Costa Ricas energy debate focuses on renewables parks and consumers

first_imgNo related posts. During the early May summit in San José with U.S. President Barack Obama and the presidents of Central America and the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica focused much of its efforts on bilateral energy initiatives.From the U.S., Costa Rica and other countries on the isthmus want to import liquefied natural gas at discounted rates. Meanwhile, Ticos are working on developing cleaner technology based on hydrogen converted to fuel for both domestic consumption and export.But what would those programs entail, and what is the likelihood they will come to fruition?Ad Astra and hydrogen“Obama was impressed that [hydrogen technology] is being developed in a country as small as Costa Rica, and the proposal to the U.S. is that we cooperate with exchanges of university researchers, investors and young engineers,” Costa Rican Environment Minister René Castro said following the summit.The Ad Astra Rocket Company, located in the provincial capital of Liberia, Guanacaste, and founded by Costa Rican astronaut and scientist Franklin Chang, has three large research projects focused on extracting hydrogen from water and using it to store and produce renewable energy.“Our interest is utilizing hydrogen as a possible alternative fuel,” Ad Astra engineer and project administrator Juan Del Valle told The Tico Times.Hydrogen is an interesting option for Costa Rica for two reasons: It is environmentally friendly because it is a clean fuel. When hydrogen is used to produce energy, its byproduct is pure water. And water – the technology’s input – is an abundant resource in this Central American country.Costa Rica currently produce more than 90 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, mostly hydroelectric projects. Eventually, using hydrogen as an alternative fuel could help release Costa Rica entirely from its remaining dependence on hydrocarbon imports, particularly if that technology targets the transportation sector. And that could help further the administration’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2021.Ad Astra hopes to develop technology that uses wind-turbine technology to extract hydrogen from water through electrolysis, or the decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen via electric current. Ad Astra is designing and building small-scale and low-cost wind turbines for that purpose.“It’s convenient for Costa Rica, because with electricity and water, we can produce hydrogen. In Costa Rica, we have water and electricity, and actually we are leaders in the production of electricity from renewable sources like wind,” Del Valle said.The second project entails building an experimental station where, once hydrogen is produced, it is pressurized and stored in high-pressure tanks.Ad Astra’s third project, supported by U.S. company Cummins, Inc. and Costa Rica-based EARTH University, is building a new type of electric generator that uses biogas and hydrogen instead of fossil fuels.“Cummings is a specialist in electricity plants, and EARTH University has experience in anaerobic digesters that use organic waste to produce biogas,” Del Valle said.Ad Astra hopes to enrich biogas with hydrogen to improve the efficiency of a generator, he added.Research into the generator project began in August 2011, and scientists will begin testing it by the end of May.Ad Astra hopes to take the results of the three projects and consolidate them into one program that powers dairy and other farms, and small businesses, with the goal of helping businesses become energy self-sufficient.“We can use this technology, and in the future, create an engine that can be adapted for use in conventional vehicles that operate with biogas and hydrogen. It’s a long-term project that will take at least 10 years to develop,” Del Valle said.Ad Astra eventually hopes to export the new generators.Mauricio Álvarez, president of the Costa Rican Environmental Conservation Federation, or FECON, said using hydrogen to develop new energy technology is a positive development as long as more energy is produced than is used as input. The electricity that is produced should primarily be used for local consumption, because exporting it would have greater environmental consequences, he said.Although production of this type of energy would be much cleaner than fossil fuels, water use and availability should be analyzed to ensure that rivers are not strained, he added.Liquefied natural gasAnother initiative Costa Rica is pursuing is the importation of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. at preferential rates. Obama said the U.S. would decide if it is interested in exporting the product in the next six months.“We’re pitching the idea early, as the United States is still discussing exporting [LNG],” Castro said.  Álvarez and Broad Front Party lawmaker José María Villalta, however, doubt the U.S. will decide to share its hydrocarbon reserves with Central America. Rather, they say, the northern giant likely will save those reserves for its massive internal consumption.Geothermal energyIn the Legislative Assembly, lawmakers are debating a bill that would allow the generation of geothermal energy inside the Rincón de la Vieja National Park in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.There are two ways to do this, as Costa Rica has a law that prohibits the extraction of resources from national parks.The first involves changing park boundaries and adding additional territory to compensate for the area converted to energy production. The other would require a reform to the National Parks Law, allowing the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) to tap energy inside national parks.Last month, ICE held a forum to debate the controversial issue, attended by ICE Executive Director Teófilo de la Torre, the environment minister, lawmakers, conservationists and others.De la Torre said that without geothermal energy, the only alternative for boosting electricity production would be using hydrocarbon fuels, which are more costly and environmentally harmful.Castro said that geothermal energy is one of the few options available to confront climate change.Álvarez, however, is worried that changing the national park law or redrawing park boundaries would set a troubling precedent.“The national parks have many resources, and if we set that precedent, the door will open to extracting other resources,” he said. “The national parks were created precisely to protect those resources.”FECON backs the idea of searching for geothermal energy sources outside of national parks. Álvarez also believes the government should do more to reduce energy consumption.“How are we going to extract resources from national parks before implementing a national plan to conserve energy?” he asked. “Costa Rica depends on tourism and its image of an environmentally friendly country.”Villalta backs the geothermal push.“We support the development of geothermal energy in Costa Rica, because it’s a stable energy, is available throughout the year, and has a much lower effect on the environment than hydroelectric projects,” he said.Hydroelectric projects and the country’s abundant supply of water have helped Costa Rica meet is electricity demand, but conservationists say large-scale dams disrupt ecosystems.Other alternative energy sources include wind and solar power, but they do not supply a constant, year-round source of energy.Although Villalta supports the geothermal idea, he said it’s important to address conservationists’ concerns. ICE, he said, should develop geothermal projects without damaging national parks.Villalta backs changing park boundaries to allow geothermal projects in small areas, but those areas should be replaced with larger areas to make the parks bigger, not smaller, he said.“Of course, we’re not going to accept a law that replaces forests with pastures, and the areas that are added should have an equal amount of biodiversity, so that our natural wealth isn’t diminished, but rather, expanded,” he said.Villalta noted that ICE is making progress on searching for geothermal sources outside of national parks, but those sources are limited.He also called for a national energy conservation plan to target consumers by using a utility rate scale that adjusts costs based on the hour of the day and that obligates big companies to use more efficient energy technology.He acknowledged, however, that “energy demand will always increase, because the population increases, and so does the economy.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Headhunters at My Doorstep a departure for Troost

