Orlando theme parks offer free bug spray to ease Zika concerns

first_img Posted by Tuesday, August 30, 2016 The Canadian Press << Previous PostNext Post >> Sharecenter_img Tags: Zika Orlando theme parks offer free bug spray to ease Zika concerns ORLANDO — Orlando’s major theme parks are now offering free bug repellent to visitors as concerns about mosquito-transmitted Zika virus mount in Florida.Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando on Sunday began offering the mosquito spray and lotion free of charge at their parks.No mosquito-transmitted case of the Zika virus has been found in central Florida. But theme park officials say they’re offering the repellent as a precaution and to ease the fears of visitors.The Department of Health is investigating mosquito-transmitted Zika cases in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties in South Florida, as well as in Pinellas County in the Tampa area.Zika causes a mild illness in most people but can lead to severe brain-related birth defects if women are infected during pregnancy.last_img read more

Visit US Virgin Islands in 2017 and receive 300 spending credit

first_imgVisit U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017 and receive $300 spending credit Posted by Tags: Promotions, U.S. Virgin Islands << Previous PostNext Post >> Thursday, January 5, 2017 center_img ST. THOMAS — The U.S. Virgin Islands is paying travellers to visit the destination – sounds too good to be true, right?In honour of its 100th year as a U.S. territory, the destination is offering US$300 in Virgin Islands spending credits to travellers who spend a minimum three consecutive nights on St. Thomas. St. John and/or St. Croix. Credits can be redeemed for cultural tours and activities.In addition, to commemorate the actual day Denmark sold the islands to the United States on March 31, any visitor who arrives during the month of March will receive a commemorative souvenir.The booking window runs from Oct. 1, 2016 to Oct. 1, 2017, for travel before Dec. 31, 2017. Booking code is CP17.Participating hotels in St. Croix include: The Buccaneer; Caravelle Hotel & Casino; Chenay Bay Beach Resort; Club Comanche Hotel; Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino; Holger Danske Hotel; Mt. Victory Camp; Renaissance Carambola Beach Resort; The Palms at Pelican Cove; Tamarind Reef Resort; and Sand Castle on the Beach.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaIn St. John, hotels include: Caneel Bay Resort; Coconut Coast Villas; Concordia Eco-Resort; Star Villas; and The Westin St. John Resort;In St. Thomas, hotels include: At Home in the Tropics; Bellavista Bed & Breakfast; Bolongo Bay Beach Resort; Frenchman’s Reef Marriott Resort; Galleon House; The Green Iguana Hotel; Lindbergh Bay Hotel & Villas; Secret Harbour Beach Resort; Two Sandals Bed & Breakfast; VI Campgrounds; and Windward Passage Hotel.For more information go to visitusvi.com/package_and_promotions. Share Travelweek Group last_img read more

Win a trip to Vancouver with TravelBounds new Canada promotion

first_img Posted by Friday, July 14, 2017 Share Win a trip to Vancouver with TravelBound’s new Canada promotion Tags: Travelboundcenter_img TORONTO — FIT specialist TravelBound’s brand new ‘Celebrate Canada’ campaign includes prize incentives and contests for travel agents.The promotion “is a great chance for agents to earn great prizes and vacation stays in addition to TravelBound’s already top commission levels,” says the company.Agents are eligible to win a prize when they submit a photo of themselves enjoying a different aspect of Canada and Canadian travel. “Each week a different type of photo can be submitted – from favorite selfie in Canada to images of a favorite hotel, food or experience one had while travelling throughout this beautiful country,” says TravelBound.Prizes include hotel stays, sightseeing experiences and Amazon gift card. The grand prize is an all-inclusive trip for two to Vancouver, in partnership with Tourism Vancouver.TravelBound’s Canada hotel product ranges from budget-friendly to five-star luxury in many locations. “Sightseeing and cultural experiences are also part of the breadth of product available with choices ranging from city exploration to visiting a Royal Canadian Mounted Police garrison to ice skating in the great outdoors.”More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterTravel Bound also notes that, as part of the Canada150 celebrations, entrance to Canada’s national parks is free for everyone throughout 2017. “And with so many parks to choose from, the head will be spinning”, from Cape Breton Highlands National Park in the east to Banff National Park and Glacier National Park in the west.“There is so much happening in Canada this summer and fall. TravelBound has the right combination of components to build the perfect celebration of Canada,” says the company.For bookings visit gotravelbound.com. For the contest go to celebratecanada.shortstack.com/mKQ2SF. Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Honolulu hotel undergoes redesign to attract millennials

