Heres a timeline of Aeroplans turbulent history

first_img Travelweek Group Tags: Aeroplan Posted by Wednesday, August 22, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Here’s a timeline of Aeroplan’s turbulent history TORONTO — The saga over Aeroplan came to a close yesterday, with news that the consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal to acquire the loyalty program from Aimia Inc. The deal, worth $450 million cash plus assumed liabilities, comes after more than a year of uncertainty since Air Canada said in May 2017 that it would switch to its own loyalty program in July 2020.Here are some significant dates in Aeroplan’s history:1984: Air Canada creates the frequent flyers loyalty program Aeroplan1991: The CIBC Aerogold Visa card is launched2000: Rupert Duchesne becomes CEO of Aeroplan2002: Aeroplan operates as a subsidiary of Air Canada2004: Aeroplan adds non-flight rewards2005: Air Canada spins off Aeroplan, which completes a public offering as an income trust2006: Aeroplan launches program allowing members to donate miles to charities2007: Aeroplan launches carbon offset program, allowing members to use miles to offset their carbon footprint2007: Aeroplan says miles will expire after seven years of being collected, effective in January 20142008: Air Canada sells its remaining stake in Aeroplan, which becomes a corporation operating as Groupe Aeroplan2011: Groupe Aeroplan changes name to Aimia Inc., as its strategy shifts to include loyalty programs operating outside of CanadaMore news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youth2013: TD Bank becomes Aeroplan’s main financial partner after assuming about half of CIBC’s Visa Aeroplan card customers2013: Aeroplan backtracks and cancels seven-year mileage redemption policy after angry customers launch class-action lawsuitMay 11, 2017: Duchesne leaves the company after four-month medical leave of absenceMay 11, 2017: Air Canada announces that it will not renew its Aeroplan partnership in 2020 as it starts its own rewards program. Aimia shares plunge 63 per cent on the dayApril 2018: Aimia announces the resignation of CEO David JohnstonMay 2018: Jeremy Rabe appointed Aimia’s president and CEOJuly 19, 2018: Aimia announces plans to relaunch the Aeroplan program with charter flights and use of miles for any seats on any airlineJuly 25, 2018: Air Canada, CIBC, TD Bank and Visa Canada offer to acquire Aeroplan for $2.25 billion, including $250 million cash plus assumed liabilitiesJuly 27, 2018: Air Canada says it would restart talks with credit card partners to create its own loyalty program if Aimia fails to accept its offer within six daysMore news:  Honolulu authorities investigate arsons at 3 Waikiki hotels; no injuries reportedAug. 2, 2018: Aimia confirms talks with Oneworld airline alliance; talks with Air Canada fail despite higher $325 million offerAug. 3, 2018: Aimia announces deal with Porter Airlines to become an Aeroplan preferred Canadian airline as of July 2020Aug. 6, 2018: Mittleman Brothers LLC, largestshareholder in Aimia, issues public statement saying Air Canada’s offers were too low and suggesting Aeroplan was worth about $1.2 billion.Aug. 7, 2018: Aimia adds Air Transat and Flair Airlines to its list of Canadian airline partners.Aug. 21, 2018: Aimia reaches agreement with Air Canada-led consortium, which will pay $450 million in cash for Aeroplan and assume about $1.9 billion in liabilities associated with miles collected by customers.With file from The Canadian Press Sharelast_img read more

Compañía Global de Pinturas to buy HB Fullers paint unit

first_imgManufacturer H.B. Fuller will sell its paints unit, which is based in Central America, to a Colombia-based company in order to focus on its adhesives business.The company announced Monday that it will sell its Central America paint business to Companía Global de Pinturas for $120 million. The deal is expected to close within 60 days, a spokesman for H.B. Fuller said.The company’s paints unit generated $113.5 million in in revenue in 2011, about 7 percent of H.B. Fuller’s total revenue. The unit employs about 800 workers at production plants and laboratories in Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama.The buyer is a paints company that operates in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama and the Caribbean. Its parent company, Grupo Mundial, operates 53 companies in 12 countries and generated sales totaling $1.07 billion in 2011. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Haiti struck by Hurricane Sandy asks for aid

first_imgPORT-AU-PRINCE – As much of the world focuses on the storm-devastated northeastern United States, tiny impoverished Haiti, also dealt a powerful blow by Hurricane Sandy, is appealing for international aid.The storm, a powerful category two hurricane when it tore through Haiti last Thursday, killed more than 50 people there. It destroyed crops and homes and crippled transportation in the nation, the poorest in the Americas.“I am launching an appeal to international solidarity to come help the population, to help support the completion of our efforts towards saving lives and property,” Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said Wednesday evening during a Cabinet meeting rebroadcast on local media.According to statistics presented during the meeting, the agricultural sector registered a loss of more than $104 million.“Several thousand kilometers of agricultural roads were destroyed and thousands of heads of cattle were swept away by the flood waters, which also destroyed thousands of hectares of plantations,” Agriculture Minister Jacques Thomas said.Health Minister Florence Guillaume said “numerous cases” of cholera have also been reported in the wake of the storm.“What we’ve just heard is frightening. We should act quickly for the people and put ourselves to work to improve the situation,” Lamothe said.“Without a doubt we don’t have enough means, but we must show we have the will,” he added, reiterating his call for international support.On Thursday, the government communications bureau indicated that Venezuela has proposed building 5,000 homes, and already had sent three planes and a boat loaded with 240 tons of food.France promised to rebuild seven destroyed bridges and Mexico offered food.Haiti is still rebuilding after the massive 2010 earthquake that leveled much of the capital, left hundreds of thousands homeless and killed more than 200,000 people. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Recent exchange rate stability offers relief to businesses