first_imgRelated posts:‘Paradise Imperfect’ a competent expat memoir The life and times of a very big fish: United Fruit’s Sam Zemurray Book Review: ‘Green Season’ delivers delights, belly laughs and revelations ‘The Manatee’s Big Day’ an imaginative, bilingual intro to nature In 2004, J. Maarten Troost burst onto the travel-writing scene with his first book, “The Sex Lives of Cannibals.” Troost was lovable for many reasons: He was a Gen X slacker, but inspired enough to live in the South Pacific. He was funny, but not hyperbolic. He was Dutch, but not really European – more like a bumbling Englishman with a hemp necklace. He was smart, free-spirited and utterly fun.It’s hard to believe that Troost only has been famous for nine years. His books seem like a longstanding part of the expatriate canon, alongside Bill Bryson and Paul Theroux, exotic travelogues you can comfortably read in an airport lounge. Troost has an easygoing shtick: He spends time in far-flung places, either as explorer (“Lost on Planet China”) or as resident (“Getting Stoned with Savages”). These thoughts and actions are distilled into pithy essays. He sips a shell full of kava, hallucinates for days, and then writes an entertaining anecdote about it. Add a title rife with shocking words (“lost,” “sex,” “savages,” “stoned,” “cannibals”) and you’ve got a New York Times bestseller.But don’t let his latest title fool you: “Headhunters at My Doorstep: A True Treasure Island Ghost Story” is a very different kind of book. In less than a decade, Troost has aged dramatically. In the book, he is married now, a father, and – it turns out – a raging alcoholic. “Headhunters” takes place again in the Pacific, but the book is largely a memoir of addiction and recovery. Entire chapters are devoted to his AA meetings, detox and brief switch from vodka to ganja. Now clean and sober, the author yearns for a fresh start, but the tropics aren’t just a spot on a map. In “Headhunters,” Troost returns to the last place he was happy.For page after page, Troost cocoons himself in wit and observation, which is refreshing if you’ve ever slogged through the average addiction-and-recovery memoir. In his quest for healthier living, Troost (literally) follows in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson and Jacques Brel, Paul Gauguin and Thor Heyerdahl, eccentric men who found themselves in the maritime equivalent of nowhere. But beneath these layers of curiosity and digression lies a very painful story. When Troost recounts his wife’s ultimatum (to enroll in rehab or leave), the tone is light, but the subtext is deadly serious, and so, we imagine, was the actual event.Here is the paradox: Troost’s writing style has remained the same, a breezy, self-effacing prose with jabs of social commentary, yet the man himself has grown far more mature. Would he be as interested in Brel’s cancer diagnosis – and Brel’s decision to run away from treatment and sail around the world – if Troost himself hadn’t faced mortality? Would he have read Stevenson, a dense Victorian author, in his younger years? Would he feel quite so stridently disgusted by Gauguin, an infamous pedophile, if he didn’t have children himself? When he sees some kids playing in shark-infested waters, and their parents seem unconcerned, Troost reassesses his own role as a father. Is he overprotective? Should he let the young’uns run free? And – more to the point – would the author of “Getting Stoned with Savages,” only six years distant, have anticipated such a middle-aged crisis?Fans likely will be divided into two camps: the ones who liked the old Troost, loafing and dreamy and boozy, and the diehards who don’t care what he writes about, as long as they enjoy themselves.For droves of Costa Rican expats, “Headhunters” will chime with familiar themes. Years ago, Troost wanted to escape the First World grind, and he found an out-of-the-way tropical paradise to do so. He wanted sun and adventure and colorful new friends. Now, Troost is a famous author who is trying to outdo his demons. He takes up running and brushes up on his French. He remembers his childhood love of “Kon Tiki” and now feels critical of its flawed Swedish captain. All kinds of expats will see themselves in Troost: wide-eyed children who grew up, ran away, made serious mistakes, and redeemed themselves in a global way.Halfway through the book, Troost injects a literary quest, and the somber narrative finds some momentum. Troost distracts himself with Stevenson’s biography and the “Treasure Island” mythos, and he starts to sail away from 12-step anguish.If you’re a cynical reader, you could argue that Troost is the ultimate sellout. In a way, he has written the same book three different ways and exploited his own addiction for new writing material. It’s hard to say whether his Stevenson kick is genuine. “Headhunters” might strike the reader as an agent’s suggestion, a sellable idea that Troost went along with, because a sequel was just about due.Yet Troost’s saving grace is his affable personality. He really is a pleasure to read, no matter his subject. For mainstream readers, Troost’s gift is the ability to educate, entertain and inspire simultaneously. For expats, “Headhunters” describes the sensations we often fail to verbalize ourselves. Between the lines, some gravity emerges, for even escapists must haggle with weighty situations. After years as the consummate escapist, a recovered Troost has apparently grown up. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica leader wants his name off bridges buildings

first_imgRelated posts:President Solís gets good grade from most Costa Ricans as first 100 days pass Costa Rica’s Solís claims $112 million in losses from corruption in speech highlighting first 100 days of his administration Solís’ 100-day report leads to criminal investigation of 4 government agencies Costa Rica’s first official sign language interpreter has long history of bridging the communication gap Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís doesn’t want his name on plaques at public works or his portrait hung in public offices.In a decree signed Wednesday, Solís prohibited his name from being used on plaques inaugurating bridges, roads and buildings, as had been the custom in previous administrations.“The works are from the country and not from a government or a particular official,” Solis told reporters after the decree was signed during a meeting with the governing council.He also banned his portrait from being hung in Costa Rican government buildings, a practice that is common in many countries.“The worship of the image of the president is over, at least under my government,” he said.Solís came out of nowhere in the polls to become the first third-party candidate in more than half a century to win the top post in Costa Rica — running on a platform promising transparency and to eliminate superfluous spending. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

