Warwick Paradise Island – Bahamas officially opens to huge fanfare

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Thursday, April 6, 2017 Travelweek Group NASSAU — How do you make a splash in the Bahamas? By calling in a live Junkanoo Band, of course, which is exactly what Warwick Hotels and Resorts did to mark the grand opening of Warwick Paradise Island – Bahamas.In a lavish ceremony fit for dignitaries and party revellers alike, the resort made its official debut following a US$50 million transformation into a four-star, adults-only, all-inclusive property.More than 300 guests, including Bahamas government and parliament officials, attended the resort’s official grand opening on March 31. A soft opening took place on Oct. 28, 2016, after which key projects were finalized prior to its grand opening ceremony last month.The evening’s program was held on the 10,000 square-foot Warwick Sunset Terrace and began with a musical performance by the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Richard Chiu, President of Warwick Hotels and Resorts, opened the ceremony by complimenting the outstanding service provided by the resort’s Bahamian staff, which he said is often cited in guest comments.More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesThe Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas gave the keynote address in which he detailed the number of Bahamians employed by the resort and reiterated Chiu’s sentiments regarding the resort’s commitment to train employees to provide levels of service synonymous with the Warwick brand.Following the formal speeches, Prime Minister Christie and Ann Chiu, wife of Richard Chiu, officially opened the resort with a ribbon cutting ceremony.Guests were treated to a Caribbean Tasting Reception highlighted by seafood dishes, sushi, various cuts of meats, side dishes, hors d’ oeuvres, and desserts. Entertainment on the Warwick Sunset Terrace was provided by Ira Storr and the Spank Band, a Junkanoo Band, and Action Limbo King. The festivities continued in the resort’s Junkanoo Beat entertainment room with dancing to live music by VIP Band.Situated along Nassau Harbour just 30 minutes from Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport, Warwick Paradise Island – Bahamas features 250 rooms on 12 floors, five dining options, two bars, a fully equipped fitness centre, entertainment, an onsite gift shop and a tour desk offering sightseeing options to nearby attractions. Amber Spa, an onsite, full-service spa and salon, offers a menu of services for an additional charge.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesFor more information go to warwickhotels.com/paradise-island-bahamas.Ann Chiu (left) and The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, cut the ribbon officially opening Warwick Paradise Island – Bahamas while Lenora Symonette, wife of Lorenzo “TC” Symonette, Hotel Manager, Warwick Paradise Island – Bahamas, holds the ribbon.From Left to Right: orenzo “TC” Symonette, Hotel Manager, Warwick Paradise Island – Bahamas; G.Paul LeBlanc, Special Assistant to the President, Warwick Hotels and Resorts; Hon. Philip Davis, Deputy Prime Minister of the Bahamas; Ann Chiu, wife of Richard Chiu; The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas; Richard Chiu, President, Warwick Hotels and Resorts; Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, Minister of Tourism of the Bahamas; Warren Chiu, Vice President, Warwick Hotels and Resorts; Amanda Kim Chiu, wife of Warren Chiu; and Richard Pan, son-in-law of Richard Chiu.center_img Warwick Paradise Island – Bahamas officially opens to huge fanfare Share Tags: Bahamaslast_img read more

Doctors advised unplugging vegetative Mandelas life support

first_imgJOHANNESBURG – Doctors treating 94-year-old Nelson Mandela said he was in a “permanent vegetative state” and advised his family to turn off his life support machine, according to court documents dated June 26, obtained by AFP on Thursday.“He is in a permanent vegetative state and is assisted in breathing by a life support machine,” said a legal filing related to a family dispute over reburying the remains of three of Mandela’s children.“The Mandela family have been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machine should be switched off.“Rather than prolonging his suffering, the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability.”The “Certificate of Urgency” document was filed by a lawyer representing Mandela family members who had successfully sought a court order to return the disputed children’s remains to the revered South African leader’s childhood home, after a grandson had them moved to his own village.The document was presented to South Africa’s Eastern Cape High Court as President Jacob Zuma reported that Mandela’s health had faltered and cancelled a trip to Mozambique.The next day Zuma reported that Mandela’s condition had “improved during the course of the night.”“He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night. The medical team continues to do a sterling job,” Zuma said in a statement dated June 27.Since then the government has said Mandela’s condition remains “critical but stable”, but has provided few details, citing patient confidentiality.Lawyers for Mandela’s relatives, family members themselves and government officials were not immediately available for comment. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Remittances account for 10 percent of Guatemalas GDP

