engaging attacking aircraft at lower levels.Wezeman said that due to the secrecy involved, it was not possible to confirm whether the Syrians also obtained the advanced, Russian-built S-300 anti-aircraft missiles considered to be the cutting edge in aircraft interception technology.Moscow had refused to deliver the systems, but there have been unconfirmed reports that other nations may have sent Syria the missiles, which could make any aerial intervention very costly for the attackers.Separately, Syria also has obtained from Russia the mobile Bastion-P land-based coastal defense systems, including Yakhont anti-ship missiles capable of sinking large warships, including aircraft carriers.Analysts have warned that an attempt to impose a no-fly zone such as the one against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya last year would be a very complicated task, which could result in serious losses. Syria’s air defense capabilities are much more extensive and sophisticated than Libya’s were. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix “May God exact retribution on him!” they shout against Assad or the pilot involved. “May God cripple him!” and “May he rot in hell!” are other frequently used curses.Syria’s air force has an unimpressive record _ it lost 85 planes in a battle with Israel in 1982 _ but without any effective anti-aircraft weapons in the hands of the rebels, the relatively antiquated fleet of Soviet-era warplanes is unchallenged.“We used to think mortars are bad,” activist El-Saeed Mohammed said by Skype from a Damascus suburb. “Now, we think they are almost sweet when compared to what warplanes do to us. There is no kidding with planes.”He recounted how two elderly women died of heart attacks, possibly triggered by anxiety, during air raids in the past week in the greater Damascus area.Besides the deadly airstrikes, activists and residents say, pilots also employ psychological tactics. Jets frequently swoop down in mock strafing raids, break the sound barrier over urban centers, or fly menacingly at high altitudes, a sign of a possible bombing raid.Low flying helicopter gunships also spray streets with machine-gun fire, and residents lose sleep over air activity at night that frays the nerves of civilians and rebels alike. Wezeman, who tracks Damascus’ arms purchases, said its strategy on air force and air defenses has changed since Israel’s 2007 airstrike against a suspected nuclear facility in eastern Syria.Since then, he said, the regime has gone on a shopping spree for modern Russian-built aircraft and anti-aircraft missiles. Chivvis added that it may have spent more than $3 billion.Purchases have included 24 late-model MiG-29M2 fighters and 36 Yak-130 combat training jets that can also carry modern weapons for ground attack missions, he said. Although Moscow has not delivered the MiGs and Yaks, SIPRI’s reports suggest that Russia continues to ship air defense missiles and other munitions to Syria.In 2008, Russia’s ally Belarus delivered 33 second-hand MiG-23 fighter-bombers. It remains unclear whether these were used to bolster the air force’s numerical strength or to be used as parts for existing Mig-23s, he said.SIPRI reported in 2009 that Syrian Mi-24 helicopter gunships had arrived in Russia for overhaul. But a shipment of Mi-24s back to Syria earlier this year was aborted after the British insurers of the vessel carrying them withdrew coverage.In recent years, Syria has upgraded its extensive network of anti-aircraft missile batteries, purchasing new models and modernizing existing ones, including Russian-made 36 Pantsyr mobile surface-to-air missile systems and at least two of the eight Buk-M2E mobile SAMs on order. The Pantsyrs, considered particularly effective against attacking aircraft, feature a combination of 30mm cannons paired with a radar and anti-aircraft missiles all on the same vehicle. And, since such an action would likely have to be carried out without consent by the U.N. Security Council, where Syria’s allies China and Russia wield vetoes, it would risk a major international confrontation if Moscow or Beijing decided to send radar ships to the area to provide the regime with advance notice of air raids.This could mean a major international crisis that would probably end Moscow’s willingness to help resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, said Nick Witney, former head of the EU’s European Defense Agency.