White House travel exemptions to Cuba do not cover tourism

first_imgRelated posts:US, Cuba agree to let airlines begin flights Wonkblog: What the new U.S.-Cuba travel rules mean for US citizens hoping to visit Cuba There’s a real estate boom in Cuba, but for now, only Cubans can buy Cuba embargo under pressure as Obama urged to pull down barriers Facebook Comments President Barack Obama announced major changes in the United States’ 53-year embargo on communist Cuba Wednesday, but don’t pack your bags just yet. Tourism was not among the travel exemptions listed by the White House.Wednesday’s announcement, which followed the release of jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross, said that the U.S. would seek to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba that were severed in January 1961. The U.S. also would seek to reestablish an embassy. It currently operates a Special Interest Section out of the Swiss Embassy. President Obama also asked Secretary of State John Kerry to reassess the U.S. distinction of Cuba as a state sponsor of terror. Cuba was placed on that list in 1982.As an initial step, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson will lead a U.S. delegation in the next round of U.S.-Cuba immigration talks in January 2015 in Havana, according to the statement. President Barack Obama delivers an address to the nation from the Cabinet Room of the White House, on December 17, 2014. Obama spoke about the release earlier of Alan Gross, who spent five years in a Cuban prison. AFP PHOTO / POOL / DOUG MILLS“Neither the American nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before many of us were born,” Obama said during a speech from the White House, noting that the U.S. has open relations with China, a far larger country that is also governed by a Communist Party, and Vietnam, where thousands of U.S. soldiers died in the war there.“For five and a half decades since, our policy toward Cuba has remained virtually frozen, and done little to promote a prosperous, democratic and stable Cuba,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement. “I look forward to being the first secretary of state in 60 years to visit Cuba.”Direct flights from Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport to Havana by the airline Cubana de Aviación restarted in November, but U.S. expats and tourists who want to travel to Cuba via Costa Rica may still risk running afoul of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees licenses and regulations for U.S. passport holders to travel to the island. The categories allowed to legally travel to Cuba now include:Family visitsOfficial business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizationsJournalistic activityProfessional research and professional meetingsEducational activitiesReligious activitiesPublic performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitionsSupport for the Cuban peopleHumanitarian projectsActivities of private foundations or research or educational institutesExportation, importation or transmissionThe new regulations would allow travelers to use U.S. credit and debit cards. Gringos who get their license to travel to Cuba could use those new payment options to bring back $400 worth of goods from Cuba, of which no more than $100 can consist of tobacco products and alcohol combined, according to the White House’s statement. Of course, Cohibas and Havana Club are legal in Costa Rica for those who’d rather skip the trip but still get a sip.Obama also announced expanded commercial sales and exports to Cuba, including certain building materials for private residential construction, goods for Cuban entrepreneurs and agricultural equipment with the stated aim of reducing Cuban citizens’ dependence on the government.Along with reestablishing diplomatic relations, the Obama administration announced that remittances would be raised from $500 to $2,000 per quarter for Cuban nationals, and that donative remittances for humanitarian projects would no longer require specific licenses.In Costa Rica, President Luis Guillermo Solís reacted to the news with an upbeat statement: “I think the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba will open a new moment in the dialogue between the United States and Latin America. It could put an end to a policy that for many years has been ineffective and has brought much sadness to thousands of people in both Cuba and the US. I think it’s very good news.”Wednesday’s break in the ice that long locked the U.S. and Cuba in a 53-year trade and travel embargo came after a string of conflicts between the two countries, including a story uncovered by The Associated Press about USAID programs based in Costa Rica that endangered poorly-trained agents tasked with pro-democracy activities on the island.Obama said that the case of jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned for attempting to “destroy the revolution,” had been a major impediment to further thawing of relations. Earlier this year, Gross went on a hunger strike to protest his detention. Pope Francis urged both countries to resolve the case, and Cuba released Gross on humanitarian grounds, according to Obama.Both countries engaged in a prisoner exchange, Obama said, where three Cuban nationals serving federal prison sentences for 15 years were exchanged for a U.S. intelligence agent who had been in prison on the island for 20 years and was reportedly responsible for contributing to the arrest of the three Cubans and other spies, Obama said. The U.S. president did not name the agent, whom he called “one of the most important intelligence agents the United States has ever had in Cuba.”Obama said that despite the thaw in diplomatic relations, the United States would continue to aggressively push democracy and human rights on the island.“I believe we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values though engagement. After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation does not work. It’s time for a new approach,” Obama said.Watch President Obama’s speech announcing the change below:last_img read more

Supporters rally around Costa Rican band Overseas after Brazil robbery

first_imgRelated posts:Forget Lollapalooza; this year’s Riot Fest in Chicago is way better Punk rock band Title Fight to play for the first time in Costa Rica PHOTOS: Sights and sounds of Costa Rica’s first Nrmal Festival 14 photos of Cahuita’s 2nd International Calypso Festival Costa Rican punk rock band Overseas, abroad for their South American tour, was robbed in Porto Alegre, Brazil on Sept. 17. The band had only played three concerts on the tour when the assult took place. The thief held the group up at gunpoint and stole the band’s rented vehicle, instruments, merchandise, electronic devices, luggage, cash money and passports, with an economic loss of approximately $11, 000, according to a statement released by the group on Friday.“I have never been so scared in all my life,” band member Ricardo Arias posted on Facebook.”I wouldn’t wish that on anyone: that resignation to the point of being ready to let go of your life.”Despite the setback, Overseas has  decided to continue with the tour with help from local Brazilian sponsors, bands, and fans, who have been providing the group with clothing, food, lodging, and transportation. Meanwhile, the Costa Rican Consulate in Brazil is seeking a solution regarding the lost passports so that the group can either continue with the tour in Argentina and Chile as planned, or return to Costa Rica next week.Overseas has also launched a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo for fans who want to support them.“Without any doubt we were born again today,” Arias wrote. “I’m grateful for this second chance.”For more information or to donate to the campaign, visit the Overseas Facebook page. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica expands nogo zone around Turrialba Volcano

first_imgAfter a string of eruptions during the last week, Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission announced Monday that it would expand security measures around the volcano. The total area under restricted access extends five kilometers from the crater.The commission — known by the acronym CNE — announced that the area within two kilometers of the crater is off limits to all visitors and inhabitants. The remaining three kilometers outside the closed area are only accessible by farmers and ranchers with property in the area, and they must be accompanied by an employee from the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry, CNE spokeswoman Rebecca Madrigal said.During the weekend, authorities started to evacuate animals from the area around the crater. The National Animal Health Service estimated that there were a total of 279 animals on 13 farms within the two-kilometer ring around the crater.Classes are currently suspended at the nearby school of El Volcán in the town of La Central, which sits on the slope of the volcano. Students from the Unidad Pedagógica El Torito were relocated to the Colegio de Santa Teresita to take their high school exit exams.Turrialba National Park is closed to the public at this time but the town of Turrialba and surrounding towns are not in danger, according to the emergency commission.Since Oct. 23, Turrialba Volcano has seen a series of increasingly strong eruptions, including one on Saturday afternoon that launched a column of ash 1,000 meters into the air. CNE said that the volcano has averaged an eruption every hour during the last week. A yellow alert remains in effect for the cantons of Turrialba and Alvarado. A photo comparison of pictures taken with normal and thermal cameras shows incandescent gas and rocks being expelled during an eruption on Oct. 26. (Via OVSICORI) Facebook Comments Related posts:Turrialba Volcano spews more ash over Costa Rica’s Central Valley in Easter eruption Turrialba Volcano erupts again, raining ash over San José WATCH: Turrialba Volcano emits impressive ash cloud Turrialba Volcano vapor plumes are normal, experts saylast_img read more