first_imgTags: Hawaii, Honolulu “We wanted to bring the neon colours that are found in the nature of Hawaii inside so that guests can continue their vibrant Hawaii vacations not only at the beach and shore, but at the Shoreline,” said Stephanie Metzger, of New York-based BHDM Design.More news:  Honolulu authorities investigate arsons at 3 Waikiki hotels; no injuries reportedSeaside Waikiki Hotel Fund LLC purchased the property from United Airlines in 2012, leading to an extensive renovation and reopening in 2013. Hotel management company Filament Hospitality has operated the property since late 2015.“Millennials don’t register a memory anymore unless they take a picture,” Metzger said. “If they don’t share it, it’s like it never happened. We are going after a young market that wants to show that they had an epic stay.” By: The Associated Press A Honolulu boutique hotel completed a US$4 million redesign that aims to attract millennials by giving them backdrops for selfies.The 135-room Shoreline Hotel Waikiki revealed last month its new “neon meets nature” theme, which features at least eight photo backdrops worthy of social media posts, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.“We wanted this hotel to be one of the most Instagramable hotels,” said General Manager Alvida Surpia-Jones. “Millennials already make up more than 50% of our customer base and with these changes, we think that percentage will grow even more.”The hotel has several vibrant spaces and colorful art fixtures, like the neon aloha sign behind the front desk and the wall of colorful Panama hats in the lobby. There’s also a vivid nature mural on the rooftop pool deck, which has water illuminated nightly with various primary colours. Sharecenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Honolulu hotel undergoes redesign to attract millennials Monday, August 20, 2018 last_img read more

SeaWorld launches Fun with Purpose contest to win 4night trip to Orlando

first_img Posted by SeaWorld launches ‘Fun with Purpose’ contest to win 4-night trip to Orlando Wednesday, May 22, 2019 Travelweek Group Tags: Contest, Orlando, SeaWorld, SeaWorld Orlandocenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> ORLANDO — One lucky agent could win a 4-night trip for two to Orlando by entering the new Fun with Purpose contest brought to you by Travelweek and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The prize includes return airfare for two, 4 nights accommodation, airport transport, admission to SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica & Busch Gardens. Plus win two behind-the-scenes tours at SeaWorld.At SeaWorld Parks, it’s not just about having family fun, it’s so much more. Many of SeaWorld Parks’ newest attractions focus on rescue and conservation including Infinity Falls at SeaWorld Orlando, the world’s tallest river rapid attraction, that also helps educate guests to create a positive impact on our freshwater ecosystem. Tigris at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, a triple launch steel coaster, will also educate guests about the plight of tigers in the wild and what conservationists are doing to help save them.SeaWorld Entertainment is a theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world.More news:  Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulySeaWorld is also a zoological organization and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The SeaWorld rescue team has helped more than 34,000 animals in need over the last 55 years.In other recent news, the brand new Sesame Street at SeaWorld Orlando is ready to welcome guests in its first summer season. Plus SeaWorld Orlando has also set itself ahead of the pack with its certified autism centre designation. As the adage goes, ‘the more the merrier’ and that’s certainly the case for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.The contest for your chance to win the 4-night trip will run for one month. Enter now for your chance to win! Go to www.travelweek.ca/contests to enter. Sharelast_img read more

Kempinski Hotels to open Dominicas first 5star resort

first_img Posted by Travelweek Group Tags: Dominica, Kempinski Share DOMINICA — The sun-soaked island of Dominica is getting its first five-star resort, courtesy of Kempinski Hotels.Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica, the hotel group’s second Caribbean venture, is scheduled to debut on Oct. 14, 2019 with 151 guestrooms and suites ranging from deluxe and superior rooms, to two-bedroom duplexes and villas. There’ll also be a 4,585 square-foot Presidential Villa featuring dedicated butler service, a private lobby entrance, two bedrooms, a dining room, private spa room with sauna, an oversized terrace for dining and a private pool.Other selling points of the luxury property include three restaurants that serve both local and international cuisine: the signature Cabrits Market restaurant where diners can enjoy interactive buffet stations; the Kweyol Beach Café, a modern spin on the traditional Creole beach bar; and Bonsai for Pan-Asian cuisine that includes everything from sushi and satays, to Thai curries and sashimi.For a nightcap, guests can watch the sun set at Rumfire Bar, where an expert mixologist will prepare both classic cocktails and original creations featuring local Caribbean rums.More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaAlso planned is an 18,000 square-foot Kempinski Spa where guests can enjoy indoor and outdoor wellness experiences and a comprehensive menu of treatments inspired by the local culture.And for those staying for business or milestone occasion, Cabrits will offer more than 8,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, including beach, pool and lawn venues as well as three meeting rooms, a boardroom and an outdoor amphitheatre. An events team will be on hand to assist in choosing the right venue and menus based on party size and preferences.On what the new resort means to the hotel company, General Manager Michael Schoonewagen said: “Bringing this project to fruition is another remarkable milestone for Kempinski Hotels. We are especially proud of this property because it will give travellers the chance to experience Dominica like never before by bringing together the timeless opulence of Kempinski with the destination’s pristine, untouched landscape to create a transcendent experience where luxury meets nature.”More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterGuests are invited to book their stays now to receive one complimentary night when staying a minimum three nights, including daily gourmet breakfast. For more information go to www.kempinski.com/Dominica/Cabrits.center_img Kempinski Hotels to open Dominica’s first 5-star resort << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, July 23, 2019 last_img read more