first_imgJUTIAPA, Guatemala – The small village of Horcones sits at the end of a pothole-filled road in Jutiapa, in southeastern Guatemala. Here, about 40 percent of the population is dedicated to raising livestock, earning an income that isn’t reflected in the wealth of the whitewashed, Grecian-columned houses that are found in this farming community.The majority of people here seem to know someone who works abroad and sends money home, a situation that is replicated around the region and accounts for affluent properties springing up in less-than-affluent areas.Remittances, or money sent by expatriate workers to their home countries, have been steadily increasing in Guatemala – despite stepped-up deportations from the United States – and now account for about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to 2012 data from the World Bank.In 2013, Guatemala received more than $5.1 billion in remittances – the second highest amount in Latin America after Mexico – and Guatemala’s Central Bank predicts the figure will grow by around five percent this year.Griselda Toj lives in Sacatepéquez, 40 kilometers from Guatemala City, and each month she receives on average $330 from her husband, who works on a dairy farm in the U.S. state of Idaho.“The money he sends back helps us a lot to buy food for the children, send them to school and buy them medicine if they get sick,” Toj said. “If he weren’t there, we wouldn’t be able to cope, because over there he has a lot of work.”Poverty, violence and family reunification are among the main driving forces behind Guatemalans deciding to make the journey north.“Our life is difficult here. My husband left three years ago because my son became ill with asthma and bronchitis,” she said. “The medicine is expensive and he had to use a special apparatus. We could hardly afford to pay for it.”In October, more than $500 million was sent back by Guatemalans working abroad, predominantly in the U.S., which represents an 8 percent increase compared with the same month last year.Like many people who receive remittances, Toj is saving to build a house – an example of the effect that Guatemala’s Construction Chamber says money sent from abroad is having on reducing the country’s housing deficit.However, experts highlight that while remittances enable some people to save, invest in education and contribute to the local economy, it is an unstable source of income that is often squandered due to a lack of financial information for recipients on how to manage the money.“Yes, remittances can reduce poverty,” said Beatriz de Azurdia, from the National Council of Migrant Services. “But we need to take into consideration the risks migrants face and the abandonment kids feel, which can cause families to disintegrate and children to lack guidance. Also, the senders have little say over how the money is invested.”To combat this, a Guatemalan company recently introduced an electronic remittances gift card, which allows migrants to specify where the money they send back is spent.In July, the Guatemalan government launched a campaign outlining the risks of exploitation and death that undocumented migrants face on their journey north. However, the lack of employment opportunities in Guatemala and many people’s desire to emulate the improved lifestyle of their neighbors who do receive remittances is keeping the “American Dream” alive.See also: Inter-American Dialogue honors Guatemalan businessman, civic activist Salvador Paiz Facebook Comments Related posts:Central American foreign ministers meet in Washington to lobby Obama on immigration crisis Did we forget the lesson the ‘Greatest Generation’ fought so hard to learn? For Central America’s migrant women, life can change in a second Guatemala has no idea how many of its undocumented citizens live in the United Stateslast_img read more

As gang violence surges El Salvador fears bloody war

first_imgRelated posts:In San Salvador everyone has to pay the gangs El Salvador moves 400 jailed gang members as part of plan to curb violence El Salvador’s El Faro: Chronicling a region that doesn’t count From ‘America’s Mayor’ to international security guru: Rudy Giuliani sends experts to El Salvador SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Clad in bullet-proof vests and balaclavas, elite squads of soldiers and police are preparing to wage a guerrilla-style war onEl Salvador‘s gangs, trying to fight a surge in violence that experts warn may only intensify.El Salvador had its bloodiest month in a decade in March, as gang members armed with high-caliber assault rifles repeatedly attacked police stations and army posts.The small Central American country of six million people registered 481 homicides for the month.That capped a bloody first three months of the year, in which 23 police and six soldiers were killed in clashes with gangs.In response, President Salvador Sánchez Cerén has created four new “rapid response” battalions — one for the police and three for the army.The country is now in a “defining moment” in its drawn-out fight against the ultra-violent gangs Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, said security expert Juan Ramon Medrano.“The government has not given up on prevention and rehabilitation, (but) it is fighting the gangs with intensifying repression, which has unleashed an escalation of violence,” he told AFP.The killings underscore the breakdown in a truce the gangs declared in March 2012, which was brokered by the Catholic Church with behind-the-scenes help from then president Mauricio Funes.In response to the new wave of violence, Sánchez Cerén has reversed a key concession of the controversial truce, ordering more than 50 jailed gang leaders who were being held in “flexible” detention centers transferred back to maximum-security prison.Seeking to break the logistical and communications networks with which the leaders have continued to exercise power, he also ordered jailed groups of rank-and-file gangsters be dispersed to prisons far from their families and each other.While the gangs have not officially rescinded the truce, the new attacks “have fed a collective panic, with people screaming for excessively repressive measures,” said criminologist Carlos Ponce.The new battalions will only give the security forces more power, with “no effect on criminal networks,” which are complex organizations that cannot be easily dismantled, he said.Together, Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 have an estimated 10,000 members in jail and 60,000 on the streets, who fight bloody turf wars to control the drug trade and extortion rackets.The gangs, which emerged in the 1980s in Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles, arrived in Central America when the United States deported thousands of immigrants who had fled there to escape the civil wars that gripped the region in the late 20th century.Echoes of civil warEl Salvador now risks sliding back into violence reminiscent of that bloody era, said one of the mediators of the failed gang truce, Raúl Mijango, a former leftist guerrilla commander turned activist.“We’re going to war, one that has some of the same characteristics as the civil war, such as conventional forces fighting irregular forces,” he said.He condemned the “closing of the space for dialogue” opened up by the truce, which initially saw the daily homicide rate fall from 14 to five. In March, it surged back to 15.5.In some ways the gangs resemble the armed groups that fought in El Salvador‘s 1980-1992 civil war, which killed 75,000 people.According to Defense Minister David Munguía, surveillance has detected regular trips by groups of 12 to 16 gang members to remote areas where they receive “some kind of training.” The army has increased its presence in the areas in response.Last September, the government launched a Public Security Council tasked with addressing the growing violence.In January it presented a security plan calling for $2.1 billion in investment over the next five years on both prevention and policing.It aims to create 250,000 jobs for young people, rehabilitate jailed gangsters, strengthen institutions and aid victims, all while intensifying the security forces’ crack-down.That dual approach has its critics.The plan is a “political facade for repression,” said Mijango. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