Costa Rica lawmaker gets blasted on social media for unfortunate tweet

first_imgMe siento entumido de frío, con dolor de huesos y un poco de calentura. ¿Cómo se cura esto? pic.twitter.com/bzWSpVLwRX— Lic. Óscar López (@lic_oscarlopez) December 1, 2015 @olopezmotivador pic.twitter.com/xLhigPZW8A— Mario E. (@MarioDieX) December 1, 2015 cuando llegas a tu primera clase del gym y todas son avanzadas pic.twitter.com/kIqRiYPGPb— Jurassic Juan (@juanelpeor) December 1, 2015 You used to call me on la Asamblea cc @franjacubillo pic.twitter.com/T6SB40rcAb— Edux (@eduxmonge) December 1, 2015 Dengue? Gripe quiebra huesos? Today’s cautionary tale of social media comes to you courtesy of Costa Rican politician Óscar López. If you’re thinking about posting a picture of yourself laying on a couch in the fetal position and you happen to hold political office, or really if you just have a Twitter account, you should think again before clicking that big, blue “Tweet” button.When López, who is a lawmaker from the Accessibility Without Exclusion Party, posted a strange tweet Tuesday morning, it’s safe to say he didn’t expect the downpour of backlash he received on the social media site. A chorus of Costa Rican Twitter users responded to López’s post, advising him to get to work and asking if he was hungover, while also posting a plethora of hilarious memes.In the Tweet, López writes, “I feel numb with cold, with aching bones and a little bit of a fever. How do you cure this?”If he was expecting serious medical advice, he would have been better off consulting WebMD than Costa Rica Twitter, which lambasted the lawmaker who ran for president in the 2014 elections.Here are some of the best reactions from Twitter users Tuesday:“When you get to your first gym class and everybody is at an advanced level.” pic.twitter.com/2QFEp7gzQ2— Edux (@eduxmonge) December 1, 2015 Nueva ficha de @BomberosCR pic.twitter.com/7xy9z9AufH— carl Ox (@crlsmrt) December 1, 2015 pic.twitter.com/Dkf23pldH9— Edux (@eduxmonge) December 1, 2015 “If I stay still maybe they won’t see me.” “After seeing what I have to pay for my marchamo.” #TWD #OscarLopez pic.twitter.com/RstO3qun4O— Politcr (@Politcr) December 1, 2015center_img “A new Costa Rican fireman.” pic.twitter.com/V2H5K6VIED— Edux (@eduxmonge) December 1, 2015 “Ideas for Christmas decoration.”https://twitter.com/elchamuko/status/671762461045862400 #oscarlopez #ConfusedTravolta pic.twitter.com/FrtsMvfFkf— Noé Arias (@jnoearias) December 1, 2015 Facebook Comments @olopezmotivador pic.twitter.com/ssuDfp00Rd— Fabio Castro (@fabiocs10) December 1, 2015 listo el pasito. pic.twitter.com/nKGgpGgLYC— Peralta (@HechoPicha_CR) December 1, 2015 Related posts:Twitter removes fake President Luis Guillermo Solís account Obama finally gets a Twitter account President Laura Chinchilla expresses dismay with low voter turnout in presidential runoff Bolivian president asks to see child born to ex-girlfriend #oscarlopez #sadkeanu #coldoscar pic.twitter.com/eQ3CWmMetL— Pablo Castillo (@pablo_castillo) December 1, 2015last_img read more

Nicaragua government praises balanced ruling in border dispute with Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:At The Hague: Nicaragua says Costa Rica’s border road dumps “massive amounts of sediment” into San Juan River Costa Rica asks international court to prevent further occupations from Nicaragua Damaged wetlands recovering along Costa Rica-Nicaragua border A key week for Costa Rica in border dispute with Nicaragua Facebook Comments The Nicaraguan government said Wednesday that it will respect the final ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the country’s long-running border dispute with Costa Rica. Official government spokeswoman and first lady Rosario Murillo told El Nuevo Diario the government found the decision “balanced” and that it was pleased the court “has recognized our rights to dredge our San Juan River.”The ICJ, based in The Hague, issued its final decision Wednesday in the border squabble between the neighboring countries, which started with a dispute over a 2.5-square-kilometer wetland area and morphed into a battle of accusations over alleged sedimentation in the San Juan River that runs along the border, navigation rights on the river and an artificial canal built through the wetland area, among other issues.Nicaragua’s representative at the world court, Carlos Argüello, also called the decision “balanced in certain aspects.”“It could have been better for us and it could have been better for Costa Rica,” Argüello told the government-allied El Nuevo Diario. “Now we have to try and coexist.”Argüello said Nicaragua could claim victory in two of the three major elements of the international court case: recognition of Nicaragua’s rights to dredge the San Juan River and confirmation that Costa Rica violated its obligation to conduct an environmental impact study before building a road along the river’s bank.He said the only adverse outcome for Nicaragua was the ICJ’s decision to grant Costa Rica sovereignty over the wetland territory known variably as Isla Calero, Isla Portillos or Harbour Head.“As for the disputed territory, unfortunately, the court took the easiest decision. [Justices] did not accept Nicaragua’s petition to conduct inspections on site in order to verify that the natural canal links the area to our territory as described by the Alexander treaty,” Argüello told El Nuevo Diario, referring to an 1897 arbitration decision.Other Nicaraguan news outlets painted a less rosy picture of the justices’ decision, focusing on the disputed territory. Daily La Prensa noted on its website that “Nicaragua lost almost 3 km of wetlands and must pay Costa Rica.”Periódico Hoy ran with the headline “Isla Calero belongs to Costa Rica,” while news channel 100% Noticias highlighted the parts of the ruling that favor Costa Rica, namely the upholding of Costa Rica’s sovereignty over Isla Calero, Nicaragua’s failure to prove environmental damage caused by Costa Rica’s border road and confirmation of Nicaragua’s violation of Costa Rican sovereignty via the presence of unauthorized military and government personnel.Below is a timeline of events in the Costa Rica–Nicaragua border dispute: last_img read more