Audi introduces new compact SUV

first_imgOn March 29, Audi dealer Motortec officially launched the Audi Q3 in Costa Rica, in an event held at company offices near La Sabana, west of San José.Described by the company as a premium SUV for the compact class, the Q3 is already available in 2,000 c.c., with both gas and diesel motor configurations.With a length of 4.4 meters, the Q3 is visibly smaller than its bigger brothers, Q5 and Q7, and the Q3’s coupe-like lines are a visual expression of its sporty character. Sharp edges, elegantly-arched frame, sheet metal surfaces, and the optional bi-xenon headlights give the Q3 a distinctive presence.This model is available in 13 colors and offers 5 different bumper customization options.Prices in Costa Rica for this new compact SUV start from $58,540. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Silent films modern rock in Costa Rica

first_imgNo related posts. From the print editionCharly Fariseo likes to unwind at home by rehearsing music. He’ll strum his guitar or play his keyboard while watching a movie on television. During one of his jam sessions, Fariseo noticed something curious. The music he played fit exactly what was happening on the screen. Fariseo proposed an idea to his band H7G: Let’s do a side project where we score silent films.Together with the help of Mi Butaca Cine Club (My Seat Film Club) those musical interpretations can be heard this month at Teatro Variedades, in downtown San José. On Monday evenings, Fariseo and his bandmates invent a contemporary soundtrack for the classic silent films.“We have certain basic ideas after already having seen the films,” Fariseo said. “But it’s on the fly, all of it is improvised. We don’t have a direct script for these movies.” The progressive rock outfit won over fans during its first performance last Monday, a showing of “The Phantom of the Opera” (1924). Once the screen faded to black, the almost 200 moviegoers in the audience responded with an ovation. One elderly man told the band he preferred this soundtrack to what he heard when he first saw the movie many years ago. Three shows remain for the “Reinterpretación Musical en el Cine Mudo” (“Musical Interpretation of the Silent Film”). Tickets cost ₡1,500 ($3). Each show begins at 7:30 p.m., and concludes with a forum hosted by the Cine Club and H7G.This Monday, the band will score Herbert Brenon’s “Peter Pan” (1924). On Sept. 17, another Brenon classic, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1923), gets the present-day musical treatment. The final show, on Sept. 24, will feature three shorts: Charlie Chaplin’s “A Dog’s Life” (1918), Buster Keaton’s “The Playhouse” (1921) and the first ever sci-fi film, Georges Méliès’s “A Trip to the Moon” (1902). After the shorts, the band will step into the spotlight and play a concert to close the series.Until then, members of H7G remain obscured in the darkness of the building. Teatro Variedades, the oldest theater in the country, was designed for stage performances in 1892. In the front right-hand side of the theater, a nook was built for musicians accompanying a play.  Last Monday, from that corner, members of H7G accelerated the music’s tempo as an enormous chandelier crashed on top of Paris opera patrons in The Phantom’s most famous scene. And when Lon Chaney’s phantom removes his mask, revealing his decaying face, the band stretched the tension by playing several woeful chords. Every month, the Cine Club picks a new theme to showcase at Teatro Variedades. In August, French and German embassies contributed films for a Franco-German series. Past subjects have included Italian neo-realism of the 1940s, the surrealistic visions of Luis Buñuel and the wordless classics of Charlie Chaplin.The focus always has been on vintage cinema from the early- to mid-20th century. But this month, the club wanted to add a modern twist to the shows – and also pay homage to the silent pictures of the 1910s and ’20s. During those decades, large theaters employed orchestras to provide the soundtracks of silent movies.Gonzalo Montero, of the Cine Club, said the organization experimented with the concept of live music once before. In March 2011, the club played the first-ever Costa Rican movie “El Retorno” (The Return) for a week straight. A pianist inside the cinema provided the soundtrack to the silent film from 1930. But with this new program, Montero wanted to “modernize the classic cinema.”“We could do the same and have a small orchestra. But how interesting would it be to do this with a more current approach,” Montero said. “In the ’20s, the orchestra was the popular music. Now the [modern equivalent] is a progressive rock band.” For each movie, the band uses guitar (played by Ignacio “Nacho” Durate), bass (Mario Duarte), drums (Mariano Vidor) and piano and synthesizer (Fariseo). The progressive rock genre is best known for odd time signatures, abrupt tempo changes and precise musicianship. But the goal for H7G at each theater performance is to disappear. By each film’s midpoint, as the music merges with the images in the movie, moviegoers “should forget there is a live band playing in the theater,” Fariseo said.Keeping up that illusion for an hour and a half is the group’s toughest challenge. The audience adjusts and relaxes to this one-of-a-kind experience. While H7G’s four members face the endurance test of staying alert to everything that happens on screen. Says Fariseo: “We don’t have time to eat any popcorn.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Escazú sports bar popular among Gringos shutters its doors