first_imgAfter the colón got off to a rocky start in 2014, the Costa Rican currency has entered a period of relative stability. The Central Bank’s (BCCR) efforts to quell volatility in the currency seem to be working, but analysts note there are bigger problems facing businesses in Costa Rica on the horizon.Soon after the first round of presidential elections in February, Costa Rica’s currency’s started a mild but steady devaluation. The roughly 10 percent devaluation stressed many citizens and businesses with debts or expenses in dollars, who suddenly had to pay more to meet financial obligations after enjoying a robust colón for years.The Central Bank’s board of directors made a major decision to try to stabilize the currency on June 26. The bank announced it would use the country’s international reserves to meet foreign currency demands of the non-banking public sector. This meant that large government agencies, such as the National Oil Refinery, or RECOPE, and the Finance Ministry would go to the BCCR when they needed dollars instead of the foreign currency exchange, Monex. The Central Bank said in a statement that the currency purchases by the non-banking public sector were made without considering the behavior of the currency market, meaning that daily needs for hard currency could inadvertently exacerbate an already wobbly colón.The BCCR’s plan was to sync large foreign currency purchases with opportune timing in the market by supplying the day-to-day dollar demands of government agencies like RECOPE. The amendment allowed state banks to continue using Monex for their dollar needs.The BCCR set a range of how much of its reserves it was willing to part with to front the non-banking sector. During his 100-day assessment of the government, President Luis Guillermo Solís reiterated the Central Bank’s commitment to maintain “adequate” reserves to protect the currency from external shocks, including a gradual pullback of monetary stimulus by the U.S. Federal Reserve and other developed economies.So far, the strategy seems to be working.“With the change in the methodology for public-sector purchases it seems to us that the Central Bank has sent the message that it wants to minimize volatility,” ALDESA securities analyst Adriana Rodríguez told The Tico Times.Rodríguez said it is possible the colón will level off between 535 or 530 to the dollar in coming months. The average exchange rate for the colón to the dollar was 545.34 in the week of Aug. 25.“We think that many important sectors of the economy are happy with where the rate is today,” she added.While there is always a chance the currency could fluctuate again, analysts The Tico Times consulted opined that the exchange rate, while important, was not the biggest concern for the private sector today.“I don’t think that the exchange rate is the principal concern of most businesses right now. There are other fears that are weighing more on them and the exchange rate is not one of them,” said Luis Mesalles, associate consultant for Ecoanálisis, a San José-based economic consultancy.The government’s fiscal deficit, currently at 5.4 percent of gross domestic product, is projected to increase to 6 percent by the end of the year, according to the Finance Ministry. The cost of business remains stubbornly high, including electricity, which is the highest rate in Central America. Poor infrastructure, including some of the worst ports in the world, according to the World Bank, also limits economic growth.Munish Manchanda, statutory examiner for the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce, said maintaining a relatively stable exchange rate would be “imperative” for the Solís administration and Central Bank President Olivier Castro, but he agreed there was more at play.“What we need to see is how to move the economy. It’s not just about the exchange rate, it’s how do we improve the overall situation of the country. Unemployment rates are still high, how do we get more employment? How do we get more investment? How do we remain competitive against other nations pitted against us in the region?” he asked.“There is a long-term risk not only to the exchange rate but also a risk to the country’s economic rating,” Manchanda said. “Time is running out.”President Solís has taken some steps to address the fiscal deficit and unemployment, but his efforts have been met with mixed responses. Vice President and Finance Minister Helio Fallas announced several tax evasion measures aimed at improving tax collection, and a 2 percent tax on credit card charges.In 2012, the Finance Ministry collected just over 13 percent of GDP in taxes, far less than it claimed was needed to finance the government. Solís said during his speech on Thursday that tax evasion cost the government 13.37 percent of GDP in uncollected revenue. The government has turned to selling billions of dollars worth of bonds to keep the government’s doors open.Recommended: Costa Rica’s Solís claims $112 million in losses from corruption in speech highlighting first 100 days of his administrationOn Thursday, Solís also mentioned his decision to cap some large public pensions and leave 85 percent of current public-sector vacancies unfilled, a move he claimed would save the government ₡22 billion, more than $40 million. The deficit, however, remains at nearly $2.7 billion.“I think that the Finance Ministry knows what it wants to do. What bothers me is that what they want to do probably won’t solve the fiscal crisis,” Mesalles said.Earlier this month, the president unveiled an employment strategy that aims to create 217,000 jobs in the next four years. The private sector, however, bristled at not being consulted by the executive branch before the plan was announced. Manchanda said the administration needs to continue reaching out to the private sector when developing similar plans in the future. Unemployment in Costa Rica was 8.5 percent, or some 188,000 people, in 2013, according to the National Household Survey.“Stability in the currency made a lot of people relax, but there is still cause for concern,” Mesalles added.Álvaro Conejo, plant manager for Baxter Productos Médicos Ltda., a Costa Rican manufacturer and exporter of medical supplies in Cartago, said devaluation had offered some relief to his bottom line after years of an unfavorable exchange for his exports. Conejo, who has worked for Baxter for 27 years, said he is still uncertain about where the currency would go next.“Stability is what helps us the most,” Conjeo said. “The exchange rate could go one way and hurt us or another and help us, but stability is the best we can hope for.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Dollar exchange rate reaches highest price in seven years Dollar exchange rate down following Central Bank’s intervention announcement Dollar exchange rate maintains slight upward trend this year US dollar trades at highest level in three yearslast_img read more

Master strummers convene for 20th International Guitar Festival

first_imgRelated posts:Guitar Festival, French cinema, and other happenings around Costa Rica The Prague Ballet, an international blues festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica Felix Pastorius, descendant of music dynasty, to jam at Jazz Café Escazú 30 Seconds to Mars concert, short film festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica Throughout the world, the guitar is the king of instruments. For such a young creation, the guitar has permeated nearly every genre of music. When new musicians learn scales and harmonies, many start with an acoustic guitar, and whether you’re listening to country, jazz, orcrunkcore, there is pretty much always a guitar involved.To celebrate this ubiquitous instrument, the International Guitar Festival takes place at the National Theater this week, incorporating seven international artists and no fewer than 80 Costa Rican musicians. Cuban-born maestro Jorge Luis Zamora has spearheaded the festival and serves as director.“We’re returning with a lot of excitement to make this festival a reality,” said Zamora in a statement. “It’s been months of arduous work, sacrifice and dedication to bring back to the Costa Rican public an event that is so important to the musical culture of the country and the guitar movement.”Since its founding by guitarist Luis Zumbado in 1987, there have only been 19 editions of the festival, owing to inconsistent interest and support. This year marks the 20th festival, and Zamora has high hopes.“As with previous occasions, the artists will give us an exponentially higher caliber of instrumental interpretation, covering different styles like classical music, flamenco, latin-jazz-rock, concerts for guitar and orchestra and different formats, from soloists to guitar orchestras,” he said. “Of course we’ll also have a high representation of Costa Ricans.”The festival honors Spanish master Joaquín Rodrigo, who passed away in 1999 after composing music for nearly a century. The first evening’s performances on Sept. 24 are dedicated entirely to Rodrigo’s compositions. With such a variety of styles and talent, the festival can’t help but strike a chord.Festival Internacional de Guitarra takes place Sept. 24-28 at the National Theater. Wed.-Sun., 8 p.m. ₡8,000-15,000 ($16-30). Info: National Theater website. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Tourist access reopened at Poás Volcano following recent phreatic eruptions

first_imgRelated posts:Tourist access to Poás Volcano closed after eruptions Monday Poás Volcano spews material 300 meters high after explosion inside crater Poás volcano’s crater lagoon is losing water National Seismological Network to monitor Poás Volcano with four new cameras Tourist access to Poás Volcano, Costa Rica’s second most visited national park located 47 kilometers northwest of the capital, was reopened Tuesday after phreatic explosions prompted theevacuation on Monday of tourists and park staff.National Seismological Network (RSN) volcanologists asked park officials to remain vigilant and to enforce special security protocols for visitors, such as prohibiting entry to people with respiratory and heart ailments.RSN volcanologists issued a full report following an on-the-ground inspection of the volcano’s crater on Tuesday. The report states that more phreatic explosions of varying intensity are expected in coming days. Analysis shows that Poás “is accumulating significant pressure in short periods of time,” the report said.On Monday, the volcano sent mud, ash and rock flying all the way to the park’s scenic tourist lookout, the visitors’ center and parking lots located 1.5 km (0.9 miles) away from the crater’s lagoon.Park administrator Redy Conejo Aguilar on Wednesday confirmed the reopening of the tourist entrance, and park officials said they would follow the recommendations of volcanologists.“We are allowing access to the viewing area for periods of only 20 minutes at a time,” Conejo said. “We also are warning visitors that those with respiratory or heart problems should avoid making the trip.”The Poás Volcano has been constantly active since March 2006, mostly with phreatic eruptions in the crater’s lagoon.On Oct. 8, experts registered a phreatic eruption that spread material vertically some 300 meters (984 ft). Monday’s explosions reached 500 meters (1,640 ft). Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Swiss musicians YES homage and other happenings in Costa Rica

