Airlines in the US expecting 4 increase in passengers this spring

first_imgAirlines in the U.S. expecting 4% increase in passengers this spring The Canadian Press DALLAS — Coming off another highly profitable year in 2016, U.S. airlines expect traffic this spring to increase 4% over last year, and they are adding seats to handle the crush.The trade group Airlines for America forecast Monday that a record 145 million U.S. passengers will fly between March 1 and April 30.The group’s chief economist says traffic will rise because airfares have been falling while economic indicators such as household wealth and job creation are rising. Tags: America Posted bycenter_img Tuesday, March 21, 2017 Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img

Hotels facing US10000 fines for hidden resort fees

first_img Friday, September 15, 2017 Tags: Hawaii Hotels facing US$10,000 fines for hidden resort fees HONOLULU — Resort fees are now rampant in top tourism destinations like Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas and parts of the Caribbean, however a consumer protection agency in at least one state is pulling out all the stops to bring hidden fees to light, in a move that could drive a hidden fee crackdown in other destinations.The Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection says it’s investigating resort fees charged by hotel operators as part of a nationwide effort to curb hidden industry fees.Hawaii News Now reports that state and federal regulators are cracking down on hotels that charge resort fees without fully disclosing the charges to visitors.The resort fees cover costs of hotel amenities ranging from use of hotel gyms, telephone services, access to business centres and other amenities.Resort fees at Hawaii hotels typically range between US$10 and $40 a night and aren’t usually included in the standard room rate online.Stephen Levins, the Office of Consumer Protection’s executive director, says a hotel operator can be fined up to $10,000 per violation if the resort fees are found to be unfair or deceptive. << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Posted by Share Travelweek Group last_img read more

Warwicks spring savings include up to 20 off best available rates

first_imgWarwick’s spring savings include up to 20% off best available rates Share Tags: Promotions, Warwick Hotels & Resorts Tuesday, March 6, 2018 NEW YORK — Spring is right around the corner, and Warwick Hotels and Resorts is gearing up for warmer temperatures with special spring savings of up to 20% off.With the ‘Step into Spring Sale’, Warwick Journeys members receive up to 20% off while non-members receive up to 15% off. Warwick Journeys is the complimentary membership recognition program that was recently launched by the brand to reward travellers.The promotion starts March 7 for Warwick Journeys members, and March 9 for non-members, and run through March 16, 2018. It is available for travel from March 21-June 20, 2018.Properties featured in the sale include the brand’s flagship, Warwick New York, the new adults-only, all-inclusive Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas, as well as the Warwick Paris, Warwick Brussels, Warwick San Francisco, Warwick Allerton – Chicago, Warwick Melrose – Dallas, The Capital, and The Levin, among others.A full listing of participating hotels can be found at news:  Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughtsBooking for the Step into Spring Sale is available at The sale is subject to availability, and cannot be combined with other discounts or offers.Warwick Journeys is free to join and allows members to earn credit based on the number of stays completed, as well as gain elite status faster via a unique Cross Stay Accelerator benefit that rewards travellers who stay at multiple Warwick locations. To sign up go to << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Posted bylast_img read more

AMResorts conversions of two Grand Oasis properties effective June 1

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> AMResorts’ conversions of two Grand Oasis properties effective June 1 Travelweek Group Share Thursday, March 7, 2019 center_img Tags: AMResorts TORONTO — AMResorts has announced two new resort brand management deals in Mexico that will see the Grand Oasis Sens in Cancun and Grand Oasis Tulum convert to two different AMResorts brands.The deal is part of AMResorts’ partnership with Oasis Hotels & Resorts.The deals expand AMResorts’ family-friendly resort portfolio in the country, growing the Now Resorts & Spas’ brand footprint in Cancun and introducing Sunscape Resorts & Spas in the beach destination of Akumal, in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The resorts will undergo renovations and re-open under AMResorts’ brands on June 1, 2019. Grand Oasis Sens in Cancun will be rebranded as Now Emerald Cancun, with 427 rooms. The second property, Grand Oasis Tulum, will reopen as the 360-room Sunscape Akumal Beach Resort & Spa, the first hotel for the brand in the area. “Hotel investors, this is the right time to have a strong partner in Mexico. The team at Oasis Hotels & Resorts shares our vision for growth, and together we can tap into our collective expertise in the market to deliver an unparalleled experience for travelers,” said Javier Coll, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of ALG. “As the market cycle continues to turn, now is the time for owners wanting to ensure future stability for their assets and capitalize on their investments to align with the right partner who can help them weather the cyclical nature of the hospitality industry.”The AMResorts brands continue to expand in Mexico, with new properties slated to open beginning in late 2019 with Now Natura Riviera Cancun, and more properties scheduled to make their debut in 2020 and beyond. Posted bylast_img read more

Vacation home rentals make an ideal base for busy Kissimmee getaways

first_img Share Travelweek Group TORONTO — For the vast majority of visitors to Kissimmee, it’s all about the theme parks, and Experience Kissimmee knows it.And because the days in this Florida favourite are filled to the brim with rides, attractions and plenty of sun, that’s all the more reason to prioritize a good night’s sleep with accommodation offering the ease and conveniences of home. Kissimmee has that too, with more than 22,000 vacation home rentals.For several years now Kissimmee has been touting its title as the Vacation Home Capital of the World (they even trademarked the slogan) and the message is resonating with the trade, says Denise Graham, Account Manager, Canada for Experience Kissimmee.Agents are booking the vacation home rentals and can earn commission on the bookings thanks to high participation in the program from Canadian tour operators. “All the tour operators offer them,” said Graham at last night’s Experience Kissimmee event, at The Ballroom in Toronto. Graham and the Experience Kissimmee team from VoX International hosted the event – complete with a pajama-party theme – along with partners from Kissimmee’s top theme parks and attractions.Flight Centre agents have a ball at the pajama-themed Experience Kissimmee event at The Ballroom in Toronto“We have vacation rentals that start at two bedrooms and go all the way up to 18 bedrooms,” says Graham. The larger options can accommodate everything from family reunions to small corporate groups to multigenerational vacations.More news:  Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochureKissimmee is coming off a great year, she added, with overnight stays up 17% for the destination in the most recent fiscal year. For this fiscal year, so far overnight stays are up close to 3%.For more details see Tags: Events, Kissimmee << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Thursday, April 25, 2019 Vacation home rentals make an ideal base for busy Kissimmee getaways Posted bylast_img read more