“The Russians and Chinese won’t back down, and unilateral, unauthorized action by the West would risk an old-style East-West rupture over Syria. That would be a really big gamble in a tinderbox situation in the Middle East,” he said.___Lekic reported from Brussels, Belgium.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) If a no-fly zone is enforced, Western aircraft will likely go head-to-head with the Syrian air force as well as try to neutralize, at least partially, its air defense system.“It is certainly a sign of increased concern on the part of the regime,” said senior political scientist Christopher S. Chivvis of the Rand Corporation. “The growing use of air power, particularly fixed-wing aircraft, raises the possibility of foreign intervention.”U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Aug. 14 that plans to set up a no-fly zone over parts of Syria is “not on the front burner,” despite persistent calls from rebel forces there that they need the added protection from escalating regime airstrikes in the civil war.Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that the U.S. and Turkey are discussing a range of steps, including a no-fly zone over some parts of Syria. Russia, Assad’s main foreign backer, opposes a no-fly zone.There are no estimates on how many civilians have been killed in airstrikes in the four-week period in which stepped up attacks have been detected, but Syrian activists speak of hundreds, maybe thousands, across the country.Helpless civilians run for cover when they hear the distant buzz of aircraft. Terrified and screaming, they head to the nearest basement or ground floor.center_img Associated PressBEIRUT (AP) – Its forces stretched thin on multiple fronts, President Bashar Assad’s regime has significantly increased its use of air power against Syrian rebels in recent weeks, causing a spike in civilian casualties.The shift is providing useful clues about the capability of the Syrian air force as Western powers consider the option of enforcing a no-fly zone over the northern part of the country, where rebels control large swaths of territory along the Turkish border. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The airstrikes often leave Syrians puzzled about what was the intended target.On Monday, fighter jets bombed the town of Tel Rifat, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of the city of Aleppo, punching a six-foot-deep crater in the courtyard of a girls’ school and leveling five homes nearby, according to an Associated Press reporter who visited the scene.No one was killed or injured, residents said, because the school and the homes were empty. Most of the town’s 35,000 people have fled due to frequent airstrikes and shelling by the government. The Brigade of Unification, the largest rebel group fighting in Aleppo province, has its headquarters in the town, but it has never been directly targeted.It is not clear why the regime has decided to dramatically step up the use of air power, particularly fixed-wing warplanes, in a civil war fought mostly on the streets and with no clearly defined battle lines.The rebels say it is a sign of the regime’s desperation after its ground forces began to lose their grip on the country. It is also likely the enhanced use of air power is designed to add firepower to an army stretched thin.The Syrian army is fighting major battles in the greater Damascus area and the northern city of Aleppo, along with a multitude of fronts in the southern, central and eastern parts of the country. Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Top Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Mexico blast a blow to Pemexs improving safety

