After pilots organize WestJets flight attendants are now pushing to follow suit

first_img CALGARY — A recent successful bid to unionize WestJet pilots has prompted a push to organize flight attendants at the airline.The airline, Canada’s second-largest, has long prided itself on its relationship with its employees, whom it refers to as co-owners. Among the benefits offered to WestJet staff are a company-matched share purchase plan.But in recent weeks, WestJet has found itself the target of two unions wanting to represent its 3,000 flight attendants.The WestJet Professional Flight Attendants Association says it has ramped up efforts, while the Canadian Union of Public Employees says it’s considering launching its own campaign to unionize flight attendants.Daniel Kufuor, interim treasurer at the WPFAA, said when the airline’s pilots voted last month to join the Air Line Pilots Association, International, that was a boost.“It is seen … as the first domino to fall,” said Kufuor, a former WestJet flight attendant whose dismissal is now the subject of a wrongful termination lawsuit.He said WPFAA has about 1,200 union cards signed and needs some 200 more to reach the 40 per cent threshold to trigger a union vote, but the numbers keep shifting as the six-month cards expire and WestJet adds flight attendants.More news:  TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamCUPE, which already represents about 10,000 flight attendants in Canada, most of which with Air Canada, is now also considering a new unionization campaign at WestJet after past attempts in 2006 and 2013 failed.Hugh Pouliot, a spokesman for CUPE, said they’re still in planning stages and have been in discussions with flight attendants, but haven’t made a formal decision yet.“People have been talking to us about unionizing, especially now that ALPA has unionized the pilots,” said Pouliot.When the pilots organized, CEO Gregg Saretsky said he was disappointed but added he would work with the new union.“WestJet believes that management and employees work best together through open and direct dialogue,” company spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said in an email.“This is the hallmark of our success over 20 years.”The unionization efforts come as WestJet embarks on some of its most ambitious expansion plans since it was founded in 1996. It has set out to launch both an ultra-low cost carrier and expand internationally.More news:  Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongRaymond James analyst Ben Cherniavsky said such growth, as well as other initiatives such as new baggage fees and its recently established flights to London, are helping drive the push towards unionization.Cherniavsky said the successful unionization, while not surprising, will likely result in higher costs for WestJet.“Although it is unfair to conclude that the unionization of WestJet’s pilots means that its culture is ‘broken,’ there is no question that labour relations have become more complicated for the company,” he said in a note to clients.The airline will continue to talk with employees as its expansion plans continue, Stewart said.“We are focused on our expansions plans and will work with our employees to ensure they are heard as we introduce these exciting new initiatives.” Tuesday, June 6, 2017 After pilots organize, WestJet’s flight attendants are now pushing to follow suit By: Ian Bickis Source: The Canadian Press Tags: WestJet Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Five global airlines will begin security interviews for US bound passengers tomorrow

first_img Share DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Five global long-haul airlines will begin new “security interviews” of all passengers on U.S.-bound flights beginning Thursday at the request of American officials, the companies said Wednesday.Long-haul carriers Air France, Cathay Pacific, EgyptAir, Emirates and Lufthansa all said they’d start the screenings. However, the airlines offered different descriptions of how the interviews would take place.It wasn’t immediately clear if other global airlines would be affected, though the Trump administration previously rolled out a laptop ban and travel bans that have thrown global airlines into disarray.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, it comes at the end of a 120-day deadline for airlines to meet new U.S. regulations following the ban on laptops in airplane cabins of some Mideast airlines being lifted.Air France said it will begin new security interviews on Thursday at Paris Orly Airport and a week later, on Nov. 2, at Charles de Gaulle Airport. It said the extra screening will take the form of a questionnaire handed over to “100 per cent” of passengers.More news:  Honolulu authorities investigate arsons at 3 Waikiki hotels; no injuries reportedEmirates said in a statement it would begin doing “pre-screening interviews” at its check-in counters for passengers flying out of Dubai and at boarding gates for transit and transfer fliers. It urged those flying through Dubai International Airport, its headquarters, to allow extra time to check into flights and board.“These measures will work in complement with the current additional screening measures conducted at the boarding gate,” it said.Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said on its website that it had suspended self-drop baggage services and that passengers heading to the U.S. “will be subject to a short security interview.” Those without bags would have a similar interview at their gates.EgyptAir said in a statement the new measures include more detailed searches of passengers and their luggage and interviews. The strict procedures will extend to unauthorized agricultural or veterinary products.Germany’s Lufthansa said the new rules came from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which is under Homeland Security.“In addition to the controls of electronic devices already introduced, travellers to the U.S.A. might now also face short interviews at check-in, document check or gate,” Lufthansa said in a statement.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsIn March, U.S. officials instituted the ban on laptops in airplane cabins across 10 Middle East cities over concerns Islamic State fighters and other extremists could hide bombs inside of them. That ban was lifted after those airlines began using devices like CT scanners to examine electronics just before passengers board airplanes heading to the United States.That laptop ban, as well as travel bans affecting predominantly Muslim countries, have hurt Mideast airlines. Emirates, the region’s biggest, said it slashed 20 per cent of its flights to America in the wake of the restrictions.It wasn’t immediately clear if other Mideast airlines were affected by the new rules.Abu Dhabi-based Etihad said its operations “were normal” without elaborating, while Doha-based Qatar Airways did not immediately respond to a request for comment. By: Jon GambrellSource: The Associated Press Wednesday, October 25, 2017 Tags: Air France, Airports, Cathay Pacific, EgyptAir, Emirates, Lufthansa, Travel Alert << Previous PostNext Post >> Five global airlines will begin “security interviews” for US bound passengers tomorrowlast_img read more

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?— Lic. Óscar López (@lic_oscarlopez) December 1, 2015 @olopezmotivador— Mario E. (@MarioDieX) December 1, 2015 cuando llegas a tu primera clase del gym y todas son avanzadas— Jurassic Juan (@juanelpeor) December 1, 2015 You used to call me on la Asamblea cc @franjacubillo— 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.”— Edux (@eduxmonge) December 1, 2015 Nueva ficha de @BomberosCR— carl Ox (@crlsmrt) December 1, 2015— 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— Politcr (@Politcr) December 1, 2015center_img “A new Costa Rican fireman.”— Edux (@eduxmonge) December 1, 2015 “Ideas for Christmas decoration.” #oscarlopez #ConfusedTravolta— Noé Arias (@jnoearias) December 1, 2015 Facebook Comments @olopezmotivador— Fabio Castro (@fabiocs10) December 1, 2015 listo el pasito.— 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— 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: 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 last_img read more