Sunwing set to expand winter sun service from Hamilton ON

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Hamilton International Airport, new destinations, Sunwing Monday, July 22, 2019 Share Travelweek Group center_img Sunwing set to expand winter sun service from Hamilton, ON TORONTO — Sunwing is offering vacationers in the Hamilton and the Greater Golden Horseshoe area more winter sun destination options than ever, with a total of six flight services available this coming winter.New destinations include Cayo Coco, Cayo Santa Maria and Cancun, plus Sunwing is bringing back perennial favourites Montego Bay and Punta Cana, along with Varadero, which will benefit from twice-weekly flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays for the first time.Hamilton vacationers looking to head to Cuba can take advantage of Sunday flights to Cayo Coco between Dec. 15, 2019 and April 12, 2020.A weekly flight service to Cayo Santa Maria will operate on Fridays from Dec. 13, 2019 until April 10, 2020.Those looking to visit Mexico can take advantage of weekly flights to Cancun departing on Sundays from Dec. 15, 2019 until April 12, 2020.Returning favourite Punta Cana is available on Fridays from Nov. 8, 2019 until April 10, 2020 and Montego Bay on Saturdays from Dec. 14, 2019 to April 11, 2020.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from Ottawa“We are excited to be expanding our operations from John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport,” says Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations for Sunwing. “Since we commenced operations in the Hamilton region in 2013, our flight services have been well-received and extremely popular with residents of Hamilton and the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. With the addition of these three new destinations, we will now be offering travellers access to more of our popular vacation hotspots than ever before.”Resort options for Cayo Coco-bound travellers include Memories Flamenco Beach Resort, a Sunwing favourite property with activities and amenities for guests of all ages, from the kids club featuring characters Toopy and Binoo, to non-motorized water sports like windsurfing and catamaran rides.Vacationers heading to Cayo Santa Maria could opt for Grand Memories Santa Maria offering a wide range of activities for all ages including a kids club.And with the newly-introduced weekly flight service to Cancun, vacationers can visit top-rated family resort, Riu Dunamar, home to its very own Splash Water World water park and with accommodation options for families of five or more. Sunwing clients can get exclusive RIU-topia inclusions like unlimited reservation-free dining, free WiFi, spa credits and more.More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North America“As an airport that is growing its leisure travel options for Hamilton and the surrounding market, Hamilton International Airport is very happy to continue its invaluable partnership with Sunwing over the forthcoming winter season,” says Dina Carlucci, Director, Marketing & Communications for John C Munro Hamilton International Airport. “Sunwing’s 2019/2020 winter program has more than doubled its flights from Hamilton, with flights to destinations in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba including new Sunwing flights from Hamilton to Cancun, Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria.” Posted bylast_img read more

Forget the B2s over Seoul worry about Guam

first_imgNo related posts. WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the past month, the Pentagon has sent everything from B-2s to nuclear submarines to the Korean Peninsula to remind North Korea who they’re dealing with. But for a more concerning sign that the Pentagon is taking the threat seriously, look to Guam.The Pentagon announced on Wednesday it was sending the mobile, land-based missile defense system THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) to Guam. It’s the latest sign the U.S. believes North Korea may indeed launch a missile – perhaps even a nuclear-tipped missile – across the Western Pacific at a U.S. military target.The truck-mounted missile system is designed to shoot down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles within 250 kilometers, serving as an umbrella system for large theaters of operation. It is also able to target missiles outside the atmosphere, giving it a higher range than the Patriot system.But THAAD is yet another Pentagon missile defense system that defense and industry officials praise but arms critics shred as unreliable and unready for action. According to, only two of six planned batteries were certified for “initial operational capacity” in fiscal 2012, which is a lower state of readiness than “full operational capacity.” Further testing required by the U.S. Army’s own guidelines is scheduled into 2017, delaying “full material release” of the batteries to the Army.“THAAD is operationally effective against short-range ballistic missile threats of the types tested through the end of 2012. It has not been demonstrated against medium-range threats,” the group found. But based on initial testing the group believes THADD is “likely” effective against medium-range missiles and is therefore “operationally suitable,” but “limited.”Its deployment follows Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement that the Pentagon would spend $1 billion to increase the number of controversial ground-based interceptor (GBI) missiles based in Alaska, even though the last successful test of that system was in 2008.A Pentagon statement described the decision to deploy THAAD to Guam as only “a precautionary move to strengthen our regional defense posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat.”But weapons guru John Pike, director of, said the THAAD system was still stuck somewhere in between test-phase and actual operational readiness. Pike said it reminded him of the 1950s when unproven nuclear bombs in the U.S. testing program were being classified as “EC” which stood for “emergency capability.”“I think THAAD right now is an EC,” Pike said, in an interview. It’s a defense, he argued, that “had been known to work on occasions – might work – better safe than sorry, better something than nothing.”By now, Pike said he is worried North Korea has painted itself into a corner situation where it must make good on its threats or risk losing face and credibility. Sending a nuclear bomb over Guam is not implausible, which makes the Pentagon’s decision to deploy the THAAD anti-missile system “only sensible.”“Possession of nuclear weapons implies a willingness to use them,” Pike said. “If the North Korean leadership felt that a demonstration test against a military target would be of some value, an airburst over Guam would be on the short list.” An air burst is a detonation of a bomb in the air at altitude, rather than near or at ground level.But Pike questioned why the Pentagon announcement said the mobile system would be deployed “in the coming weeks” when the North Korean threat seems imminent.“I don’t understand what the hold-up is. The party’s going to be over by then,” he said. “I’d rather hear ‘in the coming days.’“Defense officials would not elaborate on the timeline of THAAD’s arrival in Guam beyond the DOD statement, saying it was meant to be a vague window in order to mask the timeline of when then the system becomes operational on-site.Still, Pike is watching westward, fearing something is coming the way of U.S. military bases.“The North Koreans have run out of [non-] kinetic provocations, haven’t they? I mean, how many times can you declare war?” he said. “If they don’t start shooting within the next week or 10 days, everybody’s going to say they’re a bunch of chickens, that they can talk the talk but they’re not willing to walk the walk, aren’t they? And they’re going to say of Kim Jong Un, he don’t know how to run nothing but his mouth,” to paraphrase a classic Marion Barry quote.But even for a hardware expert like Pike, the U.S. solution does not lie in deploying more weapons. South Korea and the Americans, he argued, “can take it up the escalation ladder as far as the North wants to go.” The thing that could change North Korea’s tune, he said, is China.“The North would run out of rubble to bounce before the Americans would run out of hydrogen bombs.”(c) 2013, Foreign Policy Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Royal Canadian Mounted Police train Costa Rican cops to spot suspicious behavior