first_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories Large gaps remain in what is known about the events that led up to the Reynosa explosion, including exactly what the contractors were doing at the facility, said George Baker, a Houston, Texas-based industry analyst who runs an energy newsletter focused on Mexico.“Blaming contractors is an easy out for any company,” Baker said, noting that such accusations frequently mark disasters like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.Pemex had been reducing accidents in the 2000s, following a series of incidents in the 1980s and 1990s, according to company figures. The number of accidents per million hours worked dropped by more than half, from 1.06 in 2005 to 0.42 in 2010. That is in line with the international average of about 0.43 per million, according to the U.K.-based International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, which does not independently verify company numbers.But Pemex acknowledged in a report that starting in late 2011, a series of smaller blasts and fires, mainly at refineries and petrochemical plants, had “seriously impacted” its safety rate. It said the rate of injuries per million hours had risen to 0.54. No figures are available yet for 2012. The death of 30 workers in one accident was the largest-single toll in at least a decade for the company.Only about one-sixth of those killed and half the 46 injured were Pemex employees. The rest worked for a half-dozen private companies doing operational and maintenance work at the station, which is next door to a larger and more flammable natural gas-processing plant.Some analysts pointed to Pemex’s huge reliance on subcontractors as a possible contributing factor to the disaster, while others defended the outsourcing.Pemex figures say contractors are slightly less prone to be involved in accidents than the company’s own staff.Carlos Ramirez, an analyst at the Eurasia Group who formerly worked at Pemex, disagreed.“My experience was always that contractors were lagging behind overall Pemex procedures. It was always a challenge to get them up to speed,” he said.Pemex officials have said that an accidental leak appears to have caused the fire and that there were no signs so far of sabotage.Executives said a valve apparently failed as workers performed routine testing where pipelines from gas wells in the Burgos basin converge near the border with Texas. The plant distributes the gas into a processing plant next door that produces fuel for domestic use. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Associated PressMEXICO CITY (AP) – An enormous blast that killed 30 workers at a pipeline facility in northern Mexico was a big setback for the state-owned oil company, which up to this year had been reporting strides in its safety record at once accident-prone plants.Petroleos Mexicanos and prosecutors were still combing the burned-out rubble and twisted wreckage Thursday at the pipeline metering center near Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas. But it was already clear Tuesday’s blast and fire marked a serious reversal in what Pemex has said was a declining accident rate. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Pemex “doesn’t have a bad safety record, or they haven’t had until recently,” said David Shields, an energy analyst based in Mexico City.The company has been under steady pressure to open its operations to outside firms, either through contractors or near-concessions known as “multiple services contracts,” because government investment money has become scarcer and demand is growing for duties that can be performed better or cheaper by non-Pemex workers.A large number of sub-contracted workers were also involved in Pemex’s last big accident in 2007, when a sudden storm hit an offshore oil rig, killing 22 workers. Three-quarters of them were employed by outside contractors. Poor emergency training was faulted as one of the main causes of those deaths.Pemex arranged for an outside investigation, which concluded the company should have had better procedures for anchoring platforms and better weather monitoring systems.Pemex has suffered other enormous accidents, such as a fireball from an illegally tapped pipeline in the central state of Puebla in 2010 that killed 28 civilians, including 13 children. But that and other disasters were not at company facilities and the accidents were caused by illegal acts, such as thieves drilling risky taps into fuel pipelines. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The vital role family plays in society 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

