WestJet does it again Latest holiday video brings on more tears

first_img CALGARY — Is the world ready for WestJet’s Blue Santa? It sure looks that way.The airline’s annual Christmas video has just been released and it’s another classic tear-jerker, complete with heartwarming reunions and warm, fuzzy holiday feels.Titled ‘Uniting Through Traditions’, the video profiles three different stories: parents missing their daughter, who’s been living in Seoul, Korea for seven years; a couple from Grande Prairie wishing to reunite with their best friends; and another couple who met during last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas and are now in a long-distance relationship.Under the guise of making a commercial in London, England, WestJet surprised all guests with tearful reunions.Cue the tears!The video is part of WestJet’s Advent Calendar, which runs from Dec. 3-25 and showcases Blue Santa’s adventures around the globe. On his journey, and with the help of worldly WestJetters, he’ll be spreading holiday cheer and experience seasonal traditions celebrated around the world.More news: Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthTo keep track of Blue Santa’s holiday escapades, check out WestJet’s Twitter feed and Facebook page, both of which will be updated daily.“The storytelling in WestJet’s Advent Calendar and Uniting Through Traditions video underscores that being with the ones you love during the holidays is the greatest tradition of all,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s Vice-President Marketing Communications. “Since our first Christmas Miracle in 2013, WestJet’s tradition has been to celebrate and promote the Christmas spirit with our guests through our caring culture. This year we’re thrilled to be able to take our Canadian spirit to the world through Blue Santa’s travels, while bringing some of the world’s spirit back home with us to share.”Live until Dec. 31, WestJet followers are also encouraged to create their own reunions through WestJet’s location finder: https://christmas.westjet.com/en/contest. Participants can enter their location and the location of a loved one and WestJet will suggest a great place for them to reunite.More news: TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamBy participating in the contest, each guest will be entered to win roundtrip economy airfare for two anywhere WestJet flies.Now THAT’s a holiday gift everyone would surely love. WestJet does it again: Latest holiday video brings on more tears Thursday, December 27, 2018 Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Tags: Heartwarming, WestJet Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Another year of Alaska cruising for Windstar Cruises

first_img Share Another year of Alaska cruising for Windstar Cruises Tags: Alaska, Windstar Cruises << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, May 21, 2019 center_img SEATTLE — Tomorrow marks the launch of Windstar Cruises’ second consecutive Alaska cruise season, which runs from May 22 through Sept. 12 and includes the award-winning Signature Expeditions program.According to the cruise line, Windstar does Alaska differently, sailing to smaller ports on longer voyages. It also offers in-depth Cruise Tours that combine coastal cruises with in-depth overland explorations to Denali, Fairbanks and now the Canadian Rockies.Next year for the 2020 Alaska season, Windstar will launch a brand new itinerary, ‘Alaska Glaciers & Prince William Sound’, featuring first-time visits to tiny ports like Valdez and Petersburg. It will also debut new scenic cruising to the massive Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord in northern Prince William Sound.Windstar’s newly enhanced Star Breeze, its first ship to emerge from the US$250 Million Star Plus Initiative, will sail Alaska next summer on 22 different journeys beginning May 16, 2020. The 312-passenger ship will feature 50 new suites, including a 1,374 square-foot Grand Owner’s Suite, new restaurants, an enhanced spa and fitness centre and an elevated pool.More news: Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesWhat also sets the cruise line apart is its six-member Expedition Team, which comprises naturalists, glaciologists, marine biologists, photographers, historians and others. The team will be onboard throughout every Alaska voyage to share the history of the region, cultural tales, scientific discoveries and insider knowledge. Guests can attend scheduled lectures and enjoy expert narration while scenic cruising.Locally-inspired lectures include:Knee Deep in Herring – A look at the historical and cultural significance of Alaska’s Pacific herring, as well as the current issues and controversy involving the Sitka Sound commercial harvest.Chokers, High Riggers, and Whistle Punks – A history of logging in the Tongass National Forest and the Pacific Northwest.Killer Whale Culture – A peek at the social relationships, unique dialects, and coordinated foraging strategies used by groups of killer whales (also known as orca).Video Editing 101 – A workshop that’s part trivia, part hands-on learning, and part sharing, which will 100 percent come in handy to show friends highlights of the trip back at home.More news: Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencyAlso available are optional Signature Expeditions in remote waterways like Kanai Fjords and Endicott Arm. The Expedition Team will lead kayak and Zodiac excursions directly from the ship to give guests more time for close-up views at sea level.In 2019 and 2020, Windstar offers 45 cruises and Cruise Tours ranging from 11-22 days, starting at US$2,199 per person. For more information go to windstarcruises.com. Posted by Travelweek Group last_img read more

Security video could prove key to finding Boston bomber

first_imgBOSTON, Massachusetts – The daunting task of sifting through thousands of images of the Boston Marathon bombing site in search of a culprit suddenly telescoped to a single video from Lord & Taylor security camera Wednesday.The discovery of video of a man who wore a large backpack to the finish line area and then dropped the package there raised hopes for an imminent breakthrough in the case, setting off a media frenzy and insistent statements from authorities that no arrest has been made. A Boston city official said the video is of “special interest” to investigators.The second full day of the investigation into the attack that killed three people and injured at least 176 brought jitters, rumors and at least the hope that investigators had made important progress, though Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said that although the probe is “making some progress, … it’s going to be slow, it’s going to be methodical.”Boston’s federal courthouse, where hundreds had gathered in response to false reports of an arrest, was briefly evacuated because of a bomb threat. Officials also evacuated a Boston hospital, Brigham and Women’s, and Oklahoma City’s City Hall because of suspicious vehicles outside. No explosives were found in those cases.In Boston, many of the injured were released from hospitals. At Brigham and Women’s, which initially treated 35 people, only 11 were still hospitalized Wednesday evening, four of them in critical condition.And Boston University released the name of a previously unidentified woman who was killed in the blast. Lu Lingzi, a graduate student in math and statistics at the university and a Chinese national, was watching the race with friends when the bombs blew up.The White House announced that President Barack Obama will be joined by his wife, Michelle, at an interfaith memorial ceremony in Boston on Thursday. “The way that the people of Boston and the city of Boston responded reminds us – and reminds the world – of just who we are as a people,” spokesman Jay Carney said.Wednesday’s whirlpool of reports demonstrated the extraordinary promise and power that new technologies bring to criminal investigations, but also the risk and unreasonable expectations that now permeate such probes. When federal authorities asked the public for help Monday, they received thousands of video clips and still images of the bomb site.Some people, empowered by smartphones and ever more sophisticated technology, didn’t leave the detective work to the professionals. They joined forces on sites such as Reddit.com to examine crowd pictures, searching for – and then virally distributing — image of backpacks that resembled the shredded bag in photos the FBI released Tuesday.Black backpacks turn out to be ubiquitous, and when five of them were found in a single photo of the crowd on Boylston Street, the search quickly drew criticism from readers worried that innocent people could be harmed by being identified as suspicious. Others questioned whether black backpacks were even the most important lead, recalling the search for white box trucks that steered investigators astray in the Washington sniper case a decade ago.At midday, news organizations such as CNN and the Associated Press reported that investigators had identified a suspect or made an arrest, leading the FBI to issue an unusual appeal: “Contrary to widespread reporting, there have been no arrests made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack. … Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”CNN said it “had three credible sources on both local and federal levels” for its reports. “As soon as our sources came to us with new information, we adjusted our reporting.” In Boston, police barricades still ringed a 12-block area around the finish line, guarded by city police and the Massachusetts National Guard.Doug Silkwood, a runner wearing his official marathon jacket, stopped at the barricade and recalled how he’d expected his first Boston Marathon to end with “hundreds of thousands of people having a great time.” The bombings dashed all that, said Silkwood, 47, an engineer from San Jose, Calif.: “It’s probably easier to protect a Boston Celtics game than an open event like the marathon,” but he said he plans to return next year, “to do it out of spite.”At Boston Medical Center, Jenny Chung, a 35-year-old teacher, was released at midday, less than 48 hours after shrapnel was blown into her chest, two inches from her heart.She wore an honorary marathon finisher’s medal and carried a teddy bear that relatives had sent her. The medal was a gift from a marathon volunteer; Chung did not run the race, but was a spectator, there to watch a friend whose run ended prematurely.Chung had been poised to video her friend’s triumphant finish when she was knocked to the ground. She felt little pain as she and her friends hurried away.Only when she got to a friend’s apartment did she see blood oozing from her chest. She went to the hospital, where doctors quickly operated to remove the fragment. Investigators collected all her clothing, including her sneakers, for possible clues, she said.At the finish line, Chung had stood with her runner friend’s boyfriend, who held a half dozen yellow helium balloons. Shrapnel from the blast cut open the boyfriend’s calf, and popped some of the balloons. The rest slipped from his grasp as he fell. In video of the scene, a few yellow balloons drift upward, above the carnage.Vernon Loeb in Boston, Steven Mufson in Beijing and Caitlin Dewey in Washington contributed to this report.© The Washington Post, 2013 Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Tico doctor homeopath arrested in natural medicine scam