first_imgRelated posts:Airport police arrest Tico with more than a kilo of cocaine Is ‘El Chapo’ in Costa Rica? Probably not, but he wouldn’t be the first kingpin to flee here The good, the bad and the ugly of President Chinchilla’s security legacy Golfito judge releases three Costa Rican suspects 24 hours after they were busted with 2 tons of cocaine A group of 22 police officers from the Public Security Ministry’s Air Surveillance and Drug Control departments received training to detect illicit drug and money mules at Costa Rican airports.Two instructors from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police trained local cops how to spot suspicious behavior such as nervous leg movements, hand sweating, stuttering and other body reactions usually associated with the risk of being arrested.During the first week Canadian officers worked with six local police instructors on how to train officers in human behavior and body language observation.“They are now certified to provide training to both local and regional police officers,” said Pierre Villaneuve, one of the Canadian instructors.In the second week, the new Costa Rican instructors provided the training to 16 local police officers under the Mounties’ supervision.At a graduation ceremony last Friday, Villaneuve said he is certain the training will make the officers better cops. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Panel warns of Central Americas increasing dependence on Petrocaribe

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – As Costa Rica debates thepros and cons of joining the Venezuelan oil financing program Petrocaribe, energy experts meeting in Washington warned that countries already addicted to Petrocaribe’s cheap oil could face catastrophe if the Venezuelan economy under President Nicolás Maduro implodes.Most of Petrocaribe’s 17 members are Caribbean island nations, but the roster also includes three Central American countries: Belize, El Salvador and Nicaragua. A fourth, Guatemala, joined in July 2008 but pulled out last November after complaining that Venezuela had changed the terms of the deal, making its oil exports less attractive.In addition, Honduras was invited this February to rejoin Petrocaribe after having been suspended by Venezuela in 2009. Prior to that suspension – which followed the overthrow of then-President Manuel Zelaya – Honduras was receiving 20,000 barrels of oil daily to fuel its electricity power generation plants. Thanks to Petrocaribe, the Zelaya government bought that oil on a deferred basis, paying 60 percent within 90 days and the remaining 40 percent over a 25-year period, at an interest rate of only 1 percent.Yet Petrocaribe’s largesse cannot continue forever, suggested Jason Marczak, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.“What happens to the 17 countries who are members of this program if Caracas pulls back the generous credit subsidies it gives members to help them import its crude oil products?” Marczak asked. “This is a not-so-distant possibility given Venezuela’s economic situation and slowing oil production, but it’s one Caracas would certainly like to avoid. This has all the makings of an energy crisis brewing off our shores.”On July 16, the Washington-based think tank released a 24-page study, “Uncertain Energy: The Caribbean’s Gamble With Venezuela.” To mark the occasion, it hosted a panel discussion featuring three experts: David Goldwyn, the study’s author and a former U.S. State Department coordinator of international energy affairs, Jorge Piñón, who heads the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas-Austin, and Jed Bailey, managing partner at Boston-based Energy Narrative.“It’s almost 10 years since Venezuela announced the Petrocaribe program,” Goldwyn said. “Petrocaribe sells oil and products at market benchmarks, but also provides financing for governments, giving them long terms and low down payments so the countries can take that oil and use the proceeds of those sales either to invest or save, or more likely, to use for budget support. It’s a credit financing program at its core, and for Venezuela, it’s been an enormous political success.”However, for Petrocaribe members themselves, the results have been “decidedly more mixed,” Goldwyn told his audience, which included the ambassadors of Nicaragua, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.“Buying crude oil and products on cheap credit has given these countries an enormous debt burden, in some cases 10 to 20 percent of their GDP,” he said. Even more ominously, he said, “Petrocaribe has delayed the migration away from fuel oil and diesel for power generation to cleaner fuels. And the problem with using a high-cost fuel oil is that it makes the cost of electricity extremely high. The average throughout the Caribbean is 33 cents per kilowatt-hour, while the U.S. average is a dime. That’s part of the reason why Caribbean economies are not competitive.”Yet it’s difficult for these countries to kick the habit.“Whether they want to or not, Petrocaribe countries may not have a choice,” Goldwyn warned. “With oil production declining and Venezuela unable to import diapers, toilet paper and basic staples, it’s hard to justify selling oil literally for beans. The risk of a complete cutoff is actually quite low, but the impact on these economies could be catastrophic.” A PDVSA gasoline station on the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesInterestingly, although the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Nicaragua comprise only three of Petrocaribe’s 13 active member states, in 2012 they accounted for just over 80,000 barrels per day of the 121,000 that Petrocaribe exported. The D.R. and Jamaica both operate oil refineries that without huge injections of capital from state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) would have closed long ago.Piñón, a Cuban-born energy expert who has followed the scheme since its inception, said the challenge for PDVSA today is purely cash flow.“PDVSA has converted itself into a politicized institution of the state, and that’s what makes the whole situation critical,” he said, noting that Venezuela’s state oil monopoly hasn’t published financial reports for years. “The Achilles’ heel of Venezuela today is cash flow. The crude oil basket price is below $100 a barrel, and they’ve been stuck at 2.7 million barrels a day since 2005.”At present, Venezuela exports 45,000 barrels per day of crude oil to Petrocaribe countries, and an additional 76,000 bpd of refined products like gasoline. Venezuela also exports 85,000 bpd of crude and 6,000 bpd of refined products to Cuba through a separate Convenio Integral de Cooperación Cuba-Venezuela (CIC). Jorge Piñón is director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas-Austin. Piñón was one of several speakers at a July 16, 2014 conference on Petrocaribe sponsored by the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. Larry Luxner/The Tico Times“Petrocaribe is an extremely generous program in that it offers financing at better terms than the IMF or the World Bank,” conceded Goldwyn. “So it’s really hard for these countries to give that up. It’s a political problem for governments in power to volunteer a significant hole in their budgets without knowing how they’re going to fill that hole.”It also obligates smaller Caribbean and Central American countries to back Venezuela politically, even when they otherwise might not have. In March, for example, the Organization of American States passed a declaration supporting the Maduro government’s efforts to end Venezuela’s political stalemate, and only the United States, Canada and Panama dared to oppose the resolution.“When you look at the cash flow situation they’ve gotten themselves in, I just don’t see the political value it has given Venezuela,” Piñón said. “Maybe in some regional forums like the OAS they’ve gotten support, but at the end of the day, I ask myself whether these countries received major diplomatic and political benefits out of it.”What really concerns Piñón, he said, is what happens in the short term.“There is going to be a 911 call when there’s a change of policy in Caracas,” he warned. “Literally, the lights could go out in some of these countries.”To guard against that, all three panelists argued that the U.S. needs to come up with a strategy to wean Petrocaribe members off cheap oil and get them to increase consumption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and renewable energy sources.“We believe the Caribbean countries should follow the trend of Mexico, in reforming the electricity sector, and to convert from fuel oil to natural gas. If Caribbean economies can make this conversion, they can lower their carbon footprints, lower the cost of electricity and make their economies more competitive,” said Goldwyn. A massive offshore drilling platform operates in Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesPro-region, not anti-VenezuelanThe Inter-American Development Bank recently hired Bailey’s firm to prepare two pre-feasibility studies – one for the Caribbean and one for Central America – on reducing the region’s dependency on imported crude. The answer, he said, is to finance the conversion of existing power plants to burn LNG instead of fuel oil.“We believe gas could be brought in at a cost of $10-14 per million BTU – depending on the size of the market and where it’s being sourced from – compared to $17-20 for fuel oil and $20-25 for diesel,” he said. “There’s a strong potential to reduce costs if you can convert power plants to burn natural gas, and negotiate favorable terms.”Bailey said 45 to 50 percent of the fuel oil in the Caribbean and Central America is burned for power generation, making it relatively easy to convert to LNG because the main fuel buyer is a central entity, such as a utility, rather than thousands of consumers.Goldwyn said the Obama administration’s Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, (CESI) launched with great fanfare last month by Vice President Joe Biden, doesn’t even mention the words “natural gas.”“We have to come up with a much more robust package than CESI has so far,” he complained. “The irony is that actually reducing Petrocaribe would be a win-win for both Venezuela and the region. This is an issue the United States really needs to care about, but it’s incumbent on us to show that our Caribbean policy is more pro-Caribbean than anti-Venezuelan.”Recommended: How one island powered itself with a volcano Facebook Comments Related posts:China, Venezuela discuss energy, social development deals Let the gas prices climb, but give us electric cars Cheap gas might not be the best thing for Costa Rica, says President Solís Former Colombian, Bolivian leaders warn of looming humanitarian crisis in Venezuelalast_img read more