In Egypts chaotic Sinai militants grow stronger

first_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Attiya was among the residents who helped transport wounded soldiers to the hospital at Rafah on the Gaza border. For him, the attack underlined the whole breakdown of the system. Residents were the only responders at the scene and they had to carry the bodies through mounds of trash at the entrance of the Rafah hospital. Inside, he said, there were no blood bags or proper equipment to save lives.“It was just pathetic that this is the state of our military, and our hospitals and our schools too,” he said. “As I’m picking up the bodies I’m thinking where are our ambulances, our army, our tactics?”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Residents say the crisis has long been building.Since the ouster last year of Hosni Mubarak, traditional tribal leaders like Khedr have stepped in to fill the void in authority. But they say they face competition from extremism growing on two separate but intertwined fronts. Hard-line Muslim preachers have gained influence in the impoverished Bedouin towns of northern Sinai, often filling in for the role of the state and adjudicating disputes with Islamic Shariah law. At the same time, armed militants have become bolder, their ambitions growing to confront Cairo’s rule.The traditional leaders caught in the middle say government only feeds radicalism by its domineering attitude over Bedouin and failure to develop the region.“The people you see today chanting in support of the military after Sunday’s attack will turn against the military in time because of neglect,” warned Sheik Ibrahim el-Menaey, a powerful Bedouin businessman. “There cannot be security in Sinai without partnership with the residents of Sinai.”The rugged peninsula of barren deserts and daunting mountains _ a little smaller than West Virginia and bit bigger than Croatia with a population of around 400,000 _ has long been a volatile corner of Egypt. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy “We are, by the permission of God Almighty, a force for the truth in order to protect our homes, lives, and families from oppression of any kind,” a bearded young man says to the camera _ the only unmasked person in the video and apparently the group’s leader.In Sunday’s attack, militants struck just as the soldiers were having their evening meal breaking the dawn-to-dusk fast of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.Eissa Mohamed Salama, 19, who lives nearby, said two Land Cruisers with about 15 well-built gunmen in ski masks and all-black outfits opened fire on the soldiers. Some of the gunmen loaded up the vehicles with ammunition and weapons from the checkpoint. One militant got out a camera and filmed the bodies of the soldiers.All the while, a hail of missiles was being fired from Gaza that confused residents about what was going on, he said.“It was an hour before a military officer with a driver arrived and saw the bodies,” he said.Shady Attiya owns a nearby cafe, nicknamed “The Misrata Cafe” after Libya’s third largest city because patrons there not only sip coffee and smoke waterpipes but also sell cars smuggled in from Libya to Gazans who slip them into the Palestinian territory. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The danger, Khedr said, is that Sinai could become another Yemen, where al-Qaida-linked militants last year managed to take over a swath of territory in the south.“We’re expecting the entire region to be like Jaar,” he said, referring to a southern Yemeni town that militants held for months until Yemeni troops uprooted them earlier this year.Egypt’s army and security forces on Tuesday launched an offensive to “restore control” over Sinai after a stunning attack this week made clear the militants’ growing strength. On Sunday, gunmen attacked an army checkpoint near where the borders of Egypt, Israel and Gaza meet, killing 16 soldiers, stealing vehicles and driving them into Israel in an apparent attempt to carry out another attack before they were hit by Israeli forces.The attack set off alarms in Egypt and Israel. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Security officials estimate hundreds of fighters operate in Sinai _ though their numbers fluctuate and could at times reach as high as 1,500. The militants are not linked to al-Qaida, the officials insist, but do share similar ideologies and get backing from extremists from Gaza. It has been a major crossroads for smuggling drugs and migrants. An entire industry rose up in smuggling goods into Gaza, which came under virtual seal by Israel and Egypt after the militant Palestinian group Hamas took over in 2007.The central government has tended to view the Sinai through two lenses. One is as a main theater for its dealings with neighboring Israel, which seized the peninsula in the 1967 war and returned it under the 1979 peace accord. The other is tourism: Over the past decade, the government has focused on developing the Red Sea beach resorts that line the peninsula’s southern edges and have become the main engine of the country’s vital tourist industry.The Bedouin residents, meanwhile, complain that Cairo leaves them to wallow in poverty and treats them like the enemy.This, they say, led to Islamic militant activity that has previously erupted. In 2004 and 2005, bombings at the Red Sea resorts killed around 125 people. That prompted mass arrests of Bedouins that only further poisoned relations between residents and authorities _ without ever finding a clear explanation