first_imgNo related posts. Known for its U.S.-style food and constantly streaming sports, Time Out Tavern has been an expat staple in the southwestern suburb of Escazú for nearly six years. But after a series of citations and restrictions from the municipality, the bar closed its doors for good last week.“It’s really a bummer,” said Glenn Graham, a New Jersey native who owns the bar along with his brother Steven. “We’re like a family here.”According to the owners, the bar’s troubles started at 11 a.m. on Feb. 4, the day after the Super Bowl, when municipality officials showed up at the bar’s entrance to shut it down. The owners then received a notice that they would be closed, they said.According to Marielos Hidalgo, an administrator with the Municipality of Escazú’s Control Services, officials closed the bar because of an expired health permit and an expired liquor license. When the bar reopened, it did so without its liquor license, but the brothers continued working while they looked into renewing the license. After the initial closure, the municipality discovered the bar had more seats and tables than were permitted, insufficient parking and no record that it was paying into the Costa Rican Social Security System, or Caja.“They told us that with the seven parking spots we have that we can only have 42 seats in the restaurant,” Glenn explained. “At events sometimes we will have 80 people here. We could stay open with that, but we definitely couldn’t make any money.”When the owners announced the news on the bar’s Facebook page on Sunday, April 21, customers responded with shock. “Terrible news. How am I going to break it to my kids?” said one user. “No way… there won’t be sandwiches like yours in Costa Rica,” lamented another.Around 80 of the bar’s most loyal patrons showed up Monday for a speakeasy-style, open-bar and all-you-can-eat goodbye bash. Guests paid ₡15,000 ($30) each and were ushered in through the back alley. According to the owners tears were shed, goodbyes were had and plenty of booze was off-loaded.The restaurant stayed open throughout last week to sell off its remaining furniture and Thursday afternoon, save for the haphazardly strewn wall decorations and boxed-up liquor, the bar still seemed in full swing, with four customers firmly planted at the bar. “This was the spot,” said one customer who would only identify himself as Garfield. “It has the TVs, it has the sports.”Other long-time customers filtered in to say their goodbyes or to buy off the sports bar’s remaining giant televisions, which went for $400 a piece. One customer, Mark Sanson, was even confronted with two old bar tabs that Glenn dug out from an old file folder. He paid the ₡15,000, despite his incredulity.Sanson has lived in Escazú for the past 22 years and he’s seen plenty of expat bars come and go, and even owned a pool hall of his own, El Ché, years ago. Though he says he’ll find another bar, Sanson says he’s taking the loss pretty hard. “There is no other place like Time Out Tavern,” he said.Despite the response from customers, the brothers Graham don’t plan on opening another bar in Escazú. Instead, they are looking elsewhere to start up another business.“My family has been in the bar business since 1959,” said Steven. “I don’t know anything else. We are looking for other places and it might be in Costa Rica, but it definitely won’t be in Escazú.”Despite the sudden demise of their business, neither owner expresses any regret for the way things turned out.“It was a good run, I’ve got nothing bad to say,” said Steven. “It was good times, we made good friends and we did pretty well.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Consortium threatens to stop work on expanding Panama Canal

first_imgPANAMA CITY – The Spanish-led consortium expanding the capacity of the Panama Canal has threatened to halt construction due to alleged breaches of contract by the maritime route’s administration, local reports said Wednesday.But canal administrator Jorge Quijano warned GUPC that the canal authority would use contractual mechanisms to ensure the completion of the $5.3 billion project.“No matter what kind of pressure is exercised against the ACP (Panama Canal Authority), we maintain our demand that Grupo Unidos por el Canal respect the contract that they agreed to and signed,” he said in a statement quoted by broadcast and print media.A year ago, GUPC demanded an extra payment of $1.6 billion from the ACP due to construction delays.“The ACP has 21 days to comply with the requirements. But in the meantime, we will continue to work normally,” GUPC said.Led by Spain’s Sacyr Vallehermoso, the consortium also includes Impregilo of Italy, Belgian firm Jan De Nul and Panama’s Constructora Urbana.It began work on a third set of locks for the canal in 2009 and expects to complete construction in June 2015, already a nine-month delay over the date set in the contract.The new locks will accommodate larger ships with a capacity of 12,000 containers – instead of those with 5,000 containers that are now able to navigate the canal.Shortly after work began, there was a delay of four months because GUPC had planned to use low-quality cement that would have prevented the construction from lasting more than 100 years, according to the canal authority.Roughly five percent of international commerce passes through the waterway, an 80-kilometer (50-mile) stretch connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Facebook Comments Related posts:Panama Canal expansion hits $570 million snag Panama Canal aims to go carbon neutral in 2014 Billion-dollar Panama Canal expansion halted due to labor strike Panama Canal expansion to proceed no matter what, says officiallast_img read more

Obama calls wave of children across USMexican border urgent humanitarian situation

