Last week, 51 business coaches from 15 Ibero-American countries gathered to swap success stories and share work experiences during the third annual convention of ActionCOACH, a company that aims to help small and medium-sized businesses.The experts gathered at the Crown Plaza San José Corobicí for the four-day seminar, where they discussed digital marketing, financial support and customer loyalty, among other topics.ActionCOACH Ibero-America General Director Alejandro De Gyvés, who has been with the company since 2009, said they focus on helping directors of small and medium-sized businesses that are struggling. Managers receive coaching on sales, marketing, teamwork, human resources, technology, and finances, and even on how to balance work and family demands.According to Miguel Ángel Noriega, who attended from Mexico, business coaches can help proprietors improve their companies, regardless of the products or services sold.De Gyvés added that coaching is not meant to be a magic solution for all problems, and it takes time and effort on both ends to see progress. However, he said, companies that turn to ActionCOACH are guaranteed progress within weeks.ActionCOACH has two business coaches in Costa Rica: Roger Campos, who started the franchise three years ago, and Felipe Rojas, who became an associate last month.“We all need coaching,” Rojas said.Prospective coaches should be passionate for teaching, amicable to change, and have a proven success rate as an entrepreneur, Noriega added.To learn more, see: www.actioncoach.com, or the company’s Costa Rica site, www.actioncoachcr.com (Spanish only). Facebook Comments No related posts.
Brad Deering, a 42-year-old Canadian man who resided in Costa Rica, was killed Thursday by three unidentified gunmen who police believe were attempting to burglarize a home in an upscale neighborhood of Escazú, southwest of the capital.According to Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), three men arrived at the home in Guachipelín around noon, dressed as private security officers, entered the property and tied up a security guard. Deering, originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, and three other people inside the home were also attacked and tied up, an OIJ spokesman said. Police said Deering was shot three times while trying to escape. The suspects fled the scene after the shooting. The OIJ spokesmen said no further information is immediately available, and the case is under investigation.A Canadian Embassy spokeswoman said they will address the issue after talking to Deering’s family.Follow ticotimes.net for updates as more information becomes available. Facebook Comments No related posts.
SAN SALVADOR — Former leftist rebel commander Salvador Sánchez Cerén has won last Sunday’s presidential election in El Salvadorby a razor-thin margin, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said.He inherits leadership of a country beset with widespread poverty and violence from powerful street gangs.He beat rightist Norman Quijano by less than half a percentage point, said the tribunal, which now must give the latter three days to appeal the tally.Sánchez Cerén of the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front won 50.11 percent of the votes, compared to 49.98 percent for Quijano of the right-wing ARENA party, the tribunal said as it reported the final count from the runoff election. The first round was Feb. 2.“The people, united, will never be defeated,” FMLN supporters chanted at the hotel where the tally was held as they awaited the final result.The tight margin of the final result is a big surprise as the leftist had been favored to win by as many as 10 percentage points.A victory rally has been called for Saturday night in the capital San Salvador.Sanchez Cerén, 69, is vice president in the current government of President Mauricio Funes. In power since 2009, it is the country’s first leftist government and ended two decades of right-wing rule.But this marks the first time Salvadorans have voted an actual former rebel commander from their 1979-1992 civil war to be president.Sanchez Cerén is a former teacher and ex-education minister, who was one of five top guerrilla commanders during the civil war.The current FMLN is the political party that emerged from the guerrilly army of the same name in the war, in which the government was backed by the United States.The FMLN and ARENA were the main protagonists of that conflict.The final tally was identical to the preliminary result first announced Sunday.Quijano has asked the elections be nullified on grounds of fraud. The tribunal still has to rule on this.Quijano, 67, the mayor of the capital city San Salvador, was a law-and-order candidate and staunch anti-communist who campaigned against the country’s high crime rate and the notorious “mara” street gangs behind much of El Salvador’s drug dealing and extortion.Quijano, however, suffered from his links to ex-President Francisco Flores, a former campaign adviser, under scrutiny over $10 million donated by Taiwan that went missing during his 1999-2004 government.After the civil war, El Salvador found itself facing violence from the street gangs, which control whole neighborhoods and run drug distribution and extortion rackets.Forty percent of El Salvador’s six million people live in poverty, and the country relies heavily on remittances sent by Salvadorans living abroad — around $4 billion a year, or 16 percent of the country’s GDP. Facebook Comments Related posts:Both candidates claim win in Salvadoran presidential runoff Conservative in Salvadoran vote demands fresh polls as political divisions intensify Ex-rebel commander favored in El Salvador runoff Former guerrilla sworn in as El Salvador president
Turtle soup will not be on the menu in the eastern municipality of Pococí today after police detained two men for transporting 18 snapper turtles in a truck.The turtle thieves were apprehended after police received a phone tip that the contraband creatures would be traveling on the highway from Cariari to Guapiles. Police arrested a Chinese citizen with the last name Huanqiao and a Costa Rican driver with the last name Serrano. The driver claimed he was unaware that his cargo contained turtles, and said that Huanqiao had paid him to transport a load of crabs.Snapping turtles are endangered in Costa Rica and are protected by law. The turtles were turned over to officials with the Environment Ministry who will return them to the wild. Facebook Comments Related posts:Police arrest suspect selling poached turtle eggs NOT GUILTY: 7 men acquitted of murder of Costa Rica sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora US government sued over sea turtles snared in shrimp nets New trial in killing of Costa Rica conservationist Jairo Mora to start Jan. 25