first_imgDance: Danza de TresProfessional and novice dancers team up to choreograph original performance pieces in Cartago.Danza de Tres will be performed Nov. 14 & 15 at the Casa de la Ciudad, Cartago. Fri. & Sat., 7 p.m. ₡2,000-2,500 ($4-5). Info: Casa de la Ciudad Facebook page. Music: Camerata BernFor 42 years, the Camerata Bern has distinguished itself as one of the most dextrous, imaginative and invigorating chamber orchestras in the world. The Switzerland-based musicians travel extensively, but their one-night performance in San José is a rare treat. Hosted by the National Theater and sponsored by the Swiss Embassy, this concert showcases the expertise and diversity of their work – incorporating such composers as Mozart, Beethoven and Benjamin Britten.The Camerata Bern performs Nov. 18 at the National Theater, downtown San José. 8 p.m. ₡5,000-20,000 ($10-40). Info: National Theater website.Theater: “Desaire de Elevadores”In this avant-garde production by the National Theater Company, a group of insomniacs gather in a building and discuss human nature. Written by Alberto Villareal and directed by Gustavo Monge.“Desaire de Elevadores” continues through Dec. 7 at the Aduana Theater, Aranjuez. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 6 p.m. Info: National Theater Company Facebook page. Courtesy ArKetipoTheater: “The Platypus”In Humberto Robles’ steamy drama, a woman studying the world’s most confounding animal ends up in a love triangle with two different men. Produced by ArKetipo.“El Ornitorrinco” performs through Dec. 18 at Teatro Lawrence Olivier, Paseo Colón, San José. Wed. & Thu., 8 p.m. ₡5,000-7,000 ($10-14). Info: RedCultura.Arts and Crafts FairThe Newcomers Club of Costa Rica hosts 66 artists and craftspeople at this community event. Holiday gift options abound.Fair takes place Nov. 16 at the Cariari Country Club, Heredia. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free. Info: Country Club website.Music: Homage to YESCosta Rican musicians play the hits of legendary English rock band YES.Concert takes place Nov. 15 at Mundo Loco, San Pedro. 9 p.m. ₡4,000 ($8). Info: Mundo Loco Facebook page.In case you need it, here’s some inspiration: Film: International Cinema FestivalCatch more than 70 feature films and shorts at the International Cinema Festival. Read our preview here.Festival Internacional de Cine takes place Nov. 8-15 at Cine Magaly and Sala Garbo, downtown San José. Info: Official website.International Storytelling FestivalFor a full week, Alajuela will be overrun with tale-tellers and yarn-spinners, thanks to its acclaimed annual storytelling festival. Want to practice your Spanish listening skills and learn about Costa Rican culture to boot? This is the best possible way.Fiesta Internacional de Cuenteros continues through Nov. 14 in various locations, Alajuela. All events free. Info: RedCultura.Art: “Almost Invisible”Thirty-eight artists present 50 different works in this wide-ranging multimedia group show.“Casi Invisibles” continues through Nov. 25, 2015, at the National Bank Museum, downtown San José. Open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ₡1,500 ($3). Info: Official website.Theater: “The Cross”Following a violent shooting in La Cruz de Alajuelita, the community reacts in Fernando Rodríguez’s award-winning new play.“La Cruz” is performed through Nov. 30 at the Vargas Calvo Theater, downtown San José. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. ₡5,500 ($11). Info: National Theater website.Art: “A Chronicle of Interventions”Learn about U.S. incursions in Central America, thanks to this provocative group show co-produced with London’s revered Tate Gallery.“Una Crónica de Intervenciones” displays at TEOR/éTica Gallery, Barrio Amón. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Free. Info: TEOR/éTica website.Art: 75 Years of PhotosBrowse decades of photojournalism at this striking exhibit, thanks to Spain’s Agencia EFE – the fourth-largest wire service in the world.“EFE: 75 Años de Fotos” continues through Dec. 7 at the National Museum, San José. Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. ₡1,500 ($3). Info: Museum website. Facebook Commentscenter_img Related posts:Bullfights, punk bands, and other happenings around Costa Rica Cowboys, coffee, and other happenings around Costa Rica Valentine’s Day, lyrical boleros, and other happenings around Costa Rica U.S. Independence Day Concert, ExpoVida 2015 and other happenings around Costa Ricalast_img read more

Franklin Chang presents dry but earnest autobiography

first_img(Courtesy Ad Astra Rocket Company)A young man flies down the road on his motorcycle. He’s weeping so hard that he can barely see the road ahead of him. He merges onto the highway, not caring where he goes, as long as he escapes his family, a job he hates, and a future he fears. Once Catholic, he has even lost his faith in God. As he plunges into the dark, he imagines his own death – ramming a car head-on, getting crushed by a truck – and he welcomes this end. He veers onto back roads, weaving aimlessly through the countryside, until he arrives at his friends’ home. He is exhausted, but before he falls asleep, the young man begins to make the hardest resolution of his life: He must leave his wife and children. He must start all over again.“Such was the end of our life together and the beginning of the most harrowing years of my life,” writes the man, decades later, as he looks back on his youth.Watershed moments like this one take place in any number of lives, but the protagonist of this story is not just any narrator: he is one Franklin Chang Díaz, the beloved U.S.-Costa Rican astronaut and a national hero here in his first homeland. The young man who prayed for death to escape his troubles became a respected scientist and a team member on seven Space Shuttle missions. Tied with Jerry L. Ross, Chang holds the record for most spaceflights for a single astronaut.Reading his new memoir, “Dream’s Journey,” is a surreal experience, because the reader sees Chang as a mere mortal. This is a person who invented a high-powered plasma rocket. In many of his NASA photos, Chang looks petit and smiley, donning a space suit and cradling a helmet. Born and raised in Costa Rica, Chang is the portrait of Tico happiness. He seems buoyant and imperturbable. That smile seems to belong in zero gravity.Yet at the beginning of “Dream’s Journey,” Chang is a clueless teenager, fresh off the plane from Costa Rica, knowing no English or U.S. customs. A gangly adolescent, Chang waltzes into a U.S. high school rife with racial conflict at the height of the Civil Rights movement, and because his background is Chinese and Hispanic, his fellow students have no idea how to categorize him. He explains repeatedly, in broken English, that he is Costa Rican, not Puerto Rican, to which one thug retorts, “All you Ricans are the same.”Slowly and meticulously, Chang recounts his wending life story, from dating a needy girl named Candace to smoking pot for the first time. We see him at college parties, we learn about his English lessons, and we watch him take the wrong city bus and end up in a different town. In one anecdote, when a cop pulls over Chang’s car, the hapless foreigner can’t produce any form of ID, and he is hauled to a police station with his sobbing girlfriend. Yet the reader has the benefit of hindsight. We know that every paragraph could end, “And then I became one of the most admired astronauts in the history of space exploration.”“Dream’s Journey” is an unusual book for many reasons: It is the second part of an autobiographical trilogy, continuing where his first book, “Los Primeros Años,” left off. (“I have chosen to write my memoirs in the language in which I lived them,” Chang notes in his introduction. Thus, the first volume is in Spanish, the second in English.) “Dream’s Journey” covers his first decade in the United States, from his arrival in 1968 to the day of his NASA recruitment in 1980. These years are an uphill slog, from language acquisition to his eventual divorce, but through it all, Chang sticks to his dream: He yearns to become a rocket scientist, and he wants to spend time in space.There is only one drawback to “Dream’s Journey”: as a literary effort, it’s not very good. That is, despite his impeccable memory and astonishing command of English, Chang is not a “writer.” Like a true engineer, he details events and emotions in a clinical way, like a legal deposition. Here he describes meeting a new friend during his freshman year of college:I met Elizabeth An Buker, also known as “Betsy,” the next morning. Stanley had gone to pick her up at the airport and the four of us met back at the NYU dorm upon their return. A bit taller than Candace, Betsy was an engaging person with a broad smile and vivacious eyes that peeked behind thick glasses. She projected a highly intellectual mind with a deep interest in everything around her. Her long blond hair was flowing free that morning, though in most of our subsequent meetings she would prefer to keep it conveniently out of the way in a simple ponytail that betrayed her lack of interest for appearance and personal beauty.Although much of the book is sentimental and even moving, Chang describes his life from a distance. There is little dialogue or tactile description. You never feel like you’re there. “Dream’s Journey” was published by Ad Astra Rocket Company, the spaceflight technology developer; because Chang himself is CEO and president of Ad Astra, the book is basically self-published. The volume is challenging to track down and can’t be found in most bookstores. The price of a single paperback is a staggering $26 (before shipping fees). Given his accomplishments, Chang deserves a good editor, or even ghostwriter. He deserves a serious publishing house. He deserves a book that is professionally distributed and affordable for the everyday fan.But literary merit and ease of purchase are not the point. If a national hero wants to publish his own book, that’s his right, and it is fitting for such a self-made man. Chang is the Horatio Alger of astronauts. He arrived in the United States with $50, he miraculously graduated from high school on schedule, and he spent his entire youth (literally) reaching for the stars. “Dream’s Journey” is not a breezy read, but it is a powerful social document, told by the same man who has lived this extraordinary life. No agent has meddled with his writing to force its appeal. Chang repeatedly refers to the United States as “The Land of Opportunity,” in capital letters, as if referring to a benevolent god. He constantly gives credit to his mentors and friends for helping him through difficult periods. There have been plenty of brilliant people who wrote stultifying autobiographies (John Stuart Mill and Tracy Austen, to name a couple). The virtue of such books is the legacy they preserve, not the pleasure of reading them.Meanwhile, Chang holds a special significance to Costa Rica: In a country famous for terrestrial splendor (jungle, exotic animals, campesinos working the soil), Chang is the Tico who left, became a U.S. citizen, and explored the cosmos. Costa Rica takes enormous pride in Chang, one of its most iconoclastic native sons. He is proof that Costa Ricans can achieve excellence on a global scale, inspiring the entire planet.Yet Chang is shockingly earnest about his past, describing loneliness and relationship problems with ease. We might not expect such candor from John Glenn or Buzz Aldrin, because they must uphold their superhuman Cold War mythos. The early test pilots were known for their unflinching chutzpah, for “pushing the envelope.” In contrast to these giants, “Dream’s Journey” narrates the life of a shy nerd with an improbable dream. The gawky 18-year-old who arrives in Connecticut does not seem like astronaut material, and his journey is so unlikely that Chang can afford to relate his doubts and mistakes. Indeed, these doubts and mistakes are what make him so endearing.While “Dream’s Journey” will likely attract a fare share of fans, it ends with a cliffhanger, and Chang’s next book should draw the real crowds. How did Chang fare at NASA? What was his training process? How did he go from a pencil-pushing engineer to a planet-orbiting spaceman? Fewer than 550 people have left the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving about seven billion of us to wonder what Chang experienced in that vast expanse. No matter how he writes that book, Chang is sure to make it interesting. Writing books is hard, but when you have such stratospheric material, it’s hardly rocket science.To find a copy a copy of “Dream’s Journey” in the U.S., visit the Ad Astra corporate website. In Costa Rica, write Bruce Callow at Facebook Comments Related posts:New guidebook helps visitors appreciate Costa Rica’s capital ‘The Family’ tells story of cult in Costa Rica Free ebook anthologizes 25 Tico travel stories ‘Green Season’ book excerpt: Car Troublelast_img read more