of who was behind the attacks.But Sinai spiraled out of control after Mubarak’s fall _ particularly in the north of the peninsula. Across Egypt, police and internal security forces fell apart during the anti-Mubarak uprising. They have in part returned to the streets in some areas, but in north Sinai their presence remains negligible. Police don’t man checkpoints on the roads outside the provincial capital el-Arish without military forces present to assist. The police station in the nearby town of Sheikh Zuweyid was closed after it was set ablaze during the uprising and reopened only Wednesday. As a result, the region has become more lawless. Weapons have flowed in from Libya since its civil war ended late last year, some of them smuggled on to other destinations, but others ending up in militants’ hands in Sinai.Attacks on security forces have multiplied _ at least 35 since early last year, killing more than 50 policemen and soldiers, security officials say. There have been 15 bombings of the gas pipeline that runs underground through North Sinai to Israel.Over the same period, militants have carried out three attacks into Israel. In one attack a year ago, gunmen from Gaza who crossed through the Sinai into Israel killed eight people in an ambush, sparking an Israeli retaliation that accidentally killed three Egyptian soldiers.Amid the poverty, many have turned to more hardline religious movements. Khedr, the tribal sheik, pointed to two recent attacks wrecking the shrine of Sheikh Zuweyid, a local Muslim saint after whom the town is named. Such shrines, revered by the mystical Sufi movement of Islam, are reviled by hardliners who see them as heretical.Ultraconservatives known as Salafis have grown popularity. Also swelling in numbers is a more fringe group known as Takfir wil-Hijra, dubbed “takfiris”, their popularity fueled by lack of jobs, poverty and government repression. They practice a stringent form of Islam that believes in total isolation from a society seen as heretical. Their children do not go to schools, they shun the state and do not attend traditional Friday prayers in mosques _ because even Salafi preachers who do not share their beliefs are considered infidels.center_img Associated PressEl-ARISH, Egypt (AP) – After decades of neglect and with the collapse of government authority the past 18 months, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has become fertile ground for Islamic extremists. Militant groups have taken root, carrying out attacks against neighboring Israel and now turning their guns against Egypt’s military as they vow to set up a puritanical Islamic state.At a mosque in the northern Sinai village of Sheikh Zuweyid, a Bedouin tribal sheik gestures out toward the deserts that stretch outside of town. There, Sheik Arafa Khedr said, it’s well known that militants have set up training camps. Jihadists recruit young Bedouin. Palestinian militants from neighboring Gaza help in weapons training. Comments   Share   Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family While the “takfiris” are not all engaged in attacks on security forces, their pool of supporters is an easy target for jihadist militant recruiters, said Mohamed Jabr, who was once a follower of Takfir wil-Hijra until he eased into Salafi trend.And those militants, he said, have made bringing a strict version of Islamic rule in Egypt a priority over the traditional enemy, Israel.“I asked one of the jihadis why they are not targeting Israel and he said their goal is to `purge’ and `cleanse’ Egypt of infidels first,” Jabr asid.A handful of militant groups have arisen in Sinai, though it is unknown whether they operate together or are loosely linked.On Aug. 1, a group calling itself Jund al-Shariah, or Soldiers of Islamic Law, announced in a Web statement it would wage jihad against “the current tyrant of Egypt … until they implement God’s Shariah in the land.”Web videos from another group, Ansar al-Haq, showed gunmen wearing ski masks and camouflage fatigues training with weapons in the Sinai desert. One of the videos showed the men openly patrolling the streets of a northern Sinai town, brandishing assault rifles and grenade launchers, as curious crowds watched in the background. Top Stories Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The vital role family plays in societylast_img

Egypt Islamist says heavy metal concert Satanist

first_imgThe center denied the claims, saying some violations of its rules, like smoking, occurred but were dealt with. An investigation began Monday, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.The allegations recall a high-profile case 15 years ago when state security cracked down “Satan worshippers,” arresting some 100 heavy metal fans.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 5 treatments for adult scoliosis How men can have a healthy 2019 Comments   Share   center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Associated PressCAIRO (AP) – A heavy metal concert has prompted a police investigation after an Islamist lawyer claimed it was attended by Satanists at a well-known cultural center in Egypt’s capital Cairo.A security official says Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Ismail el-Washahi filed a suit accusing the El-Sawy Culture Wheel of hosting people wearing black t-shirts, carrying Satanists’ drawings and accessories while dancing at the concert. The suit claims “Satanist rituals were held.” Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Men’s health affects baby’s health toolast_img read more