first_imgCosta Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) in San Isidro de Heredia, north of the capital, early Thursday morning arrested a doctor and a homeopath suspected of defrauding Costa Rican patients.Authorities arrested both suspects as they prepared to leave their homes at 7 a.m. Thursday morning. OIJ had not yet released the names of the suspects when this article was posted.The pair allegedly worked together to trick patients into buying unnecessary homeopathic medicine for months at a time. Patients would see the 55-year-old doctor, who would give them false diagnoses like fatty liver disease and tell them the only cure was “natural medicine.” The doctor would then send them to his accomplice, a 40-year-old female homeopath.Rather than help the patients or simply serve as a placebo, the “natural medicine” gave patients stomach problems, including diarrhea.The scheme aimed to get patients to continue seeing the homeopath once a month for at least a year, paying ₡20,000 per visit, roughly $40. Some patients became aware of the scam after consulting another physician who challenged the false diagnoses. OIJ reported at least nine cases of fraud stemming from the scheme. Authorities expect more cases to surface as more people come forward following these arrests.Police also raided two private clinics in Moravia and Desmaparados, and a public one in Coronado. The doctor also had a practice in Guápiles, the OIJ told The Tico Times. OIJ agents seized a computer and documents during the raids. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Ticos abroad Which Costa Rican products do you miss the most

first_imgThe second spot was released Thursday and features Cristina Boza, a flight attendant living in the United Arab Emirates. Boza says she misses yuca chips, which her father used to bring home after work when she was younger. She and her relatives would eat them in the car during family trips.The campaign already has been popular, and PROCOMER officials are considering producing a second series of videos in the near future. González said many Ticos have contacted them to send video messages following the posting of the first spot.She also said they hope local companies that manufacture the products featured in the videos will contact them to explore opportunities to export to the countries where the videos were recorded, as well as other destinations. González said that PROCOMER advisers are happy to discuss those options.Interested companies can contact the agency’s Advisory Center for Foreign Trade (CACEX) by phone at the toll-free number: 800-PROCOMER (800-7762-6637), or by email at: info@procomer.com. Bilingual staff is available.According to PROCOMER, Costa Rica in 2014 exported a total of 4,350 products to 156 countries.Watch the campaign’s second spot: Related posts:Costa Rica launches catalog of premium food products Costa Rican food producers look for new buyers at international fairs Intel’s exit still affecting Costa Rica export figures Costa Rica exports down 15 percent in 2015, mostly thanks to Intel exit Facebook Commentscenter_img Tico coffee, a specific candy or a cookie brand: These are some of the Costa Rican products that Ticos living abroad frequently request from relatives or friends. So the Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER) is using that loyalty to promote the opening of new export markets for local products.The agency this month launched a social media campaign called “Queremos productos Ticos” (“We want Tico products”), where Costa Ricans living abroad can record a video describing which products they miss the most.PROCOMER’s Communications Manager Gilda González Sandoval said the goal is to produce a series of videos to encourage local companies to start selling their products abroad.“The most important goal is that local entrepreneurs contact us and let us know what they need to take the next step in their business to start exporting. It doesn’t matter whether they are large or small companies,” she said.The first stage of the campaign consists of four spots, which are being published one at a time. The first was released on Oct. 8 on PROCOMER’s social media. It shows Luis Chaves, a 28 year-old Tico living in Manitoba, Canada, who says he misses many Tico products, but particularly corn flour.Chaves, currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in chemistry, says he craves Tico tortillas and empanadas. Although he has prepared them using brands from local supermarkets, he hasn’t found one with the quality and flavor of Tico corn flour.In his message Chaves asks Costa Rican corn flour producers to export to Canada, stressing that the quality and flavor of Tico brands will be well received, not only from Ticos but also by other Latinos in Canada.last_img read more

Mexicos Peña Nieto wants expert debate on marijuana legalization

first_imgRelated posts:Mexico horrified by suspected massacre, incineration of 43 students Clashes as Mexicans hold rally for 43 missing students Nuevo León region rebounds from drug-cartel barbarism to thriving foreign investment hub Mexico police, protesters clash ahead of grim anniversary of 43 missing students El criterio expresado este día, abrirá un debate sobre la mejor regulación para inhibir el consumo de drogas, un tema de salud pública.— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) November 4, 2015 MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s president indicated on Monday that his administration could drop its opposition to legalizing marijuana based on results of a debate of experts on the matter.Five days after the Supreme Court authorized four people to grow their own pot for consumption, President Enrique Peña Nieto said he would convene medical experts, sociologists, academics and civil society to debate the issue.“I have always said that I, personally, am not in favor of an eventual legalization of marijuana,” Peña Nieto said during a security forum, warning that cannabis could lead to the consumption harder drugs. “However, I can’t be the sole owner of the truth.”He added: “I am open, and I will remain open as president, to collecting documented, scientifically proven positions that could eventually lead to a different position.”center_img If that were to be the case, Peña Nieto said, the government and the Congress would have to come up with “convenient and prudent legislation” to regulate marijuana.The top court’s landmark Nov. 4 ruling, though limited to just four people, raised hope against supporters of marijuana legalization that Mexico would drop its ban.Four more similar rulings by the Supreme Court would set a legal precedent to change the law.The four members of the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Use (the Spanish acronym is SMART), who won the court ruling, said their goal is to force Congress to legislate.The group believes that legalizing marijuana in Mexico would dry up a major source of revenue for drug cartels, leading to a reduction in the gang turf wars that have killed tens of thousands of people. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Nicaraguan student leaders meet with former President Oscar Arias