Multipurpose malinche an attractive and useful ornamental

first_imgRelated posts:Another handy herb for a Costa Rican garden pharmacy Give green in Costa Rica: holiday gifts that will live on all year Give green in 2015: presents that will live on all year Hydroponic gardening in Costa Rica: How to get started Facebook Comments Here’s another attractive ornamental that’s a favorite Costa Rican backyard patio shrub. You’ll findmalinche (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) growing in just about any barrio in the country. Its unmistakable bright red or yellow flowers resemble those of the giant poinciana trees, and so it’s called dwarf poinciana in English. Other common names include Barbados fence flower and paradise flower. Costa Ricans call it hoja sen or clavelina.Malinche is a native plant of Mesoamerica that is now found around the world in tropical regions. This hardy shrub-like tree grows to no more than three meters, but is usually pruned to maintain a compact shape for border hedges. The leaves are double-pinnate, and the stems usually have small thorns. The beautiful flowers bloom most of the year and attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden.Leading nurseries often carry malinche, but you also can collect seeds from local plants or start cuttings. The seeds can be planted in recycled plastic cups with several holes punched in the bottom and filled with prepared potting soil. It takes about two weeks for the seeds to germinate, and another month or two before the young plants are ready for transplanting to the garden, preferably in full-sun locations. Cuttings can be started in cups and take about the same time. Rooting preparations help stimulate root growth and speed up the process.Malinche grows in poor soils but responds well to additions of organic compost fertilizer for better growth and flowering. As the plants reach about a meter tall, pinch the leading new growth of each stem to form a compact, bush-like shape.Malinche is a hardy ornamental that has no serious insect problems or plant diseases, and it does not need watering in the dry season. These attributes place it high on the list of eco-friendly garden plants. And it has several other beneficial uses. A small handful of the leaves can be used in an infusion of one cup of boiling water as a laxative and to reduce fevers, while the same amount of flowers in an infusion promotes menstruation. The leaves can also be used as a maceration to treat insect bites and skin conditions, such as fungal and bacterial infections or rashes. The roots and seedpods produce a red dye, and the dried flowers soaked in water act as a natural insect repellent.As you can see, malinche offers much more than attractive flowers around the home. It’s a multipurpose plant that has become a beloved friend to many a Costa Rican. Will you, too, invite this new friend into your garden?Originally published on April 14, 2011.Send your gardening comments and questions to me at: thenewdawncenter@yahoo.com.Read more of Ed Bernhardt’s monthly Home Gardening columns here.For more information on tropical gardening – naturally – and upcoming Sunday workshops, visit Ed’s website or contact him at thenewdawncenter@yahoo.com. last_img read more

Cubas first daughter has gone beyond Castro name

first_img Comments   Share   But no matter how much Castro desires to set her own course, controversy will follow her on her trip to San Francisco precisely because of her father and uncle, both reviled by many Cuban-Americans and enemies of Washington for more than half a century.When word came last week that the State Department had issued an entry visa to Castro _ as well as at least 60 other Cuban scholars _ Cuban-American politicians were quick to pounce. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio accused her of bringing a campaign of anti-Americanism to U.S. shores, while New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez said he was “indignant” over her presence.They and others noted that U.S. rules prohibited Communist Party members and other high-ranking Cuban government officials from entry without special dispensation. While Mariela Castro is not officially part of the government, her personal ties to Cuban leaders are clearly evident.The State Department has refused to comment on individual visa cases. Castro is due to chair a panel on the politics of sexual diversity in San Francisco and to meet with the local LGBT community. On May 29, she is to participate in a talk at the New York Public Library.As head of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, or Cenesex, since 2000, Castro has acquired a much higher profile than her siblings and cousins, becoming a leading advocate for gay rights in Cuba, Latin America and beyond. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona That tendency to go against the grain stuck, and four decades later Castro is still speaking her mind.“It would be very easy for me to repeat what the whole world wants to hear, not contradicting anybody, being sweeter and more accepted. But my work obliges me to present realities that not everyone wants to face,” Castro said at the book launch. “I’m not going to stop doing and saying what I believe in. The day I can no longer do that, I might as well spend my time planting lettuce instead.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Attractive, intelligent and quick to smile, Castro has a flair for dressing elegantly in bright colors. She is commonly seen heading up annual gay pride marches in the capital, flanked by six-foot-tall transvestites. Outspoken and self-confident, she meets regularly with visiting dignitaries, including a delegation of U.S. women last year, and travels the world giving talks about gay rights.In conversation she looks questioners directly in the eye, is quick to speak and punctuates her words with animated gestures. She is reported to have two children with her husband, a Sicilian-born photographer, and a third child from a previous marriage, though even those basic details are not easily confirmed in Cuba.And while Castro does not regularly give interviews, she is far from reclusive.She is the only member of her famous family to really embrace Twitter; Fidel and Raul’s accounts are dry and impersonal, apparently managed by underlings. She’s also not afraid to mix it up with critics, as she did last year in a very public Twitter spat with dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez.Grumbling about “despicable parasites” criticizing her just hours after her debut on the social media platform, Castro tweeted: “Were you ordered by your employers to respond to me in unison and with the same predetermined script? Be creative.” Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img “She has put herself at the forefront of the struggle for rights for the LGBT community,” said Gloria A. Careaga Perez, a professor of psychology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico who will be on Mariela Castro’s panel at the San Francisco gathering of the Latin American Studies Association on Thursday. “What she does is praiseworthy because she is a pioneer, an academic and political authority who stands up for human rights.”Requests to interview Castro were not granted ahead of her trip, and four friends and admirers declined to speak on the record, a symptom of Cubans’ deep misgivings about openly discussing members of the Castro family.But while others are shy of giving their name, Castro has not been, particularly when it comes to her signature issue. She has lobbied for years for her father’s government to legalize same-sex marriage, something he has not done. Earlier this month, Castro said the president privately shares her views on gay rights, and declined to push him to go public.While she has no doubt benefited from her surname, Castro says it has always been important to her to have a separate identity.“I never wanted any part of that, `the daughter of …’” she said several years ago at a book launch in Havana. “I despise people who get on that kind of carriage, and I love myself very much for not doing so. I never did, and I never will.” It was a rare moment of direct confrontation between a Castro and one of the dissidents, who are officially disparaged as counterrevolutionary sellouts doing the bidding of Washington, and it showed her willingness to depart from the prepared script, even if in defense of the government.She was born July 27, 1962, to the power couple of the Cuban Revolution: Raul Castro and Vilma Espin, also a prominent guerrilla who later was president of the Federation of Cuban Women, a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee and Fidel’s first lady stand-in for years when he had no official partner. Espin died in 2007.Mariela, who bears a close resemblance to Espin, cites her mother’s influence and has called her work a continuation of Espin’s labor to advance women’s rights in Cuba and Latin America.“She was very sweet and tender. She passed along her values in educating us,” Castro once said. By contrast, Castro sometimes quarreled with her father, though she has said she was always proud of his accomplishments.It was at college in the late 1970s that Castro had her eyes opened to the gay rights movement, as a student leader who successfully fought off attempts to have gays expelled for their sexual orientation. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Associated PressHAVANA (AP) – She has her uncle’s penchant for speaking her mind. From her father, she inherited a disciplined tenacity.But Mariela Castro, a married mother of three and member of Cuba’s most powerful family, has paved her own way in making gay rights her life’s cause. And now the 49-year-old daughter of President Raul Castro is about to make a controversial visit to the United States for a conference on Latin America. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img