first_imgRelated posts:Mexico has key role in confronting surge of Central American migrants Mexico stops Central American migrants from climbing ‘Beast’ train Immigrants find themselves torn between hope, defeat on Obama’s plans Obama administration tightens border policy to stem immigrant flow from Mexico WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday declared a wave of unaccompanied children across the U.S.-Mexican border an “urgent humanitarian situation” and directed federal agencies to coordinate a response to provide housing and other services.Officials said the response – which is being led by Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate – will provide the children with medical treatment, food and mental health services.According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, 24,668 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border in fiscal 2013. Officials expect the annual number will jump to nearly 60,000 by the end of fiscal 2014.Obama announced the response in a memo released Monday.“The children that are arriving are a particularly vulnerable group,” Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said on a conference call. “They have often survived a hazardous journey to have arrived here.”Officials said most of the children are from Mexico and Central America, and are fleeing violence and poor economies in their countries or are seeking to be reunited with family members in the United States, officials said. They often are brought to the border by smugglers known as coyotes.Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House domestic policy council, also said there are rumors and suggestions that the increase may be in response to false gossip that children are allowed to stay in the United States despite immigration law or that immigration reform may benefit minors. Munoz said the United States is working closely with the governments of Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador to distribute public service announcements.More than 1,000 minors are being housed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Officials will fly other children to a base in Ventura County, Calif., that can house up to 600 and probably will open later this week. Lackland opened its doors to the children last month. Most children are housed in group homes that are operated by a contractor. A Border Patrol vehicle is driven along the U.S.-Mexico border fence as agents carry out “special operations” on July 30, 2009 near the rural town of Campo, some 60 miles east of San Diego, California. David McNew/Getty Images/AFPThe children stay in a facility for an average of 30 to 45 days and are released to a parent, relative or sponsor. The release of a minor, however, doesn’t stop removal proceedings if deemed appropriate.Obama’s announcement comes after White House budget officials informed lawmakers Friday that the projected cost of caring for and resettling young migrants from Mexico and Central America could top $2.28 billion in fiscal 2015 – more than double what the Office of Management and Budget requested for 2015 a few months ago.The issue of apprehending, temporarily housing and then resettling the children is expected to be one of the most complex and politically charged elements of House and Senate negotiations over how to fund the government, said aides familiar with the process. The House and the Senate have been moving to approve 12 bills that set spending levels for federal agencies in hopes of completing the appropriations process by Oct. 1.House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., called the influx of unaccompanied children “an administration-made disaster.”“Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally,” Goodlatte said in a statement. He added that “enforcement at the border and in the interior of the U.S.” and “not another bureaucratic task force” would better solve the influx of children.© 2014, The Washington Post  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

German tourist busted at Costa Rica airport smuggling 400 animals is released

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica police seize 170 wild animals from German tourist’s luggage Rangers at Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park use satellite technology to fight illegal gold mining US man reported missing in Costa Rica’s rugged Corcovado National Park Costa Rica’s top 5 environmental stories of 2014 Facebook Comments Tourist Maciej Oskroba headed back to his home country of Germany on Thursday just nine days after being caught red-handed with more than 400 live animals in his luggage at the Juan Santamaría International Airport outside of San José. On Sept. 9, security officers noticed Oskroba, 31, repeatedly adjusting his bag while in the airport and ordered his luggage searched after he checked in. They discovered 184 frogs, 42 lizards, nine snakes and 203 tadpoles stuffed into plastic takeout containers. Many of the animals already were dead by the time police intervened, and others had to be euthanized. The creatures that made it out alive were donated to the University of Costa Rica where they will be used for research.According to Carlos Víquez, the head of airport security at Juan Santamaría, this was the largest wildlife seizure in at least 20 years. The Costa Rican penal code demands hefty fines or up to three years in prison for people convicted of wildlife trafficking. But despite the case’s severity, Oskroba was released without a fine and served no jail time except for the brief period he spent in detention awaiting trial and deportation.The explanation for the judicial slap on the wrist involves rules for cases processed by flagrancy courts, which heard Oskroba’s case because he was caught in the act and with the animals in his possession. In flagrancy cases involving maximum sentences of three years or less in prison, defendants can plead guilty in exchange for one year of probation. If the defendant is arrested again within a year, both sentences are applied. In Oskroba’s case, he even wouldn’t have been deported except that his tourist visa had expired.“These cases are very rare,” said Edwin Retana, a prosecutor with the Alajuela Flagrancy Court. “But most similar cases would turn out exactly the same way.”Risking few legal consequences, animal traffickers have much to gain. Oskroba’s menagerie of animals would have been worth thousands of euros on the European pet market. His boa constrictor alone could have fetched as much as €234 ($300), according to online reptile shops.But despite the potential payoff, few seem to risk trafficking animals from Costa Rica. In the last 20 years, Víquez said only four arrests have been made at Juan Santamaría, and none at Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, the provincial capital of Guanacaste. While bird traffickers are sometimes apprehended at land borders, animal trafficking is not considered common.“We don’t see it that often,” said Rafael Gutiérrez, from Costa Rica’s National Park Service. “But then again, maybe people just don’t get caught.”last_img read more