first_img Facebook Comments Four student leaders from the 19th of April Student Movement in Nicaragua met with former President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oscar Arias on Tuesday.The students, Victor Cuadras, Francisco Martínez, Valeska Valle, and Zaida Hernández, were invited to attend a one-week training session by the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress. The students say their goal in Costa Rica is to bring awareness to the crisis in Nicaragua and get help from the international community in denouncing Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.“Our purpose here isn’t just to denounce the humanitarian crisis in Nicaragua on a global stage with important people: we want every Costa Rican to realize what’s really going on in Nicaragua and who’s causing it,” Martínez saidThe students said that Arias was the best person to help their cause. Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his role in helping end civil wars that ravaged Central America in the 1980s. One of those wars was in Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas were fighting the U.S.-backed Contras.The war ended in 1989, and Violeta Chamorro defeated Daniel Ortega in the presidential elections the following year. Ortega has been less willing to cede power since his re-election in 2007.“Regrettably, Nicaragua stopped being a democracy a long time ago,” Arias said. “In no democracy do you persecute your opponent, take them to prison or deport them.“Nicaragua took the route of Cuba and Maduro and what worries me the most is that these students, who have come here just to listen to our opinion about what’s going on, will face reprisals.”Cuadras said that their group has calculated that there are more than 1,000 political prisoners in Nicaragua. They estimate the number of dead to be at 450 but say they lost count of how many students have gone missing. The last number they had was 120.Despite the dangers, the students are dedicated to going back to Nicaragua.“Yes, we’re going back, because we’re not running away,” Hernandez said. “And we’re not abandoning the fight in our country.” Related posts:Thousands march to back Nicaragua bishops after Ortega attacks US warns Nicaragua as more killed in unrest As Nicaragua elections approach, banned opposition decries Ortega’s budding dictatorship Two dead in Nicaragua protest violence as Ortega calls for ‘peace’last_img read more

Grenade attacks wound 14 in Indianheld Kashmir

first_imgSRINAGAR, India (AP) – Police say suspected rebels have exploded grenades at two police stations in Indian-administered Kashmir, injuring at least 14 people.Officer Imtiyaz Hussain says a militant set off a grenade outside a police patrol post in Sopore town, northeast of Srinagar, the region’s largest city, wounding four officers and at least 10 civilians.Police say no one was injured by a second grenade that exploded at a police station in Srinagar. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Indian forces have largely suppressed an insurgency that erupted in 1989. About 68,000 people were killed in the uprising and subsequent crackdowns. There are still frequent street protests as resentment against Indian rule remains strong.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img Comments Share Sponsored Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familylast_img read more

Inmates corruption rule Honduras deadly prisons

first_imgAt Comayagua, the fire spread quickly, fueled by clothing, bedding, cooking oil and other belongings of prisoners in rows of bunks only inches apart.The same conditions exist in San Pedro Sula, where the human rights commission also condemned as deplorable its lack of hygiene and adequate food and potable water.Fernando Ceguera, a prisoner who maintains the electrical system, showed 12 overloaded transformers that leak oil and spark whenever it rains. “They could explode at any minute,” he said.Assistant Security Secretary Marcela Castaneda recently said in Washington that Honduras plans to build at least two new penitentiaries, noting that some facility are far more overpopulated than San Pedro Sula, one as much as 235 percent.But the plans lack financing. San Pedro Sula has had a committee to build a new prison for 10 years and is still waiting for the state to give it property to build on.Prison boss Betancourt, meanwhile, said he is already working on a design and getting price quotes to build new cells in the current facility, adding a second story above its chapel and dining room.“Working ourselves with $10,000,” said Betancourt, “we can build the capacity of the prison by 500 inmates.” “The prisoners rule,” assistant prison director Carlos Polanco told The Associated Press. “We only handle external security. They know if they cross the line, we can shoot.”The unofficial division of power at the San Pedro Sula Central Corrections Facility is mimicked throughout the country, where a Lord-of-the-Flies system allows inmates to run a business behind bars, while officials turn a blind eye in exchange for a cut of the profits they say is spent on prison needs.This culture virtually guarantees that even in the glare of international scrutiny over a fire that killed 361 prisoners at another Honduran prison three months ago, little stands to change.Just one month after the fire at Comayagua prison, convicts at San Pedro Sula turned on their leader, killing 14 people and taking over the prison for three weeks before officials could get inside. Less than two weeks ago another inmate was killed and 11 wounded in a brawl.The AP this month toured the prison in San Pedro Sula, where 2,137 inmates live in a space built for 800. Journalists gained access not through the prison director but with permission from the head inmate, Noe Betancourt, who provided a team of eight prisoners as security. No guards went inside the bustling, autonomous town, where women and children mill about the stalls selling Coca-Cola, fruit, T-shirts, hammocks, shoes and rugs. Some 30 people enter from outside every day to work the market. The guards typically keep to an area between two sets of locked doors. The first set is locked against entry to the outside world. Between those doors, and the doors to prison cells, lies the yellow line. Prisoners keep to their side of it so religiously that the doors to the indoor market and the cells are unlocked during the day.At night, guards do venture in to lock the cells, inmate Betancourt said, but inmates have keys and crowbars, because in case of fire, “the police would run away and leave us in here.”A thickset middle-aged man who gave his prison tour accompanied by his girlfriend, Betancourt is responsible for taking charge of new inmates and explaining the fees, which include cell space.Prices range from 1,000 lempiras ($50) for the worst cells to 15,000 lempiras ($750) for cleaner, more secure living space. Inmates who can’t afford to pay anything sleep on the floors and get the worst jobs, such as cleaning.Betancourt was “elected” to his post by his fellow inmates last month after his predecessor made the mistake of sharply raising fees.The boss, Mario Enriquez, was widely hated for abusing prisoners, beating deadbeats or hanging others from the ceiling overnight, dogs biting at their toes. But after he hiked the costs of cells, food and other privileges, enraged inmates attacked him. They cut off his head, cut out his organs and fed his heart to his dog. Then they killed the dog, according to inmates whose account was confirmed by authorities. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family The prison is heavily overcrowded, with bunks bunched up side by side in large cells. Throughout the tour, prisoners could be seen visiting with their wives and playing with their children.Prison clerks wearing blue jackets, never stopped moving, carrying packages of food, tobacco or money sent from family members. In one corner, a band with an electric guitar practiced while in another a group watched Real Madrid play soccer on TV.Everything costs.Starting at about 75 lempiras($3.50) a week, inmates can pay to have their floors cleaned or air conditioning repaired. They can buy beer at three times the street price, drugs and a night with a woman.The profits are distributed among the workers, stall owners, and the prison administration, Polanco said.The administration cut is 120,000 lempiras ($6,000) a month, which pays for maintenance, gas to transport prisoners to court or the hospital and to serve better food, said Hugo Hernandez, San Pedro Sula prison administrator.“The state gives us 13 lempiras per inmate (about 60 cents) a day for food. With that money they would starve, so I have to find a way to cover the rest,” he said.Prison officials openly acknowledge their complicity with prisoners as a fact of life in a country that spends roughly $250 per year on each of 12,000 inmates crowded into a system built for 8,000. Top Stories (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Comments Share Associated PressSAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) – Inside one of Honduras’ most dangerous and overcrowded prisons, inmates operate a free-market bazaar, selling everything from iPhones to prostitutes.It’s more like a fenced-in town than a conventional prison, where raccoons, chickens and pigs wander freely among food stalls and in troughs of open sewage. But guards do not dare cross the painted, yellow “linea de la muerte” (line of death) into the inner sanctum run by prisoners, and prisoners do not breach the perimeter controlled by guards. Parents, stop beating yourself up “For some it’s corruption,” Polanco said, “but for us it’s the only way to keep the system from breaking apart.”Inmate Jorge Gutierrez runs a restaurant with specially designed, laminated menus featuring double hamburgers, pupusas and other popular dishes. He pays 480 lempiras ($25) a month to the prison administration to run his business, employs two fellow prisoners as waiters and said he still makes enough to support his family on the outside.Gutierrez said when he is freed, he can rent or sell his business to another prisoner.“No way would I want to be transferred to a new prison,” he said. “I would lose my privileges.”The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said the Honduran government has all but abandoned its penitentiary system. The report drew similar conclusions as that which followed a 2004 fire in the same prison that killed 107 inmates: a tinderbox of overcrowding, overloaded electrical systems and a lack of trained personnel to respond in a crisis.“Honduras is a country with few resources,” said Honduran Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla. “We’ve asked the International Monetary Fund to be more flexible with its criteria for issuing new debt so we can deal with our prison problem.” Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Thirteen of the leader’s band were murdered too, their bodies buried under mattresses and set afire.After the killings, inmates continued to control the prison for three weeks, not allowing officials or firefighters in to investigate the blaze, according to San Pedro Sula prosecutor John Mejia. The dead bodies were handed over to the prison guards.As in the case of the Comayagua prison fire, no charges have been filed in those deaths. At Comayagua, the prison director was dismissed, but the guards who fled and left men to burn in their cells that night were reassigned to other prisons, said Danny Rodriguez, the prison’s new director.Rodrigo Escobar Bil, an investigator with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said the country’s prisoners deserve better.“It’s likely that something grave will happen in the future in Honduras’ prisons, given that the situation hasn’t changed from what existed three months ago,” he said after touring a prison last month.The U.N.’s Honduras Subcommittee Against Torture reported in 2010 that corruption pervades the entire system, from prison staff to outsiders, ensuring “a silence … a guarantee of impunity.” 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