Costa Ricas Supreme Court strikes down decree on IVF legalization orders lawmakers

first_imgThe fight to legalize in vitro fertilization in Costa Rica faces yet another setback after a high court struck down a recent decree by the administration of President Luis Guillermo Solís to legalize the procedure.Ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to legalize IVF in the country, Solís – who faced legislative roadblocks on the issue – last September signed an executive decree to regulate IVF in Costa Rica, opening the possibility for people to pursue the fertility treatment here for the first time in 15 years.But the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, on Wednesday struck down that decree, saying a law to legalize and regulate IVF must be passed by the Legislative Assembly in order to be constitutional. The legal challenge to Solís’ decree was filed by evangelical lawmakers supported by conservative religious groups in the country.The Sala IV also ordered lawmakers to abide by the international human rights court order to authorize IVF.“The Costa Rican state has an obligation to comply with the Inter-American Court’s ruling” of November 2012, Sala IV justices stated.Several bills to regulate IVF have languished in the Assembly, blocked by conservative Christian lawmakers who claim the reproductive procedure violates a constitutional right to life. A block of four evangelical lawmakers – of a total of 57 legislators in the Assembly – have repeatedly resorted to obstructionist tactics to prevent any of those bills from moving forward.The country’s failure to legalize IVF violates the rights of an estimated 15,000 Costa Ricans who could benefit from IVF, according to Boris Molina, an attorney who represents several couples who filed a formal complaint before the Washington, D.C.-based human rights court.Some of those plaintiffs last September expressed skepticism over the Solís administration’s decree. Plaintiff Andrea Biachi told The Tico Times at the time, “I really applaud the decision to do something, but I’m really not confident that it’s been worded in a way the Constitutional Chamber [of the Supreme Court] won’t reject, as they have with everything else dealing with [IVF] since 2000.”It was the same court – the Sala IV – that banned IVF in 2000, making Costa Rica the only country in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the fertility procedure.Following Wednesday’s ruling, President Solís issued a brief statement saying that while he respected the Sala IV’s jurisdiction, he strongly disagreed with its decision.“In my position as head of state, I have the obligation to utilize legal mechanisms at my disposal to guarantee the human rights of all Costa Ricans,” Solís said in a news conference.Watch President Solís’ news conference on the ruling (in Spanish): Related posts:Human rights court backs Costa Rica’s decree on legalizing IVF Costa Rican president presents draft decree to legalize in vitro fertilization Human rights court admits new IVF complaint against Costa Rica Costa Rica to regulate IVF after long row Facebook Commentslast_img read more

On the ice and Floridabound

first_img Facebook Comments Ice isn’t something you normally associate with Costa Rica or Florida, but one group of kids plan to show their sub-zero mastery in both places. The Castillo Knights Peewee Selects group, shown here at their ice rink – Costa Rica’s one and only – at the Castillo Country Club in Heredia, are set to take  part in a “Breakaway Challenge”shootout competition during the first intermission of the Florida Panthers/Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 20 in Sunrise, Florida.The players will skate out onto the same ice where the current NHL champions play. A future hockey champion from Costa Rica? Stay tuned.Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to We’d love to see the sights with you. Related posts:Costa Rica’s Castillo Knights on the road Go, Jason, go! The key to Mondays: un buen cafecito A holiday filled with color and dancelast_img read more

Businessmen to be granted Myanmar visas on arrival

first_imgThe service will first be available at the country’s main entry point, Yangon International Airport, and later in Mandalay and the capital, Naypyitaw.Maung Maung Than also said a blacklist was updated to bar those who violated visa agreements, criminals and people banned by other government ministries. Critics of military rule often were banned.(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 New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonacenter_img Top Stories Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Businessmen and conference attendees will be granted visas on arrival in Myanmar from Friday.Immigration Department Director-General Maung Maung Than said the visas will cost $50 but not be available for tourists. He said the visas will be available to nationals of 27 countries including the U.K. and the U.S.Myanmar introduced visas-on-arrival in 2010 but suspended the service before that year’s general election.last_img read more

Indonesia lowers train cords to deter roof riders

first_img Check your body, save your life JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Indonesia’s state-run railway company has lowered the electrical lines powering commuter trains in its latest bid to stop commuters from riding on train roofs.Officials have failed for years in their battle against the roof riders. They have tried everything from spraying the top of trains with red paint to appealing for help from religious leaders.Earlier this year they suspended rows of grapefruit-sized concrete balls just above the trains. Comments   Share   New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Still, it is common to see people sitting atop the trains, which link Jakarta and surrounding areas.Railway official Mateta Rizahulhaq said Monday that lowering the power lines will also allow for the construction of bridges over the tracks and will maximize power transmission.Passengers often complain there aren’t enough trains and there are too many delays.(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 How do cataracts affect your vision?center_img Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories last_img read more