Correction ArubaRefinery story

first_imgKINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – In a story Sept. 3 about a refinery in Aruba that is being converted into a fuel storage facility, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Hess Corp. closed the Hovensa oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands earlier this year. Hovensa, a joint venture of Hess and Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, closed the refinery.A corrected version of the story is below:Aruba refinery to turn into storage facility 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 0 Comments   Share   The company’s local subsidiary has notified employees that it will require a significantly smaller workforce. The reorganization and workforce reduction is expected to be completed before the end of the year.From Aruba, Valero spokesman Bill Day said about 600 employees are currently at the site. They were kept on the payroll during the suspension of refinery operations.“Valero hasn’t determined the number of employees to staff the terminal operations yet; that will be done over the next several days in meetings with employees and union representatives,” Day said.A spokesman for the Independent Oil Workers Union of Aruba did not immediately return calls for comment on Monday.At a press conference, Prime Minister Mike Eman said he is hopeful a new buyer or partnership can be found and refinery operations can restart. He said there are “different groups still interested in the refinery” but declined to provide specifics. Aruba must find a way to offset the economic damage if the restart doesn’t happen, he said.“But we know we have a valuable partner that will remain part of the Aruban economy, which is Valero,” Eman told reporters. Sponsored Stories How do cataracts affect your vision?center_img Valero said it will continue to invest in Aruba with upgrades to the terminal. It will also continue to supply gas, diesel, jet fuel and fuel oil to the island just north of Venezuela. In recent years, the company has said it represented more than 12 percent of Aruba’s gross domestic product.Refineries in the Caribbean and on the U.S. East Coast have struggled in recent years because the crude oil they use has been priced higher than the oil available to refiners in the middle of the U.S.Earlier this year, the massive Hovensa oil refinery, a joint venture of Hess. Corp and Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, was closed in the U.S. Virgin Islands, stunning nearly 2,000 workers on the island of St. Croix. Plans call for that Caribbean refinery to also be converted into a fuel storage terminal.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Valero to convert its shuttered oil refinery on Aruba into a fuel storage facilityBy DAVID McFADDENAssociated PressKINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Valero Energy Corp. announced Monday that it will convert its shuttered oil refinery on the southern Caribbean island of Aruba into a fuel storage facility, leaving hundreds of employees jockeying for positions at the downsizing operation.The San Antonio, Texas-based company suspended refining operations in March at the Aruba refinery, which processed heavy, sour crude and once had a capacity of about 275,000 barrels a day. It said it stopped producing gasoline and other fuels at the site due to high oil prices and “unfavorable refinery economics.”On Monday, Valero announced that it had decided to reorganize the unprofitable site into a storage terminal on the Dutch Caribbean island of just over 100,000 inhabitants. For years, Valero has been trying unsuccessfully to sell the Aruba refinery, which the company says is still ready to restart if a buyer can be found.Valero Chairman and CEO Bill Klesse said Aruba’s deep-water and smaller berths will give the terminal flexibility to load the biggest crude ships. “We believe that Aruba has the assets to compete as a world-scale crude and refined products terminal,” Klesse said in a statement. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Check your body, save your lifelast_img read more

US proposal would ease voting access for American Indians

first_img The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “The legislation we recommend today will make this nation stronger by extending meaningful voting opportunities to native populations, by encouraging full participation in our democratic institutions, and by bringing us closer to our most cherished ideals,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.The proposal is designed to ease the voting process for American Indians, who often have to travel long distances to vote and are a population that the Justice Department says is underrepresented at the polls.Tribes with large populations or territories would be able to request more than one polling place, and states could also meet their obligations by creating new polling places or relocating existing ones.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img ErrorOK.. ErrorOK Sponsored Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Thursday proposed legislation to make it easier for American Indians and Alaska Natives to vote.A legislative proposal sent to Congress would require states and territories that are home to Indian reservations or tribal lands to have at least one polling place in a site selected by the tribal government.Among other things, the proposal would also require states to make voting machines and ballots available at tribally located polling places, and to use the same voting procedures that are in place at other polling locations in the state. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   last_img read more

NATO chief We will not be dragged into arms race

first_img BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO’s secretary-general is flatly rejecting accusations the alliance is fueling a Cold War-style rivalry with Russia, but says it must upgrade its military capabilities to be able to defend itself.Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Wednesday “NATO will not be dragged into an arms race, but we must keep our countries safe.”The NATO chief spoke as alliance defense ministers gathered in Brussels for a meeting that is expected to increase the size of NATO’s Response Force and streamline procedure for deployment of its new, ultrafast “spearhead” unit of 5,000 ground troops. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Top Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Comments   Share   NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, and Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, right, look on after the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz) Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Moscow accuses NATO of threatening it by building up forces near its borders.But Stoltenberg said NATO is only adapting to face today’s realities, like Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, large-scale Russian military exercises and a rash of nuclear rhetoric.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