Iraq president PMs critics didnt get majority

first_imgCoalition rebels said in a statement they would keep trying to unseat al-Maliki and to “put an end to the monopoly (on power) and domination” by the prime minister.Talabani has close ties to Iran, which has been using its leverage in Iraq to keep al-Maliki in place. Divisions among the prime minister’s opponents may also be undercutting the no confidence push.The failure to obtain a no-confidence vote averts an immediate political blowup, but perpetuates the sectarian-based deadlock that has been paralyzing the country.In the latest violence, two mortar shells hit Baghdad’s Shiite neighborhood of Kazamiyah late Sunday, killing six residents and wounding 38, police officials and medics said on customary condition of anonymity.The attack came just days before tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims are expected to visit a shrine in Kazamiyah. Baghdad security officials said they are blocking off a nearby Sunni area, Azamiyah, for a week to avoid friction between residents and Shiite pilgrims.Last week, the prime minister’s opponents said they sent a letter to Talabani with pledges from 176 lawmakers in the 325-member parliament _ or a dozen more than the 164 needed _ that they would vote for the prime minister’s recall. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Others think he has provided at least some stability after years of sectarian conflict. Iran is also believed to view him as perhaps the only viable Iraqi national leader at this point _ a view that Washington is said to share, according to Iraqi politicians.In other developments Sunday, an al-Qaida-linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb that killed 26 people last week outside a Shiite religious affairs office in Baghdad last week.Attacks in Iraq are down sharply compared to a few years ago, but bombings and shootings remain common.___Associated Press writer Mazin Yahya in Baghdad contributed reporting.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family However, Talabani said Sunday that the letter has only 160 valid signatures. He said 13 lawmakers informed him that they are withdrawing or suspending their signatures. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy between the 176 signatures cited by al-Maliki’s opponents and the total of 173 referred to by Talabani.The president has urged al-Maliki and his coalition partners to try to iron out their differences.He said Sunday that he plans to leave for medical treatment in Europe next week, further distancing himself from those trying to unseat al-Maliki.Al-Maliki’s disgruntled coalition partners, including representatives of the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya movement, Kurdish parties and supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were meeting Sunday in the autonomous Kurdistan region to discuss their next move.The current standoff, which has dragged on since inconclusive March 2010 elections, is holding back attempts to rebuild the country after eight years of U.S. occupation.Sunnis accuse al-Maliki of targeting their leaders in politically motivated prosecutions, Kurds believe his government is hostile to their regional autonomy, and many Shiites feel he cuts them out of decision-making. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementscenter_img 5 treatments for adult scoliosis New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Associated PressBAGHDAD (AP) – Opponents of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have failed to muster enough support to bring him down in a vote of no confidence, Iraq’s president said in a statement posted on his website Sunday.Al-Maliki, a Shiite, faces a growing challenge from Sunni and Kurdish parties as well as other Shiites within his unity government who accuse him of monopolizing power.But al-Maliki also has allies such as President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, whose office must affirm that a petition for a no-confidence vote has enough signatures. Talabani’s refusal to ratify the no-confidence campaign’s letter is a setback for al-Maliki’s opponents, although the constitution gives them other ways of trying for the vote. 0 Comments Share Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