Egypt to try 7 Copts US pastor over Prophet film

first_img Top Stories Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The prosecutor’s statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, said that after studying the film investigators have determined that it contains scenes offensive to Islam and state institutions. It also says they questioned 10 plaintiffs before issuing the charges.Nakoula, 55, told the AP in an interview last week outside Los Angeles that he was the manager of the company that produced “Innocence of Muslims.” Jones also told AP that he was contacted by Nakoula to promote the movie.Violence surrounding the film, clips of which appeared on YouTube, has included angry protests outside U.S. embassies worldwide and an attack on the American Consulate in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador.Both the Christians and rights groups say charges of insulting religion, vague in what constitutes an insult, are only pressed against offenses to Islam, and never to Christianity.A Muslim preacher who tore the Bible in protest over the offensive film remains free without any charges. Another Coptic Christian who posted the film on his Facebook page and has posted other videos discussing the merits of atheism is currently under 15 days detention on accusations of insulting religion. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated PressCAIRO (AP) – Egypt’s general prosecutor issued arrest warrants Tuesday for seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor and referred them to trial on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that has sparked riots across the Muslim world.The case is largely symbolic since the seven men and one woman are believed to be outside of Egypt and unlikely to travel to the country to face the charges. Instead, the prosecutor’s decision to take legal appears aimed at absorbing at least some of the public anger over the amateur film, which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon. Sponsored Stories A Coptic teacher was sentenced Tuesday to six years for posting on his Facebook page drawings that were deemed to be insulting the Prophet, as well as comments considered an affront to the country’s current president. The charges predate the amateur film, but anger was heightened outside the courtroom in southern Egypt, and many Islamists protested the sentence as too meager.Medhat Klada, a Coptic Christian living in Switzerland, said the accused are referred to criminal trials without even interrogation.“This is only to absorb public anger but there is no justice in Egypt,” he said. “These charges are now used with force because of the rise of political Islam and the fierce fight” between the different strands among these groups.Amr Gharbeia, a program director with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, argued against the constitutionality of the charges.“This is not a call for prosecuting those who insult Christians or Shiites, but if we are going to use this charge only in one direction (against insulting Islam), then we should just call it off,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The vital role family plays in society Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day But some Christians and human rights groups expressed concern that trying people on charges of insulting religion, which also occurred to a degree under the secular-leaning regime of Hosni Mubarak, could only increase now that various strains of Islamists are gaining power. The arrest warrants were issued the same day that a Coptic teacher in southern Egypt received a prison sentence for Facebook postings deemed anti-Islamic, charges that predated the amateur film.The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the eight accused, who include the film’s alleged maker, face charges of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information. The office said they could face the death penalty, if convicted.Their case has been transferred to a criminal court, but no date for the trial has been set.Among those charged is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian Copt living in southern California and believed to be behind the film. Florida-based Pastor Terry Jones, who has said he was contacted by the filmmaker to promote the video, as well as Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who pushed the video on his website, are also among those charged. How men can have a healthy 2019 Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The connection of the other five accused in the case to the film was not immediately clear. Most of them live in the United States. They include two who work with Sadek in a radical institute for Coptic Christians in the U.S. that has called for an independent Coptic state; a priest who hosts TV programs from the U.S., a lawyer who lives in Canada and who has previously sued the government for clashes in 2000 that left 21 Christians dead.They also include a woman who had converted to Christianity from Islam years back and is a staunch critic of the religion.“We are not going to respond to Egypt. We do not take that particular threat very seriously,” Jones said.He added he hoped the U.S. government “would take a radical stand” on the case “that carries a possible death penalty for a U.S. citizen for exercising his First Amendment rights.”Sadek’s phone was switched off. The others could not be immediately reached for comment.Ultraconservative Salafi lawyer Mamdouh Ismail praised the prosecutor’s decision. While recognizing that the eight will be tried in absentia, Ismail said referring them to a court will help curb public anger.“Now these are legal measures instead of angry reactions, whose consequences are undetermined,” he said. “This would also set a deterrent for them and anyone else who may fall into this” offense. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