Arts and culture in brief the week ahead in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts, culture and Mother’s Day: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts Festival in Jacó, and other happenings around Costa Rica What better place to howl at the moon, than at the zoo: the CIENTEC and Pro Zoológicos Foundations join forces to offer an eveninglunada at the Simón Bolívar Zoo, where you’ll be able to take a night tour of the park, gaze through telescopes alongside experts, and enjoy food, music and other activities (Saturday, April 16. Reserve spaces in advance). Transitarte is back! The popular arts fest will once more fill the parks of eastern San José (including Morazán, Jardín de la Paz, España and Nacional, along with the Paseo de las Damas) with a packed agenda of music and other performances, plus tons of art and food booths, activities for the whole family, and top-notch strolling and people-watching (Saturday, April 16 – Sunday, April 17).While you’re there, step into the nearby National Museum for its Summer Festival 2016, which this year will feature everything from the University of Costa Rica’s hip-hop group to karate demonstrations to a cosplay competition (Sunday, April 17).And all week across town at La Sabana Park, take a gander at the Costa Rican artists from around the country who will be creating sculptures on the shores of the lake all week long, using wood from trees that have been removed from the park as part of the ongoing project to replace non-native trees with native species (Monday, April 18-Friday, April 22). Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Death of crocodile in traditional Costa Rican activity stirs controversy

first_imgAn annual Guanacaste tradition went sour this weekend when a crocodile that locals had wrestled out of the water was found dead shortly thereafter.Local reports confirmed by a press release from the Environment Ministry (MINAE) say the ddad crocodile was discovered early Saturday morning in the town of Ortega del Bolsón following the traditional Good Friday event called “La Largateada.”The annual gathering involves dozens of participants jumping into a crocodile-infested river near the town and attracting a crocodile’s attention by swatting large sticks on the surface of the water. When a croc swims up, they then use a net to corral it out of the water, tie it up, and parade it around town before putting it in a large cage. The animal is freed from its cage the next day and put back in the river.However, at around 6 a.m. on Saturday, local residents called MINAE offices to report they had found the crocodile dead in its cell. According to a Ministry report, officials did a routine check on the crocodile Friday night while it was in captivity and found nothing wrong with it. Authorities said the crocodile died early Saturday morning in captivity, possibly from suffocating while its jaws were tied shut. (Courtesy of MINAE)MINAE officials have historically accepted the event as a cultural tradition and monitor it alongside other agencies every year. Ministry representatives said there will be an “analysis” to investigate how the crocodile died, although preliminary indications show that it may have suffocated on its own vomit while it had its jaws tied together sometime during the night.“Due to an advanced state of decomposition in the animal’s tissue in the first four hours after death, an autopsy was not conducted to reveal the exact cause of death,” said a MINAE news release on Sunday. “However, with evidence we have that the animal was fed in the early morning (judging by the food remnants left in its mouth), it may be that it vomited from the stress of the capture and then suffocated from being immobile and having its mouth tied shut.”A local man was bitten on the leg by the crocodile earlier in the course of the Friday celebration and recovered at a local hospital.The large crocodile was posthumously measured at 3.74 meters (or 12 feet, 4 inches) from head to tail.In 2009, Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, ruled that “La Largateada” should be allowed to continue because it has “cultural value.” The tradition is believed to stem from a practice by the Chorotega indigenous tribe that saw the crocodile as sacred.A 2014 video report below from local news channel Repretel shows the process of villagers hauling in the crocodile and carrying it around while it remains tied with rope. Related posts:Crocodile that attacked U.S. surfer captured in Tamarindo Inside Costa Rica’s Sloth Sanctuary: Horror show or a solution to a complicated issue? Shrimping boat sinks in Guanacaste, spilling diesel on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast Toucan dies after being shot with BB gun Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Festival de la Luz parades through San José

first_imgCosta Rica’s traditionalFestival de la Luz, a holiday parade through the heart of San José, filled the capital with holiday spirit on Saturday. Here are our favorite photos from the event. (Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP) Festival de la Luz 2018 in San José. (Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP) (Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP) (Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP) Facebook Comments Related posts:VIDEO: Fans weather rain to celebrate Festival de la Luz Festival de la Luz to take over San José Saturday PHOTOS: Behind the scenes at Nicoya’s Good Friday processionlast_img

Poland to educate Euro 2012 fans on safe sex

first_img Sponsored Stories WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Polish health officials say they will distribute free condoms to hundreds of thousands of fans attending Euro 2012 as part of a safe sex campaign.Officials say the “Fair Play” campaign advocating the use of condoms will be held in all four Euro 2012 cities in the country.Deputy Health Minister Aleksander Soplinski said Tuesday that some 150,000 free kits of condoms and leaflets will be distributed in fan zones to alert them to the health hazards of casual sex, such as AIDS and other diseases. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements The leaflets _ in Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, English, German and Spanish _ will advise on the use of condoms.The football tournament kicks off June 8 in Warsaw and runs through to July 1 in Poland and in Ukraine.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likecenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The difference between men and women when it comes to pain 4 must play golf courses in Arizona New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories last_img read more