Pope Francis tells bishops that clergy abuse must not be repeated

first_imgRelated posts:Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit Pope Francis meets the Castros after mass on iconic Havana square In Castros’ home region, Pope Francis praises Church ‘sacrifices’ Pope Francis in Cuba: Mass before a packed Revolution Square WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pope Francis plunged into hisfirst U.S. visit with gusto Wednesday, embracing the adulation of jubilant crowds across Washington even as he confronted controversy in remarks at the White House and a meeting of U.S. Catholic bishops.More than 3,000 people filed through security screening for an afternoon Mass on the grounds of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as tens of thousands more filled surrounding blocks. The pope, on the first full day of his five-day trip, had already called for more compassion for immigrants and protection for the environment, thrilling activists who have seen the pontiff as a liberal champion.But he also seemed to declare himself inseparable from a church hierarchy that is much less popular than he is, praising bishops for their handling of the priestly sex abuse scandal.Addressing hundreds of clergymen in Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, the pope told them:“I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims – in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed – and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated.”The pope, speaking in the soaring cathedral, also spoke of the devil, “the evil one, [who] roars like a lion, anxious to devour” joy. And he listed the church’s challenges in the future:“The innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, … the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man’s predatory relationship with nature.”Pope Francis’ words on the pedophile priest scandal drew some quick reaction.Marci Hamilton, a law professor at the Cardozo School of Law who has represented hundreds of sex abuse victims, said she wished the pope had focused more on the victims, rather than the church.“I think the survivors had hoped for more attention on their suffering,” said Hamilton. “It’s also shocking to hear him praise the bishops in their handling of child sex abuse when there are so many states that cut out the victims from the justice system.”The pope’s words to the bishops came in contrast to the joyous popemobile circuit along some of Washington’s historic avenues just minutes before. He greeted thousands of jubilant well-wishers, kissed babies and children, and blew kisses to the crowd. Pope Francis outside the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States in Washington on Wednesday. Washington Post photo by Marvin JosephA love festPope Francis, clothed in flowing white robes, smiled and waved to delighted bystanders who shouted and waved back as he passed in the bubble-topped vehicle around the landmark Ellipse, south of the White House.Security guards plucked children from the crowd, and the pope kissed and blessed them before passing them back.The circuit along 15th Street, Constitution Avenue and 17th Street in Northwest, and past the Washington Monument, was a love fest, with the pope leaning out the side openings of the popemobile and waving to the cheering bystanders as if to friends.At one point, a security officer picked up a child from the crowd and carried the toddler to the pope. The popemobile stopped, and Francis kissed and caressed the youngster. He did that several more times before his motorcade returned to the White House.The parade took place on a sparkling morning after Pope Francis was hailed by President Barack Obama at the White House for his stance on climate change, to which the pope responded in kind.After the parade, the pope went to pray with several hundred U.S. bishops.The service, or “Midday Prayer,” took place in the soaring cathedral, to music and song.“Brother bishops,” the pope said, speaking in Italian. “As I look out with affection at you, … I would like to embrace all the local churches over which you exercise loving responsibility.”“From your great coastal cities to the plains of the Midwest, from the deep South to the far reaches of the West, wherever your people gather in the Eucharistic assembly, may the pope be not simply a name … but a felt presence, sustaining the fervent plea of the bride: “Come, Lord!”Pope Francis then brought up immigration, a political issue in the United States.“I am well aware of the immense efforts you have made to welcome and integrate those immigrants who continue to look to America, like so many others before them, in the hope of enjoying its blessings of freedom and prosperity,” he said.Earlier, at the White House, Pope Francis spoke to Obama about climate change.“Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution,” the pontiff said at the sun-splashed event on the South Lawn. “Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.“When it comes to the care of our ‘common home,’ we are living at a critical moment of history,” he said. “We still have time to make the changes needed.”Francis’s remarks also focused on the need to provide comfort to those at the margins of society.The event was attended by thousands of dignitaries, among them Vice President Joe Biden; his wife, Jill; Ethel Kennedy; Secretary of State John Kerry; and Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Pope Francis is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and others as he arrives Tuesday afternoon in the United States for the first time. Washington Post photo by Jabin BotsfordA living example of JesusIn his warm welcome to the pope, Obama called the pope a living example of Jesus and a figure of humility and simplicity.“I believe the excitement around your visit, Holy Father, must be attributed not only to your role as pope but to your unique qualities as a person,” the president began, in welcoming the pope, as the pontiff sat beside the lectern on the South Lawn.“In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, in the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’s teachings,” Obama said.“You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike to … ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity, because we are all made in the image of God,” he said.The Spanish-speaking Pope Francis addressed the president in accented but clear English, introducing himself to the crowd in his first sentence as “the son of an immigrant” – his family came from Italy to Argentina – and describing the United States as “largely built by such families.”The words are likely to resonate at a time where the political debate in the United States has been marked by a divisive debate over immigration.Francis’s remarks were brief but also welcome to a White House looking to build momentum ahead of a major U.N. summit on climate change in Paris in December.See: 5 things Pope Francis gets totally right about climate changeIn praising the president for his efforts to secure commitments from countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Francis described climate change as an “urgent” problem.Obama returned the compliment to the pope for the pontiff’s work on climate change, one of the most important initiatives for the president during his remaining 15 months in office. “Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet – God’s magnificent gift to us,” Obama said.Obama acknowledged the 15,000 people packing the South Lawn, a rare occurrence. “Our back yard is not typically this crowded,” he said. It was a regal welcome with military bands and sword-wielding Honor Guards in their dress uniforms.Behind them were the dignitaries and then farther back the large crowds lucky to score tickets from the White House.Earlier, the pope plunged into a crowd of Catholic school students, shaking hands and being hugged and kissed before heading to the White House.The pope emerged from the Vatican Nunciature, in Northwest Washington, where he spent the night, shortly before 9 a.m. and made a bee line for the cheering students gathered behind bicycle barriers.He smiled, chatted and shook hands as he worked his way along the line for several minutes and the young people waved yellow and white papal flags, embraced him and took pictures.One man leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead. “Papa!” people yelled. “Papa!After about 10 minutes, the pope departed the White House for the meeting with Obama and thousands of dignitaries. He arrived there at 9:23 a.m.Meanwhile, individuals, groups and families with children bundled against the morning chill had trooped downtown and lined up along security barricades near the pope’s parade route south of the White House.Others began walking or riding in after early morning Masses at churches across the region to mark Francis’s first visit to the United States.When the gates to one secure area around the parade route opened around 5:15 a.m. near Lafayette Park, people ran to get through the area and U.S. Secret Service agents ordered them to slow down.“It was like a Black Friday at a department store,” Christopher Hale, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, said of the rush.Nearby, priests heard the confessions of the faithful, and in northwest Washington, a throng of Catholic school children chanted and waved flags outside the Vatican Nunciature.“We love Francis, yes we do! We love Francis, how ’bout you?” they hollered. After arriving from Cuba, Pope Francis waves as he disembarks his plane at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Tuesday. Washington Post photo by Jabin BotsfordLarge crowds for the Argentina-born Pope FrancisThe pope was scheduled to celebrate a 4:15 p.m. Mass on Wednesday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast Washington to canonize Junípero Serra, an 18th-century Franciscan priest who founded historic missions in California. Thousands of people were gathering there by early afternoon.On Thursday, Francis will make the first address by a pope to a joint meeting of Congress. Afterward, he is scheduled to appear on the balcony of the West Front of the Capitol to greet a crowd that was expected to swell to about 50,000.Large crowds expected both days, and streets will be thronged and periodically cordoned off across the city as the pope crisscrosses the District.He is scheduled to leave for New York on Thursday, then travel Saturday to Philadelphia in a visit that will end Sunday.The popular 78-year-old Argentina-born pope, who has softened the church’s tone, focused on climate change and the poor, and seized a spot on the global stage, is making his first trip ever to the United States.People of all stripes showed up Wednesday.A large group from the Church of the Sacred Heart, known better as Sagrado Corazon to its majority Latino congregation in Columbia Heights, headed from Mass to the Ellipse.Among the wooden crosses, white balloons and smartphones they carried, a few parishioners held rolled up signs, “working people welcome Pope Francis,” printed by the labor organization AFL-CIO.The political dynamic of the pope’s visit is not lost on this largely immigrant group. They know what they want to hear from Pope Francis.“I hope his words change things,” said Fidel Larios, 47, of Washington. “I hope he speaks sincerely so people will do the right thing.”When he talks about change, Larios said he is referring to the one thing so many in this crowd want: immigration reform. He’s been waiting for it and is tired, he said, of broken promises. Pope Francis waves from his motorcade after disembarking his plane in the United States at Joint Base Andrews , Md. Washington Post photo by Jabin BotsfordNear the Washington Monument, the Kolodzieski family from Apex, N.C., made their own paper papal bishop’s mitres and claimed a spot along Constitution Avenue.“I felt very strongly that I wanted to see him,” said Carol Kolodzieski.“I think it’s something they can carry through their entire lives,” said her husband Scott, referring to their three children seeing the pope in person. As for her New York Yankees shirt, Carol said: “We pray for them all the time too.”For the Silvani family of Potomac, Maryland, chance to see Pope Francis in Washington was a matter of national pride.Their parents are from Argentina and so all eight siblings — five brothers and three sisters – brought their families to the corner of 17th and E streets where they’re looking forward to seeing the first Argentine-born pope.When Francis was elected pope, “we were screaming. It was pure excitement,” said Gabriella Silvani.So when plans for a D.C. visit were announced, the family knew they had to mobilize.At 5 a.m. Wednesday, Gabriela, Matias, Carolina, Sebastian, Lorena, Agustin, Ezequiel and Tomas headed to the Ellipse with their families, many wearing Argentine sky blue and white and some sporting Messi jerseys.Their parents, Carlos and Elizabeth, skipped the parade but they won’t miss the pope. They have tickets to the mass at Catholic University later today.Some in the crowd were opposed to the Francis..Five people wearing “Repent or Perish” T-shirts walked up Constitution Avenue toward the security checkpoint at 14 Street NW. They carried tall black signs with white lettering. One said “The Pope Is the Antichrist,” and that was enough to incite the crowd of about 1,000 waiting for admission to the Ellipse.“Let’s go Francis!” chanted Arlington, Virginia, resident Michael Jackson, and others joined him, breaking out their guitars and singing “Francisco! Francisco!” But the sign bearers had bull horns.“If you see a man in a white robe, it’s all external righteousness,” said one protester with a bull horn. “It’s filthy. The pope is a blasphemous, wicked wretch. He needs to renounce the papacy or burn in fire.”The protesters said they are born-again Christians from a church called All Grace on the Eastern Shore. Jackson, who wore a University of Notre Dame cap and polo shirt, stood directly in front of the bull horn.“How can I learn if you won’t have a conversation with me?” Jackson, 25, asked one of the protesters.“I’m not your answer,” the protester said, before going back to shouting about false idols. “Go ask God.”Washington Post staff writers David Montgomery, Nick Miroff, Fenit Nirappil, Mike DeBonis, Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Steven Mufson contributed to this report.© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Uganda to pass law that limits freedom of assembly