European nations unify laws to prevent foreign fighters

first_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Sponsored Stories Analysts say European laws vary, with some countries like France charging people with crimes if they plan to leave to join a violent extremist group, and others, such as in Scandinavia, lacking a legal way to prevent their citizens from becoming foreign fighters.The measure is a protocol to the Council of Europe’s convention on the prevention of terrorism, which has been signed by 44 of the organization’s 47 member countries, including all 28 European Union nations except the Czech Republic.Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, said the new accord would help national governments take more effective action against a new and growing problem by providing “common legal ground.”“When, for instance, a foreign fighter or a suspicious person comes to a border, then it will be easier for the police at the border to contact police authorities from countries from which this person is coming,” Jagland said.Moreover, he said, the agreement will set a uniform standard that makes the intention of taking part in a terrorist act a crime in itself.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, participate in a formal session of the Council of Europe at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. The Council of Europe meets Tuesday with ministers of state to discuss terrorism. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation BRUSSELS (AP) — European governments agreed Tuesday to synchronize their laws to bar citizens from going abroad to fight for the Islamic State group and other extremists.A document signed by foreign ministers from the 47-nation Council of Europe requires countries to outlaw specific actions, including intentionally taking part in terrorist groups, receiving terrorist training or traveling abroad for the purpose of engaging in terrorism. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Comments   Share   Top Stories last_img read more

French US biochemists win top Spanish prize for science

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Charpentier holds professorships in Hannover, Germany, and Umea, Sweden. Doudna heads the Doudna Lab in Berkeley, California.This 50,000-euro ($54,300) award is one of eight Asturias prizes handed out yearly by a foundation named for Crown Princess Leonor. Other categories include the arts, sport and scientific research.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top holiday drink recipes Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Men’s health affects baby’s health too Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories MADRID (AP) — Biochemists Emmanuelle Charpentier from France and Jennifer Doudna from the United States have been awarded Spain’s Princess of Asturias scientific research award for their work in biotechnology.The award foundation said in a statement Thursday that the “revolutionary” work of Charpentier and Doudna in genome-editing technology held great promise for gene therapy and in the treatment of diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis and Severe Combined Immune Deficiency Syndrome — commonly called the “boy in the bubble” disease — among others.last_img read more

Greek government faces dissent as debt deadline nears

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Top Stories Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s cash-strapped government faced fresh dissent from within the ruling Syriza party on Monday after failing to deliver on a promise to reach an agreement with rescue lenders over the weekend.With a debt repayment looming Friday that Greece cannot afford, the government was trying to quell an internal squabble — it dropped its candidate to be the next representative at the International Monetary Fund after nearly a third of Syriza lawmakers demanded the appointment be canceled. Bailout negotiator and former World Bank employee Elena Panaritis said in a statement she was “unable to accept the appointment” because of the opposition within the left-wing ruling party.Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is struggling to reach a deal with bailout creditors to get more bailout loans, without which it cannot afford debt repayments it owes the IMF this month, starting Friday. But Tsipras faces opposition within own party to any agreement with creditors that would extend budget austerity measures that creditors have been demanding.In a letter to the government, 44 of Syriza’s 149 parliament members described Panaritis as a “leading representative of bailout policies.”The government has indicated that to cover a series of June 5-19 IMF repayments totaling more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) it could take the emergency option of ‘bundling’ repayments till the end of the month.Government officials could not be reached for comment Monday about whether Athens was considering the emergency move.Last month, more than a third of the ruling party’s 201-member central committee voted to skip the next IMF payments and prepare for a potential euro-exit — a proposal rejected by a narrow majority.center_img Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Greece’s bailout lenders — fellow eurozone states and the IMF — argue that more cost-cutting measures are needed to make the Greek economy more sustainable. The reforms include higher overall sales taxes, a new tough round of pension reforms, and further cuts in job protection regulations.Athens insists it has provided a viable alternative to the lenders’ proposals, with commitments to raising sales tax income, slashing early retirements, and by imposing new taxes on high company profits and Internet gambling.But a promise by the government to reach a conclusion by Sunday failed to materialize.“Intense technical discussions have been taking place over the weekend and are continuing to take place … Progress has been made but we are not yet there,” EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said in Brussels.On Sunday, Tsipras held a 35-minute call French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the Greek debt crisis.Merkel and Hollande are due to meet later Monday in Berlin with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, though Greece was not officially on the agenda of the talks.___AP writers Raf Casert in Brussels and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Four benefits of having a wireless security system Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