Contentious religion from Japan succeeds in Uganda

first_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The success of Happy Science in Uganda was put on public display late last month at a lecture given by the religion’s middle-aged Japanese founder on his first visit to Africa. Buses decorated with the image of Happy Science founder Ryuho Okawa ferried people from all over Uganda to attend his lecture inside the national stadium, causing traffic jams and upsetting athletes who had planned to use the space for Olympic trials.Happy Science officials do not know precisely how many converts they have won since coming to Uganda in 2008, but they say most of the 10,000 people who attended Okawa’s lecture were believers. Uganda’s population, one of the youngest in the world, is heavily Christian, and Happy Science officials want to use the East African country as a springboard for what they hope will be success across Africa.But the group’s visibility, thanks to old-fashioned missionary work and the frequent appearance of members on national television, has brought scrutiny. Some Christian clerics have gone on the offensive, saying the religion should not be allowed to take root in Uganda. They are especially hostile to an essential part of Happy Science: that Okawa, the 55-year-old former market trader who started the religion in 1986, is also the deity. Associated PressKAMPALA, Uganda (AP) – A religion with origins in Japan is quickly amassing a following in Uganda, winning converts in a sleek campaign that has attracted the attention of Christian clerics offended by its beliefs.Happy Science advertises itself as a global religion with a goal of teaching “the truth about life, the world and ourselves.” The religion says it’s grand mission is to create a world filled with love, peace, harmony and prosperity. While some Pentecostal clerics say Happy Science is far removed from conventional spirituality, some aspects of the religion from Japan can seem to have an affinity with charismatic Christianity. Happy Science teaches that miracles do happen, that demons can be chased away, and that individual success and peace can be achieved in return for deep faith. Officials said Happy Science has about 12 million members spread in more than 90 countries, including the U.S.Robert Lutwama, a member of Happy Science in Uganda, said most of the converts were “disappointed in life and with other religions.”“I found Happy Science quite an open door for my mind,” said Mariam Nantabaazi, a convert from Islam. “There’s unity here, which was lacking within the Muslim community.”Uganda has a history of openness toward foreign proselytizers, notably in the 1980s when a succession of Western television evangelists won millions of converts to Pentecostalism. AIDS was a major factor then, with the sick and affected hoping for miracles. This time, some say, rampant poverty is driving the success of religions such as Happy Science.“Happy Science tells people what they want to hear,” said Solomon Male, a Pentecostal cleric who is a fierce critic of Happy Science. “The people who join Okawa hope that he is going to give them money. He’s actually targeting people with real-life needs.” Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Sponsored Stories “It’s an abomination for Okawa to come and tell us that we should bow and worship him,” said Martin Ssempa, a well-known Pentecostal pastor who is popular with young Ugandans. “This man is arrogant and he is also misguided. People who claim to be God are either impersonators or comedians. I have not found Okawa funny.”Happy Science officials said in an interview with The Associated Press that the religion is open to all who show interest, and that those offended by its beliefs are free to stay away.“Master Okawa is a part of the El Cantare consciousness,” said Brian Rycroft, the South African head of Happy Science in Africa, referring to the deity’s name in Happy Science teachings. “You could say he is one with God.”A Happy Science temple in the Ugandan capital is decorated with a golden statue built in the likeness of Okawa. The fine art is the holiest part of all Happy Science temples, members said, advising against photographing the altar. Those wishing to join Happy Science make a simple vow of allegiance to Okawa.“The condition is only one: faith in El Cantare,” said Tomohiko Nakagawa, who heads the Ugandan branch of Happy Science.center_img (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Robby Muhumuza, a researcher who has written a book on false teachings and who attended Okawa’s lecture in Kampala, said Happy Science has manipulated Ugandans such as the students who believed Okawa’s lecture would be a seminar about the kind of science taught at school. Muhumuza said the group’s missionary work _including the distribution of mosquito nets and the awarding of scholarships to rural schoolchildren_ had proved effective in the push for converts.“They see (Happy Science) as an investor from Japan,” he said of the converts. “Most of them are not serious followers, but they are hoping to get some benefits.”Declining to discuss any criticisms, Happy Science officials said they were not in competition with other religions. Ikuko Kobayashi, a spokeswoman for Happy Science, said the religion strives for “harmony.”Rycroft, the Africa head of Happy Science, said Okawa found Ugandans warm but lacking in self-confidence. Uganda, he said, had the potential to lead the way in Africa.“Uganda is a kind of source for how this teaching will spread in Africa,” Rycroft said. “Uganda has a very important role to play for the whole continent of Africa.” More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Four benefits of having a wireless security system Quick workouts for men Top Stories 0 Comments Share last_img read more

North Korea speculation rampant in Seoul

first_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates So which is it _ illness or a gun battle? Perhaps neither. North Korea watchers are skeptical of the illness claim, but even an unnamed government official cited in the South Korean account said the firefight “has still not been 100 percent confirmed.”This is what happens when insatiably curious journalists in Seoul are starved for information about their tight-lipped, isolated rival to the north.Many seemingly over-the-top news stories cite anonymous government or intelligence officials, North Korean defectors claiming to have sources in their former homeland or simply murky, unexplained, unnamed “sources.” Few explain where they get their information, and many reports turn out to be wrong.“The less we know about a country, the more rumors we tend to create about it,” said Kim Byeong-jo, a North Korea professor at the Korea National Defense University in Seoul. “When curiosity is especially strong, rumors grow more sensational. … Imagination takes over where facts are scarce and sources are unclear.”North Korea has yet to provide details about Ri’s health or his future plans. While many outside North Korea experts say he was likely purged, it is still unclear what actually happened. Top Stories ___Associated Press writer Jean H. Lee contributed to this story.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) It specifically faulted U.S. and South Korean media for spreading “misinformation,” including reports about “serious power scrambles within the leadership” in North Korea, speculation that Ri wasn’t dismissed because of illness and that the country was shifting away from its “military first” policy.Separately, the North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that U.S. hostility was forcing it “to totally re-examine the nuclear issue.” It didn’t elaborate. Talks on persuading the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program are stalled.As an example of how news can become cloudy when information is controlled, Kim Byeong-jo, the professor in Seoul, pointed to South Korea itself. In 1980, tens of thousands took to the streets in Gwangju to protest the junta that seized power after authoritarian President Park Chung-hee was assassinated in office.About 200 people died, but there were rumors of thousands of deaths. Kim said a media blackout meant people outside the southwestern city knew little about the military operations going on against the city’s people.“It takes time for real facts to emerge when information is controlled. In North Korea’s case, it takes even longer, and, worse yet, truth may never even surface,” he said. Patients with chronic pain give advice Comments Share More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img Parents, stop beating yourself up New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Sponsored Stories Associated PressSEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The surprise news set off a predictable wildfire of speculation and rumors south of the border.Almost as soon as North Korea announced this week that its army chief had been dismissed due to “illness,” the aggressive South Korean media went into hyperdrive. By Friday a newspaper, citing “unconfirmed intelligence reports,” said Ri Yong Ho may have been wounded or killed in a blaze of gunfire when soldiers loyal to him resisted an armed attempt to detain him. The capital, Pyongyang, portrayed a peaceful handover to new military chief Hyon Yong Chol. Soldiers celebrated in the streets with choreographed dances Thursday after the announcement of Hyon’s new role and the promotion of young new leader Kim Jong Un to marshal.North Korean officials have disappeared under chilling circumstances before, but the reports of their fates are often based on murky sources.Amnesty International, citing “unconfirmed reports,” said earlier this year that state security officials had detained more than 200 officials in an effort to consolidate Kim Jong Un’s power before he became leader. The rights group cited more “unconfirmed reports” that 30 North Korean officials involved in talks with South Korea were “executed by firing squad or killed in staged traffic accidents.”Many reports end up being false. A prominent example ran as a stand-alone special edition of the conservative South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo in 1986.In what it called a “world exclusive,” the paper announced that Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather and the revered founder of the country, was shot to death on a train near the border with South Korea. A day later, Kim was seen greeting a visiting official at Pyongyang’s airport; he died in 1994. In February, rumors that Kim Jong Un was assassinated in a firefight inside the North Korean Embassy in Beijing spread from Chinese websites to Twitter, sparking a frenzy of speculation about an overthrow just weeks after he took power. AP journalists happened to be at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing at the very hour Kim was said to have been killed and saw nothing unusual at the typically quiet compound.Friday’s reports on Ri were as dramatic as they were murky: Chosun Ilbo reported that 20 to 30 soldiers had died in a gunfight when Ri’s bodyguards resisted soldiers sent to isolate him. The report quoted a source as saying that the possibility of Ri being wounded or killed in the gunfight couldn’t be ruled out.TV network YTN cited rumors among unnamed defectors about a gunfight.South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told The Associated Press that it has no idea where the newspaper got the information and was working to find details about the claim. The service doesn’t talk about how it gets its information.North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, in a statement late Friday, didn’t address the reports about an alleged gun battle, but it did criticize what it called “ridiculous” and “false” rumors about the country.last_img read more