New pope opens Holy Week at Vatican on Palm Sunday

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis celebrated his first Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square, encouraging people to be humble and young at heart and promising to go to a youth jamboree in Brazil in July, while the faithful enthusiastically waved olive branches and braided palm fronds.The square overflowed with a crowd estimated by the Vatican at 250,000 people. Pilgrims, tourists and Romans jostled each other in an eager effort glimpse Francis as they joined the new pope at the start of solemn Holy Week ceremonies, which lead up to Easter, Christianity’s most important day. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona The pope ticked off a litany of evils afflicting the world, including wars, `’economic conflicts that hit the weakest” as well as corruption. In the final stretch of Benedict’s papacy, the Vatican was embarrassed by a leak of documents from the papal apartment, indicating corruption, ambition and rivalries among upper ranks of the Holy See’s management.Francis told an off-the-cuff story from his childhood in Argentina. `’My grandmother used to tell us children, `burial shrouds don’t have’ pockets,” the pope said, in a variation of `’you can’t take it with you.”Since his election on March 13, Francis has put the downtrodden and poor at the center of his mission as pope, keeping with the priorities of his Jesuit tradition.In his homily, Francis said Christian joy `’isn’t born from possessing a lot of things but from having met” Jesus. That same joy should keep people young, he said.“Even at 70, 80, the heart doesn’t age” if one is inspired by Christian joy, said the 76-year-old pontiff.The pontiff said he was joyfully looking forward to welcoming young people to Rio de Janiero for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day. So far, that is the first foreign trip on the calendar of Francis’ new papacy. `’I’m coming in July,” Francis said in remarks after Mass from the esplanade of the basilica. Keeping with his spontaneous style, the first pope from Latin America broke away several times from the text of his prepared homily to encourage the faithful to lead simple lives and resist the temptation to be sad when life’s obstacles inevitably come their way.`’Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope! Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope!” Francis told the crowd, in an apparent reference to the economic difficulties people are grappling with as they try to find adequate work amid a poor job market in much of the world.At the end of the two-hour Mass, Francis took off his red vestments, and wearing his plain white cassock and skull cap, climbed into an open-topped popemobile to circle through the excited crowd. He leaned out to shake hands, kissed and patted the heads of infants passed to him by bodyguards, and often gave children the thumbs-up sign.His security detail seemed to be reluctantly dealing with this get-close-to-the-people pontiff, scrambling around the vehicle to pick up this child or that one. At one point, the chief bodyguard, Domenico Giani, was sent back to the mother of a child he had greeted to convey a message from the pontiff, and the ever-tense Giani broke into a smile after his mission was accomplished. Francis even climbed down from the vehicle, kissed a woman in the crowd and chatted briefly with her, and another man in the crowd leaned over a barrier to squeeze the pontiff on a shoulder _ an unheard of familiarity in the previous pontificate of the reserved Benedict XVI.In keeping with his stress on giving examples of humility, Francis kissed the hand of an elderly woman who had outstretched an arm to him.`’There is no doubt that there will be a new spring for the church, a renewal” with this pope, said Sister Emma, an Argentine nun in the crowd.Palm Sunday recalls Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem but its Gospel also recounts how he was betrayed by one of his apostles and ultimately sentenced to death on a cross.Francis presided over the Mass at an altar sheltered by a white canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.Recalling the triumphant welcome into Jerusalem, Francis said Jesus `’awakened so many hopes in the heart, above all among humble, simple, poor, forgotten people, those who don’t matter in the eyes of the world.”Cardinals, many of them among the electors who chose him to be the Roman Catholic church’s first Latin American pope, sat on chairs during the ceremony held under hazy skies on a breezy day. He quoted from Benedict when he told the cardinals that while they are `’princes” of the church, their leader is the crucified Christ, a further admonition against attachment to temporal power. During Mass, at the point when the Gospel recounts the moment of Jesus’ death, many faithful knelt on hard cobblestones paving the square, and Francis knelt on a wooden kneeler.A few young olive trees were inserted in dirt placed around the central obelisk in the square.Holy Week will see at least one break from tradition with this new papacy. Instead of washing priests’ feet in a basilica in a symbolic gesture of humility on Holy Thursday, Francis will wash the feet of young inmates at a juvenile detention center in Rome. Other appointments in public will include the Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday night. Next Sunday, Francis will celebrate Easter Mass in the square.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share   Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectlast_img