Eight Hong Kong tourists shot dead in hostage nightmare on Manila bus

first_imgA vengeful ex-police captain has been shot dead by Philippine police after he killed eight Hong Kong tourists held hostage on a bus in Manila.The bus was stormed on Monday night, Manila time, after 11-hour negotiations with the 55-year-old Rolando Mendoza came to a standstill, Al Jazeera reported. The other tourist hostages were hospitalised, with two of them in critical condition, said officials.”The hostage-taker was killed. He chose to shoot it out with our men,” Senior Superintendent Nelson Yabut said. “On our first assault, Captain Mendoza was sprawled in the middle of the aisle and shot one of our operatives. On our second assault we killed him.”Mr Mendoza had seized the bus in an effort to regain his job, after being dismissed from the police force in 2008 over corruption allegations. Dressed in camouflage and armed with an M16 rifle and a jungle knife, he had hitched a ride with the busload of tourists – a total of 22 Hong Kong tourists and three Filipinos – as it visited Manila’s historic sites, before declaring that he was taking the group hostage.During police negotiations, nine people had been released, including three children and two Filipinos. The remaining Filipino, the bus driver, managed to escape when Mr Mendoza began shooting at the hostages by nightfall. During the standoff, negotiators had been given a list of demands by Mr Mendoza, which included food for the remaining passengers on the bus and fuel to continue the air-conditioning.Later, police encircled the bus, smashed its windows, and fired at it after hearing shots from within, but were held at bay by Mr Mendoza’s gunfire. The crisis came to an end when tear gas was lobbed into the bus and a police sniper fired a fatalistic headshot. Some of the surviving hostages have criticised the slow response of authorities. One woman, who identified herself as Mrs Leung, said, “There were so many people on the bus – no one came to our rescue. Why? … We were in fear for so many hours. I find it really cruel.”However, the response from authorities was defended by the Philippine president, Benigno Aquino III, who said they had initially believed Mr Mendoza would surrender. “How can I be satisfied when there were people who died?” he said, before noting the situation deteriorated rapidly from the time the hostage-taker initially showed willingness to release his hostages. Gregory Mendoza, the brother of the hostage-taker, explained Rolando’s actions as an effort to regain the pension that had been disallowed when he was dismissed from the police force.”He is not in the state of his mind, he is not the same Captain Mendoza as before … According to him, he lost his life because of the dismissal,” he said.Gregory Mendoza, himself a policeman, was arrested later on Monday for alleged obstruction of justice, which included approaching the bus to speak with his brother whilst carrying a weapon.”They were the ones who failed in the negotiations, then they blame the outcome on me,” he said.Hong Kong blacklists travel to the PhilippinesIn response to the massacre in Manila, in which 22 Hong Kong tourists had been taken prisoner and eight of them murdered, the Hong Kong government has issued a black travel alert to the Philippines, urging local residents to avoid all travel to the country. The alert means all outbound tour groups to the Philippines will be cancelled from tomorrow, said Executive Director of the Travel Industry Council, Joseph Tung. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Clast_img read more

Lufthansa A380 to Beijing and beyond

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Lufthansa have expanded their services and fleet after deploying their newest Airbus A380 aircraft on route to Beijing from Frankfurt. The aircraft named Peking set off for its first journey only a week after delivery at 11:20pm Singapore time and is expected to make its first landing in China at 8:30am local time. The young aircraft is the airlines third A380 aircraft and will deliver flights to and from Beijing once a week with plans to gradually increase frequency over time. The airline has also released plans to launch flights to Johannesburg in September, the South African city will be the carriers third A380 destination and will serve twice a week.Lufthansa’s Airbus A380 is recognised for its comfort, award winning Business Class section and spacious Economy Class. Lufthansalast_img read more