China announces 23 arrests in US gun scheme

first_img(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories BEIJING (AP) – Chinese police on Tuesday announced the arrests of 23 people as part of a joint U.S.-Chinese investigation into a gun trafficking ring that smuggled dozens of firearms into the country.The arrests announced by the Ministry of Public Security follow the detention of three men in the United States last month in connection with the scheme. They included Joseph Debose of North Carolina, a staff sergeant in a U.S. National Guard special forces unit, along with two Chinese nationals. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Debose was arrested on May 20 in a sting operation when he arrived with another shipment of guns for export to China and had been armed with a loaded .45-caliber pistol, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.The smuggling ring defaced serial numbers on the guns to disguise their origin, but U.S. investigators working with Shanghai police were able to trace some of them to Debose.“This level of cooperation between American law enforcement officials and authorities inside mainland China is a sign of optimism and could lead to even greater law enforcement cooperation in the future,” the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said in a statement Tuesday.The Chinese ministry said the latest arrests took place in 16 different provinces and cities and led to the seizure of 93 weapons, large amounts of gun parts and more than 50,000 bullets.It said the investigation stemmed from the detention in August last year of a 32-year-old Chinese man, Wang Ting, at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport after he attempted to claim an overnight delivery package that was labeled as stereo equipment but actually contained nine handguns and additional parts.Firearms are tightly controlled in China and private ownership is for the most part illegal. Periodic campaigns aim to round up trafficking rings and seize and destroy illegal weapons. Comments   Share   Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

Philippine rights office to investigate mass grave

first_img Check your body, save your life 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Soldiers and policemen on Sunday unearthed at least 30 skeletal remains of people believed slain by New People’s Army, or NPA, rebels as suspected military spies in the 1980s, army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said.The remains were exhumed from a shallow grave discovered by a farmer in San Francisco town, he said.Cabunoc said some of the skeletons bore marks of torture, including cracked skulls.He said none of the remains had been identified, and appealed to those with missing relatives to cooperate with authorities in identifying them.Rosales urged caution before drawing conclusions. “We will investigate, but let’s not make any conclusion yet on who did it,” she said in a telephone interview.Leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, have acknowledged that some rebel commanders killed 600-900 suspected spies and government informers in the southern Mindanao region more than two decades ago.More than 60 other suspected spies were killed in Quezon province and outlying areas southeast of Manila, according to people who survived the purge.The guerrillas later acknowledged the killings as among the most horrible blunders in the Marxist insurgency, which has raged for 43 years. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippines’ human rights commission said Monday that it would investigate a report by the military that it has exhumed a mass grave containing at least 30 suspected victims of a 1980s communist rebel purge.Loretta Ann Rosales, chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights, said her office would look into the mass grave, but that it’s too early to say whether the remains found in northern Quezon province were victims of a rebel purge. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Cristina Palabay, spokeswoman for the Philippine human rights group Karapatan, challenged the military to prove its allegation that the grave contained victims of the NPA.She said similar discoveries in the past had been used by the military as reasons to arrest left-wing activists allegedly linked to the mass killings.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Top Stories Sponsored Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Ivory Coast leader foresees Mali intervention soon

first_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths “If the situation doesn’t evolve favorably and rapidly, yes, there will be a military intervention in Mali,” he said. “It seems inevitable.” He added, “I think we can talk in weeks, not in months. There is urgency.”Ouattara serves as the head of the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS, which secured Mali’s consent for an intervention at a meeting last week in Ivory Coast of West African military chiefs of staff to discuss intervention. There is agreement on a force of nearly 3,300, with an initial deployment of police and gendarmes followed by soldiers, he said.Ethnic Tuareg rebels took control of Mali’s vast north after a coup in March, but the Tuaregs have since been driven out by Islamist rebels who want to impose a strict version of Islamic law. An estimated 300,000 people have fled the region as al-Qaida linked groups impose their rule.The proposal for the intervention force would need approval from the U.N. Security Council, which France leads starting Wednesday. Ouattara just ended a visit to Paris and a meeting with President Francois Hollande, and suggested in the interview that the French presidency would facilitate passage of a resolution. Comments   Share   (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) PARIS (AP) – The leader of West Africa’s regional bloc said in an interview published Sunday that military intervention in Mali is “inevitable” within weeks, if there’s no quick change in the nation where Islamist extremists rule the north.Alassane Ouattara, who also is the president of Ivory Coast, told the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche that half the intervention force would be made up of Malien soldiers and would likely include soldiers from Niger, Nigeria and perhaps countries such as Chad _ with logistical help from France and the United States. He defined logistical help as material support and counselors but added that combat aircraft are needed. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements France appears to be preparing the diplomatic groundwork for a possible intervention. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was completing a tour of capitals in the region from Niger to Chad.In the United States, Michael Sheehan, the Defense Department’s assistant secretary for special operations, said Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado that “all options would be considered for what is a looming threat” and that discussions with France and Britain are under way. The United States has held special training missions in the past in Mali to counter the presence in nations of the Sahel of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, an Algeria-born affiliate of the terror network.The Ivory Coast leader said in the newspaper interview that he does not foresee the use of any non-African ground troops in a Mali intervention.Mali moved toward turmoil with a coup in March led by Capt. Amadou Sanogo that ousted the democratically-elected government. An interim president, Dioncounda Traore, was appointed in April, but was attacked and injured by supporters of Sanogo. Traore returned only Friday to his homeland after medical care in Paris.France, like other nations, hopes Traore’s return will set the stage for formation of a national unity government, considered the top priority. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous oflast_img read more