Related posts:Russia’s Putin in Cuba, Nicaragua to rekindle Latin America ties Central American leaders concerned over rekindling of Nicaragua-Russia military ties Nicaraguan legislature approves Russian satellite bases Nicaragua expels human rights activists Nicaraguan authorities said Monday they have quarantined a U.S. embassy staffer who came into contact with Ebola patients in Liberia, but the United States denied he was exposed to the disease.The 51-year-old U.S. citizen “confirmed that he spent time in health facilities where Ebola patients are being treated” during a trip to Liberia, said the ministry’s head of epidemiology, Carlos Saenz.The U.S. embassy in Nicaragua acknowledged the unnamed man had traveled to Liberia, but denied he had come into contact with Ebola patients.Before returning to Nicaragua, he was examined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, which confirmed he had no symptoms of the hemorrhagic fever, the embassy said in a statement.Nicaragua‘s own health ministry had cleared him to return to the Central American country and resume work, the embassy added.Nicaragua said the man had arrived there Sunday after traveling to Liberia “in the past three months.”The Nicaraguan government has asked the U.S. State Department to send a plane “with all equipment necessary” to take him back to the United States, said Saenz.In the meantime, the health ministry has isolated him at his home, set up a security corridor around it and ordered a medical team to visit him twice a day.The man does not show symptoms of the disease and the measures are strictly preventive, Saenz said.Last year, Nicaragua declared a health alert over Ebola and detained at least 16 undocumented immigrants from Africa, placing them in quarantine.But no cases of the disease have been detected in the country.The Ebola outbreak that erupted in West Africa last year has ravaged Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, killing more than 10,600 people in the past 15 months.But the number of new infections has fallen, and the World Health Organization said last week that the risk of international spread appeared to be receding. Facebook Comments
MEXICO CITY — For months, Mexicans have been clamoring for more details about Finance Minister Luis Videgaray’s purchase of a luxury house perched at the edge of a lush golf course a couple of hours outside of Mexico City.Now, documents have been released suggesting that Videgaray completed his purchase of the vacation home after taking office in an unusual deal with a builder who has ties to the government. Videgaray, a former investment banker, paid for the home with three works of art and a personal check dated Jan. 31, 2014. But the $500,000 check wasn’t cashed until almost a year later — just days before a news report was published questioning the minister’s dealings with the government contractor.The revelations — included in thousands of documents released last week as part of a federal investigation into home purchases by the finance minister, the president and his wife that cleared them of wrongdoing — add to the political soap opera that has dominated the headlines for months and helped undermine public approval of President Enrique Peña Nieto.“This doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Arturo Pueblita, a constitutional-law expert at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City. “This is completely irregular and generates a great amount of suspicion.”In an email Thursday night, Videgaray said he and the home seller agreed that the seller wouldn’t cash his check until he was officially released from a mortgage obligation. He said he’s always acted within the law. The president and first lady have also denied they acted improperly and declined to be interviewed for this article.The probe was led by the federal comptroller, who reports directly to Peña Nieto, and large portions of his findings — occasionally almost full pages — were blacked out, doing little to quell concerns that his administration favors preferred business partners in a nation with a deeply embedded history of corruption and impunity, some opposition lawmakers and political analysts say.See also: Mexico journalist who revealed First Lady’s mansion fired Videgaray’s $500,000 check wasn’t cashed for 10 months. BloombergRicardo Anaya, head of the National Action Party, Mexico’s largest opposition bloc, last week called the investigation clearing Peña Nieto and Videgaray an “offensive joke.” The Democratic Revolution Party said on its website the verdict “lacks credibility.”“There are a series of unusual actions here,” said Ernesto Villanueva, a transparency and corruption researcher at Mexico’s National Autonomous University. “It gives me the feeling that there was an effort by the investigators to exonerate the finance minister.”A Pew survey conducted April 7-19 shows that 27 percent of respondents approve of Peña Nieto’s handling of corruption, down from 42 percent a year ago.Comptroller Virgilio Andrade, a Peña Nieto appointee whose job is to oversee and investigate federal officials, didn’t respond to requests for comment.In documents released last week, Andrade’s office said Videgaray wrote the check for 6.6 million pesos, or about $500,000 at the time, to a unit owned by Juan Armando Hinojosa in January 2014. The businessman’s Grupo Higa is a construction conglomerate with 22 federal contracts including a deal to renovate the presidential hangar at the Mexico City airport. Hinojosa’s firm didn’t cash the check until Dec. 5, just days before a Wall Street Journal article questioned the home purchase. Hinojosa’s company declined to comment. A page from the public auditor’s report following a six-month probe into home purchases by government officials. Public Auditor/BloombergAndrade’s office concluded that the finance minister bought his home before becoming a federal official and wasn’t personally involved in the awarding of government contracts. That echoes Videgaray’s own statements in a public letter penned in December in which he said he acquired the home before he became finance minister in December 2012.The documents released alongside the conclusion show Videgaray didn’t close on the property until Nov. 28, 2013, almost a year after he took office. The $500,000 check is dated two months after that.The only document Videgaray cited in written testimony to investigators backing his claim that he struck a deal with Hinojosa in October 2012 was notarized more than a year later on the closing date. It includes a schedule of payments that was dated November 2013.In the year-long period between when Videgaray said he agreed to buy the home and the deal’s closing date, Hinojosa’s companies won contracts from four development banks where Videgaray served as chairman, including one to fly high-ranking executives such as Videgaray around on official business.The only payment Videgaray made to the seller before he wrote the check was in the form of three works of art that he says he gave to Hinojosa in 2012. Videgaray told investigators the art, which he received as a gift, was worth 2.45 million pesos. The Finance Ministry, Andrade and Videgaray declined or didn’t address requests to describe the art or say who gave it to the minister.The lack of information on the art and independent appraisals raises additional questions about the transaction, Pueblita and Villanueva said.