Spicers win three Queensland tourism awards

first_imgSpicers Peak Lodge Pool Source = Spicers Matt Balfour Balfour External TWO luxury properties within the Spicers Retreats, Hotels & Lodges portfolio have been recognised at this year’s Queensland Tourism Awards, winning three categories on the night – more than any other entrant.Spicers’ newest luxury property, Spicers Balfour Hotel in inner Brisbane, took out two of the three awards, winning Best New Tourism Development and the Young Achiever category for general manager Matthew Simpson.Spicers Peak Lodge, a stunning mountain retreat in the Scenic Rim, won the Best Luxury Accommodation Award. The retreat has long been the toast of the state’s tourism industry, having also won the award in 2006, 2007 and 2010 as well as numerous restaurant and catering awards.The awards were held on Friday at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and are recognised as the industry’s most prestigious awards program. “The Spicers group was nominated for a total of six awards this year and we are thrilled that our properties have again been recognised as among Queensland’s best,” Spicers CEO Danielle Duell said.“While Spicers Peak Lodge continues to shine, we are also delighted that our newest property, Spicers Balfour Hotel, has made such an impression within its first year of operation.”A city retreat reflecting the best of contemporary Queensland living, Spicers Balfour Hotel offers a restful and sophisticated escape just three kilometres from the CBD in New Farm. The hotel features just nine executive-style rooms aimed at the business traveller.The property is managed by Matt Simpson, 29 who is the youngest general manager to join the Spicers group. He was appointed general manager of Spicers Peak Lodge in 2008 at the age of 25 before taking on his new role managing Spicers Balfour Hotel in New Farm last year.“As a new property we’ve had the opportunity to do things a bit differently and really make Spicers Balfour Hotel a ‘home away from home’ for our guests,” Mr Simpson said.”It was important to us not to lose sight of our vision as a city retreat delivering luxurious, practical accommodation and an extensive range of onsite facilities and services designed specifically for the business traveller. I’m also delighted and humbled to be recognised personally, particularly with the amount of great young talent we have in our industry.”Spicers Peak Lodge is Australia’s highest non alpine lodge retreat, situated 1,130m above sea level atop a 9,000 acre working farm. Enveloped by the World Heritage listed Main Range National Park, the property can only be seen from the air, ensuring absolute privacy for guests. The hotel features 10 luxury suites and two private lodges designed to reflect the outdoor landscape. Spicers Peak Lodge general manager Anne-Marelle Meijer said the Scenic Rim property strived to deliver only the very best for its guests.“This is an absolute honour for Spicers Peak Lodge and our team to win the Best Luxury Accommodation Award again,” she said.“Recognition by the industry and fabulous feedback from our guests inspires us to continually deliver a higher level of service, especially with our focus on fine food and wine.“We aim to provide something truly unique in Queensland, and soon will be opening our new day spa which will even further enhance the guest experience.”Spicers Hidden Vale, Spicers Tamarind Retreat, Spicers Clovelly Estate and its Long Apron Restaurant, were also finalists in this year’s awards. Spread across South East Queensland’s hinterland beauty spots, in Brisbane city and the world-renowned Hunter Valley in New South Wales, the Spicers group is made up of an eclectic range of seven boutique properties offering gourmet food and wine, active experiences, spa services, lavish accommodation and first-class service.last_img read more

Aussies urged to Get Lost experience Singapore

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Changing Aussie perception of the destination, Singapore Tourism Board has unveiled a new campaign encouraging Australians to “Get Lost and find the real Singapore’.Unveiled today the new cinema averts across Sydney, Melbourne and Perth aim to dispel stereotypes associated with the region including air conditioned shopping malls, Chilli Crab and Singapore Slings.The Board’s Oceania area director Sandra Leong explained the research confirmed that the clichés were outdated and awareness of Singapore was quite low amongst many Australians. “This campaign is based on a deeper understanding of the Australian consumer, which allows us to fine-tune our marketing approach to meet the specific needs and interests of this market,” Ms Leong explained. “By understanding their needs, we are also better able to create and deliver quality experiences, which is a natural evolution of the YourSingapore destination brand, with its emphasis on personalisation of experiences.” The campaign will also be backed by similarly playful PR releases.last_img read more

G Adventures demand drives North America departures

first_imgLess than six months after launching into the US, G Adventures has announced it will add extra departures on its North American tours after experiencing “overwhelming success” on the program.Announced this week, the company’s Australia and New Zealand head Pete Rawley explained the company was “amazed” with the amount of support from industry partners and “didn’t realise… the level of demand out there for our new programs to these destinations”.“From the overwhelming success of our new North American tours, it’s apparent that travellers want something that explores and celebrates the diversity of all of the quirky things that make American culture so interesting,” Mr Rawley said. Extra departures are now on sale and include options from overland road trips to active escapes and camping under the stars. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Malaysia best part of the Thai Singapore sandwich

first_imgSitting in the centre of Thailand and Singapore makes Malaysia the juicy middle for all agents and travellers to try and love, according to Tourism Malaysia director Shahrin Mokhtar.Speaking at the annual Tourism Malaysia Road Show in Sydney last night, Mr Mokhtar told agents that Malaysia was not only affordable for Australians to visit but conveniently close, full of adventure and food  and the number one destination for free smiles.Promoting the region and sharing updates across the country, agents were given a preview of the company’s new campaign, a TV ad airing across Channel Nine and Seven through May and June.Mr Mokhtar said the one minute TV spot would help build tourism numbers into Malaysia from Australia and will also feature across Jetstar’s network towards the end of June.The bureau’s head also took the time to unveil new agent online training that allows consultants to complete set modules.“After you finish the training program you can print out your certificate and become a Malaysia specialist,” Mr Mokhtar added. Last night the bureau also unveiled its brand new QR code that sends Australian travellers straight to the Tourism Malaysia website. Click here for photos and more information from last night’s event. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Gen Y taking advantage of strong AUD

first_imgThe strong Aussie dollar is motivating Generation Y to travel overseas and spend more on accommodation than Baby Boomers according to recent consumer research.The survey commissioned by Canstar Blue revealed a range of insights into the tourism sector including travel differences between the generations.Gen Y consumers stated the strength of the Australian dollar was a deciding factor in choice of holidaying abroad rather than at home, preferring a longer break to a quick getaway.The survey also showed booking accommodation online was preferred by 67 percent of respondents while 49 percent admit to not remembering the last time they saw a travel agent face to face.Baby Boomers revealed they were more inclined to use a travel agent while Gen Y would visit an agent to research a trip before using their advice to book online.Gen Y was four times more likely than Baby Boomers to use Facebook to brag about their holidays, that they booked well in advance so they have something to look forward to. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.Wlast_img read more