GOP pledges to rein in Obama on EPA rules global warming

first_img___Follow Matthew Daly: http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDCCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. McConnell wrote the 50 governors in March urging them not to comply with the rule, which requires implementation by the states. McConnell has encouraged legal challenges to the rule and recently announced a new wrinkle, telling the EPA’s McCarthy that Congress could block the plan by using an obscure section of the Clean Air Act requiring congressional consent for agreements among states.“The law reads: ‘No such agreement or compact shall be binding or obligatory upon any state … unless and until it has been approved by Congress,’” McConnell told McCarthy at an April hearing. “Doesn’t seem ambivalent to me. I can assure you that as long as I am majority leader of the Senate, this body will not sign off on any backdoor national energy tax.”___WHAT’S NEXT?Obama, McCarthy and officials are not backing down. At the April hearing, McCarthy told McConnell that the EPA guidelines are reasonable and give states “tremendous flexibility.”The EPA will produce a rule “that will withstand the test of time in the courts,” McCarthy said.“You’re going to have to prove it in court,” McConnell said. The administration also has moved forward on other rules, including the water plan announced last Wednesday. Officials say it will provide much-needed clarity for landowners about which small waterways and tributaries must be protected against pollution and development.The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, said the rule only would affect waters with a “direct and significant” connection to larger bodies of water downstream that already are protected.The administration has proposed stricter emissions limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness. Rather than settling on a firm new ozone limit, the EPA is proposing a range of allowable ozone levels that cut the existing level but do not go as far as environmental and public health groups want. The rule is expected to be completed later this year.In December, the administration set the first national standards for waste generated from coal burned for electricity, treating it more like household garbage than a hazardous material. Environmentalists had pushed for the hazardous classification, citing hundreds of cases nationwide in which coal ash waste has tainted waterways or underground aquifers, in many cases legally. Patients with chronic pain give advice New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says a new federal rule regulating small streams and wetlands will protect the drinking water of more than 117 million people in the country.Not so, insist Republicans. They say the rule is a massive government overreach that could even subject puddles and ditches to regulation.Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is promising to “rein in” the government through legislation or other means. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img Sponsored Stories It’s a threat with a familiar ring.What else are Capito and other Republicans pledging to try to block?— the administration’s plan to curb carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.— its proposal for stricter limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness— a separate rule setting the first national standards for waste generated from coal burned for electricity.The rules are among a host of regulations that majority Republicans have targeted for repeal or delay as they confront President Barack Obama on a second-term priority: his environmental legacy, especially his efforts to reduce the pollution linked to global warming.___WHAT HAS OBAMA PROPOSED?Last June, Obama rolled out a plan to cut earth-warming pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030, setting in motion one of the most significant U.S. actions ever to address global warming. Once completed this summer, the rule will set the first national limits on carbon dioxide from existing power plants, the largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S.The administration says the rule is expected to raise electricity prices by about 4.9 percent by 2020 and spur a wave of retirements of coal-fired power plants. How men can have a healthy 2019 “As we most often do,” McCarthy replied.Lawmakers in the House and Senate will continue to hold hearings on the administration’s plans and push bills to block the rules or curb spending on them. The GOP-controlled House passed a bill blocking the EPA water rule on May 12 — two weeks before it was officially announced. Bills to block the power plant rule, ozone limits and coal ash regulation have been filed in both chambers.“We are going to pursue all avenues,” McConnell told The Associated Press. “The solution is not right here (in Congress), it’s out there — either in the courts or the governors refusing to file plans.”This week, the EPA is expected to propose regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks, cutting millions of tons of carbon dioxide pollution while saving millions of barrels of oil.EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said in all its actions, the agency is merely fulfilling its mission to protect the environment.“Clean air and clean water should not be a political issue,” she said. “All sides of the aisle want a clean and safe planet for their children and future generations. We are just doing our jobs — as Congress has directed us, and as courts have affirmed for us — to protect public health and the environment.” 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Top Stories The coal industry wanted the less stringent classification, arguing that coal ash is not dangerous, and that a hazardous label would hinder recycling. About 40 percent of coal ash is reused.___WHAT DO REPUBLICANS SAY ABOUT THE RULES?GOP lawmakers criticize the rules as anti-business job killers that go further than needed to protect the nation’s air and water supplies and other natural resources.House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the new water rule will send “landowners, small businesses, farmers and manufacturers on the road to a regulatory and economic hell.”Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said Obama and the EPA are “aggressively pushing an extreme and costly regulatory agenda” that will harm the U.S. economy and everyday life of Americans. His committee “continues to pursue legislation to take aim at EPA’s costly and harmful regulations,” Inhofe said.___WHAT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE TO CONGRESSIONAL OPPONENTS?Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has led the charge against the power plant rule, which he says amounts to a declaration of war against his home state, a longtime leader in coal production. FILE – In this Feb. 18, 2015 file photo Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks at the State Department in Washington. The Obama administration says a new federal rule regulating small streams and wetlands will protect the drinking water of more than 117 million Americans. Republicans in Congress say the rule issued this week goes too far and could even subject puddles and ditches to regulation in what GOP lawmakers call a massive overreach of government power. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)last_img read more