“The perception is that this was an exchange of favors, that the home was a payment for the contracts,” said Jose Antonio Crespo, a political analyst at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City. “That’s the root of the scandal.”Nacha Cattan contributed from Mexico City.© 2015, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments Related posts:Mexico’s Peña Nieto asks for investigation into his mansions Mexico’s 43 missing students continue to haunt President Peña Nieto – and they should Independent probe doubts 43 Mexico students cremated Parents of 43 missing students in Mexico wage hunger strike
Related posts:Off the eaten path: La Tacopedia Off the eaten path: Taj Mahal Off the eaten path: Lidia’s Place Off the eaten path: Cebolla Verde This week, I will not highlight a restaurant, but rather an assortment of different and delicious street foods, which at the same time could double as a cost-effective alternative to your local chain grocery store — especially when in the need for fresh produce. Picture tropical dragon fruit, massive avocados, watermelon, juicy tomatoes, tree-ripe bananas, the list goes on and on.Most towns around Costa Rica will have their own version of this at some point throughout the month. In Escazú, it happens every Saturday from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.I am talking about the farmers market, which takes place along Avenida 32, just south of the public park and Catholic Church grounds, in the very center of Escazú.The street is closed off to vehicles, making for a nice pedestrian passageway lined on both sides with a large offer of different products from an interesting mix of local farmers and craftspeople — all of whom have come here to peddle their goods to curious shoppers, like me. I walk up and down the market browsing from stall to stall, noticing different things each time I pass. I usually go with no shopping list or intended purchase but end up leaving with a variety of different goodies I didn’t know I needed (but did). And, as I am a creature of habit, I usually end up repeating the same couple of vendors.Experience stunning wildlife in a tropical rainforest with Costa Rica Vacation Rentals.As you would find at a farmers market anywhere else in the world, here in Escazú there are many different fresh fruits and vegetables being sold, direct from the grower, as well as free-range eggs, wild honey, natural medicines, seafood, meats, breads, crafts and even prepared foods – hot and ready to eat. As mentioned, prices here will definitely beat the usual grocery store options, so if you are into juicing, or daily smoothies, this is the place to go to stock up.Believe it or not, I don’t cook too much at home, although I love to, so I leave most of those booths untouched. I skip the crafts and trinkets, too, after having some fun browsing them. What I really want is an ice-cold coconut water or a fresh-squeezed sugarcane juice, or perhaps an artisan coffee from Don Pulpo, who grow their beans just a few kilometers away in Salitral, Santa Ana. All of which are available at the Escazú Farmers Market. A juice stand at the Escazú Farmers Market. William Ayre / The Tico TimesAfter I’m all jacked up on sugar and caffeine, I like to stop by one of the last stalls on the west end of the market, to buy empanadas and buñuelos. These are supposedly to take home – but usually end up being devoured during the drive, before I get there.You can recognize this stall by its glass display case of various fried goods, mostly empanadas, and the group of women dressed in all white working to satisfy the lineup of customers. One served the foods and another received the cash money.In a bowl on the table, covered by a bit of plastic to keep the flies off, you will find the buñuelos. I think they cost around 150 colones each, but I can’t be sure. I just give the lady 2,000 colones (about $3.35) and tell her to load me up. In return I get a plastic bag full of more than a dozen of this tasty take on a fried donut ball hailing from Nicaragua (though many countries have their own versions). A bag of buñuelos at the farmers market. William Ayre / The Tico TimesThese ones are made from a dough of yucca and cheese fried in hot oil. It might sound weird, but it works, and they are a treat for the sweet tooth. Make sure you ask for them to pour the molasses like syrup on top of the buñuelos before you go. Trust me.Another not-to-skip stall is the pupusa ladies, who you can’t miss frying up the El Salvadorian delicacies. Made from cornmeal and stuffed with things like mashed beans and melted cheese, you have a choice of different shredded and lightly pickled cabbages to top yours off with. One is mild and the other had a bit of heat. Opt for the spicy one and it adds a great kick, as well as some refreshing crunch. Try one and I bet you will be craving them every Saturday thereafter. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. They’re cheap, too, so why not? A pupusa stand at the Escazú Farmers Market. William Ayre / The Tico TimesIn addition to the foods, you can find flowers, spices, clothing, and a pet fish for your aquarium, if you have one. Seriously. It is a great mix of vendors, so even if you have no intention of buying anything, you can still go, just for fun, as a different way to spend a morning. They do occasionally have live music, too, which is always entertaining. I have seen a man playing an acoustic guitar, as well as a group playing a traditional wooden marimba. Both were very talented artists, and I was happy to tip a 500-colon coin into their recipient — a little less than $1 for a greatly appreciated performance.Hungry for a trip down to Costa Rica? Download the Skyscanner Android app to find the best price on flights.The Farmers Market in Escazú takes place rain or shine, but I recommend going when the weather is nice. From their location, you can enjoy the green tops of the mountains up above San Antonio de Escazú as a beautiful backdrop, while people watching and sampling a variety of exotic and unique offerings. All while getting to have small talk with the people responsible for making or growing it, and saving some money while you’re at it.I would also recommend arriving before 11:30 a.m., as many stalls begin to sell out and shut down early.After browsing the market, grab a seat in the neighboring park, or enjoy the architecture of the adjacent Catholic Church. Which for me, is the center of old Escazú in all of its charm.Surprisingly, you can search “Feria de Agricultor de Escazu” in Waze or Uber to arrive conveniently. Or go here to find locations and times for other farmers markets throughout Costa Rica.Thanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. we work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years. Support the Tico TimesWilliam Ayre is a Canadian born chef and restaurateur who has spent the last half of his life doing business in Costa Rica, where he now considers to be home. Inspired by Anthony Bourdain, Ayre’s passion of experiencing different cultures through food has taken him to 35 different countries over five continents. Whether it’s a 20-course meal at a fine dining restaurant in Toronto, or cantina hopping in search for the best chifrijo here in San José, he fits in just fine. Facebook Comments
Now living in Saudi Arabia, he was happy to perform the hajj for the second time, but thoughts of his homeland pained him.“There’s been too much blood spilled. It’s enough,” he said. “We are praying for stability and for God to calm things down.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Ahead of hundreds of thousands arriving to the spot, the entrepreneur, who closed a Syrian branch of his information technology business seven months ago, had a chance to pray in quiet for those in his war-ravaged homeland, especially a cousin kidnapped earlier this year. After the family paid some $20,000 dollars in ransom to what they believe were pro-government forces known as shabiha, only a burnt corpse was returned.“Tears came down my face thinking about kids, refugees and all those killed,” Mohammed said, asking, like others interviewed, that his last name be withheld for fear of retaliation against family in Syria. “These people had cars and homes and lives.”“I prayed for God to free Syria from the unjust regime that had us living under fear and panic for 40 years,” he added, referring to the Assad family’s rule over Syria, which began over four decades ago with President Bashar Assad’s late father. “We want the downfall of the regime and in its place a modern country built on equality.”No exact figures exist for the number of Syrians among this year’s 3.4 million hajj pilgrims _ most of those performing the rite were either Saudi residents or held a second citizenship. Unlike groups from other nations, who fly flags atop buses and tents, Syria’s banner was nowhere in sight. Comments Share Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project The country’s official news agency has blamed Saudi Arabia for not facilitating visa requests for would-be pilgrims. The kingdom denies this, saying Damascus did not fulfill the usual requirements to ensure its quota of some 20,000 visas. Like many nations opposed to Assad’s regime, the Saudis have closed their embassy in Syria and cut off communications with officials.The 19 months of turmoil in Syria have claimed more than 35,000 lives, activists say. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says more than 340,000 people have fled the country, with a total 710,000 expected by the end of the year.Top clerics from the Gulf region have advised people in Syria to disburse the thousands of dollars that would have been spent on the pilgrimage for humanitarian assistance instead.Far from the fighting, on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat, all that Tareq el-Issa could think of was his family in Deir al-Zour province _ an opposition stronghold near Iraq that has seen some of the heaviest clashes between Syrian government troops and rebels.“There is only killing and destruction,” he said, turning his face to the side to fight back tears. Aside from the simple, terry cloth robe worn by pilgrims, he carried the flag of Syria’s rebels draped over his shoulders. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “May God punish all those leaders who are quiet and seeing what’s happening and not doing anything,” he added from the site, where Muslims believe all sincere prayers and worship will be answered. “May God punish you Bashar, wherever you are.”El-Issa has been in Saudi Arabia for around three years, and his friend Laurence Jeljasim fled his home earlier this year. Both and are now residing in Saudi Arabia.“The Syrian flag is not here, so we wanted to raise (the rebel flag) and remind people that there are people being killed, raped, massacred, their corpses desecrated,” Jeljasim said, adding that this would be the fourth Muslim feast to pass in which his countrymen are killing one another.The flag was not the only sign of support for the uprising against Assad at the pilgrimage _ some female pilgrims were seen wearing discreet bracelets bearing the rebel colors under their long robes.Back in Mecca, another Mohammed from the Syrian city of Deraa said his holiday season was bittersweet. The 25-year-old office administrator left the country five years ago in search of work, facing unemployment and stagnation in his hometown _ where the torture of schoolboys by the government led to mass protests that sparked the country’s uprising. Associated PressMINA, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Fortunate enough to squeeze his way through crowds into what Muslims consider one of the most sacred places on earth, Mohammed knelt in worship, put his head on the cold white marble, and wept for Syria.Only a few feet away from the Kaaba, the cube shaped structure in Mecca, Saudi Arabia that observant Muslims pray toward five times a day, the Syrian-born pilgrim had traveled from his home in the Washington, D.C. area to perform the hajj, an elaborate and exhausting set of purification rites able-bodied Muslims must perform once in their lives. Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day How do cataracts affect your vision?