Refugees in limbo after years of Pakistan fighting

first_imgOthers complained about the military’s presence. Abdul Sattar, who returned with his five children to his South Waziristan home last month after three years as a refugee, said soldiers remain everywhere.“We are facing great difficulties because of army checkpoints and their checking procedures. Sometimes we cover a distance of an hour in almost four hours,” he said. “Peace is in the area, but this peace is like you are in jail.”__Rebecca Santana can be reached at http://twitter.com/@ruskygal__Associated Press writer Zarar Khan contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Associated PressJALOZAI CAMP, Pakistan (AP) – This sprawling complex of tents housing tens of thousands of Pakistanis is home for Miza Khan and his family. The tents provide little relief from the scorching summers and the frigid winters. It’s been that way for three years now.Like the other refugees, the Khans fled fighting between Pakistani troops and militant groups including the Taliban and al-Qaida in the mountainous areas near the border with Afghanistan. Sponsored Stories Others spoke of how the Taliban tried to enforce their own brand of religious justice, often forcing men to grow beards and beheading or hanging opponents.But refugees also were critical of the Pakistani military, saying soldiers had little regard for civilians caught in the crossfire. If the militants fire one mortar shell, the army fires 50 shells in response, said Miza Khan.A Pakistani military official who has served in the tribal areas said this was an exaggeration and that the military is disciplined in its use of firepower. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters on the issue.Returning home can also be fraught with difficulty.People usually get six months of food from the World Food Program and compensation from the government if their houses or property were destroyed in the fighting. But many complain that the compensation is delayed.Many report that schools and hospitals have been destroyed or that the doctors or teachers have not returned. The civilian government’s presence has never been especially strong in the tribal regions, one of the country’s least developed areas.Zahid Mahsud said when he returned about a year ago to his home in South Waziristan he saw that the military had built markets and was renovating damaged schools. But he’s still waiting for compensation for his destroyed house. Comments Share “I came here thinking it would be a few months, but three years have gone by,” Khan said while sitting by the side of a dirt road running through the Jalozai refugee camp. “If there were peace today, I would go back.”But there is no peace. Although Pakistan has been reluctant to root out militants who carry out attacks against U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan, it has shown much less hesitation in going after insurgents who aim instead to topple the government in Islamabad.It is a battle that has come at great cost to Pakistan, something not always recognized by critics who say the country is not doing enough in the war on terror. Some 30,000 people have been killed by the bloody insurgency in the country’s northwest, which includes the seven tribal regions and the nearby Swat Valley.Roughly 5 million people have had to flee their homes because of Taliban militants and Pakistani operations against them in both the tribal regions and the Swat Valley.Those who have returned often find destroyed homes, a lack of jobs and a militarized landscape marked by checkpoints, curfews and the threat of renewed Taliban attacks.About 1 million still cannot go back, and still more are fleeing as operations against the militants continue. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day How men can have a healthy 2019 Quick workouts for men About 90 percent of the displaced people rent houses or live with relatives, making it challenging for the government or aid agencies to get them often urgently needed supplies. It’s unknown how many have found jobs.Roughly 65,000 refugees from the tribal regions are currently living at Jalozai, a Pakistani government camp about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Peshawar and run with the help of international aid agencies. It’s one of three camps in the country for Pakistanis displaced by the fighting.Many residents complain that the food rations are not enough, especially when they have large families. Taj Ghul, from the Khyber tribal region, said he and his extended family have been supplementing their rations with food he’s able to purchase only by selling the family’s vehicles.“That’s all gone in the stomach. There’s nothing left,” he said.Still, hardly anyone regrets leaving their home.Azrath Khan, 60, said he fled the embattled Khyber town of Bara about a year ago.“Even before the government started its operation (in Khyber) the main problem with the Taliban was that they were kidnapping whoever was a little wealthy _ and for the poor, the Taliban were pushing them to get along with them,” Khan said. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

US EU to ethnic Serbs You have a home in Kosovo

first_imgAssociated PressPRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton toured a Serbian Orthodox church in Kosovo Wednesday as she pressed America’s close ally to step up its minority outreach while trying to convince ethnic Serbs that they have a home in Europe’s youngest nation.At the St. Nicholas Church in Kosovo’s capital, a site of anti-Serb riots eight years ago, Clinton greeted members of the Serb minority who’ve returned to Kosovo after years abroad despite continued interethnic tensions. In Pristina, she also joined the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, in seeking to advance talks between Serbia and its former province so both can one day join the 27-nation EU. The talks put off _ for now_ the issue of independence, which some 90 countries have recognized since Kosovo officially broke away from Serbia in 2008. Serbia’s leaders, however, say they’ll never accept an independent Kosovo, a point Prime Minister Ivica Dacic reiterated after his discussions with Clinton and Ashton in Belgrade on Tuesday. The U.S. recognizes Kosovo, but continued holdouts in Europe mean Ashton cannot take a formal position.At the church, Clinton met with a group of Kosovo Serbs who’ve returned from abroad to government jobs that promote greater repatriation among ethnic Serbs. She also met the second-highest ranking Serbian Orthodox official in Kosovo, a local parish priest and two ethnic Serb ministers in Kosovo’s government. The church was burned in two days of riots across Kosovo in 2004 and is being touted as a symbol of the government’s commitment to a new inclusiveness.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) But she said Kosovo’s government and people needed to embrace changes if they are to move forward more than decade after NATO bombed Serbia to stop a war between Kosovo’s predominantly ethnic Albanians and Serbs who consider the area the cradle of their statehood and the Christian Orthodox religion. Mentioning the statue of her husband, President Bill Clinton, in Pristina’s downtown nearby a store named “Hillary,” Clinton called Kosovo’s future a deeply personal cause.Although the United States is only helping in the normalization process with Serbia, Kosovo remains a bastion of pro-American sentiment and the U.S. voice there carries weight. Clinton urged Kosovo’s leaders to address the concerns of Serbs so an environment emerges where “people of all backgrounds have a chance to succeed.”But she stressed that ethnic Serbs needed to step forward as well and embrace their country, calling for “not only changes by the government, but also by the people.”Ashton, speaking after the joint meetings she and Clinton had with Thaci and President Atifete Jahjaga, said the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue she is leading “is about making lives better.” She sidestepped the larger political question of Kosovo’s status. Parents, stop beating yourself up Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The U.S. hopes Kosovo will also become a member of NATO, and hopes stability across the region will end a process of Balkanization that began with the breakup of Yugoslavia two decades ago and which minority groups in Bosnia and Kosovo threaten to continue.One stumbling block is the fate of 60,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo who reject their national government’s authority, and instead seek independence or incorporation into an expanded Serbia. Washington and Brussels say neither is possible, and are hoping future agreements between Kosovo and Serbia on issues such as freedom of movement, joint customs control, utilities and government services will convince ethnic Serbs that they’ll be protected in Kosovo and not cut off from friends and family across the border.“The United States is firmly committed to Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to seeing the rule of law extend throughout Kosovo,” Clinton said unequivocally, speaking to reporters alongside Ashton and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. “We oppose any discussion of territory changes or reopening Kosovo’s independent status. These matters are not up for discussion. The boundaries of an independent, sovereign Kosovo are clear and set.” Sponsored Stories Comments Share center_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top holiday drink recipes Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Patients with chronic pain give advice Top Stories last_img read more