No tax no blessing German church insists on levy

first_img“This decree makes clear that one cannot partly leave the Church,” the bishops said in a statement. “It is not possible to separate the spiritual community of the Church from the institutional Church.”Wavering Catholics will now be sent letters reminding them of the consequences of avoiding the church tax, including losing access to all sacraments.“Maybe you haven’t considered the consequences of your decision and would like to reverse this step,” a draft of the letter states.Protestants have taken a less stern position, saying non-taxpayers are still welcome to attend services and take communion. But becoming a godparent, getting married in a church or taking a job in church-affiliated institutions such as hospitals or kindergartens are off-limits to those who stop paying their taxes.Switzerland and Austria also tax Catholic and Protestant church members. In Denmark, the State Lutheran church collects a tax from its members. Members of Sweden’s Lutheran Church pay around 1 percent of their income, collected by the national tax authorities, just as in Finland.In Italy, tax-payers have the choice of diverting a small part of their income taxes to religious institutions, including the Catholic Church and the country’s Jewish community, but the contribution is voluntary. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement In none of those countries have the churches taken such a firm stand against dropouts.So far German courts have stood by the bishops’ decision. This week the country’s top administrative court threw out a lawsuit against the archdiocese of Freiburg by retired theologian Hartmut Zapp, who has spent years fighting the Catholic Church over the tax.Zapp argued that a Catholic should be free to stop paying but remain a member of the spiritual community and that his religious beliefs could not possibly be tied to a tax payment.The archdiocese responded in a statement that “those who lack solidarity bid farewell to the community of believers.”The tax issue presents moral and ethical dilemmas to millions of German believers, even dividing couples.Sonja Trott, a 34-year-old teacher from Munich, said she quit the Catholic Church 15 years ago because she no longer believed in its teachings.“Now I’d like to convince my husband that he also should quit, that would save us a lot of money,” she said.But her husband, Christoph, a sales executive, says he cannot imagine refusing to pay on moral grounds because it would seem like a betrayal of his faith. “I don’t like paying it, but I do because I fear the step of quitting the church.” Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressBERLIN (AP) – The road to heaven is paved with more than good intentions for Germany’s 24 million Catholics. If they don’t pay their religious taxes, they will be denied sacraments, including weddings, baptisms and funerals.A decree issued last week by the country’s bishops cast a spotlight on the longstanding practice in Germany and a handful of other European countries in which governments tax registered believers and then hand over the money to the religious institutions. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share   Men’s health affects baby’s health too Top Stories He would prefer to donate part of the money to charities “but well, in Germany the payment determines whether I’m allowed to consider myself a Catholic or not.”For other Germans, it’s unethical to stop paying the tax but continue to use the church when it suits them.Christine Solf, a Munich-based consultant, says she doesn’t attend services regularly but appreciates the church’s charitable work. For her, church membership is also a family tradition.“I know people who quit for financial reasons but then still want their children to be baptized. That’s not OK in my opinion,” she said.___Juergen Baetz can be reached on Twitter at Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project In Germany, the surcharge for Catholics, Protestants and Jews is a surcharge of up to nine percent on their income tax bills _ or about (EURO)56 ($72) a month for a single person earning a pre-tax monthly salary of about (EURO)3,500 ($4,500).For religious institutions, struggling to maintain their congregations in a secular society where the Protestant Reformation began 500 years ago, the tax revenues are vital.The Catholic Church in Germany receives about (EURO)5 billion ($6.5 billion) annually from the surcharge. For Protestants, the total is just above (EURO)4 billion ($5.2 billion). Donations, in turn, represent a far smaller share of the churches’ income than in the United States.With rising prices and economic uncertainty, however, more and more Catholics and Protestants are opting to save their money and declare to tax authorities they are no longer church members, even if they still consider themselves believers.“I quit the church already in 2007,” Manfred Gonschor, a Munich-based IT-consultant, said. “It was when I got a bonus payment and realized that I could have paid myself a nice holiday alone on the amount of church tax that I was paying on it.” Gonschor added he was also “really fed up with the institution and its failures.”Such defections have hit the Catholic Church especially hard _ it has lost about 181,000 tax-paying members in 2010 and 126,000 a year later, according to official figures. Protestants, who number about 24 million nationwide, lost 145,000 registered members in Germany in 2010, the most recent year from which figures are available.But the figures include some people who still want to baptize their children, take communion on major religious holidays, marry in a religious ceremony and receive Christian burials.The group We are Church, which claims to represent tens of thousands of grassroots Catholics, said many Germans stop paying the tax because they disagree with the church’s policies or simply want to save money _ not because they have lost their faith.“I haven’t quit because I still think that I might want to get married in a church one day, even though I know that’s absurd,” said Anna Ainsley, a 31-old-year banker and a Protestant from Frankfurt. “But when I see my tax declaration, then I think every year that I should finally quit.”Those are the people that Germany’s Catholic bishops had in mind when they decreed on Sept. 20 that stopping the payment of religious taxes was “a serious lapse” and those who did so would then be excluded from a range of church activities. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

Report 3 militants escape from prison in Lebanon

first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project A senior police official confirmed Friday’s escape but declined to give details.Several Fatah Islam members have escaped Roumieh over the past two years by scaling down the prison’s walls using sheets tied together.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) BEIRUT (AP) – Lebanon’s state run news agency says three members of an al-Qaida-inspired group have escaped from a prison in eastern Beirut.It was not immediately clear how or when they managed to stage the getaway from the high-security Roumieh prison.The National News Agency identified the men as a Palestinian, a Syrian and an Algerian. It said they are members of the militant Fatah Islam group, which fought the army inside a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon in the summer of 2007. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Comments   Share   center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Men’s health affects baby’s health too Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