Defense lawyer DNA available in British tourist murder case

first_img Sponsored Stories 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Defenders of the accused men, Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin, say the Thai police analyses of the DNA are the only evidence linking them to the crime, so retesting is crucial. Defense lawyers said the DNA reports compiled by Thai police and British coroners had discrepancies.Nakorn said the forensic expert testified that although the original DNA swabs obtained at the crime scene had been exhausted, they had been duplicated through a laboratory process, so samples were still available. He said the court had asked him to submit a request detailing which samples they wanted to be retested.The bodies of Miller, 24, and Witheridge, 23, were found Sept. 15 on the rocky shores of Koh Tao. Autopsies showed that both had suffered severe head wounds and that Witheridge had been raped.Under intense pressure to catch the murderers, police carried out DNA tests on more than 200 people on the island before arresting the two suspects in early October.The men, both 22 years old, retracted initial confessions, saying they were extracted through beatings and threats, which police deny. From the start, investigators faced a variety of criticisms, including for failing to secure the crime scene and for releasing names and pictures of suspects who turned out to be innocent. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 0 Comments   Share   Check your body, save your life BANGKOK (AP) — A lawyer for two migrant Myanmar workers on trial for murdering British backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge said Thursday that DNA evidence the defense had sought for retesting has become available despite earlier doubts it could be used.Nakorn Chompuchat, defense lawyer in the trial for the 2014 killings on Koh Tao island, said a forensic police officer told judges in court that some evidence, including blood-stained sand and a condom, had enough DNA to be retested. Police last week had indicated that the samples had been used up, making retesting impossible. Mesa family survives lightning strike to homelast_img read more

Orders for Airbus double that of Boeing in 2009

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X Airbus Tuesday reported that it had received 271 new orders for aircraft in2009, and while significantly down from the 777 orders in 2008 manages to nearly double the figure that Boeing received.Following quickly on the heels of Boeing who announced142 new orders, Airbus this week also reported its performance results for the year of 2009 which featured a record-breaking 498 aircraft delivered to commercial customers.“Considering the economic and financial environment we have done rather well in 2009,” said Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO.“We plan to keep production at 2008/2009 levels, but we need to remain prudent and flexible. We are not out of the woods yet.”The shining star in Airbus’s performance records this year was the Airbus A320, which alone saw 402 units delivered, as well as new orders for 228 units.  This strong performance likely swayed Mr Enders into announcing “further investments” into the A320 project.Ten of the double-decker A380 aircraft were delivered this year, and Airbus hopes to boost this figure up to “at least” 20 next year.  One main stumbling block is the relatively high cost of producing the A380 which Airbus has admitted still has some way to go before it stops being a financial liability.Another area where the company is haemorrhaging funds, at the rate of EUR100 million a month, is in the A400M military transporter, which is having issues so large that Mr Enders had earlier been quoted by Reuters saying he was sceptical a deal could be made to save the program. Airbus executives reporting 2009 deliveries and orderslast_img read more

Adelaide Convention Centre achieves Hat Trick at SA Tourism Awards

first_imgThe Adelaide Convention Centre is the third-time winner of the Meetings and Business Tourism category of the South Australian Tourism Industry Awards, announced at the 2010 gala dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre last night.The third consecutive win also means the Adelaide Convention Centre has been inducted into the prestigious Hall of Fame. The venue will now contend for the national title for the third time at the Qantas National Tourism Awards being announced in Perth in March 2011.  Adelaide Convention Centre Chief Executive, Alec Gilbert, credits his team and their Gold Service, Green Attitude for the prestigious accolade.“We offer world-class facilities and maintain exceptional standards, and the efforts of our dedicated staff ensure the consistent delivery of high quality events.“Part of the superior product we provide is our commitment to environmental sustainability and we have numerous initiatives in place to reduce our carbon footprint to allow us to provide gold class service while being environmentally responsible,” he said.By providing a first class tourism experience for business travellers the Adelaide Convention Centre continues to contribute to the broader tourism industry. “With conference delegates convening at the Adelaide Convention Centre, millions of dollars are poured into hotels, restaurants, cafes and tourism operators throughout the state each year,” Mr Gilbert said. “When you consider our outstanding levels of professionalism and service and our commitment to the environment, it’s no wonder that Adelaide is regarded as Australia’s convention city,” he added.The Adelaide Convention Centre is consistently recognised for excellence, ranking among the world’s top convention centres. It has been the winner of AIPC International Innovation Award for Excellence in Convention Centre Management, as well as Meetings & Events Australia Awards for Best Meeting Venue and Corporate Social Responsibility. Source = Adelaide Convention Centre ACC Alec Gilbertlast_img read more