Surveys show Chinese manufacturing remained weak in May

first_img Top Stories Comments Share 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Separately, HSBC’s manufacturing index, which also uses a 100-point scale, showed that manufacturing contracted for a third straight month as new export business fell at the sharpest rate in two years.HSBC’s purchasing managers index edged up to 49.2, a tick higher than a preliminary reading of 49.1 in late May, and up from 48.9 in April.The latest data on China’s outsize manufacturing industry, which employs many millions of people, may spur policymakers in Beijing to roll out more measures to keep economic growth on target.“Even though the manufacturing PMI for May expanded slightly, it’s at a historically low level, and China’s manufacturing industry is facing relatively large downward pressure,” the federation’s report said.China’s economy grew 7 percent in the January-March period, its slowest quarterly pace in six years. Recent moves by Beijing to shore up growth include cutting interest rates three times in six months and slashing the bank reserve requirement ratio. Analysts expect more measures if growth slows more sharply.HSBC’s survey found that production contracted for the first time in 2015 and factories shed jobs, let inventories fall and cut purchasing, all suggesting that manufacturing would continue to contract, said Annabel Fiddes, an economist at Markit, which carried out the HSBC survey. HONG KONG (AP) — China’s factory activity remained subdued last month with both export demand and employment contracting, according to an official survey Monday that adds pressure on Beijing for more economic stimulus.The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing’s manufacturing index, which is based on a survey of factory purchasing managers, edged up to 50.2 in May from 50.1 the month before.The index, based on a 100-point scale, has been hovering around the 50-mark since December. Numbers below 50 indicate contraction. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “The latest survey data therefore suggest that more stimulus measures may be required to help boost domestic demand and recover some growth momentum,” she said.___This story has been corrected to show that HSBC’s manufacturing index was 48.9 in April.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Obama calls for shorter sentences for nonviolent convicts

first_img“In far too many cases, the punishment simply doesn’t fit the crime,” Obama told a crowd of 3,300 in Philadelphia. Low-level drug dealers, for example, owe a debt to society, but not a life sentence or 20-year prison term, he said.With his speech to the prominent African-American advocacy group, Obama sought to put a spotlight on the need for new legislation as he mounted a weeklong push on criminal justice reform. A day earlier, Obama commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders — the most commutations a president has issued on a single day in at least four decades.Upon arriving Tuesday in Philadelphia, Obama met with a number of former prisoners to discuss their experience re-entering society, the White House said. And on Thursday, Obama planned to put a personal face on the nation’s mushrooming prison population with a visit El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside of Oklahoma City — the first visit to a federal prison by a sitting U.S. president.The assertive moves reflected a president eager to wield his executive power during his waning years in office to reduce harsh sentences, cut costs and correct disparities he said have disproportionally burdened minorities. Earlier in his presidency, as he spent his political capital carefully on major domestic priorities, Obama spoke cautiously and only intermittently about the need for smarter sentencing and other justice changes. Parents, stop beating yourself up Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories Since Congress enacted mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, the federal prison population has multiplied, from just 24,000 in the 1980s to more than 214,000, according to Families Against Mandatory Minimums. In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, cutting penalties for crack cocaine offenses. And last year, the independent Sentencing Commission reduced guideline ranges for drug crimes and applied those retroactively.___Associated Press writer Nancy Benac in Washington contributed to this report.___Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAPCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Quick workouts for men Republicans in particular have spoken with growing enthusiasm about the need for structural change. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has been working on legislation that could reduce some mandatory minimums. Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island are backing a bill that would steer lower-risk inmates into programs where they could earn earlier release by participating in recidivism-reduction programs.In another positive sign for the prospects of justice reform, a number of 2016 presidential candidates have taken an active interest in the issue. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has mounted a vocal push to restore voting rights to nonviolent felons who have served their terms and to make it easier for people with criminal records to get jobs. Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., planned to give a speech Thursday in the troubled city of Camden focusing on nonviolent drug offenders.But not all Republicans were receptive to Obama’s pitch. A group of 19 Republicans, led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, wrote a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch accusing Obama of blatantly usurping congressional authority and using his pardon power for political purposes. PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Calling it an issue America can’t afford to ignore, President Barack Obama laid out an expansive vision Tuesday for fixing the criminal justice system by focusing on communities, courtrooms and cellblocks. He announced a federal review of the use of solitary confinement and urged Congress to pass a sentencing reform bill by year’s end.In a speech to the NAACP’s annual convention, Obama also called for voting rights to be restored to felons who have served their sentences, and said employers should “ban the box” asking job candidates about their past convictions. He said long mandatory minimum sentences now in place should be reduced — or discarded entirely. But as of late, public attention has been piqued by a serious of upsetting incidents across the country. In places like Baltimore, New York and Ferguson, Missouri, tensions between law enforcement and their communities have spilled out into the open, underscoring longstanding concerns among minority communities that they’re treated differently in the criminal justice system.Obama pointedly acknowledged that many people in the U.S. need to be in prison — “murderers, predators, rapists, gang leaders” — yet he said that in too many instances, law enforcement is treating young black and Latino men differently than their white peers.“This is not just anecdotal. This is not just barbershop talk,” he said.The White House said Obama wouldn’t hesitate to commute more sentences in the coming months if the circumstances were right. Yet Obama’s ability to address the problem unilaterally is limited, as the White House readily concedes. So Obama has set his sights on the kind of comprehensive fix that only Congress can provide.“The statistics cannot be ignored. We cannot close our eyes anymore,” Obama said.Working in Obama’s favor: tentative but optimistic signs of common ground between Republicans and Democrats. Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Mesa family survives lightning strike to homelast_img read more

Japanese bills would expand militarys role

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies TOKYO (AP) — A parliamentary committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would expand the role of Japan’s military after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc forced the vote in the face of protests from some lawmakers and citizens.Opposition lawmakers tried to stop the committee vote as hundreds of citizens protested outside.The unpopular legislation was crafted after Abe’s Cabinet adopted a new security policy last year that reinterpreted a part of Japan’s post-World War II constitution that only permitted the nation’s military to use force for its self-defense. The bills in question would allow Japan to also defend aggression against its allies — a concept called collective self-defense. Sponsored Stories Abe has been increasingly criticized for being an autocratic leader and members of his right-wing Liberal Democratic Party came under fire recently after suggesting that two liberal newspapers on Okinawa should be destroyed.“The existence of our constitution is threatened, the sovereignty-of-the-people principle is threatened, and our democracy is being threatened,” Tsujimoto said.___Follow Mari Yamaguchi at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi/Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Men’s health affects baby’s health too Abe has argued that Japan should better prepare for China’s regional threat and do more to contribute to international peacekeeping efforts.But opponents, including legal experts and academics, counter that the new interpretation is unconstitutional.Polls show that about 80 percent of Japanese find the bills hard to swallow, and the majority of them say they think the legislation is unconstitutional.That tension was on display Wednesday as opposition lawmakers attempted to thwart the committee’s vote and hundreds chanted anti-war and anti-Abe slogans outside in protest.Lawmakers rushed over to the podium and began to slap and grab at committee chairman Yasukazu Hamada as he cut off debate and began the voting process.Some held up posters that read “No to a forced vote!” and “No to Abe politics!”The legislation would “fundamentally change the way Japan has sought pacifism since the end of the war,” Kiyomi Tsujimoto, an opposition Democratic Part of Japan lawmaker, told Abe before the vote.Abe acknowledged Wednesday that the legislation doesn’t have public support but said he could force the vote because his party has the voters’ mandate — an attitude that has also angered critics and polarized the debate around the military legislation. How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