In Davos examining the Arab Springs mixed bag

first_img Sponsored Stories Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, sounded a skeptical note about Western-style democracy.“A heard a lot here about democracy,” he told one panel. “When I hear of something becoming a model or a mold or a fashion like democracy is today, immediately I cringe. I think those who think of democracy as a Viagra pill that could solve their dysfunction … are not on the right path.“You need to have your own solutions,” Faisal said, to laughter and applause from many fellow Arabs in the audience.___Associated Press writer Lee Keath in Cairo contributed to this report.___Follow Dan Perry at Opponents worry the group is virtually stepping into the shoes of Mubarak’s former ruling party. The opposition has called for mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and in major cities around Egypt on Friday to mark the Jan. 25 anniversary of the anti-Mubarak uprising’s start. This time, the aim is to show the extent of public anger against Morsi.Is there a contradiction between Islam and democracy?No, insisted Moussa, the former Arab League chief. “Most of us hate what al-Qaida is doing. Islamic society has nothing to do with this, and (Islam) does not contradict democracy,” he said.There remains the question of whether the spirit of revolt will eventually reach the Arab monarchies of the Gulf. They have largely remained untouched so far, with the exception of Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia and its allies have helped put down an uprising by disenfranchised Shiites.Qatar has emerged as perhaps the biggest winner of the Arab Spring, using its oil and natural gas wealth to spread its influence by helping rebels in Libya and Syria and propping up Morsi’s government in Egypt with financial aid.Saudi Arabia has felt more vulnerable. It has its own restive Shiite population and, despite its oil riches, unemployment is high among its burgeoning youth population. “People want things now. People want jobs now. People want increased wages now,” he said. At the same time, political players are not necessarily responsible or capable enough to respond, he said. “This is not sustainable.”Addressing the issue at a news conference at Davos, Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil admitted that “economic challenges are clear in terms of high poverty rate and unemployment and budget deficits” _ but added that “we also consider that the potential of the Egyptian economy is huge.”Troubling in a different way is Syria _ a hemorrhaging wound, with death and destruction mounting in a civil war that the U.N. says has killed 60,000. Neither the regime of Bashar Assad nor the rebels seeking to oust him seem able to win, sectarian hatreds are burning ever stronger and the conflict threatens to destabilize Syria’s neighbors.Perhaps most worryingly for the West, armed Islamic militants, some with al-Qaida links, have emerged emboldened in Syria and elsewhere in the region, and they are better armed, with weapons from Libya’s civil war now smuggled freely from country to country.“The dog that didn’t bark during the Arab Spring was al-Qaida,” Vali Nasr, dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, told a panel devoted to “The Global Security Context.” Now al-Qaida “is finding very important pockets in Syria, in the Sinai Peninsula, across North Africa in an arc from northern Nigeria through Mali and into northern Somalia.” (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Asked whether democracy was prevailing in his native Egypt, former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa hedged, saying democracy “is not only the ballot box. It is the respect of human rights, for rights of women, separation of powers, independence of the judiciary.”“This meaning of democracy we have not yet achieved,” said Moussa, who ran unsuccessfully for president of Egypt last year.Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking on the same BBC-sponsored panel, saw the glass half full.“If we had this meeting two years ago in Davos, no one would imagine there would be elected presidents in Cairo, in Tunisia, in Libya, in Yemen,” he said. “So we have to be fair to these societies. In two years they achieved a lot of things.”Indeed, such intense focus on the Middle East was a far cry from the situation here two years ago, when the Arab Spring was just beginning and the region barely registered at a forum still focused on the global financial crisis. This week, as Egyptians prepare to mark on Friday the anniversary of the start of the revolution that swept aside Hosni Mubarak, the issue seems to come up at every panel that even tangentially touches on politics or strategy. Indeed, the presence of jihadis in the Syrian rebellion has certainly been a major reason for the world community’s reluctance to arm the rebels or back then in a way that goes much beyond the rhetorical.More complex is the rise of political Islam, which seems to prevail wherever free elections are held. The question on many minds is which way the Arab version of this movement will go: toward a reasonably modern and liberal model, like Turkey’s, or toward the repression of the Islamic Republic of Iran? Even Saudi Arabia, a staunch ally of the West, is essentially a discomfiting model _ a place with no free elections, where women may not drive and must be accompanied by male escorts for some of the most routine actions.Thus the new Islamist rulers in the region are constantly under scrutiny.The main case in point is Egypt, where Islamist President Mohammed Morsi narrowly won a June 2012 vote. Despite promises of inclusiveness, he has kept policy-making and the choice of appointments almost entirely within the Muslim Brotherhood.Last month saw deadly riots over the contentious Egyptian constitution, which critics say subtly but disturbingly opens the door to theocracy. Islamists finalized the draft in a rushed, all-night meeting, throwing in amendments to fit their needs, then pushed it through a swift referendum in which only a third of voters participated. The result is a document that could bring a much stricter implementation of Shariah, or Islamic law, than modern Egypt has ever seen. Top Stories Associated PressDAVOS, Switzerland (AP) – The convulsions of the Arab world are taking center stage at this year’s World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, where leaders and experts are much preoccupied with the region’s bewildering combination of high hopes, deep disappointments and grave dangers that threaten to spill over borders.Along the way, a divide seems to be emerging between those fundamentally impressed with the startling presence of once-unimaginable people power in long-repressive countries _ and others more troubled by the poverty and corruption that persists, the instability that has resulted, and the rise of both political Islam and jihadi insurgencies.center_img For many of the speakers, there is much to be disappointed about. The uprisings that first began in Tunisia in December 2010 did bring down dictators in Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Egypt. But now Islamists and liberals wrangle over power, with the former mostly on top, democracy is far from certain, and economies are crumbling.Moussa and Davutoglu agreed that a key accomplishment from the past two years was the casting aside of the notion that Arabs are condemned to autocratic rule, a belief long accepted even by elites in the Arab world itself.More Arabs are politically engaged than ever before, demanding to be heard. They’re learning what it means to question everything and everyone after decades under heavy autocracies where discussion, innovation and public participation were discouraged _ or crushed.But it can be a double-edged sword, breeding instability and even violence when expectations cannot be met.“On the one hand we have a political process which has really gone into uncharted waters (and) has proven to be much more difficult (and) much more divisive” than expected, said Tunisian economist Mustapha Kamel Nabli. Especially worrisome is the economic situation in which many countries are suffering low growth, high unemployment and fiscal difficulties, and yet “expectations have never been so high” among a newly empowered public, he said. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milklast_img read more

Mexicos legal soul search after Frenchwoman freed

first_imgThe Frenchwoman served seven of a 60-year sentence as part of a kidnapping ring when Mexico’s Supreme Court voted 3-2 on Wednesday to release her because of procedural and rights violations during her arrest, including police staging a recreation of her capture for the media.President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday ordered the secretary of the interior and attorney general to take all measures necessary to ensure police and judicial procedures are followed in future cases to prevent something similar from happening again. The leftist Democratic Revolution Party explored prosecuting former Security Minister Genaro Garcia Luna, who headed the federal police unit that staged Cassez’s 2005 arrest.As one of the first reactions Friday, the interior ministry announced that it is instructing Federal Police to read detainees their rights and reasons for detention, much like Miranda Rights in the United States, as part of new measures to ensure that authorities follow the law.Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said he would reopen the case just to study what went wrong. “It’s my duty to see if the bad handling is the product of an act that could be a crime,” he said. Comments   Share   The Frenchwoman has said she lived with her then-Mexican boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, at the ranch where the kidnapping victims were held, but didn’t know they were there. At least one victim identified Cassez as one of the kidnappers, though only by hearing her voice, not by seeing her.She told BFM television on Friday that she may have been naïve to get involved with Vallarta, who is still awaiting trial, but added: “Who at 30 hasn’t had a relationship like that?”After Cassez was detained and held incognito for a day, Mexican police hauled her back to the ranch and forced her to participate in a raid staged for the television cameras, a display that is not unusual in Mexico.Mexico also has long been plagued by police torture and the fabrication of evidence, and over the years countless prisoners have been convicted on faulty evidence.Such corruption remains rampant despite a 2008 constitutional amendment to reform the antiquated system from a written, closed trial system to open proceedings with oral arguments. Most of Mexico’s 31 states have yet to implement the changes. Even in one that has, Chihuahua, judges were punished for freeing a defendant the public believed to be guilty. They said they were forced to because of improperly gathered evidence. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressMEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexicans are engaged in national soul searching over their country’s flawed justice system as newly freed Florence Cassez, earlier convicted of and sentenced for being part of a kidnapping ring, makes the celebrity circuit in her native France.While Cassez received a hero’s welcome home, meeting with French President Francois Hollande on Friday, many in Mexico used the same word to describe their reaction to her release: “Indignation.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Few, however, seemed to believe that Cassez’s release will lead to any meaningful change in a system where an estimated 98 percent of crimes go unprosecuted. Innocent people frequently are jailed in Mexico while criminals behind the country’s astronomically high kidnapping rate are seen to enjoy widespread impunity.Isabel Navarrete, a 33-year-old mother feeding frozen yoghurt to her baby on Mexico City’s broad Paseo de la Reforma, boulevard blamed the country’s institutions.“There is no credibility in the institutions of justice and lot of pain and indignation among the families who suffered,” said Navarrete, calling the national handwringing over the case a “smoke screen.”“If anything, it will get a little worse,” she said.Roberto Hernandez, director of the film “Presumed Guilty,” a documentary about a Mexican man falsely imprisoned for murder, said both the experts and the people are right. “The public has every reason to feel betrayed,” he said. “The process the Supreme Court followed and the judicial process in general is so poor, it’s designed to create mistrust.”In France, Cassez was greeted by a red carpet and television cameras upon her return. The 38-year-old looked rested and buoyant after seven years in a Mexico City prison. “I was cleared,” she declared to the throngs of journalists waiting to receive her, though the justices pointedly did not rule whether she was guilty or not.center_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix It’s unclear what impact the Cassez ruling will have on defendants’ rights and due process in other cases, said John Ackerman of the Institute of Legal Research at Mexico’s National Autonomous University.“The hope is that both the criminal justice reform and this kind of decision would create a demand that crimes be investigated in a more professional manner,” Ackerman said. “Just new rules and decisions are not enough. You need institutional transformation and political will and political independence for these investigators, which is something we haven’t achieved yet.”____Associated Press writers Lori Hinnant, Sarah DiLorenzo and Elaine Ganley in Paris and E. Eduardo Castillo in Mexico City contributed to this report.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The case had severely strained relations between the two countries under former President Felipe Calderon. Two French presidents, Hollande and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, had fought for the woman’s freedom.Edgar Martinez, 36, of Mexico City, believed her release had nothing to do with legal proceedings.“Bilateral favors between countries supersede the pain of whatever family,” he said Thursday, walking near the iconic Angel of Independence monument.Headlines and an unscientific newspaper poll reflected Mexicans overwhelmingly opposed the ruling and belief that the court protects criminals, not victims. “The court fails and frees a kidnapper,” one headline read. Cassez and her father had to leave the country in bullet-proof vests.Meanwhile, legal experts called the focus on defendants’ rights and due process good for the beleaguered justice system.“I understand that right now we are in a difficult and confusing moment, but the message has been given: the procurement of justice has to follow due process,” said Ricardo Sepulveda, a constitutional and human rights expert who heads the National Citizens Observatory for Security, Justice and Legality. “There is no other path for us to get out of the security crisis that we have in this country.” Top Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Medicare panel Ease rehab coverage for seniors