Farewell TCF government approves phaseout

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Plans to phase-out the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) have received the green-light after the Australian government approved the launch of the proposed accreditation transition plan.The State and Federal Consumer Affairs Ministers gave the go-ahead to the Travel Industry Transition Plan (TITP) last week, which will include winding up the TCF and introducing of a new consumer protection body.Commencing the TITP from 1 July 2013, with a view to full implementation by 2015, Australian Federal of Travel Agents (AFTA) chief executive Jayson Westbury said the decision was a “win” for the industry and will make way for the launch of an “appropriate consumer protection” group.According to the AFTA head, the implementation of a new Scheme would bring the industry into line with the rest of the Australian economy and consumer law, through regulations that meet the needs of the current travel industry and the modern Australian traveller.“These changes will deliver a level playing field with protection for consumers and a more balanced approach for the travel industry,” Mr Westbury said.As part of the transition, the TCF will be completely phased out by 2015, while the the majority of the $30 million in TCF’s accumulated reserves will be redistributed back to the State and Territories.The government will also issue a one-off grant for consumer research and advocacy purposes as well as a one-off grant to fund the development of an industry-led accreditation scheme. Jayson Westbury says the decision is a “win” for the industry.last_img read more

Govt amend tourism portfolio

first_imgFollowing amendments to the Administrative Arrangements Order last week, Trade Minister Andrew Robb will be responsible for Australia’s tourism agenda. Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) managing director Felicia Mariani said she was pleased with the Government’s decision to identify a clear focal point for tourism. Source = ETB News: P.T. “As the only national industry association who has been devoted to the development of Australia’s AU$28 billion export tourism industry for over 40 years, ATEC is the true voice of the export tourism industry providing a vital connection to those businesses engaged with the international market,” Ms Mariani said. “ATEC is strongly committed to ensuring the tourism industry has the best opportunity to prosper and will continue to push for changes we’ve proposed to the Working Holiday Visa, better access to EMDG funding for our regional members and more sustainable pay rates for our operators.” “As one of Australia’s most successful and enduring export industries, we are pleased to have tourism recognised as an important trade industry and we will work to ensure the industry maintains a high profile within Government,” Ms Mariani said. There had previously been some confusion around the split of industry responsibility between two ministerial portfolios. The Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) also “strongly supports the alignment of tourism as part of Australia’s economic diplomacy,” according to TTF chief executive Ken Morrison. ATEC has written to Minister Robb, requesting a position on his Ministerial Advisory Council on Trade and Investment.last_img read more

Sydney Airport too loud

first_imgSydney Airport has failed to meet any targets for noise pollution over the last 17 years, with suburbs directly north of the airport experiencing double the amount of aeroplane noise considered “fair” according the operating report of Sydney Airport.According to the Airport’s operating plan, Mascot and the surrounding suburbs are supposed to have 17 per cent aircraft movements, including planes landing and taking off- overhead, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.However, instead those areas have had more than 30 per cent of flights fly overhead and regularly have more than double the target.In addition, Sydenham residents hear planes overhead at 70 decibels more than 170 times a day.Australian government modelling shows that the noise problem is likely to get worse, with no unused slots for aircraft movement during peak hours and by 2027 there will be no free slots at any time of the day.Airservices Australia regularly regulates noise in Sydney suburbs, registering the number of planes louder at 70dB at street level.Source = ETB News: Tom Nealelast_img read more

ATAS scores high in recent satisfaction survey

first_imgAustralian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) Travel Accredition Scheme (ATAS) has revealed that 98 percent of respondents are satisfied with its online process and a further 93 percent are likely to recommend ATAS to others.Travel agents applying for ATAS accreditation were asked to complete an online satisfaction survey as part of the application process.AFTA general manager, Gary O’Riordan has said that the industry is backing ATAS and participants have described the process of becoming accredited as seamless.“We implemented the satisfaction survey to capture industry feedback and ensure we are delivering a solution which is relevant to the needs of those applying for accreditation,” Mr O’Riordan said.ATAS has already gained traction across the industry with well over 2,000 locations now accredited and applications continuing to flow as all of the plans and marketing start to have a solid impact on both the industry and consumers.According to ATAS, common reasons agents are becoming accredited are to differentiate themselves from competitors and to be recognised as professional and credible.Furthermore, the feedback and response to the “Pack Some Peace of Mind” campaign being rolled out across print and radio by the consumer affairs agencies, has also been successful with a wide range of positive comments being fed back into AFTA from across the industry and consumers.Source = ETB News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more