Top Stories Sponsored Stories BEIJING (AP) — A plane operated by Chinese domestic carrier Joyair veered off a runway upon landing in the southeastern city of Fuzhou on Sunday, and five people suffered minor injuries, the airline said.Joyair said it was investigating the cause of the accident and apologized to the 45 passengers and seven crew members on board, according to a statement posted on its website.The plane that swerved off the runway was the Modern Ark 60, a turboprop made by China’s state-owned Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corp. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Photos posted on China’s social media showed the aircraft resting on the grass with its left wing clipped and smoke coming out of the fuselage.There have been at least four incidents since 2013 in which the same model aircraft had landing issues, including overrunning an airstrip, landing hard and a mechanical failure on the landing gear.The Sunday flight took off from the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu. Joyair generally serves smaller Chinese cities.The hotline for Fuzhou Changle International Airport said the airfield was temporarily closed.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement
IS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PLAYING A ROLE?The administration is backing the right of same-sex couples to marry, although its argument differs in one respect. The plaintiffs say that the state laws should fall, no matter what standard the court applies. The administration calls for more rigorous scrutiny than courts ordinarily apply to most laws, saying it is appropriate when governments discriminate against a group of people. That already is the case for claims that laws discriminate on the basis of race, sex and other factors. But the administration is silent about what the outcome should be if the court does not give gays the special protection it has afforded women and minorities.The Justice Department’s decision to stop defending the federal anti-marriage law in 2011 was an important moment for gay rights and President Barack Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in 2012.___WHAT HAPPENS IF THE COURT STRIKES DOWN THE STATE BANS?A ruling that same-sex couples have a right to marry would invalidate the remaining anti-gay marriage laws in the country. If the court limits its ruling to requiring states to recognize same-sex unions, couples in states without same-sex marriage presumably could get married elsewhere and then demand recognition at home. ____Follow Mark Sherman on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/shermancourt___Online:Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourt.govCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Four benefits of having a wireless security system ___WHAT HAPPENS IF THE COURT RULES FOR THE STATES ON BOTH QUESTIONS?The bans in 14 states would survive. Beyond that, confusion probably would reign. Some states that had their marriage laws struck down by federal courts might seek to reinstate prohibitions on gay and lesbian unions. Questions also could be raised about the validity of some same-sex weddings. Many of these problems would be of the Supreme Court’s own making.___WHY IS THAT?From October to January, the justices first rejected appeals from states seeking to preserve their marriage bans, then allowed court rulings to take effect even as other states appealed those decisions. The result is that the court essentially allowed the number of states with same-sex marriage to double.___WHERE IS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LEGAL?Same-sex couples can marry in 36 states, the District of Columbia and parts of Missouri. More than 500 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Alabama this year after a federal court struck down the state’s ban. But probate judges have not issued any more licenses to gay and lesbian couples since the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a halt to same-sex unions in early March.Gay and lesbian couples may not marry in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, most of Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. Sponsored Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain FILE – In this Oct. 16, 2014, file photo, people wait to enter the Supreme Court in Washington. Only two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples. The decision did not address the validity of state marriage bans, but courts across the country, with few exceptions, said its logic compelled them to invalidate state laws that prohibited gay and lesbian couples from marrying. A look at what is now before the Supreme Court, and the status of same-sex marriage around the country. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File ) WASHINGTON (AP) — Just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples.The decision in United States v. Windsor did not address the validity of state marriage bans, but courts across the country, with few exceptions, said its logic compelled them to invalidate state laws that prohibited gay and lesbian couples from marrying. The number of states allowing same-sex marriage has grown rapidly. As recently as October, just over one-third of the states permitted same-sex marriage. Now, same-sex couples can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia.The court is expected to decide late this week or early next week whether gay and lesbian couples have a right to marry in every state. A look at what is now before the Supreme Court, and the status of same-sex marriage around the country:___WHAT’S LEFT FOR THE SUPREME COURT TO DO AMID ALL THIS CHANGE?Four states, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, had their marriage bans upheld by the federal appeals court in Cincinnati in November. That appeals court is the only one that has ruled in favor of the states since the 2013 Windsor decision.___WHAT’S AT STAKE?Two related issues would expand the marriage rights of same-sex couples. The bigger one: Do same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry or can states continue to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman? The second: Even if states won’t allow some couples to marry, must they recognize valid same-sex marriages from elsewhere?___WHAT ARE THE MAIN ARGUMENTS ON EACH SIDE? The arguments of marriage-rights supporters boil down to a claim that states lack any valid reason to deny the right to marry, which the court has earlier described as fundamental to the pursuit of happiness. They say state laws that allow only some people to marry violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and make second-class citizens of same-sex couples and their families. Same-sex couples say that preventing them from marrying is akin to a past ban on interracial marriage, which the Supreme Court struck down in 1967.The states respond that they have always set the rules for marriage and that voters in many states have backed, sometimes overwhelmingly, changes to their constitutions to limit marriage to a man and a woman. They say a lively national debate is underway, and there is no reason for courts to impose a solution that should be left to the political process. The states also argue that they have a good reason to keep defining marriage as they do. Because only heterosexual couples can produce children, it is in the states’ interest to make marriage laws that encourage those couples to enter a union that supports raising children.___ 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share ___HOW MANY MARRIED SAME-SEX COUPLES ARE THERE IN THE U.S.?UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that there are 390,000 married same-sex couples. If the court finds a right to marry, another 70,000 couples living in states that do not currently permit them to wed would get married in the next three years, the Williams Institute estimates. There are roughly 1 million same-sex couples, married and unmarried, who live together in the United States, the institute says.___WHAT ARE THE NEXT ISSUES FACING GAY RIGHTS?One fight in the news this year is over efforts to carve out religious exemptions for people and institutions that object to same-sex marriage. It is clear that churches do not have to marry same-sex couples if doing so violates their religious tenets, but what about county clerks? Can photographers refuse to shoot same-sex weddings? Can bakers decline to bake a cake for two men? Civil rights groups say they will continue pressing for other protections from discrimination against LGBT people in employment and housing, among other areas. Even if same-sex couples win the right to marry everywhere, people still can be fired because of their sexual orientation in more than half the states.