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel that advises Congress on Medicare policy says the government should make it easier for seniors to get covered for rehab after a short hospital stay.MedPAC said in a report Monday that Congress should revamp a rule that says to qualify for rehabilitation at a nursing facility, beneficiaries first must be hospitalized for three days as inpatients.The panel recommended that Medicare count up to two hospital “observation days” toward the three-day requirement. Top holiday drink recipes Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Hospitals routinely admit patients for observation, but that has Medicare billing implications. It can mean higher out of pocket costs for certain services.Hospitals should be required to clearly explain the billing consequences to patients, MedPAC said. Another recommendation would reduce medication costs for patients on observation.Medicare is reviewing its policy on observation stays.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Quick workouts for menlast_img read more

5 things Samesex marriage case divides public opinion

first_img The difference between men and women when it comes to pain WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans appear largely ready to accept same-sex marriage but seem divided on whether the Supreme Court should affirm that right nationwide.That’s according to polls conducted before the court’s ruling, expected any day, on whether to make gay marriage a constitutional right.Five things to know about public opinion on same-sex marriage:___NEARLY HALF SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGEAccording to an Associated Press-GfK poll in April, nearly half of Americans favor laws allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed in their own states, while just over a third are opposed. The poll was conducted just before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will probably decide whether states can continue to bar same-sex couples from marrying. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories ___Online:AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com___Follow Emily Swanson on Twitter at: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Other recent polls have found even higher support for same-sex marriage. For example, a Pew Research Center poll conducted in May found that 57 percent of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while a Gallup poll also conducted in May found 60 percent say those marriages should be legally recognized. The AP-GfK poll, unlike the Pew and Gallup surveys, offered an option for respondents to say they neither favor nor oppose gay marriage, which was selected by 14 percent of respondents.___AN IDEOLOGICAL DIVIDEThere’s a significant partisan divide on the issue, according to the April AP-GfK poll. Two-thirds of Democrats, but less than one-third of Republicans, support marriage rights for same-sex couples.Even within each party there are significant differences by ideology. Just 15 percent of conservative Republicans, but 46 percent of moderate or liberal Republicans, favor laws allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. Eight in 10 liberal Democrats, but just 55 percent of moderate and conservative ones, support letting gay and lesbian couples marry legally.On the other hand, more than 7 in 10 Americans across party lines view legal recognition of same-sex marriages as “inevitable,” according to the Pew poll. ___SPLIT ON COURT ACTIONAmericans are split down the middle on what action the Supreme Court should take when it rules on the marriage case, according to the April AP-GfK poll. Fifty percent said the court should rule that same-sex marriage must be legal nationwide, and 48 percent said it should not.On a more general level, too, opinions on whether same-sex marriage should be legal at all are linked with views on whether that should be decided at a state or national level, according to a June Public Religion Research Institute poll. Seven in 10 opponents of gay marriage said the question of whether it should be legal should be decided at the state level, while about 6 in 10 supporters of gay marriage think it should be decided at the national level.___RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES VS. GAY RIGHTSAs a string of court rulings has made same-sex marriage legal in a majority of states, debate over the issue has shifted to whether businesses should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons. The AP-GfK poll found that a slim majority of Americans (52 percent) say that wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, but just 40 percent say that businesses more generally should be allowed to do so. Still, most said it’s more important for the government to protect religious liberties than the rights of gays and lesbians if the two come into conflict, by a 56 percent to 40 percent margin.center_img More than 8 in 10 Republicans said it’s more important to protect religious liberties than gay rights. On the other hand, 6 in 10 Democrats said protecting gay rights is more important.___DIVISION OVER OBAMA’S HANDLING OF GAY RIGHTSThe AP-GfK poll found that Americans are evenly divided on how President Barack Obama is handling gay rights, with 48 percent saying they approve and 49 percent saying they disapprove. A majority (54 percent) approves of how Obama is handling religious liberties.Democrats hold at least a slight advantage over Republicans on which party Americans trust most to handle gay rights issues. Thirty-one percent of Americans say they trust Democrats more to handle gay rights issues, while only 14 percent trust Republicans more. Thirty-four percent trust neither party, the poll found.___The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them. In this photo taken March 22, 2015, the rings of Thomas Kostura and Ijpe DeKoe sit on a table in their Memphis, Tenn. apartment. According to an Associated Press-GfK poll in April, nearly half of Americans favor laws allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed in their own states, while just over a third are opposed. The poll was conducted just before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will probably decide whether states can continue to bar same-sex couples from marrying. Kostura and deKoe were married in New York in 2011. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht) How men can have a healthy 2019 Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories last_img read more