USled coalition unleashes wave of airstrikes on Raqqa

first_img Top Stories BEIRUT (AP) — U.S.-led coalition aircraft unleashed a wave of airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa in eastern Syria in what the coalition said Sunday was one of its most sustained aerial operations carried out in Syria to date.IS said at least 10 people were killed and many others wounded in the attacks which activists said triggered successive explosions that shook the city and created panic among residents. The U.S.-led coalition often targets IS-held towns and cities in Syria, but the overnight strikes on Raqqa were rare in their intensity. The IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency released a video of what it said was the effects of shelling Saturday by a U.S. drone on Raqqa. It showed several wounded men on a stretcher and at least three young boys being treated for wounds at what appeared to be a hospital.A Raqqa-based anti-IS activist network reported eight civilians were killed by the coalition airstrikes, including a 10-year-old child.The casualty figures could not be independently confirmed.The network, called Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, said at least one airstrike targeted a group of IS members in the city center. Another targeted an IS checkpoint while a third destroyed large parts of an IS-held brick factory in the city. It said seven bridges used by civilians inside the city were also destroyed.In the remote northeastern city of Hassakeh, IS suicide bombers detonated an explosives-laden truck near a main power plant Sunday. State-run news agency SANA reported casualties and damage in the plant on the southern edge of the city.Fighting has raged in Hassakeh since the IS group attacked several southern neighborhoods held by government troops earlier this month. The violence has forced tens of thousands of residents to flee. The predominantly Kurdish city was split between government forces and Kurdish fighters, who have been fighting the IS group separately. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Comments   Share   Top holiday drink recipes Mesa family survives lightning strike to home In a statement, the coalition said it carried out 18 airstrikes throughout Raqqa province, destroying a number of IS vehicles and 16 bridges. An earlier statement said the attacks also destroyed vital IS-controlled structures and transit routes in Syria.“The significant airstrikes tonight were executed to deny Daesh the ability to move military capabilities throughout Syria and into Iraq,” said coalition spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Gilleran, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.“This was one of the largest deliberate engagements we have conducted to date in Syria, and it will have debilitating effects on Daesh’s ability to move” from Raqqa, he said.Raqqa is the de facto capital of the so-called Islamic caliphate declared a year ago by the Islamic State group in territories it controls in Iraq and Syria. The sustained airstrikes add pressure on the militants in Raqqa, still reeling from last month’s loss of the border town of Tal Abyad to Kurdish fighters. The town on the Turkish border was a major avenue for commerce and smuggling for the group.A militant website said 10 people were killed and dozens of others wounded. An IS-affiliated Facebook page said one civilian was among those killed and 10 were wounded including women and children. It also said the bombing destroyed several bridges.center_img In Iraq, a Defense Ministry statement said government forces repelled an IS attack Sunday morning on the town of Haditha and the nearby Haditha dam in Anbar province. At least 20 militants were killed in the failed attack, said the statement, which did not provide any further information.Iraqi forces, backed by Shiite militias, have been struggling to recapture areas lost to the IS group in the country’s west and north.In May, the militant group scored a stunning victory, overrunning Ramadi, the provincial capital of western Anbar province. Yet, Haditha and some other towns remain under control of government forces and allied Sunni tribal fighters.In Lebanon, some 200 Kurdish nationals staged a demonstration in downtown Beirut in solidarity with their brethren in Syria who are fighting against IS militants.___Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

In Bahrain 2 police officers killed 6 wounded in bombing

first_img Comments   Share   4 sleep positions for men and what they mean The Interior Ministry described the bombing as a “terror blast,” and said it took place in the largely Shiite community of Sitra, just south of the capital, Manama. One of the wounded officers sustained serious injuries, the ministry said.Bahrain is a Sunni-ruled kingdom that is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, whose responsibilities include patrolling the busy waters off Iran.The opposition movement in Bahrain is dominated by the country’s Shiite majority, which has long complained of discrimination and heavy-handed treatment by security forces.Although opposition rallies largely attract peaceful demonstrators, young activists frequently set up makeshift roadblocks and clash with police in Shiite villages. Anti-government activists have planted bombs that have killed or maimed police in the past.The largest Shiite opposition group, al-Wefaq, condemned the killing.Tuesday’s blast occurred just days after Bahraini authorities announced they had broken up an attempt to smuggle assault rifles, ammunition and explosives into the kingdom. The cargo intercepted earlier this month off the country’s coast included nearly 44 kilograms (97 pounds) of C-4 plastic explosives and detonators. Sponsored Stories Police linked the smuggling attempt to Iran, alleging that one of the suspects they arrested received military training in the Islamic Republic, and that he and another suspect admitted to receiving the shipment from Iranian handlers.Iran has denied involvement.___This story has been corrected earlier to show that the two officers first mentioned were killed, not wounded. Six were wounded.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories Quick workouts for men 5 ways to recognize low testosterone DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Two Bahraini policemen were killed and six were wounded in a bomb attack south of the island kingdom’s capital on Tuesday, according to authorities.The blast was the latest in a series of bombings in recent years targeting security forces in the Gulf nation, which continues to face low-level unrest more than four years after widespread protests demanding greater political rights.last_img read more

Expedia reveals 40 increase in international inbound travellers to Au

first_imgExpedia reveals 40% increase in international inbound travellers to AustraliaData from the Expedia group, one of the world’s leading online travel companies, has revealed a boost for local travel operators as the Australian dollar hit a six year low in 2015, with demand from international travellers to Australia up more than 40% year-on-year in the 12 months ending March 2016.Travellers from the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan and Hong Kong drove the highest increases, with Americans as the largest inbound market recording over 30% increase in demand. British travellers increased demand by nearly 50% and accounted for approximately 5% of all demand in Australia making the UK Australia’s second-largest visitor group.Drew Bowering, Director of Australia for Expedia Lodging Partner Services, said the diverse increase in international visitors to Australia was clearly good news for hoteliers because these visitors tend to stay longer, book further in advance and are less likely to cancel their stay.“The insights and trends Expedia is able to gather on international visitation helps our hotel partners target travellers through campaigns, promotions and sales. By working with Expedia group, Australian hoteliers gain exposure from the more than 200 travel booking sites in more than 75 countries in 35 languages, in addition to a myriad of mobile sites and apps, from brands such as Expedia®, Hotels.com, Travelocity®, Orbitz®, Hotwire®, Egencia®, Expedia® Affiliate Network and others.”“We continue to collaborate closely with Tourism Australia to drive long haul travellers’ interest in Australia’s lesser known destinations. For example, we understand that UK travellers are not likely going to only come to the Northern Territory when they visit Australia. Instead, their visit tends to be a part of a larger, country-wide trip. Using very targeted, dynamic ads, the campaign ‘Planning a Trip to Sydney, Why not Add-On the Northern Territory’ highlighted the ease of travel to the Northern Territory,” Mr Bowering said.Demand from New Zealand grew by about 25%, making Kiwis the third-largest inbound travel market with almost 5% share of demand. Japan and Hong Kong were the fourth and fifth largest inbound traveller markets, growing around 40% and over 90% respectively.Of the top five international markets, UK tourists had the longest booking window at 1.2 times longer than Kiwis (63.1 days vs 49.4 days). However, it was Kiwis who recorded the highest average length of stay at 3.1 days. British travellers were slightly behind at 2.9 days, while Japanese tourists stayed for 2.7 days.The top 5 destinations for visitors from the US and UK were Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Brisbane and Perth. Expediadiscover more of Japan hereSource = Expedialast_img read more