Comments Share Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The White House said it strongly opposes the bill and argued that dictating operational decisions for the state’s water distribution systems could limit water supplies. Other provisions would likely result in the resumption of costly litigation, said a statement from the Office of Management and Budget.“Much of the bill contains provisions that have little connection to the ongoing drought,” the statement said.Valadao countered that the administration was prioritizing an extreme environmental agenda that placed the needs of fish over people.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Check your body, save your life New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Republicans have blamed some of the cutbacks on environmental regulations designed to protect salmon populations and the threatened Delta smelt, a 3-inch-long fish that is disappearing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. At times, state and federal officials have reduced the amount of water pumped from the Delta to prevent smelt from getting sucked into the pumps.A bill by Republican Rep. David Valadao set for consideration Thursday would require that federal regulators maintain certain pumping levels unless the secretary of the Interior Department certifies that level would harm the long-term survival of the Delta smelt and no other alternatives to protect the smelt are available.The 170-page bill also sets deadlines for the completion of feasibility studies to build or enlarge five dams in the state and ends efforts to build up salmon populations in the San Joaquin River.Valadao said that Republican gains in the Senate could help the bill’s prospects. “What happens in the Senate’s still up in the air, but we do believe we’ve got some support over there,” Valadao said during a news conference with GOP leaders.Still, it’s hard to see how House Republicans can win over enough Senate Democrats to generate a 60-vote threshold without major concessions. Environmental groups and the salmon industry have harshly criticized the bill for siphoning water from imperiled wildlife and wetlands. Sponsored Stories Top Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are making another push to pass legislation designed to bring more water to California’s farm belt despite criticism from the White House and congressional Democrats.Similar efforts failed in the past two congressional sessions after the bills made it through the House.California is in the midst of a four-year drought that has forced communities throughout the state to cut water use. Some rural communities have been particularly devastated as the state’s two massive water distribution systems have dramatically curtailed the amount of water made available for agriculture. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s attorney general has ordered a criminal investigation into excessive spending at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residences.Monday’s announcement followed a report by the state comptroller, an official watchdog body, that cited large sums of public money spent on food, furniture, cleaning and gardening at Netanyahu and his wife’s official residence in Jerusalem and their private home in the exclusive coastal city of Caesarea. Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Cleaning expenses in that home alone averaged more than $2,100 a month in taxpayer’s money, according to the February report, even though the couple only spent the occasional weekend there. It also said they pocketed proceeds from recycling bottles that had been purchased for entertaining official guests. It said the bottle returns, and purchases of garden furniture for their private home, may have violated the law.The Netanyahus are not expected to be questioned yet, with most of the focus directed at Ezra Saidoff, a staffer who oversees much of their affairs.Netanyahu’s office declined comment, though in the past they have accused the media of launching a witch hunt against them.The Netanyahus are no strangers to such scrutiny. The prime minister has long been saddled with an image as a cigar-smoking, cognac-drinking socialite, while his wife has come under fire for her own expensive tastes and alleged abusive behavior toward staff.Over the years, reports have been released about the high cost of the Netanyahus’ catering, housekeeping, furniture, clothing and makeup. In one case, the premier was chided for spending $127,000 in public funds for a special sleeping cabin on a flight to London. Even their costly purchases of scented candles and pistachio-flavored ice cream have been derided. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home The difference between men and women when it comes to pain
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Norwegian Cruise Line has finalised a 700 million euro agreement for the construction of a new vessel, set to be the largest cruise ship in the company’s fleet.With delivery expected in October 2015, and with the option for a second ship to be delivered in late 2017, the new ship will be larger than the company’s Breakaway class ships at 163,000 gross tons and approximately 4,200 passenger berths. Classifying the vessel under the project name, ‘Breakaway Plus’, Norwegian Cruise Line chief executive Kevin Sheehan said signing an agreement for a tenth and possible eleventh vessel signified the company’s commitment to delivering “innovation in terms of the guest experience”.”Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway have garnered significant attention in the marketplace with their innovative design, rich stateroom mix and world-class amenities,” he said. “Building on that momentum, along with MEYER WERFT’s expertise and efficiency in the design and construction process, we are extending the excitement and anticipation with a new, larger edition Breakaway Plus class ship to further distinguish the Norwegian brand.”Responsible for the construction of the vessel, MEYER WERFT GMBH is also currently building Norwegian’s two new 146,600 gross ton, 4,000-passenger Breakaway class vessels: Norwegian Breakaway (scheduled for delivery in late April 2013) and Norwegian Getaway (scheduled for delivery in January 2014).
The partnership, which forms part of the ETC’s “Destination 2020” strategy means that Amadeus will promote Europe as a destination to long-haul markets. Technology giant Amadeus will promote Europe as a tourism destination, under the terms of strategic partnership it signed with the European Travel Commission (ETC) yesterday. To this end, Amadeus released the VisitEurope app last year which allows customers to search and post on social media about European destinations. “Amadeus is pleased to contribute to this alliance with three key assets: our technology, our global footprint and our industry knowledge to shape the future of travel in Europe.” The other terms of the agreement include to collaborate on research and market research. “This partnership stands out as a reference example of private and public cooperation within the travel and tourism sector, “We fully endorse the goals established by ETC and the European Commission in the “Destination Europe 2020” strategy, Amadeus Senior Advisor Industry Affairs Juan Jesús García said. Source = ETB News: T.N.