first_img The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Associated PressKAMPALA, Uganda (AP) – Uganda’s parliament appears set to pass a law that critics said Monday would make it nearly impossible for activists and opposition members to hold public rallies of the kind authorities have long wanted banned.Critics of the bill, which could pass this week following Uganda’s ruling party endorsement of it last week, say the law would become a tool for Uganda’s long-serving president to consolidate power at a time when his authority is increasingly challenged by opponents who say his time is up. Ugandan officials say opposition politicians are to blame for increasingly violent scuffles in which the police often use force to break up what they say are illegal assemblies within the central business district of the Ugandan capital, Kampala.Political activists, citing constitutional guarantees on the freedom of assembly, say they do not need permission to hold rallies and that the police should be there only to protect them. Police say they are authorized to determine who can hold a rally and where.The top opposition politician, Kizza Besigye, is often at the forefront of public marches.The disagreement between the camps has sometimes ended in violent encounters between protesters and police armed with tear gas and live ammunition. Last March a policeman was killed by a rock thrown by a protester, leading to a warning by Museveni that those responsible would “pay dearly.”Critics say the public order bill would serve the government’s needs by making it expensive and difficult for opposition politicians to hold public events deemed illegal by the police. They also worry that the authorities will use the bill to justify the use of excessive force in breaking up political rallies. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img “It is a very draconian law and we are going to challenge it in court,” Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, a human rights lawyer based in Kampala, said of the proposed law. He said the bill is proof that the government had been pushed into a tight corner by growing calls for political change.Human Rights Watch said late last month that Uganda had failed to investigate the violent killing of at least nine unarmed people in a wave of anti-government street protests in April 2011. The report said that Ugandan military and police “commit serious crimes with impunity, particularly during politically charged demonstrations.”Security forces in Uganda frequently disregard legal guarantees of free speech and assembly, it said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Quick workouts for men President Yoweri Museveni has been in power since 1986.The bill would make the organizers of political rallies responsible for the safety of those who attend their events and it would require them to get the police chief’s permission in writing before holding any public event.That, some say, would effectively eliminate freedom of assembly in Uganda.“The bill is very extreme,” said Livingstone Sewanyana, who runs a Kampala-based government watchdog called Foundation for Human Rights Initiative. “Under normal circumstances we would not need this bill.”Museveni is one the world’s longest-serving rulers. He won re-election last year but has since faced growing accusations of mismanaging the economy and condoning official corruption. His security apparatus has also become more aggressive in the face of opposition rallies for change.Last month Uganda’s attorney general, Peter Nyombi, issued a document banning Activists for Change, or A4C, the group that had since 2011 been organizing street marches against official corruption and the high cost of living.The group responded by renaming itself 4GC, a play on Uganda’s national motto, “For God and My Country.” But Nyombi told The Associated Press that because 4GC is the same as A4C, it is also an “illegal organization.” 0 Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debateslast_img read more

Burberry turns rain into shine for summer 2013

first_imgThus bring on a fuchsia pink trench coat, an electric blue bomber jacket or a shiny turquoise lapel on a classic tweed overcoat. Footwear, mainly of the sturdy sandal type, and practical tote and iPad bags also come in glaring hues.But fear not. Bailey wouldn’t dream of leaving his tried and true customer out in the cold.Along with the shimmering shockers, the show was filled with traditional tweeds, classic suits albeit with a slim cut and country old favorites: raincoats, field jackets and oversized parkas.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Top Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family AP Fashion WriterMILAN, Italy (AP) – “Come rain or shine” read the fashion notes at Burberry Prorsum.But the latest menswear collection by British designer Christopher Bailey, shown Saturday in Milan, was much more about shine than it was about England’s proverbial bad weather.Everything in the summer 2013 preview collection, from short-sleeved shirts to traditional rain attire, was in shining, almost blindingly bright shades of metallic, or better yet, fluorescent fabric.center_img Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Quick workouts for men Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