Qantas new flights to Beijing took off yesterday

first_imgAlan Joyce – QantasQantas’ new flights to Beijing took off yesterday, helping power the Australia-China travel boomQantas’ new flights to Beijing took off yesterday, helping power the Australia-China travel boom and marking the next step in the national carrier’s Chinese growth strategy.Beijing is Qantas’ third destination in Greater China, joining Shanghai and Hong Kong.   The new service gives the capital’s 21 million residents a direct gateway to Australia, representing a huge opportunity for the Australian tourism industry and Australian companies doing business in China under the Free Trade Agreement.Inbound flights on the new route are timed to connect with Qantas’ domestic network to popular onward destinations such as Melbourne, Brisbane and Hobart, as well as the airline’s Tasman services to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.Qantas will be working with Tourism Australia, Destination NSW and across its own marketing channels to showcase Australia for a Chinese audience, as well as jointly selling the route with its joint venture partner China Eastern.Flights will operate to Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3, using a 235 seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft.  Overall, the service adds 3,300 seats to the market per week.CEO Alan Joyce said the 12 hour route takes Qantas’ long history of serving China into a new era.“It’s the perfect time for Qantas to fly to Beijing. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is hitting its stride and China is on track to become the number one source of visitors to Australia within the next year or so,” said Mr Joyce.“What’s really exciting is the potential we see for the future.  We now have the Qantas Group’s biggest ever network in Greater China, and our goal is to make our Beijing route a flagship corridor for tourism and trade.“For Chinese travellers, our message is that there’s no better way of getting to know Australia than with the national carrier.  In the business market, this route gives our companies the ability to win new business and get their products and services into the market. And it’s a positive for the Australian travel industry.  So whichever way you look at it, this is a good news story.”The new Beijing service is part of Qantas’ growth strategy for China and the broader Asian region, increasing its total capacity on routes to Asia by seven per cent.Together with its partners China Eastern and China Southern, Qantas customers can now choose from 130 weekly return flights between Australia and China, plus close to 256 connecting services to domestic destinations within China.  The Jetstar Group of airlines offers more than 30 return flights a week into eight Chinese cities from Singapore and Vietnam.Today’s route launch follows the beginning of Melbourne-Tokyo Narita flights before Christmas and the announcement last week of a new Jetstar service between Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh city, to begin in May 2017.Launch celebrations will take place in both cities, including the traditional Chinese Lion Dance and the gifting to passengers of chocolates inside red packets to celebrate Chinese New Year.Source = Qantaslast_img read more

Nok Air signs MOU with HNCA to establish major cooperation

first_imgNok Air Singing MOU with HNCANok Air signs MOU with HNCA to establish major cooperationNok Airlines Public Company Limited and Henan Civil Aviation Development & Investment Co., Ltd (HNCA), a company rooted in the civil aviation industry in Henan province, China, have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish concrete and substantial cooperation in developing an air network throughout China.The MOU signed by Mr. Patee Sarasin, Nok Air’s Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Zhang Mingchao, HNCA’s Chairman, is intended for Nok Air and Henan province to work together in areas related to tourism, culture, aviation and trade.Mr. Patee Sarasin, Nok Air’s CEO said, “Henan is endowed with a superior geographical location, and it is one of China’s most significant transportation hubs. Potential air routes would enhance economic, social and cultural opportunities. This MOU marks a new milestone in the relationship between our nations with the aim to provide travelers from both countries with more positive options to choose from.”HNCA is an organization with deep roots in the civil aviation industry in Henan, and its construction of the Zhengzhou Airport Economic Zone (ZAEZ), is focusing on market development opportunities, such as air cargo and general aviation.Source = Nok Airlines Public Company Limitedlast_img read more

Travelport launch new technology to help disrupted air passengers

first_imgTravelport launch new technology to help disrupted air passengersThanks to new, industry-first mobile-based technology, available from Travelport, the pain of airline disruptions is now a thing of the past.Travelport today announces the launch of Travelport Resolve —a new product for airlines that puts the traveller first, automating the sourcing and distribution of hotel rooms; air re-booking; and meal and transport needs into asingle, seamless and paperless experience when flights are cancelled or delayed. Travelport Resolve enables airlines to react to disruptions with speed and accuracy, immediately communicating with passengers after an itinerary change so passengers can use their mobile device to quickly select and book their preferred hotel room from available local accommodation options.On trial with a major US-based airline, passengers loved how easy and fast it was to use Travelport Resolve: “I thought it was fantastic…(and) user-friendly…! This made my day! There was no waiting, no phone calls and I could book it all on my iPhone before I even de-boarded the plane!” Other passengers called it “a smooth process” and “a great experience.”“With a few simple touches on their mobile device, Travelport helps disrupted passengers to bypass the frustration of hotel and meal voucher lines and quickly be on their way to a comfortable hotel room,” commented Derek Sharp, Travelport’s senior vice president and managing director, air commerce. “For airlines, Travelport Resolve helps improve customer service performance during disruptions, avoiding serious damage to their brand and to their relationships with affected customers.”Travelport Resolve which was formulated from an idea developed in the Travelport Labs Accelerator program, transforms the current labour-intensive, manual hotel sourcing, booking, and payment process that typically plagues airlines during disruptive irregular operations (IROPS) situations.By combining Travelport’s mobile expertise and its ability to source and book hotel rooms across the globe, and allowing airlines to automate and monitor the entire hotel distribution process, Travelport Resolve demonstrates the unique power of Travelport’s platform to improve the travel experience for airlines and their customers.Travelport Resolve also provides airlines with actionable insights into IROPS, including hotel related costs, room usage, passenger status and activity patterns, with up-to-the-minute reporting tools that analyze the true cost of disruptions to an airline’s business and identify improvements an airline can make to its service.The product will soon include predictive features enabling airlines to recognize potential IROPS situations, along with local conditions or events, that may create limited hotel availability. Travelport Resolve will then automatically procure room inventory needed to meet passenger demand.Source = Travelportlast_img read more