Current Gaza fighting reflects new battleground

first_imgAn arsenal of high-flying drones constantly hovering above Gaza provides a live picture of movements on the ground.Other technological means used to avoid collateral damage include specially designed munitions with smaller blowback, a system of sending text messages and automated phone calls to warn residents to vacate areas ahead of strikes and stun explosives that are deployed to create large explosive sounds _ to scare off civilians before the real payload is deployed against militants. The officials described the tactics on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.However, the room for error is small. Of the 46 Palestinians killed in the current offensive, 15 have been civilians, according to Palestinian medical officials. In addition, more than 400 civilians have been wounded, the officials say. Israel knows that a single misfire resulting in high numbers of civilian deaths could quickly turn international opinion against it.The results of the new Israeli tactics were illustrated at the outset of the offensive, when Israel assassinated Hamas’ military chief, Ahmed Jabari, in an airstrike in Gaza City.In a black and white video released by the military, a car carrying Jabari moves slowly along a narrow road before exploding into flames, sending a large chunk of the vehicle flying skyward without injuring bystanders. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Since then, the Israelis have carried out hundreds of surgical airstrikes against weapon depots, launching pads and other targets. On Saturday morning, for instance, a massive airstrike flattened the headquarters of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh but caused little damage to buildings directly adjacent to it. Curious children quickly arrived to inspect the aftermath.“Many of the targets that we targeted from the air were in very densely populated areas, sometimes they were even near U.N. facilities or schools or recreation centers,” said Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman. “This leads us to develop and use very precise ammunitions in order to minimize casualties … they know Israel has a soft spot for civilian casualties. We have improved significantly in the area.”Uzi Dayan, a former general and national security adviser, said Israeli intelligence has been tracking Hamas individuals and locations for years, waiting patiently for the opportune moment to attack.“When you discover a place, you don’t strike it immediately. You track it, observe it and wait,” he said. “Over time, these targets add up.”Another tool is recruiting informers. The task has become harder since Israeli forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and lost the immediate interaction with its assets. But the Shin Bet is still prolific in recruiting Palestinians imprisoned in Israel or those who travel to Israel for medical procedures. Associated PressJERUSALEM (AP) – With pinpoint airstrikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip and Iranian-made rockets flying deep into Israel, the current conflagration between Israel and Hamas reflects the vast changes that have taken place on the battlefield in just four years.Israel, armed with precise intelligence and newly developed munitions, has carried out hundreds of surgical airstrikes in a campaign meant to hit militants hard while avoiding the civilian casualties that have marred previous offensives. Top Stories Comments   Share   Hamas, meanwhile, has not been stopped from firing its new longer-range rockets that shocked Israelis by reaching the areas around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time, and has revealed a variety of new weapons.This battle zone is the result of meticulous efforts by both sides to beef up their abilities since a three-week Israeli offensive in Gaza that ended in January 2009.At that time, Israel inflicted heavy damage on Hamas. But the operation caused widespread damage to the civilian infrastructure and killed hundreds of civilians. The heavy toll drew heavy international criticism and war crimes accusations, despite Israeli protestations that the Islamic militant group was responsible by using schools and residential areas for cover. Thirteen Israelis also were killed in the fighting.In four days of fighting, Israel has sought to hit clear militant targets _ relying on painstaking intelligence gathered through a network of informers, aerial surveillance and other high-tech measures.Israeli military officials say greater coordination between military intelligence and the Shin Bet security service has allowed deeper infiltration into Hamas ranks and quick decision-making on airstrikes. Palestinians claim the Shin Bet often blackmails Palestinians into cooperating by threatening to expose details that would shame them or even get them killed at home.Hamas’ military wing killed two Palestinians this week for allegedly providing Israel with sensitive information. One man was shot twice in the head. Another body was found tossed into a garbage bin with a gunshot wound to the head.Defense Minister Ehud Barak said thanks to its intelligence Israel immediately destroyed most of the long-range missile threat against it. Still, Israel has been hit by more than 400 rockets in four days of fighting, including attacks against the Tel Aviv heartland and Jerusalem, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) away.In several attacks, Hamas said it had unleashed for the first time the most powerful weapons in their arsenal _ Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets.Israel’s inability to halt the rocket attacks, after days of intense aerial bombardments, reflects its limitations. Just as Israel has raced to improve its military tactics, Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza have built up their arsenals with large numbers of powerful weapons.Once limited to crude projectiles manufactured in Gaza, Hamas has used smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt to bring in sophisticated, longer-range rockets from Iran and Libya, which has been flush with weapons since Moammar Gadhafi was ousted last year. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img Quick workouts for men Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Israel appeared stunned by the attack on Jerusalem, though a day later officials insisted they were aware of the weapon. Hamas said the M-75 missile was made in Gaza, with Iranian assistance.Hamas officials rejected the Israeli intelligence bravado as propaganda, calling it psychological warfare.The militants have also done a better job of evading the Israeli military by refraining from using mobile phones or two-way radios and moving frequently from one underground location to another.In turn, Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket-defense system has provided the country a defensive boost. The military says the system has intercepted nearly 250 rockets, including one heading toward Tel Aviv on Saturday.The only Israeli deaths in the fighting so far were three civilians who officials said had ignored well publicized security precautions.___Follow Heller on Twitter (at)aronhellerap(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairylast_img read more