Some rue neglect at SKoreas enemy cemetery

first_imgFurther complicating the cemetery’s fate is that not all who are buried here died in the Korean War. Also among the forlorn graves are the bodies of nearly 30 North Korean commandos who unsuccessfully stormed South Korea’s presidential palace in 1968, as well as a North Korean agent who killed himself after planting a bomb that killed 115 people aboard a South Korean jetliner in 1987.Neither Pyongyang nor Beijing has shown interest in taking back the remains of their nationals or trying to identify them.In a written response Thursday to an AP request for comment, the Chinese Civil Affairs ministry said it “will closely monitor the conditions of overseas facilities for Chinese martyrs and will collaborate with related departments on relevant efforts.” It made no direct reference to the South Korean cemetery.Pyongyang hasn’t commented on the cemetery, and when Seoul asked it to retrieve its troops’ remains in the 1980s, North Korea accepted only the ashes of dozens of Chinese soldiers.Lee Chang-hyung, an analyst at Seoul’s government-affiliated Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said the South should fix up the Chinese graves and leave the North Korean markers until ties between the Koreas improve. The two Koreas remain bitter enemies. China, however, has become one of Seoul’s most important economic partners and a significant source of tourists. But those interested in visiting the graves of their countrymen who fought in the 1950-53 conflict may have a hard time even finding it. There is no parking lot, no signs on the main road; those who do make it are often saddened by what they see.“My fellow countrymen were left in the wild by themselves. So lonely,” said Huang Zhun, son of a Chinese Korean War veteran who survived. Huang, a businessman in east China’s Hangzhou city, visited the cemetery last year to honor the dead.Last year, more than 2 million tourists visited South Korea from China, which established diplomatic ties with Seoul in 1992 and has been its biggest trading partner since 2004. South Korean records estimate nearly 150,000 Chinese troops died in the Korean War, while China says 116,000.Inspired by visiting Chinese, local officials have reviewed plans to renovate the cemetery. But the bitter feelings most South Koreans have toward their northern neighbors remains a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.“How can we sympathize with people who aimed their guns at us?” said Won Bok-gi, an 82-year-old Korean War veteran. “I absolutely oppose such a move. … We should destroy such a place.” Associated PressPAJU, South Korea (AP) – Just south of the Demilitarized Zone, hundreds of identical wooden grave markers poke from a grassy hill surrounded by rice paddies and trees. Some markers are rotting; others have been knocked to the dirt; most have no names.Here, within sight of the North’s dark mountains, is South Korea’s badly neglected “enemy cemetery,” final resting place for Chinese and North Koreans, most of them killed in the Korean War that ended with an armistice agreement 59 years ago Friday. “We need to make a good use of the cemetery,” he said, “for the development of our military and diplomatic relations with China.”___Tang reported from Beijing.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Some South Koreans want to do more. Local resident Kim Dong-hun is pushing for private development of the cemetery, hoping it could increase tourism and also be a site of pilgrimage for the Chinese.Mukgai, a South Korean who goes by his Buddhist name and plans to soon become a monk, conducted a 108-day prayer session at the cemetery this year, and plans to build a small temple there and hold a concert.“Offering the highest-level respect to the dead is a heroic act,” he said.Gyeonggi province, which has jurisdiction over the cemetery, discussed a renovation plan with Defense Ministry officials earlier this year, but provincial officials later shelved the idea because of worries over a possible conservative backlash ahead of December’s presidential election. Provincial officials who attended the meeting spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss it with the media.The Defense Ministry declined to comment.Tensions between the Koreas remain high since the sinking of a South Korean warship and a North Korean artillery strike on a border island in 2010. Pyongyang has threatened several times in recent months to attack Seoul, and its April rocket launch, said by North Korea to be a peaceful attempt to send a satellite into space, was widely seen as a test of its long-range missile capabilities. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The vital role family plays in society 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Four benefits of having a wireless security system The South Korean government has collected the scattered remains of about 770 North Koreans and 270 Chinese and buried them here since 1996, calling it a humanitarian measure. Most of the dead are unidentified.Qin Furong, a 63-year-old bank employee from Jinan, in eastern China, had long dreamed of finding the remains of her father, who was killed in the war when she was 2. She visited the enemy cemetery after learning about it in 2010, but found most of the graves marked only by wooden signs that read “anonymous.”“No names,” she said in a phone interview with The Associated Press in China. So she burned paper “spirit money,” bowed before a mass grave and made offerings of fruit and alcohol.“Let it be for all the Chinese soldiers who are buried there,” said Qin, who later asked a friend to bring her soil from the cemetery, which she plans to take to her father’s hometown as a memorial to him. She’s grateful South Korea has a place for its former enemies, but she’s disappointed there’s no way to know if her father is among them.Only a few people visit the cemetery each day. During a recent visit by Associated Press journalists, the burial mounds were littered with cigarette butts, possibly used in lieu of incense offerings by Chinese visitors.last_img read more