Qantas Airways should now be able to change its ownership structure through more foreign investment but the airline will remain Australian, after Australia’s major political parties agreed to compromise on changing the Qantas Sales Act.The Abbott government and Labor opposition have agreed to repeal the requirement that Qantas be only have 35 per cent foreign ownership by a single airline as well the 25 per cent ownership cap on a single foreign owner.Previously, the Abbott government had attempted to completely remove Part 3 of the Qantas Sales Act, which requires that 51 per cent of the airline remains Australian owned, two thirds of directors are Australian and that maintenance and catering for international flights be done in Australia.The government’s change of heart came up after they realised that they did not Senate numbers to completely repeal Part 3.The government still wants to repeal Part 3 because it says such a repeal is needed to put Qantas on “an even playing field” with other airlines, particularly Virgin Australia.Source = ETB News: Tom Neale
Qantas triples size of LA lounges with major upgradeManaging airline Qantas together with joint owners and oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and British Airways have unveiled the final stage of the Los Angeles Business Lounge refurbishment, with the opening of additional space and more dining options.It follows the opening of stage one of the development in June 2014 and the opening of the adjacent Qantas First Lounge, designed by Marc Newson in December 2014.Vanessa Hudson, Qantas Regional General Manager, The Americas said Qantas was excited to reveal the full benefits of its multi-million dollar lounge refurbishment to customers travelling through Los Angeles.“The completion of this project represents our significant investment in the US market. We have tripled the space available across both lounges, added more seating and installed a state-of-the-art kitchen. The new kitchen enables us to offer a bigger menu and a greater variety of dining options,” said Ms Hudson.“Customers tell us that being able to enjoy a relaxing and welcoming space with high quality dining options prior to flying is top of their wish list when it comes to creating the ideal lounge experience.“Together with Los Angeles International Airport’s renovations, Qantas now offers truly world class facilities for international travelers and our lounges in the US are second to none,” added Ms Hudson.Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways customers will now be able to enjoy the full offering in the Los Angeles Business Lounge with additional features including:Service experience by SofitelA communal fireplace and central glass atriumA cocktail bar offering signature cocktails and barista coffeeA Californian food cart offering tacos and specialty hot dogsIncrease from one to two buffets featuring a new make-your-own juice bar, hot dishes, fresh and healthy salads, snacks and dessertsMenus by Qantas Chef Neil Perry with a focus on fresh, seasonal produceA dedicated dining area featuring a large communal dining table equipped with USB and power outletsTriple the floor space, from 11,000 square-feet to 42,000 square-feet across the First and Business LoungeAn additional 200 seats, bringing the total capacity of the Business Lounge to 600 seats (a combined total of 800 seats including the Qantas First Lounge)An additional seven shower suites taking the total to 16, all featuring Aurora Spa ASPAR amenitiesSix work stations equipped with Apple iMacsDedicated Family Zone with children’s furniture, toys and games.To celebrate the completion of Qantas’ lounge facilities at LAX, Qantas hosted a pop-up acoustic performance by Sydney-born, Los Angeles-based musician Ben Lee for its Business Lounge customers.Customers eligible to access the Los Angeles Business Lounge include:Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways customers travelling in BusinessGold Qantas Frequent Flyers, Marco Polo Club Gold and Executive Club Silver members;oneworld Sapphire customersQantas Club membersSource = Qantas
Focus on Adelaide for TravelManagers’ National ConferenceFrom an Olympic gold medallist to a high-performing entrepreneur, the line-up for TravelManagers’ 2015 Annual National Conference is set to inspire and motivate its personal travel managers (PTMs) to achieve great things in their businesses.The travel company’s eighth annual conference is to be held in Adelaide over the weekend of 28-30 August, with this year’s theme, “Focus”. Executive General Manager Michael Gazal believes the simplicity and versatility of this theme falls neatly in line with TravelManagers’ overall business philosophy.“Our business operates in an environment of constant and often fast-paced change. The conference theme reflects our will to remain focussed on our stated goals and to eliminate time-consuming distractions that do not add value – to the company as a whole and to each of us as individuals.”According to Gazal, one of the highlights of this year’s conference will be the two world-class keynote speakers.“We are very excited to be able to bring some amazing talent to Adelaide to address our PTMs – not one but two inspiring Australians who are at the very top of their chosen fields. I’m sure their stories of personal growth and success will be a great source of motivation to everyone who hears them speak.”Matthew Michalewicz will open the conference on Friday 28 August by speaking about the ‘Science of Success’ and ‘How to Improve Small Business Performance’.“Matthew is talking from a place of authority, having built and sold several multi-million dollar companies – he actually ‘walks the walk’”, says Gazal. “He will be delivering a message tailored to our PTMs to assist them in articulating and achieving their own personal goals.”Remaining with the “Focus” theme, the conference’s closing address will be from Alisa Camplin-Warner (OAM), who won Olympic Gold for Australia in aerial skiing at the 2002 Winter Olympics, despite having fractured both ankles just six weeks prior to the event.“Alisa has been incredibly successful, not just in her sporting career but in her professional life as well. She comes highly recommended as a very engaging speaker whose ability to focus on the task at hand by overcoming physical, mental and emotional challenges is sure to be inspiring for everyone,” says Gazal.TravelManagers are predicting record numbers once again at this year’s conference, with around 200 PTMs expected to attend from all over the country plus around 50 suppliers and National Partnership office (NPO) attendees. Delegates at the three-day event will benefit from a series of workshops that range from improving small business skills to becoming cruise and airfare gurus, and even achieving better health, vitality and work/life balance.For Karen Farley, representative for Redbank Plains QLD, one of the highlights of the conference is the opportunity to take advantage of having so many key suppliers gathered together in one place.