QA The ruckus over Japans military legislation

first_img Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility TOKYO (AP) — The opposition walked out before the vote, and thousands of protesters took to the streets the previous night, but none of that stopped Japan’s lower house of parliament from approving a contentious set of bills Thursday to allow a greater role for the country’s military.A look at what the controversy is about:___HOW WOULD IT CHANGE JAPAN’S MILITARY ROLE?Japan’s military, called the Self-Defense Forces, is restricted by a post-World War II pacifist constitution to defending itself and the country. The biggest change would allow the Self-Defense Forces to defend allies that come under attack, under a concept known as collective self-defense — which previous governments have considered unconstitutional. For example, Japan would be able to intercept a missile flying over Japan and headed for U.S. territory. Currently it can shoot down a missile only when it’s fired at Japan. Or if an American warship came under attack, Japanese forces could join the fight if the situation were deemed an “imminent critical threat” to Japan.Farther afield, Japan would be able to carry out minesweeping in Mideast waters to protect ships bringing oil to Japan. It also could send reconnaissance aircraft to patrol the South China Sea to help monitor China’s activity. In international peacekeeping, Japan would be able to provide logistical support for other militaries and protect civilian workers.All these activities could only be carried out under certain conditions, such as a critical threat to Japan’s survival — an interruption to oil shipments could be one. Opponents of the bills say the conditions are overly vague, giving future governments leeway to interpret them as they see fit.___WHY ARE THE CHANGES SO CONTROVERSIAL?Moves to expand the military’s role are almost always contentious in Japan, and an unexpected development made this one particularly so. Parents, stop beating yourself up Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The vital role family plays in society Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to homecenter_img At an unrelated hearing, three constitutional experts, including one invited by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party, unanimously declared the legislation unconstitutional. That grabbed the public’s attention and boosted the opposition in what otherwise had been a difficult-to-follow debate.Many Japanese are wary of any change to the country’s pacifist stance, which has brought seven decades of peace and relative prosperity. Some worry that deepening U.S.-Japan security ties will make Japan a more likely target of anti-U.S. extremists, and increase the risk of becoming embroiled in a U.S.-led conflict. Some students even worry the legislation could lead to a military draft as Japan’s population shrinks and ages.Abe has said that Japan would not send troops into battle overseas. He and other backers of the legislation argue that the world has changed, and in the face of potential threats such as China and North Korea, Japan needs to enhance its deterrence to preserve its peace and prosperity. It’s a fundamental divide over how best to keep Japan safe for future generations.___ARE THEY CONSTITUTIONAL?Most constitutional scholars say Japan’s pacifist charter does not allow collective self-defense, though some disagree. The legislation could face a court challenge once it becomes law. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, claps hands during a plenary session at the lower house in Tokyo, Thursday, July 16, 2015. Japan’s lower house of parliament on Thursday approved legislation that would allow an expanded role for the nation’s military in a vote boycotted by the opposition. Finance Minister Taro Aso is at right. Shigeru Ishiba, the minister for Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan is seen at left.(AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama) Abe’s Cabinet approved a reinterpretation of the constitution last year to allow collective self-defense, reversing previous interpretations.Sota Kimura, a Tokyo Metropolitan University constitution professor, says allowing collective self-defense when Japan is not under attack is tantamount to a pre-emptive strike, which is unconstitutional.Many experts say that Abe should revise the constitution if he wants to allow self-defense. Abe isn’t against revision — it’s one of his long-term goals — but it’s a daunting prospect, requiring two-thirds approval by parliament and a public referendum. Reinterpretation was a practical solution to moving forward quickly on his security agenda.___WHAT’S NEXT?The legislation goes to the upper house, which has 60 days to vote. Opposition lawmakers will do their utmost to delay or scrap the legislation, but even if the upper house rejects it or fails to vote, it will go back to the more powerful lower house, which can pass it with a two-thirds majority.Experts say the real challenge will be to train and develop the expertise and capability of the Self-Defense Forces, which have only experienced non-combat missions, for possible higher-risk missions as Abe pushes his policy of what he calls a proactive contribution to peace.last_img read more

What are the biggest deterrents for travellers

first_img<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/278ae/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Skyscanner.com has conducted a survey to see what the biggest deterrents are for travelers when choosing a destination. The research reveals that a third of travelers (31%) felt an epidemic would be the biggest reason to avoid traveling to a vacation destination; followed closely by a terrorist attack (21%), civil unrest (20%) and natural disasters (17%). The survey, carried out on over 300 Skyscanner users, showed that travellers would wait 12 months to visit an area hit by an epidemic, while most tourists would feel comfortable returning to somewhere hit by natural disaster or terrorist attack, after just three months. The survey participants were also likely to postpone travelling to a destination hit by civil unrest by up to a year. Following the swine flu outbreak in Mexico during April last year, interest in the country immediately decreased. However, one year on, in April 2010, thoughts of swine flu appear to have disappeared with flight searches up by 164%.In some cases, there is evidence that a natural disaster can actually lead to an increase in visitation in the long term due to raising the profile of a destination. For example, New York experienced an initial dip in tourists following 9/11, now visitor figures have surpassed original numbers, with Ground Zero becoming a tourist attraction itself. Scot Carlson, Country Manager for the US and Canada states: “Considering the eminent threat the current oil spill poses to Louisiana and Alabama’s coastal cities -many of which depend on, among other things, the revenues-earned from local tourism- hopefully this study will prove encouraging.“This spill not only threatens the local wildlife and environment, but the economic livelihood of the people as well.“I hope that the attention brought to the region by both Katrina, and now the oil spill helps to raise national interest in protecting and preserving this beautiful part of the country for future generations.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

Obama on the way to Aus

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J All travel eyes will be on Australia later this year as US President Barack Obama plans a visit down under.Arriving on 16 November for a two day stay, the White House announced this week that the trip would be make to mark the 60 year anniversary of the Australian and US alliance, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.While details of the President’s itinerary will be revealed closer to his arrival, the visit could offer some much needed relief to Australian tourism operators as the strong Aussie dollar continues to play a hand at deterring tourism.Australia saw a 0.5 percent drop in tourism from its strongest market New Zealand in July this year compared to the same month last year as well as a 7.2 percent fall from US holiday-makers, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. However, the power of the public figure on travel was made evident earlier this year after his visit to Ireland. A short visit in May this year saw Ireland’s visitor arrivals increase by up to 15 percent between April and June compared to the corresponding period last year, Joe News reported.Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said the rise was a result of recent visits from a number of big names.“The month of May of this year was particularly positive for tourism, with the two historic visits of Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama and the Uefa Europa League final in Dublin,” Mr Gibbons said.last_img read more