Europes minority youth face steeper job hurdles

first_img Parents, stop beating yourself up Recent numbers seem to back that up.There are some 3 million people of Turkish origin in Germany, a country of 82 million _ the largest single minority group. Around 700,000 of them carry a German passport. After steady growth for decades, the numbers dropped for the first time in 2008 _ by 2,200.In 2009, their ranks went down by more than 8,000, with some 35,400 Turkish citizens leaving Germany for good, according to the Federal Statistical Office.In France the scope of problem is harder to determine. Spurred partly by memories of France’s role during World War II of organizing the arrest and deportation to Nazi death camps of tens of thousands of Jews, France today prohibits census takers from collecting data on individuals’ ethnic or religious background.But researchers find ways to get an idea of the discrimination problem.France’s INSEE national statistical agency found in a study that graduates with North African parents “have a serious problem of insertion” into the workforce.“The crisis is making it worse,” said Isabelle Quentin-Levy, an official with LICRA, a Paris-based international anti-discrimination association.Three years after graduation, 12 percent of young people with parents from North Africa had not worked at all since getting their diploma, more than double the rate for graduates with French-born parents, the INSEE report says. Those with jobs were also much less likely than graduates with French-born parents to have long-term contracts three years after leaving school. Associated PressPARIS (AP) – Europe is failing its youth, and none more than its ethnic and religious minorities.As Europe slides back into recession, young graduates from the Class of 2012 across Europe are returning from their summer holidays and finding that even their hard-won university diplomas are no protection against rising continent-wide unemployment.Nearly a quarter of young people in the eurozone are jobless _ and for those from minority backgrounds, the hurdles are even higher. Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Quantifying the problem is tricky because French law bars the collection of racial data. However, experts who’ve studied the problem say there is no doubt that ethnic discrimination is aggravating job searches. It’s the most widely cited of all forms of discrimination _ including age, sex and disability _ in a survey last year of human resources directors asked what kind of complaints they receive most.The problem is both “hard to prove and hard to eradicate” said Annick Cohen-Haegel, the author of the report by consulting agency Cegos and business school Paris-Dauphine.Ethnic discrimination also makes up the largest share, 30 percent, of complaints filed with France’s Rights Defender, an independent body set up last year as a citizens’ watchdog.“The biggest problem for young people is to enter the work force, that’s where the most discrimination happens, at the point of recruitment,” Cohen-Haegel said. She said that her research showed three-quarters of French companies have enacted “diversity policies” but discrimination remains entrenched.France, with Europe’s largest concentration of Muslim and North African immigrants, is on the front lines of the discrimination problem, but it is not alone. Top Stories Comments   Share   In Germany, a university conducted a study sending out identical resumes in response to hundreds of job ads from small businesses offering internships. The only difference was that one had a Turkish name and the other a traditional German name on the top. The applications with the Turkish name were offered job interviews nearly 25 percent less of the time than those with the German name.The same University of Konstanz study found that with larger companies, 14 percent fewer of the fictitious applicants with the Turkish name were offered job interviews. If that seems stark, the prejudices run far deeper in France: In a similar French study, a fictional “Aurelie Menard” was invited to interviews three times more often than a “Khadija Diouf” with identical qualifications.“There is an impression among many people that they are qualified to do whatever the job is but despite that won’t be hired,” said Bekir Yilmaz, head of the Turkish Community of Berlin, an umbrella organization representing the capital’s 76 Turkish community groups.Turkish youth often decide just to seek employment back in Turkey. “When the youth enter the workforce,” Yilmaz said, “they just look for their chances elsewhere.” Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix That comes against a backdrop of Europe’s harshest youth unemployment picture in decades.Youth unemployment is over 50 percent in Spain and Greece. In France the figure is 23.4 percent and in Italy it is 35.3 percent, and it is rising in both countries, according to the latest figures from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. For Europe as a whole, new figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show 22.5 percent of youths aged 15-24 are unemployed, up 9.2 percent from a year earlier.Benjamin Abtan, head of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, an umbrella organization for groups across Europe, says he hopes his group can spur changes.The organization has found widespread and increasing discrimination against ethnic minorities via so-called “tests” across Europe that focused on young people’s access to bars, nightclubs and restaurants. In Warsaw, for example, after the organization’s experiments showed a significant number of nightspots were barring minorities, the city government took action and began to withhold contracts from any club owners found to be discriminating.Abtan says his group plans to begin running tests next year on hiring. Jacinthe Adande, a 28-year-old Frenchwoman of half-Cameroonian origin, has struggled to piece together part-time jobs since she graduated from the prestigious Sorbonne four years ago with a literature degree. She’s had to move back home with her mother in a heavily immigrant-populated suburb of Paris, and fights to remain upbeat despite her years of rejection. “I have to be positive,” Adande said, “otherwise it’s guaranteed depression.”___Editors: This is the latest installment in Class of 2012, an exploration of Europe’s financial crisis through the eyes of young people emerging from the cocoon of student life into the worst downturn the continent has seen since the end of World War II.___As her long job search has dragged on, doubts and questions that Adande says wouldn’t have occurred to her three years ago have begun creeping into her thoughts. What if her African-sounding name or her skin color is making her job search harder?“I started to ask myself whether there was some discrimination. I don’t know for sure. They never tell you why,” said Adande, who has sought work in a variety of fields including English teaching. “It’s hard even to get an interview.” Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Jean-Francois Amadieu, a professor of sociology at Paris’ Sorbonne university who studies discrimination in the workplace, said the problem is more insidious than overt racism based on a job applicant’s skin color.“Young graduates from minority backgrounds don’t have the same opportunities to find internships, which you need to gain some work experience,” Amadieu said.Amadieu heads France’s Observatoire des Discriminations, or Discrimination Watchdog, created in 2003 to investigate the prevalence of discrimination in hiring.He says another factor working against minority graduates is that they are under-represented in France’s best universities. As underprivileged black and North African students have less of a chance of getting into top schools, they are penalized early on.“It’s a problem of social background,” Amadieu said, “not just of discrimination.”But even minorities who have graduated from elite schools like Adande find a color wall in hiring persists, and fear the crisis is making it worse.“I’m sorry to say it, but France is becoming a land of discrimination,” Adande said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

Czech govt survives as party decides to stay

first_imgBut on Tuesday, Peake said her party has changed its mind and would stay in the coalition, calling it a “pragmatic” decision.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   PRAGUE (AP) – The Czech Republic’s three-party coalition government has survived after a junior party changed its mind about quitting.The crisis began Dec. 20 when Prime Minister Petr Necas fired Karolina Peake from the post of defense minister, just eight days after she was appointed.Peake angered Necas by firing three senior ministry officials.Peake and the centrist party she leads, the Liberal Democrats, quickly announced their ministers would quit Jan. 10. Without the party, the center-right government was unlikely to survive. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 ways to recognize low testosteronecenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

Taliban suicide bomber gunmen attack Afghan parliament

first_imgAn AP reporter who witnessed part of the assault heard heavy gunfire outside parliament and saw black smoke billowing from the entrance as ambulances raced to the scene. The reporter later heard sporadic shooting from the building where the militants were said to be holed up.Just down the street, hundreds of children were evacuated from a school. Parents could be seen racing toward the building, shouting out the names of their children.Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the assault.“Targeting innocent people in the holy month of Ramadan is a clear act of hostility against the religion of Islam,” his office said in a statement, adding that the perpetrators “are criminals who are bound by no creed or religion.”The attack on parliament came hours after the Taliban seized a second district in the northern Kunduz province, which has borne the brunt of their annual warm-weather offensive.Mohammad Yusuf Ayubi, head of the provincial council, said the insurgents attacked the district of Dashti Archi from four sides and took full control of the area early Monday. He said local forces suffered casualties but did not have a precise count.He said around 150,000 residents of the district were trapped by the fighting. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the attack began with a car bomb explosion near the entrance to parliament. Gunmen then attempted to storm the compound but were pushed back by security forces and eventually corralled into a nearby building that was under construction.Sediqqi later said all seven attackers were killed by police and that no members of parliament were harmed. “It is over now,” he said.Sediqqi said a woman and a 10-year-old girl were killed. Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kahousi said 31 civilians were wounded in the parliament attack, including two women and two children.Sidiqa Mubarez, a member of parliament, said the building was rocked by the large explosion and that some people were wounded by flying glass. She said the explosion happened shortly after Masoom Stanekzai had arrived to be confirmed as defense minister, a post that has been vacant for nine months. The vote was delayed by the attack.The Taliban claimed the attack. The militant group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told The Associated Press by telephone that it targeted Stanekzai and the parliament itself. He said the assault showed the “capability of the mujahedeen, who can even attack the parliament in the capital.” Comments   Share   The Taliban confirmed that they had captured the district, as well as ammunition and four tanks, in an emailed statement.The Taliban seized control of the Chardara district in Kunduz on Sunday. In April, the insurgents launched a surprise attack on the provincial capital, also called Kunduz, and nearly captured it before Afghan forces fended them off.Afghan forces have struggled to fight off the Taliban since the U.S. and NATO combat mission officially concluded at the end of last year. More than 2,300 Afghan soldiers, police and pro-government fighters have been killed since the start of the year — more than the total number of U.S. troops killed since the 2001 invasion that ended Taliban rule.The war on the Taliban has also been hampered by months of bickering between President Ashraf Ghani and his election rival turned Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, which has repeatedly delayed the appointment of a defense minister.The parliament’s mandate expired on Monday, with no date yet for new elections. Ghani’s office said in a statement Friday that he would announce a date for new elections within a month and that the assembly could continue meeting until they are held. Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban suicide bomber struck the entrance to the Afghan parliament on Monday and gunmen tried to storm the heavily guarded compound, setting off a gunbattle with police that left two people dead as lawmakers were meeting inside to vote on the appointment of a new defense minister.Afghan security forces managed to repel the attack, killing all seven gunmen and ensuring that no members of parliament were harmed. But the audacious assault came as the Taliban captured two districts in as many days in the country’s north, displaying their ability to operate on multiple fronts.last_img read more

UK APD unfair for tourism TTFTIA

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J The UK Air Passenger Duty tax (APD) is an ‘unfair’ penalty on tourism, according to New Zealand and Australian tourism leaders, who expect the new charge to accelerate declining British visitors heading down under.Following the APD increase from £85 for each economy class passenger to £92 and from £170 for premium class passengers to £184 from 1 April this year, Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) Australia chief executive John Lee said the tax rise would continue to have a negative impact on arrivals from the UK, possibly increasing the 5.9 percent drop in British travellers to Australia in 2011 compared to the prior year.”The APD impedes tourism, travel, trade and economic growth and unfairly penalises British residents wishing to visit long-haul destinations like Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Lee said.”It also slugs visitors to Britain from long-haul source markets and Malaysian-based carrier Air Asia X has cited today’s hike as a factor in its decision to cease flights between Gatwick and Kuala Lumpur.”Concerns are also making their way through New Zealand, with Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) policy and research manager Simon Wallace describing the tax as an “iniquitous burden” on long-haul tourism.According to Government statistics, New Zealand also saw a drop in British arrivals last year compared to the prior year with a four percent fall.Mr Wallace said the UK tax was the “highest departure tax in the world” and would is likely deter familiar of four who would be expected to pay up to NZ$736 to leave the country.”The APD is a tax on tourism which reaps billions of pounds in revenue for the British government masquerading as environmental policy which will simply price more potential visitors to Australia and New Zealand out of the market,” Mr Wallace added. “Persistent poor economic conditions in Europe mean consumer confidence remains low and reducing the likelihood of people to take a long-haul holiday, so now is not the time to introduce another barrier.”We are urging the New Zealand and Australian governments to make our concerns clear to the British government and to point out that the policy will make visiting the UK more expensive for Australians and New Zealanders.”This could have the unintended consequence of reducing the number of tourists visiting Britain from long-haul source markets.”last_img read more