“I enjoy the opportunity to mingle with my colleagues and suppliers, but as well as the social aspect of the weekend, I really value the ‘Show and Tell’ sessions as they are the perfect environment to update and add to my product knowledge.”As well as the workshops and presentations, this year’s conference will once again offer plenty of opportunities for catching up with colleagues in a less formal environment. The conference will open with a “Taste of South Australia”-themed welcome dinner at Adelaide’s amazing National Wine Centre, and will close on a high with a gala awards dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre, where the company’s top-performing and most improved PTMs will be recognised for their efforts in the preceding year.The conference’s location in Adelaide, which is widely considered to be one of Australia’s best conference destinations, is another highlight for Erryn Morris, representative for Gooseberry Hill, WA.“There are so many options for pre- and post-conference travel around South Australia and I’m really excited about taking part in one of the organised famils which include the Barossa Valley, Kangaroo Island and the Fleurieu Peninsula. I’m also trying to decide whether to take part in a tour of the markets or to compete in the TravelManagers golf tournament on the Friday morning.”Despite a comprehensive agenda being released to conference delegates well in advance of the actual weekend, Gazal says there are a few surprises that are still in the bag.“Every year we set aside time in the agenda for a community event – an opportunity for our people to focus on helping others. This year we have partnered with a South Australia-based charity called ‘Little Heroes’ that was started by ex-Adelaide Crows captain Chris McDermot and is currently working towards establishing a Centre for Robotics and Innovation at the Adelaide Women and Children’s Hospital.”“The actual activity is being kept secret but the resulting financial contribution will go towards helping Little Heroes achieve this goal. It is a truly inspirational organisation that is achieving amazing things for sick children in South Australia and we are honoured and humbled to be involved in some small way in what they are doing,” Gazal says.For more details or to find out how you can support Little Heroes, please visit littleheroesfoundation.com.au/For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599.Source = TravelManagers Australia
Silver SpiritSilversea releases stunning images of Silver SpiritSilversea Cruises releases brand new images of the recently lengthened Silver Spirit. Between 5 March and 1 May 2018, the ultra-luxury, all-suite ship underwent an extensive dry dock renovation at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Italy. The ship was cut in half and a pre-built 49-foot (14.9-metre) mid-section was inserted, providing increased space and enhanced amenities for Silversea’s guests. The latest pictures depict the ship’s outstanding transformation, which took inspiration from Silversea’s flagship, Silver Muse.“We’re delighted to share these spectacular new images of Silver Spirit,” says Barbara Muckermann, Silversea’s Chief Marketing Officer. “It is with our guests in mind that we have invested in the transformation of our beloved Silver Spirit. The lengthening was an amazing feat of engineering and our guests are now enjoying the many benefits of the ship’s amplified on-board experience.”The enlargement of the pool space on deck nine reveals the most discernible transformation in relation to the ship’s exterior. As a result of the lengthening, there is now a large beach area and more space for guests to relax on the sun deck.In addition to implementing stylish décor enhancements throughout the ship, the extensive renovation has also greatly improved by the layout of Silver Spirit’s public spaces, including the reformatting of her dining options to an 8-restaurant layout, with the introduction of Atlantide, Indochine, Spaccanapoli and Silver Note – as on Silver Muse.Among the ship’s new amenities are the Zagara Spa, Tor’s Observation Library and the Dolce Vita Lounge. Also new to Silver Spirit, the Arts Café is an inviting new space that offers guests the chance to enjoy art exhibitions and a selection of reading material in a distinctively stylish environment. With both indoor and outdoor seating, the Arts Café is designed to provide a comfortable getaway with a relaxed ambience.Guest accommodation options were also upgraded as part of the project, ensuring the exceptional standard of Silversea comfort is maintained. Aboard Silver Spirit, guests enjoy spacious ocean-view suites, sumptuous cuisine, and the personalised service of a butler. Enriching the experience are such all-inclusive amenities as complimentary premium wines and spirits, speciality coffees, bottled water, juices and soft drinks; an in-suite bar stocked with guests’ preferences; in-suite 24-hour dining service; lecture and enrichment programmes; and unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi.Silver Spirit is currently sailing in Northern Europe where she will spend the summer offering a series of mostly seven-day voyages between Copenhagen and Stockholm. Her schedule for autumn and winter includes Canada, New England and Caribbean itineraries, among others. View Silver Spirit’s scheduled itineraries: https://www.silversea.com/ships/silver-spirit.htmlSource = Silversea Cruises
MTA – mentoring for SuccessMTA – mentoring for SuccessProviding those consultants considering the move to a home-based model with a further compelling reason to choose MTA – Mobile Travel Agents, the company has once again forged ahead of the pack with the launch of its latest ground-breaking innovation – ‘MTA mentoring for Success’.Developed inhouse and spread over a 12-month period, the ‘MTA Mentoring for Success’ program has been designed to support the professional development of MTA Advisors via peer knowledge sharing supported by a professional framework helping each other deepen their already considerable skills to enhance their effectiveness and knowledge.The year-long program is supported by an induction workshop, online learning courses and 12 monthly meetings with mentor and mentee ‘pairings’ based on mentee’s development requirements and the skills of mentor.Launching the new program MTA CEO, Don Beattie said the initiative was really a build on something that has been taking place informally ever since the company was founded by co-managing directors Karen and Roy Merricks in 1999.“MTA has always cultivated a family feel since day one and it’s not unusual for our more experienced Advisors, some of whom have been with us since day one, to step in and lend a hand, offering an insight or advice to those wishing to expand their expertise,” Mr Beattie said.“Right path mentoring offers an incredibly valuable and effective development opportunity.“This MTA mentoring for Success program builds on MTA’s credentials as a learning organisation which also features the ‘MTA Professional Plus’ and professional development programs that are already part of the MTA family culture of support for its Advisors.”Source = MTA – Mobile Travel Agents