Virgin Blue may join Star Alliance

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Whilst Virgin Blue’s proposed alliance with Air New Zealand hangs in the balance, Star Alliance is attempting to woo the low cost carrier into its ranks. Both Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue are awaiting the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) decision in regards to the joint venture. According to Air Transport World, Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht said the group’s numbers in Australia were “lacking.” “We have to look [to Virgin]” as Australia’s “white spot,” he said. If the airline was to come on-board and join the alliance this would fulfill its minimum requirements as the carrier is set to establish a business (class) model on its medium-haul fleet. Virgin Blue, CEO, John Borghetti was keen to explore all options available. “There’s a chance for Virgin Blue to look at everything. “We’ve got a lot on at the moment and we’re evaluating everything, and I mean everything, and certainly as we go forward we’ll see where that leads,” he said.Mr Albrecht said Star Alliance would seek members from Russia and Africa next.last_img read more

Travel deals top Group Buying Escapes

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J More travellers are looking to purchase travel products through online group buying markets, with Group Buying Escapes reporting that 24 percent of its marketing revenue is a result of travel deals.The online site explained that within the three months from June to September, the sector leaped from the smallest category to the largest, bringing in $158.5 million from $123.9 million.Selling up to 53,000 room nights and 10,000 travel vouchers within five months, the Group’s parent company, RewardsCorp Group director Randall Deer explained the system offers operators the chance to sell their product during “challenging downturns”.“Travel is a specialist market but through our wealth of industry experience we are able to consistently orchestrate attractive, packaged deals to sought-after international and domestic destinations which are helping drive this exciting, new business for our partners,” Mr Deer said.According to the Group, the power of Group Buying sites was evident when its signed on to sell The Village Coconut Island.Promoting the resort for five days, the resort sold up to 7984 room nights and 998 vouchers.“Our innovative business model is simple but successful,” he added. “Targeting the movement of low shoulder and low yield inventory, Group Buying Escapes’ marketing partnership with the major sites (Groupon, Scoopon, Living Social and Spreets) delivers pre-paid quality bookings to maximize resorts’ revenue while delivering a highly efficient, credible and manageable reservations platform without risk of oversell.”last_img read more

Foreigners favour Bihars ancient attractions

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Foreign tourists to India are opting for an inland historical holiday instead of the once-popular beach retreat.More than 16 percent of all international visitors are travelling to the state of Bihar to visit ancient religious and cultural sites, according to The Hindu Business Line.Bihar is now receiving more travellers from abroad than the coastal state of Goa, which is known for its magnificent beaches.“More than 840,000 foreign tourists visited different historical sites of Bihar from January to August this year,” Bihar State Tourism minister Sunil Kumar Pintu told the Press Trust of India.Minister Pintu said foreign tourist numbers to Bihar will exceed one million by year’s end, emphasising a ten-fold increase in international tourists to the state over the past decade.Bihar is famous for Buddhist sites including Bodh Gaya, Vaishali and Nalanda among others. In an effort to drive awareness and increase domestic and foreign visitation, the Bihar Government held a road show at Mauritius during an international conference in late October.Bihar representatives were also present at the World Travel Market 2012 London. Maha Boddhi Temple in Bihar Image: Bihar State Tourismlast_img read more