IATA shows solid air travel demand

first_imgIATA’s director general and chief executive officer Tony Tyler said world economic conditions were making flying more affordable for everyone. “People are flying, strong demand is consistent with the pick-up in global economic growth, particularly in advanced economies,” Mr Tyler said. The International Air Transport Association has announced that that global passenger traffic results have been showing strong world demand for aviation. February capacity rose 5.2 per cent and load factor increased 0.2 per cent points to 78.1 per cent. Asia Pacific carriers experienced a load increase of 4 per cent compared to February 2013 and capacity was up 5.1 per cent over February 2013. The results find that global passenger traffic data grew 5.4 per cent compared to February 2013. However, this means a slowdown compared to the January traffic increase of 8.2 per cent and is in comparison to 6.9 per cent cumulative growth. China’s business flyers also decreased by a third in February 2014.  Source = ETB News: Tom Nealelast_img read more

Sore back truckie sues Virgin Australia

first_imgMr Gleeson’s is suing to prevent further economic loss by his lack of mobility.  A truckie is suing Virgin Australia for about AUD $500,000 compensation after he was forced to sit in a position that caused permanent damage to his back. He was helped by a flight attendant who could also not adjust his seat and was told that he could not move because the flight was full. The lawyer for Virgin Australia said that Mr Gleeson was offered one of the 8 unattended seats in economy class. Mr Gleeson said that he had to sit through the 4.5 hour flight from Sydney to Perth that apparently caused permanent damage to his back. Source = ETB News: Tom Neale According to documents lodged in the Brisbane District Court, Mr Daniel Gleeson was flying from Sydney to Perth on January 15, 2012 but was unable to adjust his seat, the Herald Sun reported.last_img read more

Fairmont Hotels opens new beachside resort

first_imgFairmont Hotels & Resorts is pleased to announce the opening of Fairmont Ajman in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Located in the land of perennial sunshine, this beachfront resort is nestled in the smallest of the seven Emirates and is flanked by pristine beachfront with unobstructed views of the Arabian Gulf. Its close proximity to neighboring Dubai makes it the ideal destination to experience both a slightly gentler pace of holiday combined with vibrant cosmopolitan life.“Ajman has its own charm with a strong maritime, trade and fishing heritage and is perfect for travelers who want cultural tourism as well as a relaxed and an unhurried experience”, said Henny Schaeffer, general manager, Fairmont Ajman. “The tourism sector is growing in this Emirate with an expansive program of development which will make it even more popular as a destination for both international tourists and UAE residents. The opening will only strengthen our luxury hotel brand’s already robust presence in the region.”Fairmont Ajman stands on a 200-metre stretch of golden sand and boasts 14 floors including 252 guestrooms and two-storey penthouses, each offering panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf. Highlighted by spacious and light filled spaces with a soft palette of pearl silvers and neutral toned textiles, the resort is designed to evoke tranquility and serenity while maintaining the destination’s rich Arabian heritage and culture.A large infinity pool, children’s activity facility, and spa and fitness centre round out the resort’s leisure offerings. Meeting and social event planners will have access to seven meeting spaces, including a ballroom that can accommodate upwards of 380 attendees with nine meter tall floor to ceiling windows providing spectacular Gulf views. Another key feature of the resort is its innovative dining portfolio consisting of seven restaurants and lounges, including, Spectrum, an international restaurant with interactive live cooking stations, based on the former award-winning Spectrum on One at the Fairmont Dubai.“The opening of Fairmont Ajman aligns with our expansion strategy to more than double our company’s regional footprint by 2020,” said Sami Nasser, senior vice president, operations, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, the brand’s parent company. “With close to a million visitors arriving in Ajman every year and tourism numbers expected to increase, the resort is arriving in the market at a very opportune time and perfectly complements our company’s unrivaled portfolio in the UAE.” Fairmont AjmanSource = Fairmont Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

Emirates extends its global network of dedicated airport lounges

first_imgEmirates extends its global network of dedicated airport loungesEmirates announced the grand opening of its 41st dedicated lounge located at Boston Logan International Airport. The lounge, which marked a soft opening in April 2017, is now open to Emirates First Class and Business Class customers as well as Platinum and Gold members of Skywards, the airline’s frequent flyer program.As part of its ongoing commitment to Boston, the Emirates Lounge at Boston Logan International Airport represents a USD6.7 million investment to provide premium customers with a seamless and enjoyable journey from start to finish. The Emirates Lounge is a dedicated space for passengers to relax, unwind, catch up on work and enjoy award-winning service and cuisine. From the moment they step out the door, passengers in Boston will enjoy a premium offering at every point in their journey beginning and ending with Emirates’ complimentary Chauffeur-drive, a comfortable lounge experience and award-winning in-flight products and services.The interior design and décor in the dedicated Emirates Lounge is built around a new contemporary and fresh design. Located on the upper level of Terminal E, the lounge will overlook gate E – 11. The new Emirates Lounge will offer seating for up to 123 customers covering an area of 7,481 square feet (695m2). The lounge will provide premium passengers with a relaxing ambiance, luxurious facilities and amenities that include an exciting view of airport activity, LED TVs, comfortable leather armchairs, a choice of formal and relaxed seating, bespoke artwork, and a prayer room. To complete the relaxing travel experience, a new range of luxury spa products will also be available in the lounge from award-winning Irish brand VOYA. This skincare line includes hair & body wash, conditioner, hand cream and hand wash.What’s more, the lounge will feature a dedicated dining area with a choice of bar seating, an extensive menu of complimentary hot and cold gourmet buffet, including local and international dishes, and an extensive beverage service including wines from reputable American vineyards. While in the lounge, customers will enjoy shower facilities, a fully equipped business centre with state of the art touch screen workstations along with complimentary Wi-Fi service within the lounge. Passengers will be able to board directly from the lounge and will also experience the Emirates award-winning service from dedicated lounge staff, which completes the trademark Emirates lounge experience for global customers.“Emirates’ lounges are an integral part of Emirates’ product and service offerings for our premium and loyal customers,” said Mohammed H Mattar, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President Airport Services. “This is Emirates’ fourth dedicated airport lounge in the U.S. and a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to serving passengers traveling through our U.S. gateways. Boston becomes our 41st dedicated lounge worldwide and we will continue to invest in upgrading this product to ensure our customers have an enjoyable journey from beginning to end.”Emirates started flying to Boston in 2014 and the service has consistently generated demand during the past three years, transporting more than 745,000 passengers from Dubai to Boston. In October 2015, Emirates started its second daily service, with an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with 8 private suites in First Class, 42 seats in Business Class and 304 seats in Economy class, which was a direct response to demand from Emirates’ customers traveling between Boston and Dubai as well as points beyond.Passengers wishing to travel beyond Boston to onward destinations in North America can take advantage of Emirates’ interline partnership with JetBlue Airways (B6) that allows increased connection options from Boston to a number of U.S. cities. The codeshare agreement with JetBlue allows customers of both airlines to enjoy the convenience of a single combined ticket on selected routes, including one-stop check-in and baggage transfer.Emirates offers First Class and Business Class customers with private Chauffeur-drive service to and from Boston Logan International Airport, a service that extends up to 60 miles from the airport in order to guarantee maximum comfort to customers.Source = Emirates Airlinelast_img read more